On The Issue of Guns

gun

Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994–2004):
Banned semiautomatics that looked like assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. The law expired in 2004.

There were multiple attempts to renew the ban, but none succeeded.

The Biden administration is attempting to put forth another ban. Chances are it also will not succeed.

More (from Wikipedia) …

A study by Mark Gius, professor of economics at Quinnipiac University, studied the law’s impact on public mass shootings. Gius defined this subset of mass shootings as those “occurring in a relatively public place, targeted random victims, were not otherwise related to a crime (a robbery or act of terrorism), and that involved four or more victim fatalities.”

His study* revealed that “both state and federal assault weapons bans have statistically significant and negative effects on mass shooting fatalities but that only the federal assault weapons ban had a negative effect on mass shooting injuries. This study is one of the first studies that looks solely at the effects of assault weapons bans on public mass shootings.”

*https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13504851.2014.939367

Meanwhile, “Gun background checks soar to record in March following mass shootings and gun-control bills.”

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Further reading:

Mass shootings in the United States
What Does Background Check Show (Note: Nothing on mental health)
What Is Gun Control: Everything You Need to Know

Remember The Victims

I wrote this as a comment on one of my other blog posts, but decided it needed a post of its own.

From a news report on recent shooting in Texas (8/31/19) —

“Details on the victims have yet to be released. The wounded include three law enforcement officers.”

“The gunman was identified as Seth Ator”.

I understand “privacy” as related to friends and relatives of the victims, but IMO, knowing who these human beings were and the roles they played while alive is FAR more important than knowing who killed them. To this end, I don’t think the shooter’s name should be released until AFTER the victims are identified.

A Potential Solution to Fight Mass Killings

I recently referenced an article written by Megan McArdle in which she discussed mass shootings and suggested some ways to prevent them, along with the negatives of each potential solution.

I just came across her most recent article in which she elaborates on one of the points she suggested in her original write-up (banning extensive coverage of mass shootings) and discusses why she feels it could play an important role.

I’m going to quote the relevant portion of the article and provide the source at the end. I can’t guarantee you will be able to access her full remarks as online media is getting very selfish about sharing unless you PAY a subscription fee.

As for government restrictions on news coverage, the political and practical hurdles would be at least as daunting. Who decides what constitutes a violation? Do you trust anyone with that kind of power?

But while government censorship is dangerous, curbing one’s own speech is often just good judgment. News organizations should perform an experiment: Make it a tenet of journalistic ethics not to print the names or manifestos of mass shooters, or details of their lives, or even details of their attacks. Mass shooters seek notoriety; deny it to them.

Ending the wall-to-wall coverage would mean, yes, losing readers and viewers. The public would lose some information. Gun-control advocates would lose a campaigning tool. But the public policy aspects of mass shootings can be covered with aggregate statistics. The visceral details may make for a better story, a better PR campaign. But as long as there’s reason to think that they also make for more murders, we have a moral obligation to avoid them.

Source: The Herald Dispatch

So it would seem she advocates the news media reduce the sensationalism that seems to accompany each violent attack. Would such an action work? Maybe. Obviously it wouldn’t stop the killings, but perhaps it could/would serve as a deterrent.

Your thoughts?

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Fighting Mass Killings

In a recent edition of our local newspaper there was an article by Megan McArdle, a Washington Post columnist, in which she addressed some familiar “solutions” related to gun control in the U.S.  The entire article can be found at the Washington Post website under the title of “How to Fight Mass Killings.” However, be warned. WP restricts people to a limited number of visits, so you may have to find alternate ways to access the article.

In any case, following are some highlights.

Ms. McArdle asks, Why are so many mass shootings happening now? Why not decades ago, when the United States had plenty of guns, alienated youth, dysfunctional families, economically distressed communities, sexism and almost every other factor commonly blamed for these tragedies?

Surprisingly, mass public shootings used to be rare, freak events. They spiked in the late 1990s,  then abruptly fell in 2000 and stayed low for years. What changed? She points out that in 2000-2004, the dot-com bubble burst. Then there was a hotly contested election, followed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq War. All these events distracted the media and this, in turn, had an effect on those who follow wall-to-wall coverage of massacres.

In her opinion, mass shootings seem to be a “social contagion, a behavioral epidemic.” In fact, she feels they are almost like a disease triggered by media coverage.

Preventing Mass Killings

As we all know, much discussion has taken place on how to stop mass killings. Ms. McArdle provides what she calls two “obvious” policies:

  • Ban private gun ownership
  • Ban extensive coverage of mass shootings

Unfortunately, both violate the Constitution … even though they could radically reduce (if not entirely eliminate) mass killing sprees.

She goes on to say that mental health treatment isn’t the answer since not all shooters have shown any signs of mental unbalance before they strike. She also dismisses violent video games and entertainment. And background checks won’t work because many mass shooters buy guns legally. Or they borrow. Or steal what they can’t borrow.

She points out that a high capacity magazine ban enacted in 1994 proved useless because it’s the high velocity power of the gun that’s the problem, not how many bullets it can hold.

She then asks: “What part of the Bill of Rights do we want to amend, read out of the Constitution or simply violate outright? The First Amendment or the Second?”

She ends her commentary by indicating she will point out a better way in her next column. I hope to be able to access it and report accordingly. However, if it’s not provided by our local newspaper, I encourage readers to research on their own and share her solutions via comments on this post.

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Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay