Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It Seems a Reasonable Question

John Oliver, a regular on the Daily Show, is claimed to have said, “One failed attempt at a shoe bomb, and now we all take off our shoes at the airport.  Thirty-one (mass) shootings since Columbine, and no change in our regulation of guns.”  Implied in this statement are the questions; What is wrong with America? & Why not? 

As with most propaganda, this piece reflects an outstanding use of slight of hand to solicit an emotional response for two unrelated issues, as though some relationship should exist.  The first is travel safety, something without any specific provisions in our Constitution; the second is the problem of the horrific violence perpetrated on children and adults by individuals with guns, a commodity specifically identified in the Bill of Rights.

It also makes claims that are flagrantly untrue, or are at best glittering generalities.  I dare say it was more then just Richard Reid’s attempt on American Airlines flight 63 that led the Department of Homeland Security to change our screening procedures, but even if it wasn’t they were able to do so through regulation, it did not require specific legislation since that was provided in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, that established TSA and gave them broad authority to protect travelers or restrict the rights of travelers, depending on your view.  To the best of my knowledge those regulations have not been challenged in court, although we hear frequent grousing about TSA’s abuse of passengers.

The second statement is, I believe, equally untrue.  There have been laws enacted after the acts of violence.  For example after Columbine, LA Times - CO Governor Signs 4 Post-Columbine Gun Laws; and after Newtown, New Haven Register - Stricter Gun Laws Shake Up Connecticut's Firearms Industry.  A number of other states have enacted similar legislation tightening control of firearms, so these are just two examples. 

I guess the question is, what would make those who want to stop gun violence happy? Depending on your point of view the answer can be extreme, but I suppose writing an Amendment to the Constitution, and putting it to a vote, would be out of the question here because the mean old NRA is just too strong and owns too many Congressmen and women, who get reelected about 95% of the time.

Whatever the answer it is will have to sustain a constitutional challenge, so rather than beat your chests and put out emotional propaganda, why don’t you start with some serious legislation that makes sense?  Rather than grandstanding for the media and parading victims before the cameras, maybe the proponents should return to the smoke filled (whoops no smoking in Government work spaces) “Back” rooms behind closed doors and do real political negotiation, because we’ve seen how ineffective public debate is.  The public has a very short attention span, and will move quickly to the next big news story on FOX, or ABCNNBCBS. 

For example, I’ve seen a couple of interesting proposals from hunters and sportsmen on what would seem to be reasonable options for the gun industry.  The NRA would undoubtedly oppose them just because, but from a technical standpoint, if you are worried about the number or rounds a gun can fire and how quickly they can be reloaded then they make sense.  The first would require new rifles to be manufactured for clip loading through the top, like the M-1 Garand.  If you wanted a gun with the look of a magazine, the clips could load into the top and then eject out the bottom, but at the end you would still be limited in clip size and reload time.  A second would be for a tube load system where the rounds would be loaded in a tube down the bottom of the barrel.  With either of these solutions the gun would take longer to reload, but could still look like the AK-47 or 74, or AR-15/M-16 of your dreams.  Wait you say, what about hand guns?  Aren’t they really the weapon that is used the most in these types of crimes?  For those I agree we need to find a way to perhaps limit the size of the magazine.  

I am certainly open to some kind of great idea on how to do that in a practical and affordable way, anyone got a great affordable idea that will stand up to the limitations of our Constitution?

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