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An intelligent, well-made, and well-taken point from Ron Paul – or at least his people – which is something I don’t usually rush straight to him for, but which is nevertheless salient and important to note:

A person steals guns, (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), shoots and kills his own mother (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), transports these guns loaded (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), brings guns onto school property (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), breaks into the school (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), discharges the weapons within city limits (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), murders 26 people (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW), and commits suicide (WHICH IS AGAINST THE LAW).

And there are people in this country that somehow think passing ANOTHER LAW banning guns would protect us from someone like this. If you haven’t noticed, people like this are not concerned about breaking laws – they only care about fulfilling their own twisted agenda.

As I’ve argued from the beginning – here, among other places – any kind of law banning weapons fundamentally misses the point we should be learning and gleaning from the tragedies in places like Newtown and Aurora.

For the record – in case I have not stated this for the record enough yet – I don’t believe any sort of federal assault weapons ban will have the desired effect of greatly reducing gun crime in the United States. To ban guns as a direct inference of the lessons taught to us by shootings such as the one in Newtown, Connecticut is to misread and misappropriate those lessons entirely. Guns are not the point of those events – they are incidental. However, if we are to have an assault weapons ban, it should be more effective than the toothless, contorted, and ineffectual Federal Assault Weapons Ban (technically known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, a subtitle of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act) of 1994, which is what President Obama has been pushing for in this area as part of his new gun-control initiative.

Alexander J. Smith of Blogcritics has some jargon-rich ideas for how we might do that in a way that might make some difference (though, in the opinion of this blog, not enough of a difference to sleep better at night):

With the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting still fresh, there may yet be enough impetus to make a federal assault weapon law stick, but before Congress can get to work on a bill, Washington needs a working definition to qualify a firearm as an “assault weapon”. Even if AWB ’94 were resurrected, its criterion for assault weapon was problematic because it relied heavily on how a firearm looked, not how it worked, and bore no weight on fully automatic weapons. A truly effective federal prohibition of assault weapons should qualify a firearm based on its design, intended use, and common application in the field by its intended user. In addition, the law would need to be expansive enough to address subtypes of assault rifles, including service rifles, designated marksman rifles (DMR), battle rifles, and carbines. 

So if you want to craft a standard for assault rifles, a good place to start is with the weapon that began it all. Designed to straddle the line between close range submachine guns and longer range rifles, the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG44 for short) is considered by many to be the first modern era assault rifle. The StG44 had the following specifications:

  • Full length (from stock to barrel) of 37″
  • 16.5″ barrel
  • Selectable fire between full-auto and semi-auto
  • Automatic fire rate of 550-600 rounds/min
  • Used a 30 round box magazine
  • Effective up to 300m (auto) or 600m (semi auto)
  • Muzzle Velocity of 685m/s

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Tom Junod, in a post for The Politics Blog at Esquire magazine, reveals the national perspective that has been gleaned from the Sandy Hook shooting:

In the days following the massacre in Newtown, CT, there was a genuine sense of moral panic in the United States — the sense that we had lost the ability to protect our children from evil. At the same time, there were stirrings of a moral confidence verging on triumphalism, a sense that the relativism said to beset modern America might at last give way to clarity. At Sandy Hook Elementary, evil had done us the favor of staring us in the face. We could no longer deny either its existence or its nature. We could resist it only by embracing the idea of it. We could even define it without provoking the usual partisan disagreements:

What is evil? Evil is what murders children.

I mean for the sentiment of this quote to stand on its own. I won’t make the argument here, but you might be able to tell what corollary extrapolation Junod is heading toward, and it’s a tough case to make – or not.

Either way, this feels a lot like the favor evil did us on September 11th, 2001, a day on which it also stared us in the face, before disintegrating through our fingers like so much dry sand and dispersing across the globe… The doctrines of domestic policy that are proceeding from the Sandy Hook shooting seem as likewise ill-advised as the doctrines of foreign policy that proceeded from 9/11, and may be just as poorly supported.

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The pro-gun movement – a movement that I tentatively support, at least in sentiment and principle, though not as enthusiastically as some – doesn’t seem to be able to go a full 24 hours (see previous post) without doing something stupid. This one, I think, speaks for itself. You need no characterization from me. You need only to read this, from Wayne LaPierre’s December 21st statement regarding the Newtown shooting, delivered a week after that tragic event:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

To drive home the point with some helpful stats, he added:

A child growing up in America witnesses 16,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18.

Okay. Let that sink in for a minute. Mull it over. Then read this, from today at The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

A shooting-range app for the iPhone and iPad branded as an “Official NRA Licensed Product” was released on Jan. 14—the one-month anniversary of the Newtown massacre that left 20 children and seven adults plus the shooter dead. Created by Medl Mobile, NRA: Practice Range is rated for ages 4 and up, according to Apple’s app store.

The free download is set up as shooting range, with three different backdrops to choose from: indoor, outdoor, and a skeet shoot. In each shooting range, the player can choose a type of target: shakey, hotshot or dead eye (not exactly in keeping with the child-friendly idea). After choosing the type of target, the player then chooses the weapon. The 9mm, one of the shooter’s weapons at Newtown, is the first one that shows up; higher-capacity magazines cost $0.99.

Let that sink. Mull.

For the record, questions have been raised as to whether the game is actually connected to the NRA, or if someone’s trading on their name. However, many have been “puzzled that the NRA hasn’t disowned the app if in fact it is a hoax.”

Though the game itself does seem pretty tame by today’s standards, this has got to be the worst public relations time for the NRA to produce a shooting video game.

Strike 2.

In a surprisingly excruciating ass-kicking, Al Sharpton beat the living crap out of gun proponent Larry Ward today on Politics Nation. You know Larry, the guy who decided that guns were undeservedly under-appreciated in this country, and so has been traveling Punditstan touting his Gun Appreciation Day idea, which he claims does not make him a fringe extremist – he is merely a lowly constitutionalist, a righteous everyman populist crusading for the rights of you and me. It is a matter of principal; the gun companies’ money has nothing to do with it, nor is it a reaction to the Newtown shooting – it is, rather, a “reaction to the reaction” to the Newtown shooting.

In response to those on the left who think that Gun Appreciation Day is a really, really bad, offensive, crazy idea, he says he merely aims to “let people know that there is another side of the argument.” (That side seems like it’s already a bit crowded to me, what with the NRA and the Gun Owners of America club, but hey, I’m sure they can make room for one more guy with a nutty idea.) Ward, who usually spends his time being a “conservative media operative” and so is a little tone deaf when it comes to public messaging, has killed two birds with one bullet (which he’ll tell you is definitely the best way to do it) in a poor-judgement double-whammy: he went on record saying “if blacks had guns, slavery wouldn’t have happened” to CNN, and also scheduled his Gun Appreciation Day for January 19th – I suppose to leech as much importance out of the inauguration as possible – which is Martin Luther King Day weekend. To make it look like the latter wasn’t an accident and that he does know how to read a calendar, he has made an even more ill-advised attempt to adopt Martin Luther King Jr. into his argument for Gun Appreciation Day. This is where Sharpton comes in.

I don’t particularly like Al Sharpton, or his show, but some of the stories he covers are bizarrely compelling, and I like to keep the news on as background noise. So when I heard Ward trying to convince Sharpton that Martin Luther King Jr. would have been pro-gun, and would have supported his special day, I perked up.

Sharpton:Ward

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Many people – including many in my own family – have been occupied of late with pushing for an assault weapons ban, as I have previously written about. Not the least of these is Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has proposed such a ban in the wake of the horrific Newtown shooting. Her proposal is actually a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which expired after ten years and has yet to be renewed despite attempts by Democrats to do so. Feinstein took up the initiative in the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado last summer, and again after Newtown in December.

The ban and Feinstein have been in the news more recently due to a divisive letter written very publicly to her and posted on the CNN iReport site, by U.S. Marine Corporal Joshua Boston. The letter has rallied some support from the right – mostly in the blogosphere – due to Boston’s adamantly stated refusal to submit to any kind of weapons ban. In an interview about the letter, Boston told Breitbart that the only restrictions he would support is (emphasis his) “one in which only VIOLENT felons are prevented from purchasing or possessing a firearm.”

Titled “No, ma’am,” here is the letter in its entirety:

Senator Dianne Feinstein,

I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.

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I have to say, this is getting harder and harder to refute.

This is probably the most informative article I’ve yet read on the Newtown shooting. It is brought to us by none other than the Wall Street Journal. I encourage everyone to read it, then read it again, and then forward it to people you know.

As anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I’m generally a left-leaning moderate (or at least that’s what I aspire to). I began, one week ago, on the left-leaning side of this issue. Though I’ve never been in favor of much harsher gun laws, the idea of more guns in that school seemed, at first blush, preposterous. But I’m having a hard time even holding the line on that. Though some of their rhetoric can be pretty batty (see Wayne Lapierre’s long-winded statement today at the world’s most bizarre press conference), and arming the teachers still sounds ridiculous, I’m having a harder and harder time getting past the logic of the argument for armed guards in schools (see Lapierre’s statement), and against supposed “gun-free zones” at which nothing is done to ensure guns are not present. One widely made suggestion coming from the pro-control side is to instate a ban on assault weapons, but the designation of “assault weapon” has to do with cosmetic differences between weapons and has no functional meaning. I’ve also always thought that stricter gun control to combat these shootings is kind of missing the point. A gun in and of itself is not good or evil (yes, the “guns don’t kill people” argument). The root issue here is violent tendencies, which stems from mental health. This article addresses all these things, and adds some enlightening statistics.

I’m posting the article here in its entirety, adding only bolding of some particularly salient statements. The article is titled “Guns, Mental Illness, and Newtown” and is written by David Kopel for WSJ Online. Once again, I encourage everyone to read it.

Has the rate of random mass shootings in the United States increased? Over the past 30 years, the answer is definitely yes. It is also true that the total U.S. homicide rate has fallen by over half since 1980, and the gun homicide rate has fallen along with it. Today, Americans are safer from violent crime, including gun homicide, than they have been at any time since the mid-1960s.

Mass shootings, defined as four or more fatalities, fluctuate from year to year, but over the past 30 years there has been no long-term increase or decrease. But “random” mass shootings, such as the horrific crimes last Friday in Newtown, Conn., have increased.

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