Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ingenious, inveigling - and insidious

So President Obama's gun control proposals have hit the street.  It goes without saying that most of them are nothing more than pious window-dressing.  They'll do no more to stop the criminal misuse of firearms than my baking a cake.  The pointlessness of the whole thing is clearly demonstrated by the utter inanity of this paragraph from the introduction to the White House announcement (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format):

While no law or set of laws will end gun violence, it is clear that the American people want action. If even one child’s life can be saved, then we need to act. Now is the time to do the right thing for our children, our communities, and the country we love.

Uh-huh.  Substitute the words 'gun violence' with any other problem you can think of - drunk driving, over-eating, falling off a mountain, teasing a rattlesnake, you name it - and the paragraph makes just as much (or as little) sense.  As for saving 'even one child's life', the numbers suggest we are acting.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format):

From 1994 to 2010, the rate of serious violent crime against youth in which the offender had a gun, knife, or other type of weapon declined from 40.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons ages 12 to 17 in 1994 to 8.1 per 1,000 in 2010. The rate of serious violent crime against youth in which the offender had a weapon decreased by 80%, while the rate of serious violent crime in which the offender did not have a weapon declined by 73% (table 8). Declines in weapon-related youth victimization occurred for all types of weapons.

Serious violent crime against youth that involved injury also declined, from 19.2 victimizations per 1,000 youth in 1994 to 4.2 per 1,000 in 2010. Violent crime involving serious injuries, such as broken bones, concussions, gun shot, or stab wounds, declined by 63%. Violent crime resulting in minor injuries, such as bruises and scrapes, declined by 81%.

There's much more at the link.  Interesting reading.

Those statistics tell me that we must be doing something right in our efforts to save our children's lives.  Furthermore, that improvement in the statistics of crimes against youth took place during, and after the expiration of, the previous assault weapons ban, and despite a vast increase in the number of firearms - including so-called 'assault weapons' - in circulation in the United States.  Those facts don't seem to have registered with President Obama.

Let's be clear.  The Administration's statement has nothing whatsoever to do with saving our children's lives.  It's 'sound and fury, signifying nothing'.  It seeks to use the image of innocent children as political coverage to justify and promote an agenda that has nothing whatsoever to do with them.  Can you say 'hypocrisy'?  I thought you could . . .

What is clear from today's announcement is that the White House is using the gun control issue as a smokescreen behind which to push forward with its progressive, anti-liberty, anti-freedom agenda.  Consider only a few points drawn verbatim from the White House announcement.  (I could have chosen many more, but I'm writing a blog article, not a book!)

1.  In calling for universal background checks on firearms purchasers, the statement claims that 'A national survey of inmates found that only 12 percent of those who used a gun in a crime acquired it from a retail store or pawn shop, where a background check should have been run'.  However, it ignores the fact that the vast majority of those criminals used a stolen weapon, the transfer of which will not be background-checked under the new proposals either.  Inconvenient, that . . .

2.  In seeking to strengthen the background check system, the statement claims:  'The background check system is the most efficient and effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, but we need to make sure it has access to complete information about these individuals. For example, although the number of mental health records available to the system has increased by 800 percent since 2004, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that there are still 17 states that have made fewer than 10 mental health records available.'  This sounds great, doesn't it?  Let's share all the records, so we know who's unsafe to possess a firearm!  Unfortunately, the shooter in Connecticut didn't try to buy a firearm, so no background check was run on him.  He stole the weapons he used, so sharing all that material would have done precisely nothing to stop him.  The same applies to anyone who's bought weapons while still mentally compos mentis, but is no longer fit to possess them as a result of illness or injury.  How many elderly victims of Alzheimer's disease will be disarmed as a result of this edict?  Bear in mind that they, and their families, are the preferred targets of many thugs and criminals, who see them as easy meat.  Their disability may not be so severe as to render them (or their spouses) incapable of defending themselves, but such administrative decisions will do so.  If you're getting older, dear reader, you might want to think about that . . .

3.  'A 2010 survey by the Police Executive Research Forum [PERF] found that more than one-third of police departments reported an increase in criminals’ use of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines since the prohibition on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons expired in 2004.'  This is complete and utter bullshit, since the survey in question included semi-automatic pistols in its classification of what constituted an 'assault weapon', and recorded only a minuscule increase (measured in single percentage points) off an already low base.  Furthermore, PERF is a left-wing/progressive law enforcement lobbying group, active in issues such as 'community and problem-oriented policing, racial profiling, use-of-force issues, and crime reduction strategies' - all buzz-words that are indicators of its true nature to anyone who's familiar with the field of law enforcement.  (I am.)  It was part of Vice-President Biden's task force on gun control measures that preceded today's announcement, and said in a press release today (.PDF file):

“Vice President Biden invited us to participate on his Task Force shortly after the Newtown shooting incident, and he asked us to list all of our best ideas for reducing gun violence,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who serves as President of PERF. “We were gratified to be included in this important initiative, and pleased to see that most of what we called for is in the President’s plan.”

So much for PERF's objectivity, neutrality and trustworthiness.  They're shills for the Obama administration - nothing more, nothing less.

4.  'There are approximately 30,000 firearm-related homicides and suicides a year, a number large enough to make clear this is a public health crisis. But for years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies have been barred by Congress from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” and some members of Congress have claimed this prohibition also bans the CDC from conducting any research on the causes of gun violence. However, research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.'

This is bullshit pure and simple.  Consider the following studies.

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control completed an initial report on a mammoth study of various gun control measures, including 'bans on specified firearms or ammunition, restrictions on firearm acquisition, waiting periods for firearm acquisition, firearm registration and licensing of firearm owners, "shall issue" concealed weapon carry laws, child access prevention laws, zero tolerance laws for firearms in schools, and combinations of firearms laws'.  Their conclusion?  'In summary, the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.'

(It's interesting to note that the Bloomberg School of Public Health - named for and funded by one of the worst anti-gun bigots in the USA - at Johns Hopkins University reacted to the CDC study by claiming, 'The lack of sufficient evidence to prove that gun laws prevent violence does not mean that gun policies don't work'.  Uh-huh.  "The study didn't prove what we wanted it to prove, so we'll deny that it disproved it!"  Weasel words.)

The following year, the National Academy of Sciences released a report titled 'Firearms And Violence:  A Critical Review'.  It was a bust.  As one report pointed out:

In 2004, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 253 journal articles, 99 books and 43 government publications evaluating 80 gun-control measures. Researchers could not identify a single regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide or accidents.

Another report noted:

In short, the panel could find no link between restrictions on gun ownership and lower rates of crime, firearms violence or even accidents with guns.

The panel was established during the Clinton administration and all but one of its members were known to favor gun control.

Despite these negative results, the NAS called for more reseach, claiming that there was insufficient data available. (Judge for yourself how realistic that claim was, in the light of the overwhelming quantity of data they studied in the first place!) As a well-known Second Amendment and gun-control scholar pointed out:

“While more research is always helpful, the notion that we have learned nothing flies in the face of common sense,” said John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a critic of gun-control laws. “The NAS panel should have concluded as the existing research has: Gun control doesn’t help.”

Needless to say, anyone with an ounce of common sense will agree with Mr. Lott. He said no more than the truth - but then, ideologues aren't really interested in the truth.

Finally, in 2005, the Task Force on Community Prevention Services (an organ of the CDC) published a follow-up report to its earlier work, titled 'Firearms Laws and the Reduction of Violence: A Systematic Review'.  Its summary?

The review assessed the effects of selected Federal and State laws on violence-related public health outcomes, including death and injury resulting from violent crimes, suicide, and unintentional incidents. In addition, effects on other outcomes were noted. This review is different from previous reviews, in that it reviews selected laws and is based on systematic epidemiologic evaluations and synthesizes all literature meeting specified criteria. Results are presented in two parts: intervention effectiveness and research issues for firearms laws. Based on identified studies reviewed in this report, the evidence is insufficient to determine whether the United States firearms laws affect violence. It is concluded that evidence for the effectiveness of a given firearms law on an outcome is insufficient. It is not implied that the law has no effect; rather, it is not yet known what effect, if any, the law has on that outcome.

If you or I had spent years (and millions of dollars) combing through so many studies and analyzing so much data, and hadn't found any proof that our thesis was correct, we'd say that it was at least unproven, if not demonstrably incorrect.  That would be the intellectually and academically honest thing to do, right?  Not so these clowns.  They couldn't find sufficient data to support the outcome they wanted - so instead of conceding the point, they simply demand more data, more research, in order to concoct something more in their favor!  Scientific rigor?  Honesty in research?  What rigor and honesty?

That's the reality behind the White House's call for more research.  No research thus far has validated its gun control proposals; therefore it'll sponsor further research, and appoint researchers who will 'toe the party line', until it can manufacture the conclusions it wants to support its political and social agenda.  That's it, in a nutshell.

I'm not going to waste any more time on analyzing the White House report.  It's intellectually lazy where it's not downright dishonest, riddled with political pablum, and not worth the time it takes to read it.  If you'd like to do so, of course, feel free.

The Left sees gun control as an issue to be exploited in its quest for societal control, elevating the State over the individual.  They don't want to examine the real problem.  One commentator pointed out:

Among the many ways America differs from other countries when it comes to guns is that when a mass shooting happens in the United States, it’s a gun story. How an obviously sick man could buy a gun; how terrible it is that guns are abundant; how we must ban particular types of guns that are especially dangerous. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence responded to the news with a gun-control petition. Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times has weighed in with an online column saying that “Politicians are far too cowardly to address gun violence . . . which keeps us from taking practical measures to avoid senseless shootings.”

Compare that to the coverage and conversation after Anders Behring Breivik murdered sixty-nine people on the island of Utøya in Norway, a year ago next Sunday. Nobody focused on the gun. I had a hard time learning from the news reports what type of gun he used. Nobody asked, “How did he get a gun?” That seemed strange, because it’s much harder to get a gun in Europe than it is here. But everybody, even the American media, seemed to understand that the heart of the Utøya massacre story was a tragically deranged man, not the rifle he fired. Instead of wringing their hands over the gun Breivik used, Norwegians saw the tragedy as the opening to a conversation about the rise of right-wing extremism in their country.

Rosenthal is wrong, by the way, that politicians haven’t addressed gun violence. They have done so brilliantly, in a million different ways, which helps explain why the rate of violent crime is about half what it was twenty years ago. They simply haven’t used gun control to do it. Gun laws are far looser than they were twenty years ago, even while crime is plunging—a galling juxtaposition for those who place their faith in tougher gun laws. The drop in violence is one of our few unalloyed public-policy success stories, though perhaps not for those who bemoan an “epidemic of gun violence” that doesn’t exist anymore in order to make a political point.

It’s true that America’s rate of violent crime remains higher than that in most European countries. But to focus on guns is to dodge a painful truth. America is more violent than other countries because Americans are more violent than other people. Our abundant guns surely make assaults more deadly. But by obsessing over inanimate pieces of metal, we avoid looking at what brings us more often than others to commit violent acts. Many liberal critics understand this when it comes to drug policy. The modern, sophisticated position is that demonizing chemicals is a reductive and ineffective way to address complicated social pathologies. When it comes to gun violence, though, the conversation often stops at the tool, because it is more comfortable to blame it than to examine ourselves.

There's more at the link.  Bold print is my emphasis.

President Obama's gun control proposals are the thin edge of the wedge, designed to extract further concessions from the pro-gun lobby on the way to a complete disarming of Americans.  If you doubt that, look no further than the plan laid out by a far-left-wing commenter at the Daily Kos Web site last month.  Here's an excerpt.

So registration is the first step. [Once] the vast majority [of guns] are registered, we can do what we will. One good first step would be to close the registry to new registrations. This would, in effect, prevent new guns from being made or imported. This would put the murder machine corporations out of business for good, and cut the money supply to the NRA/GOA. As money dries up, the political capital needed for new controls will be greatly reduced.

There are a few other things I would suggest. I would suggest an immediate, national ban on concealed carry. A ban on internet sales of guns and ammunition is a no brainer. Microstamping would also be a very good thing. Even if the only thing it does is drive up costs, it could still lead to crimes being solved. I'm willing to try every advantage we can get.

A national Firearms Owner Identification Card might be good, but I'm not sure if it's necessary if we have a national database. We should also insist on comprehensive insurance and mandatory gun safes, subject to random, spot checks by local and federal law enforcement.

We must make guns expensive and unpopular, just like cigarettes. A nationwide, antigun campaign paid for by a per gun yearly tax paid by owners, dealers, and manufacturers would work well in this regard. We should also segway (sic) into an anti-hunting campaign, like those in the UK. By making hunting expensive and unpopular, we can make the transition to a gun free society much less of a headache for us.

I know this seems harsh, but this is the only way we can be truly safe. I don't want my kids being shot at by a deranged NRA member. I'm sure you don't either. So lets stop looking for short term solutions and start looking long term. Registration is the first step.

Tell Pres. Obama and democrats in congress to demand mandatory, comprehensive gun registration. It's the only way we can ban guns with any effectiveness.

There's much more at the link.  It makes chilling reading.

Needless to say, the author of that plan doesn't bother to take reality into account.  That reality is simple.

There are about 500,000 gun-related crimes annually in the United States. Further, Americans own roughly 250 million guns. Assuming a different gun is used in each of the 500,000 crimes, only 0.2% of guns are involved in crime each year. A ban on firearms would be 99.8% over-inclusive.

In the headline to this article, I used the word 'insidious' to describe President Obama's gun control proposals.  That word is defined as follows:

  1. intended to entrap or beguile: an insidious plan.
  2. stealthily treacherous or deceitful: an insidious enemy.
  3. operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect: an insidious disease.

I repeat - President Obama's proposals are insidious.  They use gun control as a smokescreen to disguise his Administration's ongoing assault on individual rights, freedoms and liberties, in favor of an all-embracing, all-powerful State.  That's the ultimate threat here.  Guns are a lever for him to use, to distract us from what he's trying to achieve.

They may also be the last line of defense against it.



B said...

I think Lanza DID try to buy a gun. But he chose not to wait for the 5 day waiting period.

Dirk said...

You know, even my 14- and 11-year old kids understand this very simple concept:

Someone set on shooting a bunch of people isn't going to care what the laws are. They aren't going to care that they can only have a 10-round (or 7, if they live in the People's Republic of NY) magazine. They're not going to care if the gun they use has the "shoulder thing that goes up", or some other cosmetic frill. All they care about is that they have one or more guns, and enough ammo to kill as many people as they want. They're already planning on breaking a much more serious law - the one against murder.

Tam said...

That plan at the Daily Kos is as disconnected from reality as the "plans" to repeal NFA '34 at THR.