Friday, December 21

At Least We Now Know What It Takes To Get Some Of The Nation's Top Conservative Intellectuals To Mention Gun Restrictions

Charles Krauthammer, "The roots of mass murder". December 20

Jennifer Rubin, "Dear Commission: About those guns…" December 20

WE'RE going to cover this in more detail in a bit, but, first, let's just correct the willful misrepresentation of legislative efficaciousness: it is true that the 1994 so-called Assault Weapons so-called ban did not appreciably reduce the national gun homicide rate. This is less surprising, perhaps, if one recalls that 1985's Gramm-Rudman act did nothing to prevent Phil Gramm or Warren Rudman. And their names were right there on the bill.

Anyway, today Chuckles Krauthammer's trying to be reasonable, and Jennifer Rubin is trying to be smart. Let's look in. Chuck?
Every mass shooting has three elements: the killer, the weapon and the cultural climate. As soon as the shooting stops, partisans immediately pick their preferred root cause with corresponding pet panacea. Names are hurled, scapegoats paraded, prejudices vented. The argument goes nowhere.

I dunno; like the man said, even the truly worthless can serve as a bad example.

Let's begin with Columbine. The screaming about "The Culture" began there before anyone knew anything about Harris and Klebold, and it went on long, strong, and without regard for facts. It gave all the impression, in fact, of being a pat and partisan response to the entire question of gun violence.

Japanese culture is stomach-churningly violent. No one there ever kills anybody. The rest of the world watches our movies and plays our video games; we have four times the homicide rate, and four times the firearms-homicide rate, of comparably-developed countries.

And while we're at it, leave us just point out that the argument over "culture" is a partisan political talking point which got appended to the issue of school violence just because it was handy, and just because cultural arguments are made incontinently, without full consideration. The violence in American culture isn't just Tarantino and Peckinpah movies, and thrill-kill video game anarchy. We lead the globe in martial glorification, too. More innocents died at Fallujah than at Newtown. Our somber reflection on the hopeless, needless, and utterly worthless global slaughter that was the First World War, once known as Armistice Day, is now demonstrated by putting a few of our surplus hi-tech bombers to work wowing the rubes down below.

The killer? Are we actually proposing to control human psychology now? All the babbling about the Motive of Adam Lanza seems like carnival rubbernecking.

Weapons, on the other hand, well, time hasn't diminished that argument any. Guns kill. Assault-styled weapons kill massively.
I have no problem in principle with gun control. Congress enacted (and I supported) an assault weapons ban in 1994. The problem was: It didn’t work. (So concluded a University of Pennsylvania study commissioned by the Justice Department.) The reason is simple. Unless you are prepared to confiscate all existing firearms, disarm the citizenry and repeal the Second Amendment, it’s almost impossible to craft a law that will be effective.

And unless we are prepared to eliminate, or ameliorate, the money that flows into both parties from those who profit on firearm sales, such laws will always be watered-down, and subject to repeal as soon as the heat's off. This crap about how the Assault Weapon ban "didn't work" is just that. It wasn't comprehensive enough, and it wasn't in place long enough to begin to dent the supply.

Although, yes, it's entirely correct that a solution would require us to confiscate guns, at least for inspection (the way many states do motor vehicles). And, yes, the attempt would probably be met with gunplay. Which kinda proves the point.
Monsters shall always be with us, but in earlier days they did not roam free. As a psychiatrist in Massachusetts in the 1970s, I committed people — often right out of the emergency room — as a danger to themselves or to others. I never did so lightly, but I labored under none of the crushing bureaucratic and legal constraints that make involuntary commitment infinitely more difficult today.
Why do you think we have so many homeless? Destitution? Poverty has declined since the 1950s. The majority of those sleeping on grates are mentally ill. In the name of civil liberties, we let them die with their rights on.
We didn't turn 'em out in the first place because of civil liberties. We did so so that Ronald Reagan could prove that cutting budgets saved money.
If we’re serious about curtailing future Columbines and Newtowns, everything — guns, commitment, culture — must be on the table. It’s not hard for President Obama to call out the NRA. But will he call out the ACLU? And will he call out his Hollywood friends?

Well, assuming that at some point you actually demonstrate some causative connection between cartoon violence and real violence, th' fuck happened to the argument about it taking 100 years to get rid of things?

And, once more: this "Hollywood lefties" thing is just an old wingnut stalking horse trotted out so it sounds like you have something to add to the conversation. Just how much Hollywood violence is there, these days? I doubt it compares to the ultraviolence of video games, which dwarf the amount of time and attention young males spend on blockbuster theatrical releases. Who's supposed to talk to the techie libertoonians who market those, eh?

And by the way: it's common knowledge that over the last forty years, sex would earn a movie a restricted rating a lot faster than violence would. Which end of the political spectrum is responsible for that? You're the guys making fun of hippies for banning toy guns.

I'm sorry, Ms Rubin; you were trying to sound serious for once?
3. Criminal and civil liability. Parents, relatives and guardians who knowingly allow persons with diagnosed mentally illness access to firearms should bear legal responsibility. That might get the attention of some homeowners and drive the discussion of gun safety and security.

Has your party been keeping its platform from you the last forty years? Were you overseas, or in a worse coma than usual, in 2004, when a Republican administration with effective control of both Houses exempted gun manufacturers and retailers from all liability for firearms use, in perpetuity? Which end of the political spectrum of the Court ruled fucking trigger locks un-Constitutional?
7. [sic] Voluntary advanced certification program for principals. If school principals want to undergo specific training and be qualified to handle a gun and respond in an emergency that should be an option for schools and those principals. Even if not all (or even most) do the deterrent effect (like air marshals) will have some effect.

Understand that I speak from some expertise in the field: nobody who knows anything about school administrators in this country would ever suggest such a thing. Hell, nobody who actually knows school administrators will recommend they administer schools, let alone while packing.
8. Fund some studies on the impact of media coverage of mass shootings. Do they contribute to other such crimes? Let’s look.

While we're at it, how 'bout we study where the PR campaign to absolve weapons of all blame has gotten us?
9. Study the impact of the 1994 assault weapons ban.

Actually, the assumption here is that such weapons facilitate the sort of mass slaughter we saw a week ago, and that they have little if any legal justification for ownership. Which makes them a prime target for the sort of incremental change such a law might begin to affect.

Meanwhile, you'll have to excuse the assumption that anyone looking for opportunities to nit-pick such a ban has a political agenda, not a practical one. I suppose it beats assuming that you just dislike school children.


Anonymous said...

It's funny that after ensuring that no organization like the CDC could even look sideways at a gun without its funding getting yanked, now we want to do some studies?

But not too much, one supposes.

tony in san diego said...

Yeah lets make a law that Hollywood can only make Fred Astaire movies from now on. That will fix it.

prairie curmudgeon said...

Preamble to any new firearms bill will include: "Assault" has absolutely no connection with the capacity of any firearm to enact violence upon, or cause bodily injury or death of people. Therefore, let this body engage in the banning of "assault".

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Hell, why stop with Hollywood liberals and the ACLU?

It's time to ban ACORN, Alinsky, and Soros!

What? O.K., Alinsky, Soros, and Unions! And Social Security!

Anonymous said...

I'm still stuck on the phrase "Conservative Intellectuals." I've never seen or heard one, though I've been scouring the country ever since Buckley's schoolboy debate tactics.
Maybe just an oxymoron, here dripping with sarcasm. I'll read it that way.


Li'l Innocent said...

My late mom, a classrm teacher who became a reading specialist, worked with a great principal for at least a decade. They do exist. What kind of firearm-toter he would have made, I can't say.

As to everybody else watching our flics and playing our blood-spurting gang-banging video games but not having our homicide rates -- maybe we're more literal-minded than other nations?

But I think we'd be less prone to mayhem if we weren't the current Top Dog. Top Dog status is corrupting and delusion/anxiety-generating and not healthy.

Anonymous said...

Krauthammer has a point although his focus on culture was too narrow.
For instance, what were the dreamtime stories that inspired Lanza's mum to collect so many guns. Did she really fear the tyranny of over- reaching government and economic collapse. Was there too much Limbaugh and not enough NPR?
What aspects of American Dreaming provoked Bush to invade Iraq.
Are dreamtime stories of good and evil, imperial power and manifest destiny responsile for the death of hunderds of thousands of people?
John C

Anonymous said...

None of the recent mass shooters would have been involuntarily committed under any standards. The people sleeping on grates in between stints walking down the street carrying on animated conversations with the sky do not commit mass murder. Our shooters come from good middle class American households and don’t act out in ways that would make involuntary commitment likely.

Anonymous said...

Our only recourse is to stigmatize assault-weapon owners like we do pedophiles. Those sex-offender registries? Don't you have a right to know which neighbor lives with an arsenal?

Which would you rather live next to: a pedophile, or a gun-nut? Both are dangerous, and mentally ill.

melior said...

"Criminal and civil liability."

Mandatory liability insurance on every personally owned firearm, sufficient to cover any injuries due to negligent, criminal, or accidental discharge. Coverage requirements scaled to the lethality of the type of weapon. Renewed annually.

What does mental illness have to do with anything?