How To Solve Gun Violence

Five things liberal groups want. Funny, you know what’s not on that list? Taking everyone’s guns!

Stupid loons.

Some other ideas:

• Mandatory liability insurance for gun owners. This would provide gun owners with a financial incentive for gun safety — offering lower premiums for those who take advantage of safety measures. This is a no-brainer to me.

• Ban online ammunition sales.

• An ammunition tax.

• I’ve never taken one of those “firearms safety” courses required to obtain a concealed-carry permit, but everything I’ve read does not give me confidence that one learns anything about safety. Nope, everything I’ve read presents these “classes” as right-wing, anti-Obama, NRA propaganda fests. And with instructors like this loon, no wonder.

Or, as Harper’s Dan Baum wrote in 2010,

The classes I took taught me almost nothing about how to defend myself with a gun. One, taught by a man who said he refuses to get a carry permit because “I don’t think I have to get the government’s permission to exercise my right to bear arms,” packed about twenty minutes of useful instruction into four long evenings of platitudes, Obama jokes, and belligerent posturing. “The way crime is simply out of control, you can’t afford not to wear a gun all the time,” he told us on several occasions. We shot fifty rounds apiece at man-shaped targets fifteen feet away. The legal-implications segment was taught by a cop who, after warming us up with fart jokes, encouraged us to lie to policemen if stopped while wearing our guns and suggested that nobody in his right mind would let a burglar run off with a big-screen TV. It’s illegal to shoot a fleeing criminal, he said, “but if your aim is good enough, you have time to get your story straight before I [the police] get there.” Thank you for coming; here’s your certificate of instruction. The other class, a three-hour quickie at the Tanner Gun Show in Denver, was built around a fifteen-minute recruiting pitch for the NRA and a long-winded, paranoid fantasy about “home invasion.” “They’re watching what time you come home, what time do you get up to go to the bathroom, when you’re there, when you’re not,” said the instructor, Rob Shewmake, of the Florida company Equip 2 Conceal. “They know who lives in the house. They know where your bedroom is, and they’re there to kill you.” (Eighty-seven Americans were murdered during burglaries in 2008; statistically, you had a better chance of being killed by bees.)

Both classes were less about self-defense than about recruiting us into a culture animated by fear of violent crime. In the Boulder class, we watched lurid films of men in ski masks breaking into homes occupied by terrified women. We studied color police photos of a man slashed open with a knife. Teachers in both classes directed us to websites dedicated to concealed carry, among them usacarry.org, an online gathering place where the gun-carrying community warns, over and over, that crime is “out of control.”

In fact, violent crime has fallen by a third since 1989—one piece of unambiguous good news out of the past two decades. Murder, rape, robbery, assault: all of them are much less common now than they were then. At class, it was hard to discern the line between preparing for something awful to happen and praying for something awful to happen. A desire to carry a gun seemed to precede the fear of crime, the fear serving to justify the carrying. I asked one of the instructors whether carrying a gun didn’t bespeak a needlessly dark view of mankind. “I’m an optimist,” he said, “but we live in a world of assholes.”

At the conclusion of both classes, we students were welcomed into the gun-carrying fraternity as though dripping from the baptismal font. “Thank you for being a part of this, man. You’re doing the right thing,” one of the Boulder teachers said, taking my hand in both of his and looking into my eyes. “You should all be proud of yourselves just for being here,” said the police officer who helped with the class. “All of us thank you.” As we stood shaking hands, with our guns in our gym bags and holding our certificates, we felt proud, included, even loved. We had been admitted to a league of especially useful gentlemen and ladies.

How about some national standards and oversight for these programs? Let’s actually teach people something useful about safety, instead of assuming that they already know everything they need to know except that Obama wants to steal your guns and it’s your patriotic duty to stop him?

• Better education. I still don’t know what Nancy Lanza was thinking, knowing her kid was mentally ill and still letting him have access to her guns. What the hell? This whole tragedy could have been avoided if the first gun loon in the chain — the shooter’s mother — had some damn common sense.

• Obviously, the mental health equation needs to be part of this. We need better mental health care across the board. That’s a healthcare issue, and we all know how much Congress loves to talk healthcare these days, right? But seriously, let’s get to work on that, too.

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17 Comments

Filed under gun control, gun violence

17 responses to “How To Solve Gun Violence

  1. I see the mandatory insurance argument as a strong one for those who care about gun control. Require registration of guns, just like cars, complete with serial numbers (ala VIN numbers) for every gun sale. Once notified of gun ownership, put an onerous insurance policy premium increase for life insurance, home insurance, car insurance (if a carry permit is obtained), and of course gun liability insurance for said owner. After all, a person with a firearm in the house is 43 times more likely to injure or kill himself or a loved one than an intruder, so why not require insurance to cover such incidents?
    Want your life insurance premiums to go up? Buy a gun, Bubba~!

  2. democommie

    Dear Southern Beale:

    As you know, I have been working on my own .357 Magnum Opus about gunzloonery, gunzligion and the gunzilla that is the NRA.

    Suffice to say, all of your ideas make sense, it will be a major success if even one of them becomes law, anywhere.

    The NYS Senate just passed a new “AWB*” law. It is expected that the democratically top heavy House will pass it easily (the Senate is controlled by the GOP). I suspect that Governor Cuomo did his arm twisting and favor trading to get the bill through the Senate. Whether the law makes any real difference will take a while to determine. It can’t hurt.

    * I haven’t seen the legislation as yet and have no idea how comprehensive it is.

  3. ThresherK

    “Safety” isn’t safety in every class of concerned citizens pursuing a hobby, is it?

    I’ve been in more than a few rooms where folks are taught what they need to get a ham radio license, and the safety concerns there (unplug everything before soldering it, don’t put up antennas where they’ll fall on power lines, don’t fall off of roofs or towers or out of trees) don’tt come with a side serving of “The FCC is coming to take away your radios!”

  4. oreally

    If a teacher can’t be trusted with a paddle in the classroom, who would want them to be armed with a 9mm pistol. As for arming teachers, this link shows what can happen when teachers are armed. It wasn’t nice for the principals!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/10/inskip-school-shooting-te_n_457533.html

  5. There are so many pros and cons and unfortunately most of the cons had/have the guns (as in the pen mates who robbed or killed). And, the list goes on and on. Will this issue ever be solved? I don’t think so. Too many reds out there that are pro weapons for hunting, recreation, and self protection. How do you get the Ak whatever and other guns out of the hands of nut jobs?

    Nice post by the way. You “done good.”

  6. Mary L. Wilson

    Since the NRA is using “mental health” as a scapegoat, the NY State law puts a lot of responsibility on mental health professionals rather than gun makers, gun sellers and law enforcement. And the GOP, since Reagan’s day, when he closed most mental health facilities and drastically cut funding for ALL types of programs focused on mental patients…today the goofy and irrational GOP are cutting back on even minimun mental health care. Here in East TN, our Govenor closed the last regional mental hospital, and pushed 33 patients who required LIFE LONG supervision OUT in to society, even ones who had NO family or caregivers.
    The contents of the NYBill, passed by their Senate did include stiff measures, but the focus was to include violating mental patients confidential medical records…to the extreme.

  7. It’s very possible to have insurance that will protect everyone injured by shootings and have the insurers discourage lost and stolen guns. Require manufacturers to have insurance that only gives up responsibility when another insurer takes over and so on. No need to register guns with the government. Would be much cheaper than car insurance because cars cause 2.5 Million injuries per year v. 75,000 for guns.

    • The figures I’ve seen are 100,000 for guns. But you bring up another point: if the insurance companies get involved we’ll at least have some decent actuarial numbers.

      Yes. Mandatory insurance for gun owners looks better and better.

      • I not sure what your 100,000 figure refers to. As a dollar limit for insurance it’s higher than current car insurance in most states but reasonable for today’s price levels. It corresponds to an average annual premium of about $25 per gun. It’s a little low for deaths plus injuries.

      • 100,000 gun deaths in the U.S. per year, vs your figure of 75,000.

  8. I’m wondering why the media has not talked about the mother;s complicity . What, don’t speak ill of the dead? because of her, 20 little kids are gone now.

  9. democommie

    Southern Beale:

    I think the figures for gun deaths is below 100K, considerably. I also think that the average cost of a GSW is in the multiple hundreds of thousands.

    • Yeah you’re right, the 100,000 figure is shootings total, 31,000+ is deaths. Via:

      • Over 100,000 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, accidents, or by
      police intervention.

      • 31,537 people die from gun violence

      • 71,386 people survive gun injuries