Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sandy Hook Massacre and Next Steps

Bodies weren't even cold when pundits, politicians, and website comments filled the media that "something" needed to be done to prevent another Sandy Hook.  The loudest message is around some type of gun restrictions, bans, or outlawing.  

There's one problem: America is awash in guns.  Approximately 300 million guns exist in the hands of her 311 citizens.  The barn door has been left open, and the cow is no longer in the barn.  

With that as the backdrop, here are some of what is being proposed:

  • Total ban on guns.  See the above!  The government may know that a specific citizen has a specific gun via the National Instant Criminal Background Check instituted in the '90's.  But that person might have given the gun as a gift, as my Dad did for me.  Or that person may have lost the gun, as my hunting partner did when his boat overturned.  Or that person may have had his ex-wife sell them in a nasty divorce, as what happened to my buddy.  Hence, the ONLY way we'll be able to ban all guns is via house-to-house search.  And with the numbers listed above, that means EVERY house.  Good luck with that; not only from a Constitutional standpoint, but also from an execution standpoint.
  • Ban on "automatic" weapons, large magazines, etc.  Let's make something very clear: automatic weapons (one that fires multiple rounds with a pull of the trigger) are already banned.  There are very few owned by private collectors, and the application process to own these is stringent.  Semi-automatic weapons (one where just one round is fired with each pull of the trigger) are legal, and have been since their invention in the late 1800's.  As for limiting magazines, there's that whole cow/barn thing as well as it pertains to magazines.  There are millions of high capacity magazines already in circulation.  Finally, the killer in the latest tragedy used guns that had 15 and 17 round magazines.  
  • Register guns with a forensic footprint so they can be tracked.  It is true that every gun has it's own "fingerprint" that gets left on the bullet it is firing.  And a person with about two minutes and a small file can forever alter that fingerprint in such a way as to make the whole process moot.
  • Tax guns and ammunition at an excessive rate.  While that will prevent future guns and ammunition to be sold, there's that troubling issue with the 300 million guns already in society.  As for ammunition, there are likely HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of rounds already in private hands.  Likewise, with reloading activity (the private construction of bullets and shotgun shells done by thousands if not millions of people), folks will be able to continue to crank out the production of ammunition, and subsequently launch a lucrative black market career, once factory manufactured ammunition is taxed to oblivion.  
  • Hold someone fiscally "accountable" for the shooting.  While this worked great against "big tobacco," how will it exactly work against firearms?  Is the gun manufacturer punished?  The ammunition manufacturer?  The retailer that sold the gun and/or the ammunition?  And once that is put into place, and all of those companies are driven out of business, what happens to that cow that is already outside of the barn?  Likewise, once this legislation passed, will we then be able to sue Apple for folks texting or talking while driving and get into an accident?  Ditto "big alcohol" and drunk drivers?  Once that camel's nose gets under the tent, where does it stop?
Want to crack down on gun shows?  Fine.  Want to limit magazine size?  Knock yourself out.  However, the bottom line to all of this is regardless of what gets done, it cannot address the amount of guns, magazines, and ammunition already in our society.

So what do we do?  

Let's start and end with a hard look at mental illness in this country.  The most vulnerable of us are going untreated, and are being plied by the most unsavory of communications.  From first person shooter video games that actively train mass murder techniques to hate sites that actively encourage mayhem from their readers, instead of getting help our mentally ill are just getting pushed toward explosion.  

The bottom line in all of these massacres is that they were not committed by sane individuals.  No sane person could commit mass murder, especially against children of all people.  Insanity is the common denominator in these massacres.  Not guns.

But guns are such an easy scapegoat!  To non-gun owners, they're scary, and only hillbillies, rednecks, preppers, and teabaggers own them.  Just "get rid of them" and things will be OK.  What folks don't want to do is address the real issue - mental illness - and look under the rugs of things like privacy, medial history, family issues, substance abuse, media consumption, free speech rights and the myriad other things that go along with it.  That's too hard.

So "doing something" about guns will continue to be demagogued up until, during, and after the next massacre committed by a mentally unstable individual.  And when they interview those who knew that individual, another chorus of "I'm not surprised," will crop up.  And so on...

Anyone with any solutions, please post up.   



  1. 1. Raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, just like alcohol. A person under the age of 21 may have a firearm officially transferred to them if it is purchased by someone over the age of 21.

    1b. Certain types of firearms cannot be transferred to indivuals under the age of 21. This is all a responsibility issue, the same with drinking. I would consider an exception for people who have joined the military. But, and there may be some exceptions, people this age are simply not responsible. If it was possible to get the age up to 30, I would.

    2. Waiting periods need to be extended. I would argue for a 30 day minimum waiting period to purchase a firearm. This gives both a "cooling down" period (this whacko in CT tried to buy a rifle within a week of committing this crime) and more time to run extensive background checks. The Second Amendment is based on "infringement to bearing arms", making a purchase of a firearm inconvenient is not infringement.

    2b. The waiting periods would firearm specific. If you want to buy a MAC-10, then you are going to wait 120 days while a simple, single shot hunting rifle might have the minimum 30 day wait.

    2c. Previous purchases would impact subsequent waiting periods. IF you purchase a firearm and then try to buy another within a set period of time, your waiting period would be multiplied. I would do this with ammunition sales too.

    2d. Certain levels of purchases of firearms and ammunition should be tracked. That is, if you are buying 10,000 rounds of ammunition at a time, the authorities should make note. The impact on a law abiding individual: none. And, maybe there isn't an impact on a criminal either, except to make it more difficult to amass a stockpile of weapons and ammunition.

    3. I would ban the sale of bullet resistent vests to the civilian population. An individual, such as law enforcement, general security, or in the asset transfer business would be able to obtain a special permit for this equipment. I would also ban the sale of hollow point ammunition.

    4. Obviously, we need to increase the penalties for crimes that are committed with or aided by a gun. Armed robbery? 20 years. Not a "20 year sentence" and out in. Twenty years. An individual that threatens the life of other members of society simply does not have the right to be a part of it. Unfortunatley, the violent urges take a long time to dispel. If we do not have enough prison beds for all of these criminals, build more.

    5. All sales of firearms, including private transfer, must follow the same rules, waiting periods, and paperwork.

    6. We need to improve the public safety component of working with individuals that are mentally ill. Individuals that are threats to themselves and others need treatment and to be isolated from society. This is NOT a freedom issue because a person who is insane does not possess freedom because they do not live in reality (they have rights, but those are limited). For the cases like CT and Colorado, this is probably the most important front.

  2. Mark,

    I think what you've crafted here is reasonable. I especially appreciate points 4, 5, and 6. Thanks for posting up.


Please feel free to include any thoughts you may have. Know, however, that kiddos might be reading this, so please keep the adult language to yourself. I know, for me to ask that language is clean is a stretch...