Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free Range

Report: N.C. among states linked to guns used for crimes ::
Nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines and were used in crimes in 2009 were sold in just 10 states, according to a report being released Monday by a mayors’ group.

My (Nearest) Local Gun Store
North Carolina is identified one of the ten states supplying guns to the rest of the country. Congratulations, Death Merchants, you're putting us in the national spotlight.

Look, I won't mince words: private citizens should not have handguns or assault weapons. (Let's leave aside sport rifles for hunting. I think that's a separate discussion.) The 2nd Amendment makes it pretty clear the right to keep and bear arms is for the purpose of being able to maintain a well-regulated militia for the national defense. You can parse the language all you want, but this argument has been settled to the satisfaction of all reasonable people. The language of the amendment is archaic, obscures the intent to modern readers, and has been twisted to ridiculous purposes by a well-funded lobby of blood-thirsty cranks. We, the tax-payers, are footing the bill for a huge military; we shouldn't have to worry about our fellow civilians running around with handguns as well. Want to shoot stuff? Join the armed forces, I'm sure they'll be happy to arrange a tour of lovely Afghanistan for you.

So, since it's going to be all but impossible to fix the Constitution, I'd like to propose we give the NRA and the right wing everything they want in this regard. And, by everything they want, I mean let's get the government out of business of regulating firearm manufacturers for the civilian market. Let's do away with those pesky safeties and trigger-locks, real macho men don't need those things forced on them by nanny state liberals. Licensing and registration? Useless bureaucracy. Handguns for everybody, no waiting.

Firearm manufacturers should be allowed to outsource the actual production of weapons to whatever country they want, wherever labor costs are cheapest, they need unfettered access to those markets. And let's not use tariffs and tax incentives to cripple the free-market here. If child labor in Asian sweat-shops can crank out guns and bullets faster and cheaper than those commie union types here, more power to 'em.

Also, let's limit the liability of firearm manufacturers for death and injury as result of injuries incurred while operating firearms. If a shoddily made handgun explodes in the user's hand, or a gun accidentally goes off killing a child, I don't see why the manufacturer should be held responsible for that. I bet we can clear some frivolous personal injury lawsuits by not letting people sue.

Further, we should get the government out of the insurance business as much as possible, right? So how about we let insurers refuse to cover medical costs for handgun related injuries, whether accidental or deliberate. Shot? You must've had it coming; you should be paying those expenses out of pocket. Your kid shot himself in the face playing with your handgun? Why should my premiums go up for that? Take care of it yourself.

This post has been sitting in draft status for a couple days. The kid that killed himself (with an AK-47?! -- why again are people allowed to get these things?) and scared the crap out of a bunch of folks got me thinking about what it might be like if more people carried. Sure, we can imagine a situation where a shooter starts firing off rounds on a college campus and a hero with a sidearm takes him out before anyone is injured. Sounds great, right? Is it that much harder though to imagine this scenario:
The suicidal kid pulls his gun out in the library and starts firing. People are crouching under tables, hiding in the stacks, calling 911 and checking twitter to find out if anyone knows what's going on. They learn the police are searching for multiple shooters. Our hero from the NRA's utopian scenario is in the library, he gets a shot off, killing the kid who first drew a weapon. Now, some other would-be student heroes also in the library but hiding in the stacks after the first shots poke their heads out and see a shot kid on the ground and another kid with a smoking gun. What odds you suppose the first hero is shot before anybody can sort the situation out? Let's say the second wave of heroes shoot the first hero. First hero's friends think, "oh crap, those guys over there must be with the first shooter," and next thing you know all our well-armed college kids are shooting at each other.

Far-fetched?  Maybe. Maybe not.  Colleges are a sea of testosterone, booze, and pot. Does that sound like a place that would benefit for having more guns in it?  Apparently, John Lott, Jr. would have you believe so. I don't buy it.

You might argue "the police could make the same mistakes." I'd respond, "police are trained to handle these sorts of situations. We expect them to follow protocols and use superior judgement than what we could reasonably expect of a 19 year old business major." The idea that if everybody carried a weapon, we'd all be safer just doesn't fly.
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