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Dec 17, 2012

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Grant

Michelle Malkin, who a few months ago said teachers use their students as "kiddie human shields and sacrificial lambs," says it dishonors the memory of the teacher who put herself in front of the gunman to use this event to criticize gun culture.

Stephen

Amen, Ed.

justcorbly

If true, that only illustrates the fundamental and unbridgeable chasm that divides us.

It is as if we inhabit the same land but live in different places.

Ed Cone

Seems to me that believing that everyone who disagrees with you is insincere presents an even wider chasm.

justcorbly

True, Ed. Solutions are much harder when both sides are sincere. When people are actually insincere it means change can be easier because they are not being asked to abandon something of core importance.

There is sincerity and insincerity here. I'm not at all confident that the sides who hold opposing and equally sincere positions can find common ground. Hope I'm wrong.


David Wharton

Recommended reading: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. He gives some good perspective on how and why our moral intuitions differ.

I think one of the commonest errors political polemicists make is assuming the insincerity of their opponents. (Limbaugh and Matthews are equal offenders.) Aristotle had it right, though, in his Ethics, when he said that nearly everything everybody does aims at some perceived good. But our perceptions of those "goods" are -- as Haidt demonstrates -- intuitive and pre-rational.

This makes moral debate almost impossible, unless you're willing to question your own moral perceptions.

Dave Ribar

Ed:

There should be common-sense, Constitutionally-appropriate, and effective steps that we can agree on and take to reduce gun violence. One approach would be to restore funding for local grants under the Project Safe Neighborhoods program to reduce trafficking of weapons to youths and gang members and promote safer storage of firearms. Another approach would be for the Attorney General to follow the recommendations of a recent GAO report to encourage more cooperation from states in providing information on people with mental health problems to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). Yet another approach would be to eliminate the requirement that approved NICS requests be removed from the database within 24 hours.

Ishmael

People who should own/use guns:

Law enforcement
Military
Hunters
Security personnel

I would include shooting ranges but still think this is a rather dubious "sport". Especially when targets are other human beings.
It is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to own an assault rifle or anything that shoots many rounds in a short amount of time. Please don't try to scare us with that "home invasion" narrative. Guns kill more owners and family members than actual criminals.

Hartzman

There should be common-sense, Constitutionally-appropriate, and effective steps that we can agree on and take to reduce gun violence.

Agreed.

One approach would be to restore funding for local grants under the Project Safe Neighborhoods program to reduce trafficking of weapons to youths and gang members and promote safer storage of firearms.

Makes sense, but where would the money come from?

Another approach would be for the Attorney General to follow the recommendations of a recent GAO report to encourage more cooperation from states in providing information on people with mental health problems to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS).

Agreed. Problem - The Attorney General hasn't put anyone in jail for financial crimes etc... The Attorney General is part of the problem. The Attorney General should be removed from office for not enforcing the law on the elite in our society, while imprisoning the "lower class".

"Yet another approach would be to eliminate the requirement that approved NICS requests be removed from the database within 24 hours."

Agreed.

Hugh

"Guns kill more owners and family members than actual criminals."

Actually, that should be Automobiles and water, not guns.

Account Deleted

One of the challenges with this awful incident is that it involves many layers that indict various aspect of our culture, from exposure to violence in mass media and ultraviolence particularly in first-person shooter computer/video games, to the stigma of mental illness/severe developmental challenges that stress the family to the breaking point and drive the primary caregiver to the point of abandoning the child to said video games, and of course in large part the consumerist culture of firearms that would create a scenario where a single mother acquires an arsenal of heavy weaponry that can be accessed by her deranged, live at home son.

There were many levels of cultural failure here. The gun laws actually prevented the mad man from gaining a weapon on the open market in this instance, but a family member's predilection to collecting weaponry and failing to store and secure the cache circumvented all of our societal barriers.

I tried to engage those I know in conversation about the nature of the AR-15 and the type of ammo used but was quickly shouted down by a cacophony of alpha males with the usual logical constructs about banning knives and pots and pans or hammers since all of those are used to kill as well.

Besides the NY Books article about "Our Moloch" the best argument I've seen stated that Nancy's right to own an arsenal does not trump a six year old's right to finish the first grade.

Ed Cone

Jeff, you have taken the next step, which is trying to break the problem down into its major parts instead of trying to reduce it to a slogan.

This is a good approach because it addresses the reality of a complex and multi-part problem.

And it also may make it easier to arrive at solutions (with the understanding that are no perfect solutions), because people would have more possible areas of agreement than in a binary argument.

Thus, my guess is that there is common ground to be found around mental health care. This topic quickly circles back to hot-button issues like gun control and government spending, but maybe those things can be addressed in this somewhat limited context more easily than in broader conceptual terms.

George Hartzman

a very large chunk of my views on this is relative to my family's experience of ww2. i see the need for regulation but at the same time want to have the ability to defend from mass irrationality via gov't or otherwise.

the injection of god etc... in public schools etc as a means to limit violence makes no sense to me and is a warning to some in the religious minorities to make sure they can protect themselves fro the majority if need be.

MojoNixon

Ranking the issues in terms of importance -- Mojo's opinion:

1. Safety of children in school.(tie)
1. Safety of children in school.(tie)
1. Safety of children in school.(tie)
4. Addressing the mental health crisis in this country.
5. Addressing ability of mentally impaired to access firearms -- to the extent possible, moving forward.
6. Addressing availability of assault weapons in this country -- to the extent possible, moving forward.

100. Putting guns into the hands of teachers.

Dave Ribar

George:

For Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the source of funding should be the federal government for a couple of reasons. First, gun violence is highest in the neighborhoods that can least afford to provide police services. Second, many of the issues associated with gun trafficking are multi-jurisdictional. For example, a model for some of the PSN programs was Project Exile in Richmond, which was effective in reducing gun violence in that city but which didn't target gun-trafficking to other Virginia cities or to the District of Columbia or New York (those guns weren't Richmond's problem).

With respect to the GAO report, I don't follow the argument. Are you suggesting that improvements to the NICS have to wait for the prosecution of financial crimes or for the replacement of the Attorney General?

sean coon

what no one seems to talk about re: gun legislation is a national database for sellers to use when people *apply* for a purchase. in this day and age, a simple questionnaire and honor code seems outlandish. i'm not sure such access would be considered a privacy issue. if criteria is established—mental health history, criminal record, domestic violence, age, etc.—then all a dealer would need is a SS# or access code to enter to get a simple yes or no back from the system, no other specifics need be communicated. it's how licenses are managed, why not extend it to the actual purchase of the weapon?

re: this post, that's a pretty safe non-position to take. what are your thoughts, ed? or do you not have any that you're willing to share? we know you're a gun owner. what threatens you about reform, if anything?

as for mental health being underfunded and overly taboo in our culture, a resounding yes from me. but what about the children exposed to gun violence every day in circumstances different than a lunatic mass killing? what about people with hot tempers and trigger fingers, decent people who are "enthusiasts" and then just snap, like jovan belcher? i'd imagine there are tons more of those cases out there than the mass shootings. what warning signs can be made explicit into a system to signal the need to remove weapons from that home until he proved himself to be more even keeled?

Ed Cone

Sean, your characterization of my post as a non-position is accurate, although I'd go with pre-position.

I'm thinking about the issue(s) and trying to figure out what I think the best policy solutions would be, and also the most likely path for some or all of them to be realized. It's going to take me some time, in part because I've got other fish to fry right now.

Meanwhile, in asking people to stop for a moment and consider the sincerity of people on all sides of these questions, I'm trying to provide some civil space and, beyond that, to get people to look past the usual divisions and failed solutions to the actual problems at hand. MoJo's prioritization list is a step in that direction.

sean coon

well, to be fair to "other perspectives" there are many people on the 24 hour news channels and comment threads professing one solution should be arming teachers or school employees. that's #100 on mojo's list, and i agree completely. not to cal people who think that's the right direction to take "stupid," but yes, it's a stupid idea.

George Hartzman

many who have experienced racial and or societal discrimination's or perceive, regular relatively sane people, r not going to want the "man" knowing what self defenses r possessed.

no way around it. there r already about 300 million American owned guns. i went to walmart last night for a toilet part, walked by the ammo stuff and it was mostly empty.

the mental health angle looks to be more realistically doable, and we may be able to do some good for some as consequence.

Collards

Reasonable gun laws would still allow this recent shooting to happen.

"Unreasonable" guns laws, like limiting magazines, might have cut this tragedy back by a factor of 5.

Imagine if that boy had to reload after 10 shots.

sal leone

Hi
I don not think PSN will work like everyone is thinking, I deal with the program and its not the answer. The incident in Virginia Tech, and now Newtown involved legally purchased guns. The problem with gun control and this I know for fact is this that all 50 stated have different laws. You can buy a gun at Wal-Mart or pawn shop and in some stated it illegal to have any form of assault rifle. The issue is we as a society need to wake up, the investigation of the shooter will reveal that there were warning signs but his mom more than likely over looked them. There are some parents that refuse to realize their kids are monsters. We need better security at schools and places were mass groups gather. There is no easy answer, and as sure as I am typing this, there will be another shooting one day, people love to out do the last person, the media plays it up and sick people get their 15 minutes of fame, anyone notice that shooting body counts are going up.

George Hartzman

i see what you're saying about arming teachers sean, as i would prefer to not have most of the teachers i have met to have a gun at school. though i know of one or two i would trust defending one of my kids with a gun at a school. most teachers wouldn't want to. i read today that israeli schools don't have guns with teachers, but security to get into the school is much tighter than here.

Dave Ribar

Sal:

Homicides committed by gang members and in the commission of other felonies are far, far more prevalent than homicides involving students at schools ( http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/tables/circumguntab.cfm ). PSN is primarily intended to reduce gun violence there.

For instance, in Greensboro this year:
- http://myfox8.com/2012/10/31/update-teens-arrested-for-gang-related-shooting-near-school/
- http://myfox8.com/2012/05/12/police-teenager-shot-at-greensboro-youth-council-carnival-dies/

These types of incidents don't make the national media, but they are more frequent and take many more lives.

Hugh

For Sal:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MbeUiR5pUMo/UM3-yuL_C3I/AAAAAAABGnw/dOCpkmJr_oY/s1600/Israeli%2Bgun%2Bcontrol.jpg

Hugh

Collards, 10 round mags are legal. Takes all of about 2 seconds to eject the old one and pop in the new one.

Same thing for older non magazine guns that accept stripper clips.

Hugh

Chicago Says 438 Dead In 2012 Gun Violence

http://personalliberty.com/2012/10/30/chicago-says-438-dead-in-2012-gun-violence/

Spag

Last night, Obama said:

"If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try."

One has to question whether the victims in Newtown stood a better chance if the shooter didn't have an automatic weapon. I tend to think that they would. Maybe only to save one child. Nobody needs such an automatic weapon and surely nobody's desire is worth the life of that one extra child that didn't have to die. One step.

To me, this is 70% about mental health, 20% guns, and 10% culture. If we try overkill on any of them, forces will emerge to ensure that we fail on all of them.

We will never create a perfect solution, but with reason, common sense, and honesty we can do better than we are.

Ed Cone

Not sure about the % breakdown (and I know Sam is not pretending to work an actual math problem) but, that's a reasonable ordering. The mental health and culture parts may be intertwined.

Dave Ribar

Hugh:

Israel does not generally allow teachers to be armed (possibly doctored internet photos notwithstanding). The exception seems to be teachers in some West Bank settlements.

Israel also has much stricter gun control and much lower gun ownership than we do.

sal leone

I feel the pain and understand that gang violence takes a lot of lives, but lets remember gang member on gang member is not a problem, to me its the innocent lives in the middle I care about.

I know gang bangers and they choose their life style so if they live by the sword then they die by it, find by me. This is actually a crime reduction if you think about it, one felon kills another felon, future decrease in crime, sad but true.

We do need some reform in NC on gun reduction, but when I ran for senate I had a plan but the voters choose a pro-gun senator, Trudy Wade, so there you have it.
Gun laws are useless in one state if the next state has weak ones, most guns that were involved in crimes in other states came from the area of VA and NC. I was an officer in NYC for years and guns were a serious crime and I came across a few in my time, but down here they are everywhere, Wal-Mart, Pawn-Shops, even grocery stores. You know the silly part of it all, you need a pistol purchase permit to buy a gun, it is good for 5 years, so if you buy 10 permits and then get a 50B or something like that, you still can use that permit and do your crime, hell some people sell guns without them.
The Whole Gun issue is a mess. We need to work on a lot of issues, mental Health, Gun Control and Family Values.

sal leone

HI Here is a report.

http://www.tracetheguns.org/report.pdf

Page 8 I think tells the top states, NC is in it.

sean coon

spag, i completely agree with you.

Steve Harrison

I think Sam's pretty close also. It would appear that both mother and son were suffering from something, although the mom probably didn't think she had a problem.

As far as gun control is concerned, I don't think we need to go back to Brady, but I do believe assault rifles should require a license with some sort of a psych eval. And high-capacity magazines shouldn't be just hanging on a display rack with a 2-for-1 sign.

But we also need to remember this: it's okay to mourn for these 20 children, but there are tens of thousands of other (American) children who are abused and neglected every day. And there are laws that are supposed to protect them, too, but most of us would rather just mind our own business and not get involved.

Of the people that knew this shooter, how many of them are really not surprised at what happened?

Fred Gregory

And just how sincere is this ?

"Mayor Bloomberg seemed to have something in mind as well, but the thought didn't make the complete trip from brain to mouth:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, appearing on the NBC program “Meet the Press,” all but demanded that Mr. Obama confront the prevalence of firearms in the nation. Mr. Bloomberg, an independent who gave his support to the president shortly before the November election partly on the basis of gun control, bluntly said he expected more of Mr. Obama.

“It’s time for the president to stand up and lead,” he said. “This should be his No. 1 agenda. He’s president of the United States. And if he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns” in the next year.

"Killed with illegal guns"? As a reference point, the victims in Newton were killed with legal guns, so his distinction baffles me.

Secodly, per the most recent CDC statistics (p. 81 of 117) there were 31,347 firearm related fatalities in 2009. That figure breaks down to roughly 19,000 suicides, 500 accidents, and 12,000 homicides (some presumably justified). It may be that if Obama does nothing then 48,000 firearm related homicides will occur over the next four years of his term, not next year. As to how many of those homicides will be with "illegal" guns, well, Mike only knows.

And since I have the death chart in front of me, I notice there are 24,792 deaths due to unintentional falls reported for 2009. I hope Mayor Bloomberg pressures President Obama to get out in front of (or underneath?) this problem with a strong national program of ladder control."

Tom Maguire

Fec

whar a cum frum, the fust thang a man gits izu ar15 an u felune beef fur goin full auto. ifn I wuz to whomp on ever cracker i no'd wuz hordin ammo, it'd be a full time job.

Spag

This isn't all about gun control, but a reasonable person has to ask if one more life could have been spared if the killer had a less destructive weapon. Those kids were littered with bullets. In my mind, I keep coming back to that. They had no chance against that weapon, and neither did the teacher who died trying to disarm him.

And for what? So people can have fun blasting watermelons with a semi-automatic rifle on the weekend?

If on the one hand you have a child who might still be alive today- even if the death toll is only reduced from 26 to 25-, and on the other hand you have a gun with no practical purpose but recreation, which one do you choose? Which one is the moral choice? Do you say "I choose my fun over your dead, bullet-riddled six year old body"?

Will you stand next to the closed casket of a child so destroyed that the body cannot be viewed and still feel confident with your choice? Will you be able to look into the eyes of his inconsolable family with a clear conscience knowing that the choice you make could have made the difference? Who will stand next to you when your child is lowered into the ground?

There are things we can control, and others we can't. But we have a moral obligation to exercise dominion over that which is within our power in a reasonable way whether it be related to guns, mental health, or culture.

Fec

Fo thu recud, five yea olds ain't much spowt.

sean coon

yes, let's compare gun violence with unintentional falls. i'd imagine that's an awesome dog whistle punch line, huh fred?

is it crazy to want to live in a society with as few handheld devices that shoot deadly metal pellets at high speed across a long distance as possible?

Fec

it is true u kin shoot a teacha, and sho nuff they iz ejucatd enuff to unerstan thu brutel iwony ov ther impndn demize, but whut duz a five yea ol no bout such thangs? ta me that iz thu travesty.

sean coon

btw, who is this spag guy? +100

Hugh

I see Fec has reverted to his mother tongue.

MojoNixon

I don't think Spag's stance is much of a surprise. I think that most reasonable people regardless of political affiliation can see semi-automatic assault weapons for what they really are. The others are cynics, nutcases, and Preppers.

I don't think people have an issue with semi-automatic capabilities in guns. A six-shooter revolver has a semi-auto capability for six rounds. Squeeze trigger as fast as you can, and bullets fly out. A Glock pistol is the same with 15 rounds.

The issue is the assault weapon firepower and 5.56 ammo -- it is an especially destructive combination. On top of that, at Sandy Hook it is apparent the shooter used some sort of hollow-point bullet.

Had he used those pistols, it certainly still would have been a horrible, horrible thing. However, one has to think that fewer children would have died. It's awful to have to think that way, but I think it matters.

MojoNixon

And I should not have used the term "nutcase". I was thinking "gun freaks". I don't believe the latter label is unduly pejorative.

Hartzman

"Are you suggesting that improvements to the NICS have to wait for the prosecution of financial crimes or for the replacement of the Attorney General?"

Not at all.

I am saying the government has forfeited the moral authority
to tell one group what the law is because they say so,
and another the law can be ignored in their case.
because some of the money they swim in
can be directed toward the decision makers.

Two sets of legal rules, depending who you are,
is not capitalistic democracy.

If our leaders cannot police their own,
what right do they have to police everyone else?
.
.
"Gun laws are useless in one state if the next state has weak ones, most guns that were involved in crimes in other states came from the area of VA and NC."

"There are some parents that refuse to realize their kids are monsters."

"the media plays it up and sick people get their 15 minutes of fame"

Profundity..., Sal Leone
.
.
"Nobody needs such an automatic weapon"

I don't think it was an automatic weapon Spag.
.
.
"with reason, common sense, and honesty we can do better than we are."

Agreed.
.
.
"And for what?

So people can have fun blasting watermelons
with a semi-automatic rifle on the weekend?"

As a minority, that is not the way I look at it.

Part of being American in my family
is being able to protect yourself and yours from the government.

Ask a Cambodian Refugee.

Ask an American Indian.

Nanjing.

Post WWII Russia.

Guatemala

Azerbaijan

Kurdistan

Saudi Arabian Shiites

Lower Caste Indians

Tutsi

America is supposed to be the safe haven of the downtrodden.

Be careful what you want to eliminate by fiat
in the midst of emotional response.

That's how the Patriot Act happened,
and it hasn't gone away.


Account Deleted

I agree with Sam.

Fec

Ma unerstanin is thu shoota used a .223, just puwfec fo dispatchin five yea oles.

Spag

This gun fired 45 rounds per minute. Those kids were shot multiple times. Call it whatever you want to. There is no legitimate reason for citizens to have such weapons except recreation or to kill many people in a short time frame.

So far, they have been highly useful at killing first graders. Their effectiveness against the United States military in an act of aggression by the government against American citizens has yet to be established, although I suspect the tanks, cruise missiles, daisy cutters, and jet fighters might be too much for them. That also assumes that those American citizen soldiers are willing to kill their own.

I am not well suited to adopting a policy position based on emotion. That would be a hollow gesture, and one that I have been a frequent critic against.

What I have been seeking is a reasonable response to a multifaceted problem. What I have seen over the past few days are unreasonable arguments based on simplified and often politically motivated premises. This is not the time for such petty things. If we aren't willing to put that aside at this moment and for this cause, then perhaps we have drifted too far apart as a nation.

I prefer not to believe that, because I think that what happens to our children is a powerful enough motivator to clarify things, if not for everyone then certainly for those who are willing to tune out the noise to have the type of necessary conversation that others won't.

Obama has hit exactly the right notes so far. I hope that he too will stay focused and not give in to the pressure of politics and noise. I am not a fan of his. That is quite well known. But he is right on this, and he has my attention. Those little kids deserve no less than our thoughtful best. If they are worth it to us as a society, then we all are going to have to concede a little ground.

sean coon

"Part of being American in my family
is being able to protect yourself and yours from the government."

your family values don't speak for the sane in our midst. i understand your family had a tough time in a land far, far away many years ago, but if you think owning an automatic weapon will deter a cop from walking up to you and shooting you in the head, you're sadly mistaken. good luck surviving an armed conflict with the government, no matter how big your guns are. unless we're in the midst of a true revolution, these excuses are invalid.

Fec

howeva, lots uv folks is kwite redy tu difind uginst an onslawt of five yea olds, an teaches ifn they got em.

Fec

Anyone owning an assault weapon should be jailed immediately.

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