Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More thoughts on solutions to gun violence

Mike DeAngelo has an excellent contribution to the gun control debate, and he seems to go further than I did, which suggests I may be more liberal (not in the Dems vs Reps sense) than many gun owners on the issue. While I drew a line between "Dangerous" and "More dangerous, requiring more responsibility" weapons, Mike wants responsibility tests for any kind of gun ownership, and wants large capacity magazines banned outside of those kept on shooting ranges.

I thought it was worth raising. For the most part though looking at the "public debate", I'm finding it's unfortunate because the two major sides are too entrenched in their positions. Gun control groups such as the Brady campaign are entrenched in the concept that (a) "Assault Weapons" are especially bad and, yeah, putting a heatsink on a barrel makes it super awesome for mass killings and (b) bans are required and good and will work.

Meanwhile the NRA has reached a point of principle, it seems, that any talk that remotely suggests that any gun might possibly slightly even maybe make it easier to murderize people is blaming guns, and so seems to avoid, for the most part, any restrictions on gun ownership save for token generalizations about the mentally ill.

Here's what I don't think:

  • I don't think bans are likely to work. And as a liberal, I don't believe in banning anything except as a last resort. It's not clear to me we've gotten anywhere close to testing alternatives.
  • I don't think "Assault Weapons" is an especially helpful definition of a gun that requires a special level of responsibility to own safely.
  • I don't think the Brady campaign is a terrible group dedicated to stealing teh freedom. I do think it's made up of victims, direct and indirect, of gun violence who are focused on the wrong things and aren't necessarily expert in the things they want controlled, or banned.
  • I don't think the NRA is a good advocate for gun owners. They've turned the entire debate into a left vs right thing and are doing everything they can to alienate liberals, while simultaneously putting forth spectacularly bad arguments. A future Democratic congress is more and more likely to pass draconian anti-gun laws, and it'll be in part because the NRA never engaged liberals or attempted to get them on their side.
A liberal position should involve encouraging those who want guns to own them responsibly, not criminalizing their possession.


  1. Agree that "assault weapon" is an arbitrary definition. Focus on hard numbers, specifically capacity & firing rate.

    I would set an total ban on possession of large magazines (and full automatics) outside the armed forces.

    1. Ammunition seems to be absent from most lists of requirements for a restricted weapon and I think it should be. Even Britain allows the private possession of .22LR semi-automatic rifles. If you were actually to go back in time and ask why the military switched from the M14 to AR-15 M16, it was all about the ammunition.

      I don't see much point in banning large magazines. Such a ban would be trivial to get past. It might be symbolic, and be close to acceptable by gun owners, but I ultimately find it hard to introduce bans on that basis as bans tend to create paranoia about blameless infractions.


Replies are welcome, but be aware comments are moderated. Be friendly, on-topic, and all of the things I'm not!