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Jay Lake
Date: 2007-04-16 20:39
Subject: One more bit about the gun thing
Security: Public
Tags:child, guns, personal, politics
Several people have observed (correctly) that my intense feelings on the gun issue are emotional. james_nicoll directed to me to statistics on accidental death among children, pointing out there are greater threats than firearms homicide.

Well, yes. Of course. Guilty as charged.

I guess my response is thus: there are so many issues of concern. To name only a few: drunk driving, overseas humanitarian crises (Darfur), domestic humanitarian crises (post-Katrina), the prevalence of prison rape and violence in the US penal system.

Just as with charitable donation, commitment to social issues is very much a matter of personal reaction and emotional investment. That there are other issues, either within the realm of child fatality or within the larger realm of social breakdown, is painfully obvious. For some reason, gun violence, specifically school-related gun violence, resonates with me. Not because I've ever lost someone to such an event, for I haven't, but simply because it does. I suppose I can all too readily imagine the_child spending the last moments of her life in soul-wrenching fear and panic, wondering why I haven't helped her.

That makes it personal.

And guess what? More guns, in my hands or yours, won't help her. Instead of deciding to arm myself to defend her, I'd rather disarm society to keep her safe. Unless I want to barricade her in my home round the clock, or follow her at all times while I'm carrying, making society safer is the only way to defend her.
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User: jtdiii
Date: 2007-04-17 04:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you instruct the child in proper gun safety, and I am presuming you have... then she is fairly safe from most gun violence. The training is still necessary even if you do not have one on the off chance a friend of hers finds one or there is one at a house she plays at.

If you look at the vast majority of gun deaths in this country, most of them are suicides, often after cancer or other long illnesses or to avoid creating a large debt by going into the health care system with long term care issues.. The next big categories are various gun crimes, many of them involved in the drug trade. I am presuming that the child will be staying away from that. If you do not have a gun in the house she is unlikely to be hit as part of a domestic dispute or a crime of passion.

In any case bad drivers or the bathtub have a larger chance of killing her than do guns, even without those reductions in the likelyhood of gun violence against her.
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User: bb_kristopher
Date: 2007-04-17 04:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You know Jay, I completely understand your feelings. I would like to point one thing out though.

Even if we were able to round up every single gun in the country, no matter its design or intent, slag them and turn them into paper clips, it still wouldn't keep guns off the street. Firearms are just to easy to make. Someone can make a zip gun for less than twenty bucks in parts. Someone can set up a gunsmith's shop for $10K-$20K in machinist's tools. The product might not be as polished as what comes out of the factories in operation now, but they probably would be fully automatic instead of the semiautomatic rifles that are legal these days.

And you can't ban machinist's tools, because our society can't operate without them. You can't ban the steel for the barrels and receivers for the same reason.

You could ban premade ammunition. People would make their own, just like they'd make their own guns. Ban the production of gun cotton, and you'll get people mixing black power, which is easier to make, even if it has drawbacks.

I understand your point. Believe me, I do. I have issues on which I am similarly not entirely rational.

But all a ban on guns does is take guns out of the hands of people who are willing to obey the ban. It would also make criminals of large numbers of people who rely on guns for their safety and to put food on the table. There are rural areas where there is still a lot of subsistance hunting going on. You take guns away from these people and they don't eat. There are also rural areas where guns are a necessary protection from wildlife.

And yes, there are people who have a legitimate need to have a firearm for self protection from other people. We may not like to admit it, but it takes time for the police to arrive when we call. Four minutes is a hell of a wait when the only thing between you and the posibility of a messy death is a thin wooden bedroom door.
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When life gives you lemmings...
User: danjite
Date: 2007-04-17 07:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Except for the fact that when Australia banned them, there was a decrease in murder by handgun by about 30% within the first two years and the gun death level as of '05 was the lowest since 1989.

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Chris McKitterick: mushroom cloud
User: mckitterick
Date: 2007-04-17 04:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:mushroom cloud
You know, I feel pretty much the same as you do about guns, but realistically we will never rid American society of personal firearms. With some hundreds of millions of them already all around us, there's no hope in hell - even if we outlawed them tomorrow - to round them all up.

So: What to do?

I think jtdiii's comment above pretty much sums it up. I just wish they hadn't become so ubiquitous in the first place. Like nuclear weapons, once they got out there's no putting them back into the box.
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cyperus_papyrus: tree with aura
User: cyperus_papyrus
Date: 2007-04-17 04:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:tree with aura
It's hard to tell from your words, but I hope you know there is no way to make the world completely safe for your child. There are many hazards and risks out there. The messed-up people won't necessarily pick up a gun, there are other things they may do. And accidents happen. Bad relationships happen -- in fact, most violence done to women is by people they know, not random violence.

One of the greatest gifts to give a child is to help them learn the knowledge, skills, judgement and confidence to face all the good and bad things that come our way throughout our lives. If you focus too much on one issue, I worry you will ignore other important lessons. You cannot always be there to defend her, but you can teach her what she needs to face the world.

The reason I feel compelled to comment is I had parents who overly sheltered me when I was a child. They wanted to do for me, so I didn't learn to do for myself in time, and I paid a price for that.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-17 13:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We have chosen to shelter her from some elements of the world (media images) during part of her childhood, but the_child is allowed and encouraged to take a number of risks as part of her growth. She roams the neighborhood, is allowed to climb anything she thinks she can climb (and is legal for her to climb), attends funerals, is encouraged to question virtually everything, etc.

I also understand there are vast risks everywhere. Part of being human is living as if we're not the one who will die today. That's normal and healthy. But the risks I accept for her in giving her freedom to walk to a friend's house, to climb a brick wall, to ride her bike, to ride in the car with me, to step into the shower -- those are all risks for which she and I both gain a clear benefit.

The risk which is forced upon me by pervasive gun ownership grants me no benefit at all, nor any benefit to her, and so I recoil from it. More than thirty sets of parents bore the cost of that risk yesterday through the deaths of their children, and what benefit do they show for it?
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Misty Marshall: mistyNewHair
User: mistymarshall
Date: 2007-04-17 04:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Speaking as someone who wa actually in one of the first school shootings....I would have not minded being armed at the time. Instead I hid under my dorm bed and knowing there was jack I could do hearing the pops going off outside. I was not panicked or fearful but definately would have liked to protect myself.
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David Reagan: drinking_dave
User: coolmajaka
Date: 2007-04-17 04:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Whether I agree or disagree, I appreciate your passion and reasoning. Ultimately, that's society's only reason for existing -- to protect the younguns from a harsh world.

And as someone who's been on the unpopular side of "discussions", I always give props to those who stand for what they believe. Even if they're/I'm wrong ;)
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-04-17 04:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
FWIW, Jay, I've gone through similar feelings--and I'm a gun owner.

I am also a Thurston High School graduate.

I am a former student of Bill Kinkel's.

There are no words that can adequately describe the personal hell I went through after the Thurston shootings, when, late at night, everything clicked and I realized that one of the victims and the father of the shooter was one of the kindest, most gentle teachers I'd ever known in my life. A teacher that made a difference in the lives of many of my friends.

When I read the descriptions of his desperate and futile search for help for Kip, I could actually hear his voice echoing in my own head, especially since we were wrestling with the issues that my son was facing in connection with his Asperger syndrome.

Words cannot describe the rage I felt later on when ignorant teachers at the school that put my son through hell compared him to Kip Kinkel and worried about him to my face, all because his father and I took him hunting and taught him about the safe and careful way to handle guns, including the simple ethic that you don't even *point* a gun barrel at something unless you intend to kill it (and, preferably, eat it--the hunter's ethos, unless you're killing targets and cans).

Words *can* describe the power I felt when he came to me and told me that he was frightened because his friends were playing with a gun that looked just like the one he'd been using while target shooting with us and some friends the week before--the very same friend, by the way, who was the anonymous gun expert who had been approached to teach Kip about guns, but the circumstances had never occurred. Then I knew our training had taken and that this kid would never be one to pick up a gun and use it stupidly.

I understand the fear. I was afraid when I went to the house of one of his classmates and I saw a carelessly stored gun--and the kid of the house was one of those stupid types (but not the particular stupid kid involved in that situation I described above) who'd already bullied my kid. He never went to that house again, especially after the parent belittled my worries.

That said, knives are my particular fear. We've had knives at school, brought by kids who have been in my classroom, including one near-meltdown where I did not know that one of the kids involved had a knife at that moment. Guns have not come to my school. Knives have, with kids who intend to use them. I at least have some idea about how to disarm a gun.

But--I do not have training to manage that situation. I doubt that very few teachers do have. Short of cop training, there's nothing out there to teach how to disarm or manage an armed situation while keeping 25 kids safe. F

So I rehearse mental strategies, and hope to heck I never have to face a lockdown with either a gun or a knife.

It's late and I'm incoherent. Sorry.
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User: bdkellmer
Date: 2007-04-17 04:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I can't speak as someone who's ever been involved in a shooting in anyway, although I grew up with guns, and was taught police-style combat shooting by my father. For me, all that familiarity, all the knowledge that there are other dangers that are more likely to happen, from bad drivers to falling down the stairs, I'll still admit that, as a father, guns scare me shitless. You're right -- it's emotional. But it's the emotion of being a parent, of being responsible for your child's safety. As a parent, you can't protect them from everything, not by a long shot, but this is one subject that you feel as if you should be able to protect them. It's an illness with our society -- that much is obvious because there are other countries with proportionately as many guns but without the level of gun violence. As a parent, it's natural to feel like we should be able to fix that, or at least stave it off a little to protect our child.

At least that's my take on it, coming from a parent's perspective (at least as filtered through my own twisted synapses).
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When life gives you lemmings...: AmeriCrisis
User: danjite
Date: 2007-04-17 07:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In the interests of "protecting it's citizens", the US has restricted or heavily regulated, among other things:

* Beekeeping
* Model Rocketry
* Soap Making
* Chemistry sets
* Three wheeled vehicles
* Marijuana
* Carrying more than 100ml of any liquid or gel substance on an airplane
* Homeschooling
* and a host of other things.

I- and call me a crazyoid radical- think, perhaps, handguns are a bit more dangerous than the above. Any of the above. Further, I submit that if the above are subject to regulation or outright ban as a danger to their users or the community, guns are a bigger danger and should be banned outright- even for target shooting.

Yes, you may be safe and sane and fine with a gun. The other bastards ruined it for you like dangerous drunk drivers ruined being able to have a third glass of wine with dinner for the rest of us.

If you don't like it, move to Brazil.

All that said, yes, I think it is too late for the US to change this.
Some of you know my answer to this (and other) issues of permanent social decline.
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User: jess_ka
Date: 2007-04-17 13:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Tha's the best comment I've seen on this subject.
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User: martyn44
Date: 2007-04-17 08:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That's some cogent emotion you express.
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User: karenthology
Date: 2007-04-17 09:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When people talk about the right to carry guns, and teaching people proper gun use and safety, I just remember the guy who robbed me on the street-corner across from my house by threatening me with one.

He was probably taught some kind of gun safety at some point, as well. Didn't help me that cold December night. So, I'm with you.
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User: eljaydaly
Date: 2007-04-17 09:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm with you, Jay. To quote Holly Near's folk song:

Maybe it's the movies, maybe it's the books
Maybe it's the bullets, maybe it's the real crooks
Maybe it's the drugs, maybe it's the parents
Maybe it's the colors everybody's wearin
Maybe it's the President, maybe it's the last one
Maybe it's the one before that, what he done
Maybe it's the high schools, maybe it's the teachers
Maybe it's the tattooed children in the bleachers
Maybe it's the Bible, maybe it's the lack
Maybe it's the music, maybe it's the crack
Maybe it's the hairdos, maybe it's the TV
Maybe it's the cigarettes, maybe it's the family
Maybe it's the fast food, maybe it's the news
Maybe it's divorce, maybe it's abuse
Maybe it's the lawyers, maybe it's the prisons
Maybe it's the Senators, maybe it's the system
Maybe it's the fathers, maybe it's the sons
Maybe it's the sisters, maybe it's the moms
Maybe it's the radio, maybe it's road rage
Maybe El Nino, or UV rays
Maybe it's the army, maybe it's the liquor
Maybe it's the papers, maybe the militia
Maybe it's the athletes, maybe it's the ads
Maybe it's the sports fans, maybe it's a fad
Maybe it's the magazines, maybe it's the internet
Maybe it's the lottery, maybe it's the immigrants
Maybe it's taxes, big business
Maybe it's the KKK and the skinheads
Maybe it's the communists, maybe it's the Catholics
Maybe it's the hippies, maybe it's the addicts
Maybe it's the art, maybe it's the sex
Maybe it's the homeless, maybe it's the banks
Maybe it's the clearcut, maybe it's the ozone
Maybe it's the chemicals, maybe it's the car phones
Maybe it's the fertilizer, maybe it's the nose rings
Maybe it's the end, but I know one thing.
If it were up to me, I'd take away the guns.
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Ruth Nestvold
User: specficrider
Date: 2007-04-17 10:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Probably the next step of our oh-so-wise governement will be to make carrying a concealed weapon mandatory for all citizens.

There are about four times as many homicides in the U.S. than there are in Germany, where it is much more difficult to get firearms. People who really want to kill each other will probably try to do so regardless of the type of weapon they can get their hands on, but it's a lot quicker and easier with a gun.
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-17 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There are about four times as many homicides in the U.S. than there are in Germany, where it is much more difficult to get firearms.

... and you're correcting for differences in wealth/class levels how?
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Janet Chui
User: marrael
Date: 2007-04-17 13:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay: Amen.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-18 01:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In simplest terms, I think there's considerable grounds for reasonable disagreement about the meaning of the Second Amendment. I don't think it obviously and inherently protects widespread private gun ownership, for one thing. It can just as easily be construed to be authorizing the National Guard, save that the current political and cultural climate makes that interpretation highly difficult to sustain.

Secondly, even if I grant for the sake of argument the Second Amendment is intended in its most extreme interpretation, there are other parts of the Constitution which have changed over time with respect to circumstances in society changing. I don't think it's unreasonable to view the changes in the very meaning of the term "arms", and the capabilities of those arms, over the past two hundred years as being significant to society to a similar degree as chattel slavery or female suffrage.

In other words, I don't think the "but it's a Constitutional right" argument is airtight from either end.
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