Friday, January 18, 2013

I Was Wrong about Gun Laws

First, Obama recently upgraded our no-buy list for guns.  This is a big deal, as it previously was a joke.  More about that later.

Second, let me state that I have put forth several, slightly different gun control proposals.  I am not so arrogant as to think any of them are perfect.  But we need to do SOMETHING and these blog entrees are offer multiple possible solutions.  I am not wrong about them.

Third, let me admit my own ignorance.  I thought the attempt to ban assault weapons were an attempt to ban assault rifles.  Turns out I was wrong - assault rifles are already illegal and no one is complaining about them.  Assault weapons are something different and rather indistinct.  Let me apologize here and now for my ignorance.  I will talk about the assault weapon ban below.

First lets talk about the big thing, hand guns.

Part 1:  Hand guns.

OK, the first point is fairly simple.  According to the FBI, hand guns make up the majority of murder weapons.  Some idiots use this as an excuse to avoid regulating rifles, but please note that poison (5) and explosives (12) cause far fewer deaths a year, but we still regulate them.   The number of deaths per year are a warning sign of where we need to focus, not an excuse not to regulate.  We still need to regulate long guns, but hand guns are far more important.

Hand guns are singularly unsuited for hunting or or military use.  They have horrible range, accuracy, and low penetration compared to rifle rounds.

They are really only useful for three things:  competitions, ambushes (i.e. concealed carry), and urban combat where you you want to avoid civilian casualties.  Criminals prefer it for the second reason, police prefer it for the third reason.

As a result, there are four and only four reasons anyone wants a handgun:

1)  You think someone is trying to kill you but are not willing/can not get police protection
2)  You enjoy shooting one at a shooting range i.e. competing - either against others or just yourself.
3)  You job uses them (i.e. security guard, cop, etc.)
4)  You want to ambush and murder someone

In order:

  1. Many studies show handguns are far more likely to kill their owners than people attacking them.  Mainly because hand guns have crappy accuracy, particularly in untrained hands.  As a result, countries with strict hand gun controls ALL have much lower murder rates.  As a general rule, if we make it harder to get a hand gun, then more people will survive than if you let everyone buy one.
  2. Fine - let hand guns be legal in a shooting range.  Rent them from a business.   That way you try 50 different ones without being rich.  Your average guy doesn't need to own it.
  3. If your job (police, guard, etc.)  means you need one then you can get one - and a concealed carry license.
  4. If you want to ambush and murder someone, just go to the police and fill out a form.  Then they can arrest you with no fuss. 
There is no reasonable reason for most civilians to buy a handgun.

But you say "Second amendment!"  Now, I am a reasonable person.  I don't see a reason to outlaw handguns.  I have a better solution.   We are not actually outlawing guns - just the short stock.  You can continue to own the exact same piece, you just need to replace the stock.  Or just yet weld a one foot long stock to your pistol grip.  No folding or detachable stock allowed.   The concept of adding a stock is not new:  Mauser C96 with stock., Star Model A with stock, are just a couple of examples.

Stocks increase accuracy by reducing vibration.   Who can complain about improving the combat effectiveness of the hand gun?

We would just be requiring all privately owned civilian handguns be improved by the addition of a stock.

You keep your guns, you just have a harder time concealing them.

Recently a 7 year old kid brought a handgun to school in his backpack.  If we require them to have stocks, it would not have fit.


Part2:  Assault Weapons

What exactly did the 'assault weapon' ban stop?  I have cut them into two categories, first the ones that make sense:

  • Folding telescoping stocks (see hand guns, above)
  • Flash Suppressor (again, used for concealment)
  • shotguns with magazines of greater than 5 rounds
  • Grenade Launcher
  • large and/or easily detachable magazines
The first two are about concealment, which should be illegal for civilians.  The rest are only really needed in a war - and can rather easily be modified by gun makers after a war.  There is no good reason for civilians to get any of them before they declare rebellion against the USA.

Next comes the silly things:

  • 'pistol grip' for long weapons
  • bayonet mount
  • barrel shroud
  • weight of the weapon
  • semi-automatic versions of fully automatic weapons
The pistol grip idea was to make it harder to use rifles and shotguns.  Silly rule, not worth much.  Bayonets are basically only useful to scare people.   Barrel shrouds make it easier to carry a weapon after it was fired.   The weight of the weapon restriction is designed to limit the power of the weapon.   The semi-automatic rule was designed to make it harder to convert them.   Currently the number of guns around give criminals far easier and better ways for criminals to spend their money on guns.

Honestly if we require all guns to come with 1 ft bayonets it would decrease the death rate - they can't be concealed.

All of these silly rules do not go to the real dangerousness of the weapon, but instead are about targeting minor things that the bad guys like and the good guys don't need.  They are not worth fighting over.

Ban the first set of stuff, compromise by giving up on the silly stuff.


Part 3:  Criminals.

No law will always be obeyed.  The point of most laws is not to stop something completely.  No, it is to strongly discourage the mostly honest people.   Most, but not all, of the guilty people we eventually find and capture or kill.

We need three more laws to effectively deal with criminals that disobey gun laws:

  1. One of our major problem is that fed's do NOT maintain a comprehensive "no buy" list.  That needs to change.  It's not that hard to actually enforce the rules.  Don't allow any government or state to get away with not updating the 'no gun list'.  Failure to comply by any state agency gets punished - severely.   Obama has announced this on Wednesday.  Good job Mr. President.
  2. All guns must be kept in a locking gun safe, when not in use.   So anyone buying a gun, must also buy a gun safe.  Make it included as part of the purchase - unless you show a picture of you standing next to an existing gun safe.   Punishment:  1 year in jail and forever lose the right to buy ANY gun.  All firearms will be confiscated and either sold or destroyed
  3. You must either get a federal ID to buy a long gun (no more hand guns, remember), or go through an extensive two weak back ground check performed by your state government.   Trust the state government or trust the federal government - your choice.  Gun shows can still exist using the federal ID system.   People that don't trust the government can buy from stores using the state system.

The laws I mentioned above will not always be obeyed.  But they do several things.

First, people could no longer merely steal a gun and immediately go on a wild killing spree.  Stocks/long barrels make it much harder to carry multiple weapons and/or hide them. Safes would need to be cracked, etc.

Second, it gives a simpler and easier criteria to convict criminals.  If we have stricter gun laws then we can declare breaking those gun laws to be high punishment crimes, the way we used to overpunish drug offenses.  As in 10 years, no parole

One of the problems we have now is that while we have lots of crimes with low criminal sentences.  If we treated gun crimes the way we treated drug crimes then our jails would be full of gun criminals instead of drug criminals.  Yes, many of the same people would be in jail.  But not all of them.

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