Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Folly of Federal Firearms Regulation

On December 14th, 2012, a 20 year old male walked into an elementary school and murdered 20 students and 6 adult staff. It was an unspeakable act void of any decency or sanity. Nothing else needs to be said about that tragic incident.

17 days later, President Obama announced a new set of gun control initiatives. Part legislative, part executive directives, it is a bad attempt at addressing the issue of mental illness. The measures will do nothing but create a false sense of security for a certain portion of the public. Let's go through the big issues.

1. Limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds

There are many journalists, pundits, and politicos who express disbelief that civilians are allowed to own magazines with capacities up to 33 rounds in a handgun. But this misses the larger point:

This is a Glock 19. It's designed for concealed carry. Its standard magazine capacity is 15 rounds, plus one in the chamber. There are millions of these Glocks already in circulation with its standard magazine.

That video shows how fast you can load a pistol. Even a little bit of training can have a person completely inexperienced with firearms load a pistol in 3 seconds or less. As soon as the chamber is empty, you can load it with a fresh magazine and the pistol will cock itself, making it immediately available for use. Limiting magazine capacity is no obstacle for a trained user.

What about the untrained users you might say? First, let's not forget that there are already millions of high capacity magazines already in circulation. It would still be easy to acquire them. Second, let's not forget that all a magazine is is a metal box with a spring. It's not hard to create your own high capacity magazine. Considering the fact that mass shooters usually plan these things out way in advance, this wouldn't pose any obstacle to a person determined to kill as many people as possible.

2.  Requiring background checks on private party sales of firearms.

This simply isn't feasible. And it's unenforceable because there's no national registry for firearms. It's impossible to know if a person sells a gun to another person in a simple cash for gun deal. You can mandate a background check all you want, but it won't do squat to the person who just simply ignores the mandate. Proving it in court is going to be tough unless you have a police officer follow everybody who owns a firearm.

And trying to set up a national registry for firearms is ridiculous. It would require too much manpower and be too prone to manipulation and error. What happens if the person reports their weapons as stolen? Or if the person they sell it to doesn't bother to properly change ownership? Or if they file the serial number of the weapon off? Regulation upon regulation has to be created and enforced for what is, at best, a marginal problem.

3. Renewing an assault weapons ban.

The difference between a compliant weapon and an "assault weapon" is mainly cosmetic. No foldable/extendable stocks, barrel shrouds, bayonets, or pistol grip. There's the 10 round magazine, but that's it. And I've already addressed it in the first point.

Every year, the United States suffers about 12 thousand gun homicides. And there's a way to reduce that number in half almost overnight: ending the Controlled Substances Act. Half of all gun homicides in the US is gang/drug related. If you legalized drugs, their revenue would dry up overnight as Big Pharma scrambles to put the gangs and cartels out of business by offering higher quality drugs at a lower price.

Of course, we can sit here and argue all day on whether legalizing marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and LSD is worth eliminating about 6k gun homicides per year, but it's undeniable that it would drastically reduce the amount of gun homicides in this country.

As for the mass murderers, the two most gruesome instances of domestic mass murder were caused by bombs: the Oklahoma City bombing and the Bath School disaster. You know what I bet would be an easy way to kill people? Getting a big ass truck, hauling it over to some crowded event, and then running over a bunch of people. Does that mean we need to ban big ass truck ownership for the rest of society? Because of one obviously insane person? Or what about molotov cocktails? They're insanely easy to make. Are we going to ban lighters and glass bottles?

These people are mentally ill and they want to kill to indiscriminately kill a bunch of people. The sad reality is that the government can't guarantee the protection of every one of its citizens. If someone really wants to kill you and doesn't care about the consequences, it'll happen regardless of whether you die via gunshot, stab wound, getting run over, burned to death, choked, or drowned.

People on the left are clamoring for a "serious conversation", but what they really want is false security. Here's a serious conversation. Here's another. Any serious conversation we have on the issue of guns has to acknowledge three facts:
  1. There are already over 270 million firearms currently in circulation within the US, enough to arm 9 out of 10 people in the country.
  2. Half of all gun homicides are gang and drug related, involving parties that already don't care about following the law.
  3. Guns are really fun. Like, ridiculously fun. 
Ultimately, it boils down to this: do we let a handful of mentally disturbed people change the lives of millions of people or not? I'm in favor of not letting the exceptions write the rules.

1 comment:

  1. I support these measures simply because they expand the overton window in a direction I think we should be heading, which is firearm restrictions similar to our peer nations.

    What makes this issue so touchy is that both sides know a little regulation won't do anything.