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CT School Shooting

There isn’t a hell of a lot of information out there about this shooting yet, but without doubt we will be hearing about how a spate of new laws and control are needed to prevent it’s happening in the future.

As almost always when things like this happen, I’m not for any major changes in our guns laws. Mostly for the reason that I see nothing that would have prevented this from happening and the changes usually proposed would only impact those like myself who respect the law, and not those who are perfectly content to disobey it and engage in wanton violence.

Some common proposals are the following:

1. Background checks on all firearms sales. Great idea, except taxes must be paid on almost almost all sales of almost everything, and they never are. How one expects private sellers, especially those who knowingly sell to criminals, to be compelled to abide by a law requiring background checks, I have no idea. Other than as window dressing I see little to no value.

2. Banning concealed carry. I doubt the shooter in CT benefited from any law permitting concealed carry. Concealed carry laws generally only apply to handguns, and while it seems he had one, I suspect the .223 rifle recovered from the scene was the real tool used in this vile act. Concealed carry is also not permitted in schools, nor is any gun possession, which appears to have been no more effective here, or in any other school shooting, than the laws against murder, which as far as I know are heavily enforced.

3. Waiting Periods. This one has always baffled me. I understand the rationale, to prevent people from buying arms impulsively and using them for violence, basically imposing a cooling of period for the unlikely event of impulsive violence. The problem is that there isn’t a shred of evidence suggesting that this behavior is common, or that it even happens, I’ve searched, but I haven’t been able you find a single case where someone has done this. Maybe it does happen, but I imagine that someone wanting a gun to commit immediate acts of violence could probably find a friend or relative willing to lend them one for whatever excuse they make up. They might also steal firearms, to think someone intending to commit murder is going to care very much about the consequences of theft.

4. Ammunition restrictions. There has been a lot of talk recently about online ammunition sales and banning them, or restricting the amount of ammunition that can be purchased at a time or within a certain time frame. It may be the stupidest proposal ever put forward by gun control advocates and that is really saying something. Sure, the theater shooter in Colorado had thousands of rounds, but they were at his apartment, he didn’t bring very much with him, and why would he? I’m not even sure what they claim these ammunition restrictions would accomplish, I’ve never heard of even a bad one. It appears that this proposal is simply intended to be an inconvenience. I buy huge amounts of ammo online, thousands of rounds at a time, but I’m not going to go on a killing spree, bulk is cheaper. Those who advocate this lunacy don’t seem to grasp that fact and somehow make a connection between quantity of rounds and crime.

5. Bans on ‘assault weapons’. There are no such things as assault weapons, at least not in the sense that gun control advocates and the media use it. If you look at what the assault weapons banned before it expired, you would would be shocked and puzzled. As the NRA and Violence Policy Center both put it, the question of what qualified as an ‘assault weapon’ was based almost entirely on cosmetic, rather than functional, features.

The CDC, who studied the effects of the ban and some other gun control laws, said that there was ‘insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.’ Even the National Institute of Justice, who supported renewing the ban said that the effect on violence ‘may be too small to reliably measure’.

The biggest thing is that the weapons that fell under the ban are/were rarely used in the commission of crimes. Typically gun violence is perpetrated with handguns, for the very same reasons that handguns are the best choice for law abiding citizens to have for self defense, and why the police primarily use handguns.

6. Security requirements. This is another one that puzzles me. Some people think guns should have to be kept locked and unloaded at all times while they are not actively being used. The idea is simply madness. Should the situation arise where the defense of your person or others is required, there likely will not be time to unlock and load arms to use. I don’t have any evidence that violent criminals won’t allow victims time to do this upon request, but I think it is safe to assume they will not do so.

7. Magazine capacity. Limits on magazine capacity make very little sense. I can tell you that when I was in the Army, I could fire 210 rounds off with an M4, which is a semiautomatic carbine, in well under 2 minutes, simply using standard sized magazines. It is no great difficulty to change a magazine in just 2 or 3 seconds with most firearms. Generally the higher the capacity, the less reliable the magazine is, as the CO shooter found when the 100 round magazine he used malfunctioned, causing him to use a different weapon. Thankfully he didn’t consider that and the magazine like saved lives.

With the handgun I usually carry concealed, I can get off 57 rounds in under a minute using 7 round magazines. That time includes the time it takes to change to magazines and release the slide. I don”t think there is anything more required to demonstrate magazine capacity is something that should be completely ignored by everyone on both sides of the issue. They provide more disadvantage than advantage.

8. Location Restrictions. The problem here is obvious, someone intent on violence is assured a target rich, low danger environment, for at least a short period of time. I suspect this is why if you look at all the public shootings with more than 2 victims since 1950, all but one occurred at locations where firearms were banned. They have the same level of effectiveness that ‘no running’ signs at pools have. That should be a pretty damning fact, but no one seems to consider it. How did the ‘gun free zone’ work in CT? If the principle, a visiting parent, or maybe a teacher, had been armed, this massacre may not have been as extensive as it was. Now it’s very possible it would have had no effect whatsoever, but we can say with almost complete certainty that it wouldn’t have made the shooting worse, even if it didn’t help. The CO shooter went to the only theater with 20 miles of his home that banned guns, again, it’s possible that wasn’t part of his consideration, but he was not stupid, and it’s something even a marginally rational person would consider.

9. Microstamping. I’ve written about this before, the idea is that the tip of the firing pin and part of the upper receiver have a tiny serial number that would get stamped into the cartridge casing before it is ejected from the firearm. That might sound like a good idea, but it is rife with problems. One issue is that criminals could gather spent casings from shooting ranges and spoil a crime scene with them. Another problem is that casings are often reused by those who load their own ammunition. How many numbers need to end up on a shell case to defeat the whole idea? By far the dumbest thing about microstamping is that it would increase the price of guns by 20-30 dollars. That might seem like a small price to pay if some of the problems can be solved, and if it would help solve crimes, but what we get for the extra cost is nothing, because you could file the stamps off in a few minutes with a piece of sandpaper or a file, and a suitably maniacal laugh.

There are more dumb proposals out there, but this is a good listing of some of the more popular and ineffective ideas. There are also things that most gun owners would support, one might be including gun safety lessons in schools. They do sexual education to try to  prevent the spread of disease and unwanted pregnancies, so why not gun safety to reduce accidents and increase respect for firearms? The NRA is hugely supportive of modernizing the ATF, which would make federal firearms licenses (FFL) easier to get and better policed. Right now the process to get a FFL is long and onerous due in part to ATF inefficiency. Compliance inspections are also poorly done, overly intrusive and ineffective as well, some modernization would go a long way.

All too often when something bad happens, even with other things it’s not just guns, there is shouting for new laws and new restrictions on everyone, without an ounce of thought given to whether the course of action being proposed will have the impact they hope it will. Usually when it comes to gun control, the “solutions” don’t solve the problem and burden those who are never going to commit a violent crime and seldom impact criminals very much at all. Even with a total ban on all firearms, the black market couldn’t be controlled, and once again, the people who wouldn’t buy arms on the black market aren’t the people we have to worry about, but those who would/do buy black market arms…

Less than 1% of guns used in crimes are obtained from a gun show. Only around 10% of guns used in crimes are purchased legally. The other 90% of arms come from illegal sources or are borrowed from friends and family. It’s reasonable to conclude that even a total ban on the sale of guns would have little effect on criminals getting their hands on them. The same goes for background checks, no matter where they are applied or how strict and comprehensive they make them, there isn’t a lot of room to make a significant impact. I think we can also assume that even if the entire 10% of arms bought legally could be stopped, most if not all of those buyers would shift to illegal sources.

I don’t know of an organization out there that does more to perpetuate falsehoods than the Brady Campaign. Their focus is always on how to further restrict gun ownership, rather than focusing on changes that would actually deter violent crime, they think the only solutions are heavy handed far reaching purchase and carry restrictions. God help us if they ever realize how much violence is related to people exercising their right to free speech, they’ll want to heavily restrict and license that as well.

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