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Profile Information

Name: Sean
Gender: Male
Hometown: Asheville NC
Home country: USA
Current location: Arlington VA
Member since: Sat Jun 27, 2015, 02:01 PM
Number of posts: 2,493

Journal Archives

Stats on police killings

WaPo article that indicates most police killings involved armed criminals, the mentally ill or those who attempted to run from the police.

In a year-long study, The Washington Post found that the kind of incidents that have ignited protests in many U.S. communities — most often, white police officers killing unarmed black men — represent less than 4 percent of fatal police shootings. Meanwhile, The Post found that the great majority of people who died at the hands of the police fit at least one of three categories: they were wielding weapons, they were suicidal or mentally troubled, or they ran when officers told them to halt.


Assault Weapons Bans Have No Impact On Crime

Two opinion pieces that explain why assault weapons bans are fairly pointless. The first, a piece from a week ago from a liberal proponent of gun control and titled "Why banning assault rifles won't reduce gun violence," explains that an assault weapons ban will have no impact on gun crime. The second, from a Second Amendment proponent and titled "Why are gun rights supporters worried about bans on so-called assault weapons?," agrees and goes on to explain why those who oppose such bans are suspicious of them. I thought these were both very interesting reads. Thought about posting in GD but wasn't sure this discussion was appropriate there.

From the LA Times:

The gun control movement in America has been reinvigorated, and at the top of its agenda are bans on assault weapons. “The killers in San Bernardino used military-style assault weapons — weapons of war,” President Obama said Saturday, calling for a ban on these guns. Gun control proponents were also emboldened by the Supreme Court's decision Monday to allow an Illinois ban on assault rifles to stand.

Yet we already know that banning assault weapons won't reduce gun crime or deaths. Worse, the bans may make it harder to enact more effective gun control laws.

The problem starts with the term itself. The “assault weapons” for sale in the U.S. now aren't really weapons of war. Many people mistake these firearms for machine guns capable of shooting multiple rounds of ammunition with a single pull of the trigger. The federal government banned the sale of machine guns to civilians in 1986. (The National Rifle Assn. likes to claim that gun laws never work, but the machine gun ban has worked just fine. Such guns are almost never used in criminal activity, and none of the recent mass shootings in the U.S. involved a machine gun. The San Bernardino terrorists tried to modify one of their guns to turn it into a machine gun.)


From the Washington Post:

Gun rights supporters often point out that so-called assault weapons that some people seek to ban aren’t materially different from other guns that will remain allowed. I think that’s factually right (and some pro-gun-control liberals, such as my colleague Adam Winkler, agree).

Assault weapons aren’t fully automatic; they are semiautomatics, like many tens of millions of other guns out there. They aren’t unusually powerful — “assault rifles” are generally more powerful than handguns, because generally rifles are more powerful than handguns, but many ordinary hunting rifles (such as a .30-06) are more powerful than many assault weapons (such as the .223s that were used in the San Bernardino, Calif., shooting). The features that are often used to distinguish them, such as bayonet lugs, barrel shrouds, and pistol grips, don’t actually make them materially deadlier. (Magazine size may be relevant to deadliness, though it’s not clear that magazine size limits are a good idea; but in any event, magazine capacity is a separate matter from assault weapons bans as such, since large magazines can fit all sorts of guns.)


Teen Who Provided Access To Loaded, Unsecured Gun Used To Kill Toddler Given 1 Year Probation


Thought I would gauge the sentiments of those on DU for this story. A lot of people want stricter gun control, a lot want to enforce the laws already on the books, etc. In this case, a 17 year old in DC - who was not permitted to own a gun under DC law - left a 9MM handgun he "found" unsecured in his apartment and a 7 year old found the gun and shot and killed a 3 year old with it. The 17 year old was sentenced to 1 year probation. I've seen some post that those who use a gun during a crime should be sentenced to life in prison. What about this 17 year old? Is a year's probation sufficient for leaving unsecured a gun used to kill a child?

The 7-year-old District boy who accidentally shot and killed his 3-year-old sister in July told homicide detectives that he thought his sister would “get up” after she was shot, “like they do on TV,” a prosecutor told a D.C. Superior Court judge Friday.

As she described the aftermath of the July 29 shooting of Dalis Cox, local prosecutor Kristi Browning’s voice quavered. She told the judge that the boy had told detectives that he was surprised his little sister had been killed.

“He said he didn’t know that would happen. He said guns on TV don’t do that,” Browning told the judge. “There was a break between reality and TV.”

The emotional disclosure came during the final hearing in a case that has left a community grieving a toddler’s death and officials and community leaders questioning how a gun could get into the hands of a child.

After the hearing, Browning said authorities considered the 7-year-old a “victim” as well.

But prosecutors did charge a 17-year-old male who admitted to bringing the loaded 9mm Glock pistol to the boy’s apartment. Inside the apartment, the 7-year-old found the gun in a bag and began playing with it. The boy fired the weapon, and a bullet struck his sister in the chest. The children’s mother was in another part of the apartment at the time.

Senate Refuses to Act on Modest Gun Control Measures

The senate couldn't even get enough votes yesterday to add modest gun control measures (like UBCs) to a Republican bill. In other words, nothing is going to get done. There are some overwhelmingly popular proposals, like UBCs, and I really cannot understand why those aren't getting passed, other than that our elected representatives are failing to do what we hired them to do and are instead cowing to the NRA. On the other hand, there are some states where gun control is a losing issue. Heidi Heitkamp (D - ND) voted against yesterday's gun control proposals. I don't imagine gun control is particularly popular in North Dakota, and her grip on her seat probably too tenuous to survive a vote in favor of gun control.

From the article:

The Senate on Thursday voted down two gun control proposals put forward by Democrats in response to this week’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in a series of votes that highlighted the intractable party divide over how to respond to gun violence.

The Senate rejected a measure from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows on a 48 to 50 vote and an amendment from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to prevent individuals on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms on a 45 to 54 vote. The amendments were offered to an Obamacare repeal package currently being debated in the Senate and they needed 60 votes to be adopted.

Feinstein’s amendment was identical to legislation she previously filed on the same topic, while the expansion of background checks for gun purchases mirrored language championed by Sens. Manchin and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in 2013, following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School three years ago this month.


Citing shootings, NY sheriff urges citizens to carry guns

Despite all the rhetoric on here about seizing guns, and all the juvenile name-calling by those who would confiscate guns, confiscation is a decidedly minority position that will never happen. In any event, the sheriff in Ulster County, NY, an elected Democrat, "is urging residents of his county who are licensed gun owners to arm themselves when they leave home, citing recent mass shootings in the United States and Paris." In other words, that sheriff thinks it is a good idea for citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights. From the article:

"I urge you to responsibly take advantage of your legal right to carry a firearm," Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum, a Democrat, wrote on the department's Facebook page less than 24 hours after 14 people were shot dead in San Bernardino, California.

The post quickly drew hundreds of comments, for and against it.

"I'm not trying to drum up a militia of any sort," Van Blarcum told The Associated Press on Thursday. "It's just a reminder that if you want to, you have a right to carry it. It might come in handy. It's better to have it than not have it. We're partners with the public in crime prevention."

The largely rural county in the Catskill Mountains about two hours north of New York City has 10,000 licensed handgun owners, Van Blarcum said.


WaPo Article Contends "Zero" Correlation Between State Gun Laws and State Homicide Rates

The WaPo has had a number of articles relating to gun control/violence since the shooting in Oregon. Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, had an opinion piece today in which he contends there is "zero correlation between state homicide rate and state gun laws." The article can be found here - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/10/06/zero-correlation-between-state-homicide-rate-and-state-gun-laws/.

He explains that his methodology examines whether states with more stringent gun laws have lower overall homicide rates -- not just gun homicides, but total homicides -- because if you enact strict gun laws and just see a rise in knife murders then you've not really made an overall difference. Anyway, I'm sure that this article won't sway one side or the other but found it interesting and the conclusion unsurprising.

The correlation between the homicide rate and Brady score in all 51 jurisdictions is +.032 (on a scale of -1 to +1), which means that states with more gun restrictions on average have very slightly higher homicide rates, though the tendency is so small as to be essentially zero. (If you omit the fatal gun accident rates, then the correlation would be +.065, which would make the more gun-restricting states look slightly worse; but again, the correlation would be small enough to be essentially zero, given all the other possible sources of variation.) If we use the National Journal data (adding the columns for each state, counting 1 for each dark blue, which refers to broad restrictions, 0.5 for each light blue, which refers to medium restrictions, and 0 for each grey, which refers to no or light restrictions), the results are similar: +0.017 or +0.051 if one omits the fatal gun accident rates. You can also run the correlation yourself on my Excel spreadsheet.

He concludes:

But since people have been talking about simple two-variable correlations between gun laws and crime, I thought it would be helpful to note this correlation — or, rather, absence of correlation.

WaPo Fact Checks President's Claim That States With Most Gun Laws Tend To Have Fewest Gun Deaths

Washington Post fact checkers give two Pinocchio's to President Obama's claim that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths, which means the statement included "significant omissions and/or exaggerations," although the author notes he waivered between two and three Pinocchio's, with three being in the "mostly false" category. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2015/10/05/obamas-claim-that-states-with-the-most-gun-laws-tend-to-have-the-fewest-gun-deaths/?tid=pm_politics_pop_b

In the article the WaPo explains that when you exclude suicides, which account for 60% of gun deaths, then there is a significant change in where a state might rank in the number of gun deaths per 100,000 people.

First, the WaPo notes that the data is "mixed" on whether stricter gun laws lead to fewer suicides:

Some might argue that it is wrong to exclude suicides from the data, as less access to guns might result in fewer suicides. The data on that is mixed. Gun-related suicides might decline, but studies have shown little connection between suicides and access to guns. A 2004 report published by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “some gun control policies may reduce the number of gun suicides, but they have not yet been shown to reduce the overall risk of suicide in any population.”

Japan, for instance, has among the world’s most-restrictive gun-control regimes — and yet also has among the world’s highest suicide rates, almost double the U.S. suicide rate.

Second, once you exclude suicides:

Alaska, ranked 50th on the National Journal list, moved up to 25th place. Utah, 31st on the list, jumped to 8th place. Hawaii remains in 1st place, but the top six now include Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Iowa and Maine. Indeed, half of the 10 states with the lowest gun-death rates turn out to be states with less-restrictive gun laws.

Meanwhile, Maryland — a more urban state — fell from 15th place to 45th, even though it has very tough gun laws. Illinois dropped from 11th place to 38th, and New York fell from 3rd to 15th.

The WaPo concluded that:

While gun suicides are certainly a serious issue — and account for more than 60 percent of gun deaths — the evidence is mixed on whether restricting gun purchases would affect the overall suicide rate. In any case, the president’s policy proposals are aimed at mass shootings, not suicides.

In short, I, along with almost all of the people on DU, support toughening our gun laws to include UBCs and additional training. But stricter gun laws isn't the panacea it is made out to be, and in some states -- notably Maryland -- such laws have had little impact on gun violence.

District of Columbia

Continues to lose in court with respect to its draconian and unconstitutional gun laws.


In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. knocked down several provisions of the District’s Firearms Amendment Act of 2012, including requirements that gun owners re-register weapons every three years, bring their firearm with them to be registered and pass a knowledge test of local laws.

Writing for the court, U.S. Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee, said the District government’s claim that limiting residents to registering one pistol every 30 days promotes public safety by reducing the number of guns on the street, “does not justify restricting an individual’s undoubted constitutional right to keep arms (plural) in his or her home.”

He continued, “Taken to its logical conclusion, that reasoning would justify a total ban on firearms kept in the home.”

Interesting story from the WaPo

That supports the argument (even if they didn't intend to) that the problem isn't guns, the problem is felons with guns.


Of the nine guns seized, the vast majority were in the hands of convicted felons who were barred from owning a firearm. And Police Chief Lanier made the interesting comment that

There is a small number of repeat violent gun offenders who commit violent crime after violent crime after violent crime, and they are not spending any time in jail,” Lanier said.

This is an interesting article from the Washington Post

Regarding expanding Second Amendment rights. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/07/20/a-survey-of-legislative-action-on-second-amendment-issues-in-2015/
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