Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Th-19By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold – 

 

An interesting survey by the Pew Foundation shows that gun crimes, including homicide, have been steadily decreasing irregardless of an increasing number of guns owned by citizens. Despite the recent headlines, homicides in schools have dropped at a similar rate, and are the lowest level in recent history.

But despite this decrease, most people think gun crimes are increasing, largely because of what they hear from main stream media and anti-gun politicians. According to a Rasmussen poll released on Friday, May 10, while gun killings have plunged 39 percent since 1993, and non-fatal gun crimes have dropped 69 percent in the same period, those who want gun control think that gun crime is up. Rasmussen reports that only 7 percent of adults believe there are fewer gun owners in the country than there were 20 years ago — and more importantly, 64 percent of those who want more gun control think that gun crime has escalated.

How can this be?

Ever since the Justice Department released its study on Tuesday, May 7th showing that firearms-related homicides in the U.S. annually declined 19 percent from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, anti-gun proponents have been silent.  There has not been a peep out of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg since the report was issued. The President has ignored it.  Both are doing what they do best to avoid sabotaging their agenda by keeping the report secret from the American people so restrictions can be passed on Second Amendment rights. As for the mainstream media with its natural anti-gun bias, coupled with the adage about TV news — “if it bleeds, it leads” — it is a given that hyper-coverage will follow any gun-related death compared to other news events.

Gun control supporters, including Nancy Pelosi, credit the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban for this decrease.  Homicides in the US peaked in 1993-1994 and have decreased steadily since that time. However, the rate of decrease did not change when the AWB lapsed in 2004. There is no credible evidence that the 1994 law had any effect whatsoever, in part because it limited the importation of these weapons but not domestic manufacturing. At best, the law focused on cosmetic features like pistol grips and flash suppressors which have no effect on lethality. Semi-automatic versions of military assault weapons remain a popular form of firearms being purchased, accounting for about 10% of all sales. If we include semi-automatic handguns, included in the 2013 ban proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the percent is closer to 80%.

There also remains confusion in the minds of the American people over the role of so-called assault weapons in gun-related crimes.  Might the anti-gun people being going after the wrong guns by design, when handguns, not rifles, are used to commit most gun crimes?   According to FBI data, approximately 90 percent of firearms homicides and two-thirds of firearms suicides are committed with handguns.  In homicides, the contrast between handguns and assault weapons is stark, yet it is only assault weapons that capture the headlines and elicit reform measures.

The recent defeat of Senator Feinstein’s 2013 gun legislation is but a temporary lapse in the gun control agenda. Anti-gun politicians, including Dianne Feinstein, have stated that they would like to confiscate all guns but don’t think it’s politically feasible. Gun registration would be the innocuous first step toward that goal and has been used to that end in California, New York and several other states.

Registration was proposed overtly in the Feinstein 2013 Assault Weapons bill, wherein most semi-automatic rifles and handguns would be classified as “NFA” items (National Firearms Act of 1936), the same as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. NFA classification requires extensive background checks, approval from local law enforcement, mountains of paperwork and months of delay, not to mention a $200 tax stamp. Most important, ownership of the weapon cannot be transferred, but must be surrendered to the Government upon death of the owner.

Assuredly this was a bit much for the public and Congress to digest. However, registration is a necessary part of the so-called “Universal Background Check” law proposed by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and a watered-down version by Sen Manchin (D-VA) and Sen.Toomey (R-PA). Records of all private sales would be retained by the Federal government, including serial numbers and the names and addresses of the parties involved. Any loss, theft or destruction of a firearm would be reported to the Attorney General, within 24 hours, under penalty of law.

Gun control advocates like to point to “civilized western countries” like Great Britain, which ban or severely limit private gun ownership. The homicide rate due to firearms in Great Britain is 1.2 per 100k, compared to 4.2 for the United States. Perhaps it is surprising that the figure is not zero, considering the comprehensive firearm ban in that country. In the US, the state of Utah has a homicide rate of 1.5, yet residents of Utah own firearms at a higher rate than other states, and can carry them freely (when licensed), even on school property, and licenses to carry are readily available. The rate in NYC is 4.7, despite the strict firearm laws and stop-and-frisk police tactics. In Chicago, which has adefacto ban on firearms, the homicide rate is an abysmal 17. (From the rants by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, you would think white suburbanites were creeping into the city, murdering its residents.)

More telling is the demographic factor. Non-whites account for 84% of gun-related homicides in the US, which places the homicide rate for whites at less than 0.7. By this measure, the US places well below that of Great Britain and Australia (0.92). Switzerland is cited as a country with a lot of guns and few homicides, about 85/year. With only 6 million people and extremely low diversity, this is still 1.4 /100K. As we see, the US doesn’t come off so badly after all.

Statistics clearly illustrate that gun control does not reduce crime.  It has just the opposite effect.  While over the last 40 years the number of guns per 1000 people has increased, serious violent crimes have decreased. Among the top ten killers in the U.S. homicide by firearms is at the bottom of the list.  Almost 20 times more people die in the United States from medical errors than they do from firearm homicides.  In addition, the number of murders committed with hammers and clubs routinely outpaces the number of homicides committed using a rifle. Now consider Chicago, which in 1982 passed a ban on all handguns except for those registered with the city before the ban was enacted:

Since the handgun ban took effect, the number of murders in Chicago committed using handguns has been 40% higher than before the ban, and has spiked even high in recent years, proving that the gun ban actually served to cause an increase in violent crime.  

Ten myths have been exploited for years to generate fear and mistrust of the 60-65 million decent and responsible Americans who own firearms. Yet, as this document proves, none of these myths will stand up under the cold light of fact.

For those who maintain that the US is more dangerous than any other “wealthy” country, it might be educational to move to Europe, but keep your doors locked and the lights on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 09:07 AM | Permalink

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner  and Ed Ingold: –

The cause celebre behind measures aimed at preventing gun violence are the incidents of random violence, where madmen attack innocent and largely helpless people in schools, malls, public transportation and theaters. These so-called “soft” targets have a high density of potential victims who are unlikely to offer much resistance, and are easy to reach. The average response time for emergency help is nearly 30 minutes, whereas the typical attack is over in less than 15 minutes. Notable are:

1. All of the “prevention” offered by lawmakers so far has the unanticipated effect of increasing the number of “soft” targets, whether by disarming honest citizens, or by expanding gun-free zones, which encourage rather than deter criminal

2. While they not be as newsworthy, the vast majority of “soft” targets are not school children, movie goers or shoppers, but those walking on quiet streets, waiting for public transportation, or sitting in the privacy of their homes.

3. The vast majority of offenders are not mass murders looking for notoriety, but thugs, opportunists, bullies and thrill seekers. No amount of “prevention” is going to screen out or disarm those bent on destruction. If we concentrate on one area, like public schools, it may have the unwanted effect of diverting attacks to other “soft” targets, not easily protected due to expense and almost unlimited opportunities for attacks.

So far, we have been spared attacks by individuals or groups prepared for a force-on-force assault, an every day occurrences in the Middle East. This may prove to be a short-lived respite?

Instead, all of the “domestic terror” attacks, except for 9/11, have been executed by people who live in a fantasy bubble, not unlike players of some video games, who wilt in the face of armed resistance.  At the Clackamas Mall in Portland, OR, a day after Sandy Hook, a gunman committed suicide after killing two innocent shoppers, when confronted by an ordinary citizen with a gun.

Cho (Virginia Tech), Kazmierczak (NIU), and Lanza (Sandy Hook) committed suicide when police entered the buildings. Holmes (Aurora) waited passively in the parking lot behind the theater. That story is repeated too many times for comfort.

A lot of attention has been directed toward putting armed guards in schools, which is reasonable considering the need to protect our most vulnerable and precious resource, our children. What about parking lots, theaters, malls and sidewalks? There are fewer than 800,000 law enforcement officers of any sort in the US, about one for every 400 citizens. Would we even tolerate a more conspicuous police presence, without fearing for our freedom?

Part of the answer is already available. 49 states, with the sole exception of Illinois plus Washington DC, allow citizens to carry firearms for self defense. Of these 40 do not require any special “need”, and issue permits unless otherwise proscribed. Some, like California, New York and Maryland, issue permits only to public officials, celebrities and millionaires. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_by_state   

There have been no “OK Corral” scenarios (except on the part of the NYPD), and there has been a significant and salutatory reduction in violent crime, other than homicide, in those 40 shall-issue states. Homicides have decreased about 30% nationwide since 1993, continuing to decrease unabated after the first AWB expired in 2004. Aggravated assaults, including robbery and home invasions have decreased nearly 50% in that time frame, EXCEPT in states with draconian gun control laws, where these crimes have increased nearly 20%. (In Great Britain, where nearly all private firearms were confiscated in 2006, violent crime has increased dramatically, and stands at about 5X that in the US. Home invasions are more frequent than burglary of unoccupied homes, and nearly as frequent as muggings and robbery.)   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States

Exactly how do we “harden” attractive targets. One way is to eliminate most “gun-free” zones, which keep licensed citizens from carrying firearms where most needed. Wisconsin enforces a 1000 foot gun-free radius around K-12 schools, but exempts all but school property for licensed carriers. Carry is permitted on college campuses, except for buildings (other than parking structures) when specifically posted by university officials. In most shall-issue states, private businesses can post their buildings under ordinary trespass law, but otherwise have no force of law.

In Utah, concealed-carry-licensed teachers and parents can carry in K-12 classrooms. In general, only courts and legislative bodies, in session, are posted. Significantly, there have been absolutely no occasions where this has caused a problem. The 2% of citizens who avail themselves of the right to bear arms in public aren’t the troublemakers Rahm Emanual and the President routinely associate with guns. On the other hand, criminals who have little to fear from prosecution, but a lot to fear from an armed “victim,” or even an armed witness to a felonious assault. Chicago has a 20% conviction rate for felony arrests. According to the FBI, there were 986 violent or “index” crimes per 100,000 Chicago residents in 2010, but there are no readily available records on the number of arrests for these crimes.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Chicago

It’s time for solutions, not assaults on our freedom. If we need any law, it could be described as “Contempt of Constitution.” We can all name a few well-known politicians who deserve prosecution under such a law.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Wednesday, April 17.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 08:00 AM | PermalinkTechnorati

The Bloody Shirt

January 16, 2013

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

When reports of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut reached the public on Dec. 14, many Americans broke down and wept at the thought of a monster shooting helpless children like they were rats in a garbage dump. Even after a month it is still seems unthinkable. We are want to reflect that hideous act whenever children are seen with their parents, or we interact with our own children and grandchildren, many of whom are old enough to understand that tragedy, wondering how it might affect them?

As time progressed, we observed how others wasted no time weeping, but rushed to take advantage of the grief that swept the nation for their own political ends. “Let’s take away the guns that caused this tragedy,” became the battle cry of the Left. Like spiders ready to pounce at the first vibration in their web, these zealots had their bloody shirts in hand, waiting for the next crisis as an excuse to wave them in front of the public.

The phrase comes from the elections of 1872 and 1876, when reconstruction politicians literally waved bloody relics from the Civil War in their assault on Southern leaders. “Waving the bloody shirt’ has been used to define someone who brings up a past injustice or mistreatment in history to justify or cover up an injustice being committed in the present. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waving_the_bloody_shirt

The similar refrain was heard after each gun-related tragedy as in 1968 (Kennedy and King); 1986 (Reagan and Brady) and in1994 (Westfield High School Massacre). http://americanhorrowstory.wikia.com/wiki/Westfield_High/Massacre Sometimes we’ve listened, but over time the mantra lost its effectiveness because the “solutions” had no effect on the problem. Weapons were in the hands of madmen who were unopposed when they chose to act.

The Westfield High School massacre of 1994 did prompt the passage, spear-headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), of a federal assault-weapons ban in 1994 that lasted 10 years. But the decade-long gun ban didn’t stop the Columbine High School massacre from occurring on April 20,1999 in Colorado, where two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teachers, after which the pair committed suicide. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbine_High_School_massacre.

Experts who have studied the law tend to agree that it was rife with loopholes and generally ineffective at curbing gun violence. The primary “loophole” being that not all of the guns were banned and collected, which is impossible on practical and Constitutional grounds. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/17/every

Just as well, too. Consider Great Britain, which was successful collecting nearly all guns from citizens by 2008, with a history of repression long before the American Revolution, before even the Tudors and Plantagenet. Their first response was always to disarm the populace. Gun crimes, never common, decreased for a while, but are now beginning to rise. Violent crimes of other sorts have skyrocketed, mainly because citizens cannot defend themselves. The answer is not stronger laws and fewer guns in the hands of good citizens, but fewer guns in the hands of criminals and the realization that defense against crime begins at home.

Nonplussed by history, anti-gun zealots realize that to be effective, a campaign against guns has to take place quickly before passions cool. They best take place in the dark of night, out of public view, as in the the legislatures of New York and Illinois.

Yesterday Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York lawmakers, in an attempt to set the tone for the nation, agreed to a broad package of changes to gun laws that would expand the state’s ban on “assault” weapons and include new measures to keep gun away from people with mental illnesses. A legislative trick was employed to forego normal readings, debate and public comment, enabling the legislation to pass a bill in the middle of the night for a final vote the next day in the Assembly. What is so strange is that the NY Senate is controlled by Republicans! http://nraila.org/legislation/state-legislation/2013/1/urgent!-new-york-second-amendment-and-legislative-process-assaulted-in-albany-late-last-night.aspx

According to Gov. Cuomo, the legislative package will be “the most comprehensive package in the nation,” would ban any gun magazine that can hold over 7 rounds of ammunition — comprising most of the firearms used by citizens for self defense — and would require background checks of ammunition buyers and automated alerts to law enforcement of high-volume purchases. Although part of the 1968 Federal gun law, the controls on ammunition purchases were abandoned after a few years due to cost and ineffectiveness.

Rather than intercept the few, they trample on millions, in the vain attempt to disarm a relatively few bad guys. That may have worked for Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, who smashed their opposition in pursuit of a few traitors, but it will not work in this nation where many Americans value their freedom and hold sacred the Second Amendment.

Illinois inherited Chicago police commissioner Garry McCarthy from New York, who shares most of the views of the state he left. In a radio interview, he stated that Chicago police are prepared to shoot any citizen observed holding a firearm, as a warning in the event that Illinois allows private citizens to carry concealed weapons. New York loses an off-duty policeman from time to time in just this way – shot by police while holding their weapon in an act of self defense. http://www.libertynews.com/2013/01/chicago-top-cop-expects-people-lawfully-carrying-guns-will-be-shot-by-mistake-prone-police/

Today at 11:45 a.m., President Obama will stand before television cameras, attended by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and members of Congress active in efforts to impose new restrictions on guns, to offer his “comprehensive” proposal for unilateral action to combat gun violence? Obama will be surrounded by children used as pawns who supposedly wrote letters decrying gun violence (at the urging of their teachers?), perhaps symbolic of the bloody shirts of the last century, in order to make the point. http://www.bgreithart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/01/15/Obbama-to-announce-gun-ban-surrounded-by-children

What was done at Sandy Hook School is history. Now it’s time to weep for the Republic, and for the Constitution on which it was built. For if our leaders continue to dismantle the foundation of our Republic, who needs to worry about enemies from abroad?

Initially published at Illinois Review on Wednesday, January 16.

The nation’s attention is being focused on guns, and gun ownership. To say that the way in which the attention is being focused, and the specific issues on which it is focused is flawed would be a profound understatement.

One position being voiced, would, if adopted by the defenders of the 2nd Amendment, do more to undermine it than to uphold it. That is the idea that “some guns are bad”, or that “some guns should only be available to government”, or that the discussion should focus on “needs”, not rights. Because this position, in its various forms, concedes the argument to the gun-banning crowd, it would have the same effect as all other appeasements have had throughout history: it just encourages the other side they can achieve complete victory.

Here’s what is wrong with banning guns, types of guns, or specific guns. 1. Rights are rights, not needs. 2. As a practical matter, only the law-abiding gun owners would be affected by any new law, and the guns we may own are not a threat to anyone, anyway.

The argument against a ban thus occurs on two levels: 1. Moral and ethical: the right to bear arms is a natural right, the curtailment of which constitutes a prima facie injury to those who choose to exercise it. 2. Pragmatic: banning certain weapons, or types of weapons would not keep criminals from possessing and using them.

On that point, it is quite pragmatic to argue that we who do not commit crimes should have access to the same level of weaponry that is available to criminals.

This all gets very silly, when one considers that the opponents of private firearm ownership are exactly that: opponents of private firearm ownership. For each weapon, of any type, they will present an argument–of sorts–why “no one needs to own one”. Like big cats on the African plain, they pick off stragglers by separating them from the herd. Today it’s military-style weapons; tomorrow it’s “powerful” handguns; pretty soon, it’s that old single shot .22 squirrel gun your grandfather got when he was 10. Notice the “herd” has shrunk to the point it is totally defenseless. Unlike the cats, who only want a meal, the opponents of private firearm ownership truly will not rest until ALL guns, of EVERY type have been outlawed. TO THINK OTHERWISE IS TO MAKE A DREADFUL MISTAKE.

Beyond that, they are part of a larger group that has as its goal rendering the Constitution and all of the Bill of Rights irrelevant. As our President said before the 2008 election, what bothered him about the U.S. Constitution was that it is largely a document that places restrictions on the government. For many of our opponents, that makes the document “seriously flawed”–so much so that it cannot be fixed by amendment, it must, instead, be treated as a “living document”, until every part of it has been re-interpreted, stood on its ear, and until its meaning is the opposite of the original intent. “Animal Farm”, déjà vu.

The only sane position to take is to oppose—vigorously oppose any new restrictions on gun ownership.

Initially published at Illinois Review on January 10, 2013.