All day long, from 8am to 5pm Monday thru Friday, I listen to Progressive talk radio streaming from my PC (no Liberal Talk radio stations in Houston) all day long while I work, and a caller into one show the other day asked, “At what point does your right to ‘stay safe’ trump my Second Amendment rights?” Argh! Dumb people are going to be the end of this country. “Hey Moron!”, I shouted at my radio, “Just because we have a First Amendment right to Free Speech doesn’t mean we have the right to shout ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater!” But you can bet if I shouted “Fire!” in a crowded room with this moron in it, it would have been proceeded by the words: “Ready! Aim!” We put “public safety constraints” on Constitutional “rights” all the time. The Supreme Court ruled long ago that issues of ‘public safety’ CAN trump Constitutional rights. And in fact, the Second has one built-in with that whole “well regulated” clause that makes licenses & background checks Constitutional (so said Justice Scalia).
Fox “news” Sunday contributor Bill Kristol dismissed the need for sweeping gun control legislation yesterday based on “one incident”. One incident? ONE??? Excuse me you soulless prick. Did you forget the Arizona mass murder that wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords two years ago? The Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting? The shooting in a Sikh Indian Temple in Wisconsin last year? The gunman that opened fire in a Portland shopping mall four days before the murder of 20 six year olds and six teachers in a Newtown, CT public school, followed by yet another school shooting just last week WHILE the Vice President was discussing the findings of his Task Force? ONE incident? Blow me, jackass.
Tomorrow/Tuesday, Vice President Biden releases the recommendations of his “Gun Violence Task Force”, which is expected to recommend something very similar to his 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” which Republicans are declaring was an “absolute failure” (It wasn’t. This 2004 report (pdf) found that murders committed using Assault Weapons declined by 17% in just that ten year period… a decline that was likely to have only grown as discontinued weapons and magazines/clips became more scarce.) A repeat of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban would face an uphill battle. Anything weaker is unlikely to do much good. Anything tougher will have an exceeding difficult time getting past a GOP controlled House (because they owe their very livelihood to kowtowing to their gun-crazed constituency.) We need to think differently.
Chris Rock famously joked about making every bullet “cost $5,000″ because then there would “no longer be any innocent bystanders”. While I doubt making ammunition exorbitantly expensive would pass a Constitutional challenge, I do think Rock was absolutely on the right track: Focus on the ammunition! There are plenty of laws saying you can own just about any kind of gun you’d like, and plenty of pinhead Rednecks have threatened to go apes#!t if anyone tries to “take their gun away” (I won’t link to it, but one now-infamous numbnut said in a video last week that if the government tries to take away his guns, he’ll “start killing people.” Paranoia runs deep on the Right. You name the issue and there’s a badly misinformed Conservative nut threatening violence over it.)
Which brings up a point I’ve been making for a while now: Guns are useless without bullets. There is NO “constitutional right” to an endless supply of easily obtainable high-caliber ammunition. If we’re going to curb gun violence, I recommend we focus there (rather than the FAR more complicated balancing act of banning the guns themselves.)
My Conservative father is an avid gun collector that loves to go target shooting and has a concealed-carry permit. Dad also makes his own bullets because target shooting uses up a lot of ammo which can get real expensive real fast. So he bought a hand-powered shell packing machine, buys the brass shells and gunpowder, and makes his own bullets right there in the garage. But you know what else I noticed? He goes through his ammunition quite sparingly and wouldn’t think of using his own hand-packed ammo in a (semi) automatic weapon because he’d blow through it too fast. When it takes a minute or two to pack each shell, you’re going to be more reluctant to waste it in a machine that spits out 50 rounds/second. If you look closely, “spree” shooters don’t make their own bullets. They buy them pre-made and in bulk at Wal*Mart or some other conveniently located retailer. Presently, you can walk into Wal*Mart and fill up a shopping cart FULL of bullets without so much as a firearm’s license. And when bullets are that easy to come by, there’s no disincentive to use them in a weapon that spits out bullets like Rush Limbaugh spits out racist/misogynistic vulgarities.
Remember when you were a kid and Mom & Dad wanted to impress upon you “the value of a dollar”? Earning that dollar wasn’t easy, and because it was harder to come by, you weren’t so quick to waste it. And while you were pondering how best to spend it, you didn’t leave it lying around where someone might take it. You put it someplace safe until you were ready to use it. I think restrictions on ammunition would have the same effect. Pass laws prohibiting “bulk purchases” of bullets, require background checks for ammunition the same as we do for guns, and put limits on certain TYPES of ammunition. An “Assault Rifle” will do a lot less damage if it doesn’t have access to ammunition that looks like this:
.223 caliber ammunition used in Newtown shooting
Remember back during the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting how your redneck brother-in-law and his beer-swilling buddies all boasted how if THEY had just had a gun in that darkened crowded theater, with people running around screaming in a cloud of teargas, fleeing a mad-man in full body armor spiting out 30 bullets in 27 seconds, THEY “could have taken down the shooter” and saved all those people? How many times did you hear them say that the ONLY way they could have achieved this superhuman feat is if they too were armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle? I’ll bet you Mitt Romney’s $10,000 that you never ONCE heard one of these Right-Wing idiots with delusions of grandeur say they would have required matching firepower to bring down a madman with an assault rifle. No, they were ALL referring to a simple handgun. So the claim that people require assault weapons “for protection” is not only a myth, but debunked by their own words (or lack-there-of.)
You may have a right to own a gun, and the gun nuts are already apoplectic over the imaginary threat that the gub’mint is plotting to “take that right away”, but you do NOT have a Constitutional right to buy a shopping-cart full of armor-piercing M16 rounds without so much as a background check. Likewise, you don’t have a “right” against being “inconvenienced” by a clip/magazine that only holds 10 rounds before having to reload. If you can’t hit your target with ten bullets, you have no business using a firearm.
If the latest push to limit gun violence in this country is to succeed, they’ll have a FAR better chance at success if they focus more on bullets than the guns. Also worth pointing out… because THEY will… “closing the gunshow loophole” and banning the sale of certain firearms wouldn’t have prevented any of the most recent massacres. They will try to use that as an excuse not to enact most of the proposed legislation. But limits on ammunition/clips/etc WOULD of had an impact on these most recent massacres. We should channel our energies towards legislation with the greatest chance of success that would arguably of had a direct impact on recent events.
Note: Trying out a new look for the blog this week. Let me know what you think in the comments. One more theme to try out next week at which point I’ll give you the opportunity to vote for your favorite (along with screen shots.)
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