Month: January 2013

Seven Things I’d Say to the Judiciary Committee on Gun Control

While working today, I had the Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control playing in the background. I knew it would give me a headache at best, and enrage me at worst, but mostly I wound up annoyed. Some of the comments made a lot of sense- on BOTH sides of the debate- but too frequently, the diatribes veered off into utter nonsense.

I’ve talked about gun control here before, and I’m not crazy enough to think that all the regulations I’d like to see enacted will see the light of day. But the logic in play in some of these conversations are enough to make my head explode. Let’s discuss.

1. Multiple members of the committee and the panel have painted the picture of a mother at home with children, needing to protect herself and her kin from intruders. They argue that limiting magazine capacities puts said mother in danger. Here’s a thought- if individuals are required to be trained and tested in order to receive a license to purchase and own a firearm, maybe that mother doesn’t need 15 rounds to hit that intruder.

2. The “cosmetic” differences between an assault rifle and the guns proposed legislation would allow for aren’t necessarily cosmetic. As we heard from the panelists, those cosmetic differences improve grip, can help cool down the weapon to allow for more effective rapid fire, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of the weapon in the right hands. A blanket assault weapon ban may not make the most sense in the world, but the cosmetics line is pretty damn stupid, too.

3. LaPierre has repeatedly said that background checks will never be universal because criminals won’t subject themselves to it. Isn’t that part of the story? We’d like to discourage them from trying to buy a weapon, so let’s make it more difficult for them to acquire one. Also, following this line of logic, we should have no laws at all- after all, someone is always going to try to break it. In what world does that make sense? 

4. We heard a great deal on how strict gun laws have failed. You know why they fail? Because they are surrounded by areas with much more LAX gun control. You can have the strictest gun laws in the nation, but if someone only has to drive an hour away to get a gun without having to jump through hoops, of course those laws will be ineffective. Think about it:

States shaded according to Brady score on gun control. Notice what surrounds Chicago and DC?

5. Fair point- let’s go after the people violating gun laws. Up the penalties. Be willing to prosecute vigorously. But don’t give us the horse and pony show on a decreasing number of cases being brought against violators- the number of defendants is up over 40% since 2000. We can and should increase prosecution, but it’s not going down.

6. Can we PLEASE close the stupid gun show loophole? Private sellers should be required by law to acquire a background check for potential buyers. Give me ONE REASON why that’s a problem. Because you’re being “treated like a criminal”? Are you being treated like a criminal when you undergo a background check for a job? Or to acquire a loan? Are you being treated like a criminal when the DMV checks your records for convictions prior to issuing you a new license? Give me a break.

7. Let’s chat for a second about the black market. People like to paint it as this hazy evil underground that we can’t control. But those guns come from somewhere- frequently through straw purchases made by individuals who can easily access the weapons, and then turn them around for a profit. In a world where private sellers are required to secure background checks, and in a world where we’re going after gun law violators with new gusto, the price of a black market gun would increase with the increase in risk associated with supply, and that cost may drive down demand. Don’t sit there and act like we can’t do anything about it. We may not be able to eliminate it, but we can make progress.

There’s much more to be said, but for now, quit the circus act folks.