Wednesday, July 6, 2016

We need to have a hard look at gun laws in the US

I don't care about changing the nature of warfare. 
I don't care about making war more humanitarian. 

Why? Because that would be a fundamentally futile effort. War by its very nature is not humanitarian. It is violent, painful, and destructive. Why would I want to change it? I want to obliterate it. I want my step-kids, my nieces, and my nephew to grow up and some day have a world where they don't have to hear about roadside bombs killing people, where 42 people aren't dead from suicide bombers at an airport, where queer people of color aren't terrified after a shooter gunned them down in a nightclub. 

Yes, I link that last one to war as well. 

It's a crime committed using a weapon purely designed for war. No one can honestly claim the AR-15 is a hunting weapon. No one can honestly claim it's for target practice. No, assault rifles of that nature are made for, and good at, one thing: killing people. In mass. These weapons kill humans quickly, efficiently, and easily. That gun doesn't jam easily, it doesn't fall apart easily, it doesn't take much in the way of instruction, it's easy to be accurate with little instruction. I know, I've shot one. I started talking about war, but the first issue to address to have that dream of no more warfare is to address the issue of gun violence. Violence only begets more violence.

We can start this process by looking at guns themselves. I'm not against all guns, I'm perfectly fine with hunting rifles, and even think that hunting for food is a valid and worthwhile skill to have. I have family members whose meat intake is largely comprised of food they've hunted, and that is just fine. I don't even really care about pistols to be honest, go ahead and have one at home “for protection” or to target shoot at the local range. Just do it as safely as you can and remember guns are like sex, you can only make it safer, not completely safe. What we need is some common sense gun control. Fully automatics, easily modifiable semi-automatics, in general guns designed to kill a lot of people and do so quickly should not be in the hands of civilians. 

I'd go so far as to say the military doesn't really need them either but, I'd at least be happier without them in the hands of Bob Smith from Small Town, US. A civilian doesn't need something like that. We also need longer waiting periods. I should not be able to walk into the gun and knife expo and walk out with a gun. Ever. There is no need for that kind of thing. There is no need so great you should be able to have a weapon in hand in a day, even 3 days is short but at least it's enough time to do a background check potentially. Speaking of background checks; what is the point if the flags don't show up? Someone is on a terrorist watch list? We should be asking real hard why they want an AR-15. Flag for a violent crime? Again, same questions. Domestic violence? The Supreme Court just upheld the idea that domestic violence perpetrators do not have the right to bear arms, which is awesome. 

Waiting periods also have another benefit in that someone who is contemplating a violent action - be it against themselves or others. This break helps people have the critical time that can help people think through their potentially violent actions. I work in suicide prevention and this is one of the best ways to stop someone from acting out their suicide. Getting a person to stop, even for a short time, helps reduce the incidence of these deaths. The same is true of other types of violent actions.

Here in Oregon where I live, the law doesn't require guns to be stored safely, or even for people to register their guns with the state. There is no waiting period and no limit on how many guns can be purchased at one time. There is no law requiring the removal of firearms from people that are now prohibited from possessing them. While dv perpetrators are prohibited from owning guns, the state of Oregon does not require them to surrender the guns they already possessed before the incident. How is this an acceptable state of affairs? 

Oregon, like many states, needs to have better controls in place to reduce the number of gun deaths. California is often cited as a state whose gun controls are something to strive for and I agree. Waiting periods, restrictions on the number of weapons you are able to purchase at a time, licenses, prohibitions on assault weapons, 50  caliber rifles, and large capacity ammo magazines, are all just sensible. The fact is that these common sense regulations reduce gun violence, California is a perfect example of this. Study after study has shown that there is a strong correlation between stronger laws and fewer gun deaths per capita. 

Massachusetts recently also added stronger gun laws by making it so semi-automatic rifles are banned. This new law also makes duplicates or copies of a semi-automatic weapon illegal and explicitly defined this as including any weapon that has interchangeable components with a banned weapon. They also call out the ar-15 and ak-47 in the law. They have now become the first state to ban these weapons and I would not be surprised if California soon follows suit. 

It’s time that we push for stronger laws nationally, and if that is slow in coming, on a state by state basis. At the very least we should not be allowing people to possess firearms whose sole purpose is to kill other humans quickly and efficiently. There were 7 shootings involving multiple people on July 4th, 2016 alone and as a result 7 people are dead and 30 are injured. As I write this yesterday saw 3 dead and 5 injured. It goes on and on. We can reduce the number of dead and injured, we can prevent the majority of these attacks. We just need to follow the lead of the rest of the world and have stricter, sensible, gun laws. 

Edit: I added a few things and updated it to reflect the mass. Law change. 

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