Guns, Birkenstocks, and Beer

 

shutterstock_120816094I’ll admit this much up front: I’m not a gun person. I’ve tried to like guns. Some of my favorite people are gun nuts, so I’ve been treated to long disquisitions on the virtues of different kinds and calibers and sat through long debates on the merits of the Glock this and the Winchester that.

I attend firearms training with new recruits to our agency and fire a few rounds with a 9mm SIG Sauer and a patrol assault rifle (AR-15). As long as I’ve got my tongue poking out of the corner of my mouth, I can put a hurtin’ on a paper bowling pin at three yards (CQB). I really enjoyed watching the recruits learning, and love watching the instructors who are so expert at something that (having tried it) I know is difficult.

I liked stripping and cleaning the guns afterward, like the smell of gun oil, but the shooting itself? I’m sorry: it’s loud and dangerous — and so far — at least, just not my thing.

You know what is my thing? Knitting. My yarn homies and I talk about knitting needles and gauges and debate cashmere vs. alpaca happily for hours while we stitch away… and I’ve tried to get some of my law enforcement officer buddies interested (“It’s meditative! It reduces blood pressure!”) but so far no takers. So fine: I knit, they shoot, everybody’s happy. What’s the problem?

Here was the problem as Officer Pepsi saw it: The Liberals wanted to take away his guns.

I met Officer Pepsi (not his real name) in a bar in Boston, and we got into a conversation about guns in America.

“Liberals like you just don’t like guns. You don’t understand guns, and you sneer at gun nuts like me.”

Here was the problem as I saw it: holes in people. I see more of them than I want to. I see actual holes in the heads and bodies of teens and tweens and mothers and fathers and children, and I envision holes in Officer Pepsi and my other, beloved brothers and sisters in law enforcement.

“I have no problem whatsoever with you having a gun,” I told him. “I want you to have a gun. But it is too easy for a crazy person to get a gun and kill innocent people with it. It is too easy for a crazy person to get a gun, point a gun and make a hole in you.”

“Well, okay,” said Officer Pepsi. “But if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have them…”

I’ve never seen a hole in a person that was put there by an outlaw. Let me repeat: I’ve seen a lot of gunshot wounds in 14 years, even though I live in a relatively peaceful state. I have never seen one that was inflicted by a criminal, if by “criminal” we mean someone who has committed and been convicted of a prior crime.

If your definition doesn’t include conviction, well then sure: the guy who murdered his whole family one morning with a shotgun became, in that moment, a criminal but by then it was a little late to refuse to sell him the gun.

In virtually all the cases I see — the suicides, homicides, infanticides — the weapon involved was purchased legally. Occasionally, it turns out that the shooter borrowed the gun from someone else, maybe without that person’s explicit permission, so there might technically be a “theft” involved, though not one that would have been reported as such had no murder been committed.

Adam Lanza “borrowed” a gun from his mother, for instance, but this is an act that we can only define as “theft” because he used it to kill her, before proceeding to the Sandy Hook Elementary School and opening fire on little kids.

“Adam Lanza was nuts,” Officer Pepsi points out.

Definitely. And on those occasions in which someone has pointed a gun at one of my guys and threatened to kill him, it hasn’t been a “criminal,” but someone with severe mental health issues.

“There are laws to prevent mentally ill people from buying guns,” Officer Pepsi points out.

No. There are laws to prevent people who have been adjudicated as mentally ill from buying guns. I have lots of mentally-ill friends and relatives including a few who have been hospitalized for psychosis, but they all retain the legal right to purchase a firearm because they — like the vast majority of patients — consent to treatment.

Let’s say that, tomorrow morning I awaken with some condition — paranoid schizophrenia, a glioblastoma — that causes the voices in my head to advocate mass murder. I’ve got no criminal record, no court-ordered hospitalizations. I could go to my local gun store and buy a gun and ammo and be blasting away from the church tower by lunchtime (although unless my targets looked like bowling pins and were no more than nine feet away, I would not be able to actually hit them).

Let’s say my local gun dealer was particularly conscientious and discerning. “Jeez. Kate is acting strange. I’d better not sell her a firearm.”

What would I do then? “Buy an illegal gun?” suggested Officer Pepsi.

Please.

Okay, actual criminals — gang-bangers and mafiosi — will continue to have access to guns no matter what the laws say, because their criminal activities put them in touch with the black market where guns, drugs, stolen goods, and other contraband are traded. But I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to find an illegal gun. I’m not a criminal, just a crazy person.

As are the majority — by far — of the shooters I see.

“I don’t want guns to be outlawed,” Officer Pepsi insists. “I want to be able to keep and bear arms, and I have the right to do so under the 2nd Amendment.”

“Well,” I said. “How about we go with Originalism on this? Every American Citizen can freely keep and bear arms… provided the arms are those that would have been available to the Founding Fathers. If Thomas Jefferson could keep and bear it, you can too. Muzzle loaders, a saber, an iron cannon in your front yard…”

“You’re a liberal and you want to take away my guns,” Officer Pepsi said. “Would you like another beer?”

“Sure.” I said. “But let me get this round.”

I’m not allowed to have a .50 caliber mounted on the top of my Subaru for personal protection while I’m driving around the neighborhood. I’m not allowed to salt my front lawn with Bouncing Bettys. Why does the Second Amendment not guarantee me the right to keep and bear my own personal nuke? I asked Officer Pepsi when I got back to our table with the drinks.

“Well, because that’s not reasonable…”

“Ahah! So the debate isn’t about absolutes: arms/no arms? It’s about reasonable limitations. It’s deciding what’s the 2nd Amendment equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded movie theater?”

“Rights always have to get balanced against the burden that the exercise of those rights impose on others.”

“And to me, twenty dead kids at Newtown, and forty-seven police officers shot and killed in 2014 is too great a burden.”

“But I want to keep my guns,” said Officer Pepsi. “And I have a right to keep them.”

“Yes! And I want you to keep your guns, too! You know why? You’re trained.”

And trained.

And trained.

As a police officer for the City of Boston, Officer Pepsi is a very different case from the guy who wanders into a gun store on some macho whim. Does that guy know what he’s doing? Has he been trained by qualified instructors, has he done Simunition training, shoot-don’t-shoot, does he have non-lethal tools he can use before escalating to deadly force? No? Then he’s just a yahoo wannabe, and a menace.

“He still has the right to buy a gun,” said Officer Pepsi.

Fine. But no fantasies, here: Officer Pepsi is not safer and his job is not made easier by Citizen Yahoo’s guns. My children are not safer because Yahoo is pseudo-patrolling the neighborhood and Yahoo’s own children are not safer with his gun in their home. In fact, statistically speaking, his children are a lot less safe with the gun in their home… but I’m not just talking statistics.

I’ve seen the holes. So has Officer Pepsi.

“Here’s the solution as I see it,” I said. “Gun owners should be trained, licensed and insured.”

Guns could be grouped into classes — Class A, Class B, Class C — and a gun owner would be thoroughly trained in the safe handling and use of any class of firearm he or she wishes to purchase. When purchasing a firearm, the customer will show the dealer his or her license and proof of insurance. As with auto insurance, the insurance policy can be comprehensive, covering damage, destruction and theft, but liability insurance would be mandatory. This would serve to provide compensation to victims and survivors in the event that injuries or deaths are inflicted upon the innocent through the use of the firearm by the owner or by others.

“Who will do the training, licensing and insuring?” Officer Pepsi inquired skeptically.

I shrugged. “The state?”

Officer Pepsi recoiled. “No!”

“No?”

“Absolutely not! The government can’t … oh wait a sec. I’ve got it. The NRA.”

“The National Rifle Association?”

He explained: the NRA already has the expertise, the training programs and the proven capability for creating a data base. More importantly, the organization already commands the trust of gun owners. “Let the NRA do the training and licensing.”

“Fine,” I said promptly. “Agreed. But don’t forget the insurance piece.”

“But what’s the point of the insurance piece?” Officer Pepsi asked. “Other than to compensate victims?”

“Because once you get the actuaries in on the act, they’ll take care of the big safety issues.” I said. “Insurers won’t want to be on the hook for those unfortunate bullet holes.”

Take Adam Lanza’s mother. Let’s say she wants to buy an Bushmaster XM-15 because she’s a gun nut. Her son is a plain old nut, but they’ve been doing some mother-son bonding over lethal weapons. So she goes to her insurance agent to enquire about a policy.

“Have you had the NRA training for this weapon?” the agent will inquire. “Do you have a gun safe? Who has access to that safe? Do you have any young people living in your home? A twenty year old son… really? I see… And he has mental health issues, and you’ve taught him how to shoot ? Okayyyy…” (Sound of typing) “I should have an estimate for you in just…. a…. sec…”

Had she been faced with an insurance premium that makes the GNP of Denmark look like chump change, Adam Lanza’s mother might have re-think her parenting style, or at least spend the money she was going to use for the Bushmaster on a really good safe for the guns she already has.

And Adam — thwarted by the combination his mother refuses to give him — will wander down to the local WalMart to purchase an alternative, only to find that they won’t sell him a Bushmaster without a Class C license and proof of insurance…

“I’ve got it,” Officer Pepsi interrupted. “The NRA could create a stand-alone, for-profit insurance company and sell gun-owners the necessary insurance. “

“And cops like you can ask a gun owner to show a license and proof of insurance when its necessary. Or get a subpoena for specific records from the NRA, the way you subpoena records from Verizon when you need them…”

“But the state doesn’t issue the license, and the state doesn’t keep the records.”

“Agreed?”

“Agreed.”

But might Adam Lanza — foiled in the attempt to legally acquire a gun — seek entrance into whatever passes for the criminal underworld of Newtown, Connecticut? Or drive to Hartford and make inquiries among the more obvious corner drug dealers as to whether they knew of someone willing to sell a skinny, crazy white boy a gun?

Sure. Could happen. But it would be more difficult. It doesn’t seem a bad idea for there to be a few more obstacles — or any obstacles at all, for that matter — between the Adam Lanzas of this world, and defenseless kindergarteners. Or between the suicidal teen, the four year old playing cowboy or the rummaging burglar… and that loaded gun in Dad’s bedside table…

Of course, at the same time this plan would put a few tiresome obstacles in the way of the ordinary, law-abiding gun-lovers like Officer Pepsi.

But if gun owners in America could retain the right to keep and bear arms, yet be trained, licensed and insured… and if all three of these requirements would be met through a trusted, non-governmental entity with proven expertise in the field… like the NRA… well, it took us an hour and four glasses of beer, but in the end Officer Pepsi and I agreed that we could live with that.

“So,” I said. “Would you like me to teach you to knit?”

There are 197 comments.

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  1. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Kate, if your goal is to see less “holes in people”, you’re missing an important (to me) piece of data. And one that is impossible to quantify.

    Because there are a lot of legally owned firearms (like the ones in my house), that were fairly easy to obtain (at least A LOT easier than ones would be in your dream scenario) how many “holes in people” have you NOT seen?

    We do know how many crimes are thwarted by good guys pulling a legally owned gun and stopping a crime in progress or a crime about to happen. The stories are hard to find as the press is less than enthusiastic about reporting it thusly.

    But how many crimes don’t even happen because a criminal isn’t sure if there’s someone armed in the house, at the school, at a theatre, etc? How many crimes don’t happen because someone simply brandished a weapon, but didn’t report it?

    Impossible to know.

    • #1
  2. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    I’ve never purchased a firearm because I’m deathly afraid of them and thus wouldn’t qualify as a responsible gun owner. The majority of criminals have purchased them on the black market as teenagers and this puts me at a distinct disadvantage.

    I’d rather run and hide.

    • #2
  3. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    I’m confused … where do the Birkenstocks come in?

    (In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m the resident comfort shoe nut.)

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I don’t own a gun. But I like the idea of gun education. And insurance. Those may cut down on the accidental problems the way insurance companies curtailed diving accidents by charging a lot of money for diving boards for home swimming pools.

    That said, I see another layer of optimistic but probably ineffective bureaucracy. I do not think anything will prevent Adam Lanza, the Columbine shooters, and James Holmes from acting out their own nightmares except reformed psychiatrists.

    I have a problem with the way psychiatry is practiced today, and that is where I would start.

    But I like the ideas of insurance and gun training as run by the NRA.

    I was driving my son and his friend one day, and they were talking about the latest school shooting. My son and his friend were responsible young people. And my son’s friend pointed out that the crazies can get the guns they want illegally but easily. “So they have the guns and we don’t.” And an image flashed through my mind of these two teenagers trapped in a cafeteria with a gun-wielding madman.

    I kinda wished they had access to a gun.

    I did go to bat for the kids in our school system over cell phones. The teachers find them annoying, but I often pointed out that the only kids who were able to contact the outside world during the siege of Columbine were the kids with the cell phones. It is a matter of their safety. I won. :)

    • #4
  5. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    I might need some popcorn and prosecco to watch this debate!

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Annefy:Kate, if your goal is to see less “holes in people”, you’re missing an important (too me) piece of data. And one that is impossible to quantify.

    Because there are a lot of legally owned firearms (like the ones in my house), that were fairly easy to obtain (at least A LOT easier than ones would be in your dream scenario) how many “holes in people” have you NOT seen?

    We do know how many crimes are thwarted by good guys pulling a legally owned gun and stopping a crime in progress or a crime about to happen. The stories are hard to find as the press is less than enthusiastic about reporting it thusly.

    But how many crimes don’t even happen because a criminal isn’t sure if there’s someone armed in the house, at the school, at a theatre, etc? How many crimes don’t happen because someone simply brandished a weapon, but didn’t report it?

    Impossible to know.

    Dang! I knew I’d get a quick reaction!

    The Birkenstock-and-Beer plan wouldn’t prevent a good guy from owning and using a gun for self-defense. If anything, more and better training would make a successful self-defense more likely.

    I suppose it’s impossible to know how many unreported thwartings-of-crimes there are, just as it’s impossible to know how many people have spotted a mountain lion in their backyard and didn’t tell anybody. But I live in a small state: news gets around. And I am pretty tight with the LEO community, most of whom would enthusiastically inform me if they knew of any crimes thwarted by someone pulling a legally-owned gun. So in thirty years, wouldn’t you imagine I’d have heard of at least one or two?

    I’ll admit that I’m a little skeptical about guns for self-defense. Every cop knows that action beats reaction. The armed criminal any of us confront (including the police) has a huge advantage: he or she already knows that s/he is armed, a criminal, and intent on harm. We don’t know any of that. This is why police officers in New York —armed, trained—were shot dead in their patrol car, why two cops in Ferguson were shot despite being in the middle of a situation in which they were already alert, why four cops having their morning coffee were gunned down by one no-question-about-it criminal. We talk about this all the time, and most of the officers I work with are pretty humble and realistic. They train their brains out, and hope to be lucky when the time comes.

    Two old college friends have been raped at gunpoint. One woke up to find three guys standing next to her bed. As it happened, she didn’t own a gun, but unless she slept with the gun in her hand, it wouldn’t have done her any good. The other friend walked into the kitchen carrying her baby in her arms, and the guy was there with a knife. Unless we’re all going to walk around the house wearing shoulder holsters, the chances are pretty good that when it comes to home invasion, we’re better off getting good locks and maybe a large dog.

    It’s true that we don’t know how many criminals decide not to invade homes and rape people, or rob stores because they think a weapon might be present. But the point is that the plan Officer Pepsi and I came up with wouldn’t preclude gun ownership and any of the benefits thereof.

    • #6
  7. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    Amy Schley:I’m confused … where do the Birkenstocks come in?

    (In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m the resident comfort shoe nut.)

    And why is birkenstock symbolic of liberal? I wear birkenstock style crocs to work. Very comfy.

    -E

    • #7
  8. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    You see the balance of liberty and security differently. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t added to the constitution because the founders feared crime; rather, it was added because they feared a government’s ability to tyrannize a disarmed citizenry. They had just lived through it and fought a war to free themselves from it. Never forget the context.

    • #8
  9. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Kate Braestrup:

    Annefy:Kate, if your goal is to see less “holes in people”, you’re missing an important (too me) piece of data. And one that is impossible to quantify.

    Because there are a lot of legally owned firearms (like the ones in my house), that were fairly easy to obtain (at least A LOT easier than ones would be in your dream scenario) how many “holes in people” have you NOT seen?

    We do know how many crimes are thwarted by good guys pulling a legally owned gun and stopping a crime in progress or a crime about to happen. The stories are hard to find as the press is less than enthusiastic about reporting it thusly.

    But how many crimes don’t even happen because a criminal isn’t sure if there’s someone armed in the house, at the school, at a theatre, etc? How many crimes don’t happen because someone simply brandished a weapon, but didn’t report it?

    Impossible to know.

    Dang! I knew I’d get a quick reaction!

    The Birkenstock-and-Beer plan wouldn’t prevent a good guy from owning and using a gun for self-defense. If anything, more and better training would make a successful self-defense more likely.

    I suppose it’s impossible to know how many unreported thwartings-of-crimes there are, just as it’s impossible to know how many people have spotted a mountain lion in their backyard and didn’t tell anybody. But I live in a small state: news gets around. And I am pretty tight with the LEO community, most of whom would enthusiastically inform me if they knew of any crimes thwarted by someone pulling a legally-owned gun. So in thirty years, wouldn’t you imagine I’d have heard of at least one or two?

    I’ll admit that I’m a little skeptical about guns for self-defense. Every cop knows that action beats reaction. The armed criminal any of us confront (including the police) has a huge advantage: he or she already knows that s/he is armed, a criminal, and intent on harm. We don’t know any of that. This is why police officers in New York —armed, trained—were shot dead in their patrol car, why two cops in Ferguson were shot despite being in the middle of a situation in which they were already alert, why four cops having their morning coffee were gunned down by one no-question-about-it criminal. We talk about this all the time, and most of the officers I work with are pretty humble and realistic. They train their brains out, and hope to be lucky when the time comes.

    Two old college friends have been raped at gunpoint. One woke up to find three guys standing next to her bed. As it happened, she didn’t own a gun, but unless she slept with the gun in her hand, it wouldn’t have done her any good. The other friend walked into the kitchen carrying her baby in her arms, and the guy was there with a knife. Unless we’re all going to walk around the house wearing shoulder holsters, the chances are pretty good that when it comes to home invasion, we’re better off getting good locks and maybe a large dog.

    It’s true that we don’t know how many criminals decide not to invade homes and rape people, or rob stores because they think a weapon might be present. But the point is that the plan Officer Pepsi and I came up with wouldn’t preclude gun ownership and any of the benefits thereof.

    All good points, but nothing to do with my comment.

    There have been crimes thwarted by a legally owned gun, the media saying something like the shooter was “stopped” by a bystander. When, in fact, the bystander had gone to his car and gotten his gun. Not the only story I’ve heard.

    Most “brandishing” of weapons goes unreported as the person doing the brandishing doesn’t want the hassle of being scrutinized.

    Your dream scenario would reduce gun ownership drastically. It took me FIVE trips to the gun store to get mine; one more barrier or form to fill out or bill to pay and I would have thrown in the towel. And when there are less legally owned guns out there, there is more crime.

    • #9
  10. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    The King Prawn:You see the balance of liberty and security differently. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t added to the constitution because the founders feared crime; rather, it was added because they feared a government’s ability to tyrannize a disarmed citizenry. They had just lived through it and fought a war to free themselves from it. Never forget the context.

    Thanks KP. I wanted to add that we’d never had an armed revolt against our government – impossible to know if that would have happened had the citizenry been unarmed.

    Context is king.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    MarciN:I don’t own a gun. But I like the idea of gun education. And insurance. Those may cut down on the accidental problems like insurance companies curtailed diving boards with home swimming pools.

    That said, I see another layer of optimistic but probably ineffective bureaucracy. I do not think anything will prevent Adam Lanza, the Columbine shooters, and James Holmes from acting out their own nightmares except reformed psychiatrists.

    I have a problem with the way psychiatry is practiced today, and that is where I would start.

    But I like the ideas of insurance and gun training as run by the NRA.

    I was driving my son and his friend one day, and they were talking about the latest school shooting. My son and his friend were responsible young people. And my son’s friend pointed out that the crazies can get the guns they want illegally but easily. “So they have the guns and we don’t.” And an image flashed through my mind of these two teenagers trapped in a cafeteria with a gun-wielding madman.

    I kinda wished they had access to a gun.

    I did got to bat for the kids in our school system over cell phones. The teachers find them annoying, but I pointed out often that the only kids who were able to contact the outside world during the siege of Columbine were the kids with the cell phones. It is a matter of their safety. I won. :)

    I think that we could slow the crazies down MarciN, for the reasons I described above. Your kids are definitely safer (and a whole lot more skilled!) with cell phones!

    • #11
  12. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Annefy:

    The King Prawn:You see the balance of liberty and security differently. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t added to the constitution because the founders feared crime; rather, it was added because they feared a government’s ability to tyrannize a disarmed citizenry. They had just lived through it and fought a war to free themselves from it. Never forget the context.

    Thanks KP. I wanted to add that we’d never had an armed revolt against our government – impossible to know if that would have happened had the citizenry been unarmed.

    Context is king.

    Um…Civil War? Whiskey Rebellion? Present day “Sovereign Citizens?”

    Anyway, this is the reason Officer Pepsi proposed a non-governmental entity to do the training, licensing and insuring.

    • #12
  13. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Annefy:

    Kate Braestrup:

    Annefy:Kate, if your goal is to see less “holes in people”, you’re missing an important (too me) piece of data. And one that is impossible to quantify.

    Because there are a lot of legally owned firearms (like the ones in my house), that were fairly easy to obtain (at least A LOT easier than ones would be in your dream scenario) how many “holes in people” have you NOT seen?

    We do know how many crimes are thwarted by good guys pulling a legally owned gun and stopping a crime in progress or a crime about to happen. The stories are hard to find as the press is less than enthusiastic about reporting it thusly.

    But how many crimes don’t even happen because a criminal isn’t sure if there’s someone armed in the house, at the school, at a theatre, etc? How many crimes don’t happen because someone simply brandished a weapon, but didn’t report it?

    Impossible to know.

    Dang! I knew I’d get a quick reaction!

    The Birkenstock-and-Beer plan wouldn’t prevent a good guy from owning and using a gun for self-defense. If anything, more and better training would make a successful self-defense more likely.

    I suppose it’s impossible to know how many unreported thwartings-of-crimes there are, just as it’s impossible to know how many people have spotted a mountain lion in their backyard and didn’t tell anybody. But I live in a small state: news gets around. And I am pretty tight with the LEO community, most of whom would enthusiastically inform me if they knew of any crimes thwarted by someone pulling a legally-owned gun. So in thirty years, wouldn’t you imagine I’d have heard of at least one or two?

    I’ll admit that I’m a little skeptical about guns for self-defense. Every cop knows that action beats reaction. The armed criminal any of us confront (including the police) has a huge advantage: he or she already knows that s/he is armed, a criminal, and intent on harm. We don’t know any of that. This is why police officers in New York —armed, trained—were shot dead in their patrol car, why two cops in Ferguson were shot despite being in the middle of a situation in which they were already alert, why four cops having their morning coffee were gunned down by one no-question-about-it criminal. We talk about this all the time, and most of the officers I work with are pretty humble and realistic. They train their brains out, and hope to be lucky when the time comes.

    Two old college friends have been raped at gunpoint. One woke up to find three guys standing next to her bed. As it happened, she didn’t own a gun, but unless she slept with the gun in her hand, it wouldn’t have done her any good. The other friend walked into the kitchen carrying her baby in her arms, and the guy was there with a knife. Unless we’re all going to walk around the house wearing shoulder holsters, the chances are pretty good that when it comes to home invasion, we’re better off getting good locks and maybe a large dog.

    It’s true that we don’t know how many criminals decide not to invade homes and rape people, or rob stores because they think a weapon might be present. But the point is that the plan Officer Pepsi and I came up with wouldn’t preclude gun ownership and any of the benefits thereof.

    All good points, but nothing to do with my comment.

    There have been crimes thwarted by a legally owned gun, the media saying something like the shooter was “stopped” by a bystander. When, in fact, the bystander had gone to his car and gotten his gun. Not the only story I’ve heard.

    Most “brandishing” of weapons goes unreported as the person doing the brandishing doesn’t want the hassle of being scrutinized.

    Your dream scenario would reduce gun ownership drastically. It took me FIVE trips to the gun store to get mine; one more barrier or form to fill out or bill to pay and I would have thrown in the towel. And when there are less legally owned guns out there, there is more crime.

    It might streamline the process for you, Annefy. Once you had a Class Whatever license and insurance, it would be pretty simple to acquire more. The training would be fun (I even enjoy it, all except the actual shooting) and beneficial, and for the safe, responsible gun owner, the cost of insurance might be pretty minimal, especially if I’m exaggerating the safety issues. The actuaries will crunch the numbers—just the way they do when insuring drivers of cars—and we’ll all learn to mitigate the risks the old-fashioned way—by paying more for risky behavior.

    • #13
  14. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    An argument could be made that the arms allowed the people today would be no match for the great might of our nuclear armed state (or even our heavily armed and now armored states and municipalities.) Corollary to that argument is one that the 2nd Amendment as envisioned as a check on government and the last personal line of defense for life, liberty, and property (especially should the government be the one making the assault) is now useless. That would be an entirely pragmatic conclusion. But, is that the way you would have any other God given, constitutionally protected right to be treated? Would you want freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment to be chipped away at until the guarantee was no longer worth the fragile paper it’s printed on? We’ve been beaten, so we might as well just give up? I’m with Patrick Henry on this one, liberty or death.

    • #14
  15. Son of Spengler Contributor
    Son of Spengler
    @SonofSpengler

    I’m short on time, so I’m not going to dig into the question of empirical evidence for now. Suffice it to say that the studies typically cited suffer from bad methodological flaws, such as treating 15-19 year old gangbangers as “children”, treating suicides as “accidents”, using proxy data rather than actual data, etc. More reliable studies indicate that firearm accidents have not been increasing as firearm ownership has gone up, and that crime has been steady or falling. For a dramatic recent example, consider that violent crime in Chicago dropped precipitously when the court liberalized the city’s carry laws overnight. Empirical evidence also suggests that knives are at least as dangerous vis a vis accidents and crimes as firearms are. The seriously mentally ill resort to knives much more than guns. I am strongly of the opinion that tighter gun control is a solution in search of a problem.

    But I will address the insurance question, since I have experience putting pricetags on different kinds of insurance.

    The first thing to recognize is that no insurance will pay for “putting holes in people”. Insurance will only reimburse financial losses. In the case of “putting holes in people”, the best you can do is insurance to reimburse legal liability costs — legal fees, legal judgments, legal settlements.

    Given the politicized climate around issues of gun ownership and use, any insurance company would have to treat jury awards with a high degree of uncertainty. The issue is not whether the insured is liable, but whether a jury would perhaps want someone — anyone — to pay. And whether a jury would award excessive amounts. The actuarial risk at issue is the risk of legal jeopardy, not the risk of wrongly putting holes in people. So the more liberals agitate for gun control, the higher you can expect insurance premiums to go, regardless of the empirical risk. Insurance is not a solution to political polarization or legal uncertainty.

    Furthermore, consider the premium structure and risk underwriting. We are talking about low-frequency, high-severity events. As opposed to car insurance claims, there would not be much data for determining risk and expected claims. Underwriters would have to resort to a lot of guesswork and would add considerable provisions for adverse deviation. It will be highly unlikely that insurance rates would vary beyond age, sex, geography (partly a proxy for the legal environment), and maybe discounts for proper home storage and/or offsite storage. But the more a gun is handled, the more risk there is of negligent discharge. What happens when actuaries determine that LEOs should pay higher premiums than recreational shooters? Would insurance companies actually be able to discriminate on the basis of past mental health status? I’m guessing that legislators would move pretty fast to insulate preferred constituencies. Without decent underwriting, insurance becomes little more than a gun tax.

    • #15
  16. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    So as I see it you wish to create a situation in which the purchase and ownership of weapons is so cost prohibitive that it can not be done except by those the government (LEO) or corporations (security forces) sponsor. Which is pretty much what the founders were trying to avoid.

    BTW-I like the part where arms should be similar to the founding fathers. Should I assume that you are for the freedom of speech being quill pens? Freedom of the press being the old Gutenberg press?

    • #16
  17. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Kate Braestrup:

    Annefy:

    The King Prawn:You see the balance of liberty and security differently. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t added to the constitution because the founders feared crime; rather, it was added because they feared a government’s ability to tyrannize a disarmed citizenry. They had just lived through it and fought a war to free themselves from it. Never forget the context.

    Thanks KP. I wanted to add that we’d never had an armed revolt against our government – impossible to know if that would have happened had the citizenry been unarmed.

    Context is king.

    Um…Civil War? Whiskey Rebellion? Present day “Sovereign Citizens?”

    Anyway, this is the reason Officer Pepsi proposed a non-governmental entity to do the training, licensing and insuring.

    And who approves the curricula? Would government really trust any private organization to set and keep the standards? The NRA would just be acting as an agent of the state just as JRO Licensing is a private business acting as a state agent every year when I pay them for my car tabs.

    Either individuals retain the right to protect their own life, liberty, and property or they are wards of the state.

    (Yes, I know my every protest is wholly philosophical and theoretical. In every practical sense we are all slaves already. Our master is mostly benevolent at this time, but that is a mere happenstance, an accident of timing.)

    • #17
  18. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    The King Prawn:An argument could be made that the arms allowed the people today would be no match for the great might of our nuclear armed state (or even our heavily armed and now armored states and municipalities.) Corollary to that argument is one that the 2nd Amendment as envisioned as a check on government and the last personal line of defense for life, liberty, and property (especially should the government be the one making the assault) is now useless. That would be an entirely pragmatic conclusion. But, is that the way you would have any other God given, constitutionally protected right to be treated? Would you want freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment to be chipped away at until the guarantee was no longer worth the fragile paper it’s printed on? We’ve been beaten, so we might as well just give up? I’m with Patrick Henry on this one, liberty or death.

    Yes, King Prawn! That’s true: We are outgunned, and we have been for a very long time.

    I remember someone telling me that the first thing Hitler did was take away the guns…then he killed the Jews. Wrong: The first thing Hitler did was to encourage divisions between people who might otherwise have made common cause against him. If there’s a reason I’m okay with the Second Amendment, it’s not because you and I are going to defend ourselves from the government, especially since Officer Pepsi and I are the government, or at least, that visible part of the government that anti-government types tend to start shooting.

    It’s because you want a gun. For hunting, for shooting targets, for killing the rattlesnake that’s hanging out in the barn or the deer that got hit by your truck, for the tradition or just because you think they are interesting, even beautiful machines. My beloved gun nuts really like guns… well, why shouldn’t they? It’s not that strange.

    I just don’t want holes in innocent people. Nor do you. How do we get there from here?

    • #18
  19. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Governments (and government officials) prefer disarmed peasants. They’re easier to tyrannize. We have a President who doesn’t give a flying [CoC] about the Constitution he swore to uphold.

    More restrictions on gun ownership? Not just no. Hell no!

    • #19
  20. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    Kate Braestrup: Of course, at the same time this plan would put a few tiresome obstacles in the way of the ordinary, law-abiding gun-lovers like Officer Pepsi.

    A few “tiresome” (I think you might be understating this just a smidge) obstacles combined with raising the cost of becoming “a law-abiding gun lover” to a level that a large number of ordinary, responsible people wouldn’t be able to afford. The insurance alone would price a majority of people out a constitutional right, likely myself included. While I get where you’re coming from, what you’re proposing would create a serious barrier for anyone wishing to exercise a constitutional right which was specifically intended to keep a widely armed populous in place as a check on government tyranny.

    • #20
  21. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Kate Braestrup:

    I just don’t want holes in innocent people. Nor do you. How do we get there from here?

    Aha! Now we’ve hit on the very root of the problem and why I can normally be classified as a social/virtue conservative (when I’m not on some quasi-libertarian rant.) I don’t see the problem of unwanted holes in people as one fixable by government. If we take away the guns then those inclined to aerate their neighbors will do it with knives. If we take away the knives they’ll do it with pointy sticks. People bent on evil or foolishness will always find a way. As we said in the Navy, nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently motivated fool. Government holds in its nature no power to straighten the crooked timber of humanity. We, as a people, as a society do, but not perfectly. Good, virtuous people do not intentionally ventilate others. Government strictures cannot make us good or virtuous. Government does not form us; we form it, and it only reflects what we are. Of course, discovering the most appropriate method and manner of forming a more virtuous species is the great unfinished task assigned to us by creation. Government can, at most, cheer us on in this great and mighty work.

    I cannot offer a complete solution because I do not believe one exists. Man is imperfectable this side of eternity.

    • #21
  22. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @GrannyDude

    Son of Spengler:I’m short on time, so I’m not going to dig into the question of empirical evidence for now. Suffice it to say that the studies typically cited suffer from bad methodological flaws, such as treating 15-19 year old gangbangers as “children”, treating suicides as “accidents”, using proxy data rather than actual data, etc. More reliable studies indicate that firearm accidents have not been increasing as firearm ownership has gone up, and that crime has been steady or falling. For a dramatic recent example, consider that violent crime in Chicago dropped precipitously when the court liberalized the city’s carry laws overnight. Empirical evidence also suggests that knives are at least as dangerous vis a vis accidents and crimes as firearms are. The seriously mentally ill resort to knives much more than guns. I am strongly of the opinion that tighter gun control is a solution in search of a problem.

    But I will address the insurance question, since I have experience putting pricetags on different kinds of insurance.

    The first thing to recognize is that no insurance will pay for “putting holes in people”. Insurance will only reimburse financial losses. In the case of “putting holes in people”, the best you can do is insurance to reimburse legal liability costs — legal fees, legal judgments, legal settlements.

    Given the politicized climate around issues of gun ownership and use, any insurance company would have to treat jury awards with a high degree of uncertainty. The issue is not whether the insured is liable, but whether a jury would perhaps want someone — anyone — to pay. And whether a jury would award excessive amounts. The actuarial risk at issue is the risk of legal jeopardy, not the risk of wrongly putting holes in people. So the more liberals agitate for gun control, the higher you can expect insurance premiums to go, regardless of the empirical risk. Insurance is not a solution to political polarization or legal uncertainty.

    Furthermore, consider the premium structure and risk underwriting. We are talking about low-frequency, high-severity events. As opposed to car insurance claims, there would not be much data for determining risk and expected claims. Underwriters would have to resort to a lot of guesswork and would add considerable provisions for adverse deviation. It will be highly unlikely that insurance rates would vary beyond age, sex, geography (partly a proxy for the legal environment), and maybe discounts for proper home storage and/or offsite storage. But the more a gun is handled, the more risk there is of negligent discharge. What happens when actuaries determine that LEOs should pay higher premiums than recreational shooters? Would insurance companies actually be able to discriminate on the basis of past mental health status? I’m guessing that legislators would move pretty fast to insulate preferred constituencies. Without decent underwriting, insurance becomes little more than a gun tax.

    This is useful, Son of Spengler—you obviously know more about insurance than either Officer Pepsi or I did. (Not the first time I’ve screwed up because I don’t understand “bidness!” )

    One note: I wasn’t digging into studies. I was talking about what I see in my job. I don’t see gang-bangers, and while I would argue that their deaths aren’t acceptable either, the guns involved in those murders are illegal and thus outside the scope of the argument.

    I see ordinary children killed with guns their parents left around or allowed them to play with, ordinary young people who commit suicide with Dad’s gun because they’re depressed and it’s there, ordinary people who go off the deep end and use their guns to provoke police officers to shoot them, along with bona fide murders and true accidents.

    As it happens, ours is a low-crime state. It’s possible that our would-be criminals are intimidated by the possible presence of guns. It’s also possible that we just don’t have that many bona fide criminals, and they are deterred not by guns, but by the fact that in a rural state filled with small towns, houses to burgle are few and far between, and anyway, everyone knows everyone else and you can’t get away with as much?

    I think it is possible—sadly—that the people who keep guns in their homes do so out of an exaggerated fear of crime, particularly personal violent crime. The chances are pretty good (statistically, and in my experience) that if you aren’t murdering your own loved ones, they’re pretty safe from murder, especially if you don’t live in a neighborhood where you’re likely to get caught in the cross-fire between the Crips and the Bloods.

    You can certainly kill people with a knife, and you can also provoke a police officer to shoot you by attacking him with a knife. Still, there’s a reason no one on Ricochet is suggesting we all arm ourselves with knives to defend our homes and persons from criminals.

    I would imagine that there are quite a few gun-owners on Ricochet. How often have you successfully defended yourselves against an armed assailant with a gun?

    Maybe it really is more common in other part of the country. Maybe it’s even so common that, on balance, more holes are prevented than created and I should be grateful since I only have a couple dozen images in my head of the havoc a bullet wreaks in human flesh, of what a shotgun does to a child’s head, rather than fifty or a hundred such images?

    And maybe the holes I have seen, and the children at Newtown are an acceptable price to pay for your right and mine to protect ourselves from…well, from the guys I serve beside, from my son the Marine, my daughter the law enforcement officer…funny, I thought these people were protecting you.

    • #22
  23. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    Kate Braestrup:
    And maybe the holes I have seen, and the children at Newtown are an acceptable price to pay for your right and mine to protect ourselves from…well, from the guys I serve beside, from my son the Marine, my daughter the law enforcement officer…funny, I thought these people were protecting you.

    I think this is one place where there is a misunderstanding. Your son, my brother, my brother-in-law and countless others are protecting us, but they aren’t who we’re concerned with. Those of us who believe that the 2nd Amendment is about protecting against a tyrannical government and not just hunting and target shooting aren’t sitting around on the weekends cleaning guns and expecting one of those above people to come busting through our door any second as part of the “government” (Ok, maybe Fred Cole…), and I’m grateful for that. However, the men who put that amendment in place were the very men it was aimed at, at the time. They were the government. Were they worried about themselves, that they would become corrupt oppressors soon after? Of course not. So why then? We are fortunate that those individuals you spoke of who are protecting us now are people we trust. They are people we know personally that care about us and the laws they try to uphold. We’re very blessed to be in that position.

    This, however, may not always be the case. There are plenty of instances in relatively recent history where people considered neighbors and friends did unspeakable things to their own countrymen. May God grant that it never happen here in our lifetime or at all, but I do not want to be the generation that our decedents look on and wonder as to why we let go of something so important as a fighting chance.

    • #23
  24. user_137118 Member
    user_137118
    @DeanMurphy

    Kate Braestrup:

    And maybe the holes I have seen, and the children at Newtown are an acceptable price to pay for your right and mine to protect ourselves from…well, from the guys I serve beside, from my son the Marine, my daughter the law enforcement officer…funny, I thought these people were protecting you.

    That’s insulting.

    In my opinion, if there were more widespread gun ownership and training, Newtown need never have happened. If one teacher or armed guard had been at that school, the evil may have been prevented. The police, Marines, and the people “protecting” me are not here in my house right this minute; and at the fastest rate of travel, could not be here for at least 10 minutes. Some nut with a gun could be long gone by the time they get here.

    Dead children are not “an acceptable price to pay”; and blaming their deaths on responsible gun owners is a garbage tactic.

    • #24
  25. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I’ve seen plenty of holes in people too and most from criminals.
    My gun has saved my life from one.

    The issue is , having not read the other comments, the progressive left wants to disarm society. It’s a dream of theirs and they like to go after handguns or scary black rifles. No thanks, I’d rather die than let them go.
    As far as nutbags and guns, you have a point. Ill go for that when we have mandatory mental evaluations for driving and everyone over 70 takes a yearly test as well since dementia sets in about then. Seen a lot more squished people than ones with holes.

    • #25
  26. Byron Horatio Inactive
    Byron Horatio
    @ByronHoratio

    I’m a gun owner. In fact I own quite a few. AKs, pistols, hunting rifles, you name it. Living in a free society comes with its benefits and costs. Gun ownership is generally a net benefit. It allows the physically weak or infirmed to have parity with violent people who could otherwise overpower them. It makes the citizen the first line of defense for his family rather than being at the whims of violent people or dependent on the state.

    Of course this liberty comes with a cost. Innocent people get killed because of the abundance of firearms. Children accidentally shoot themselves with their parents’ guns.

    But don’t all our liberties? Something like 40,000 people will die in auto accidents this year. Are those just acceptable losses for the benefit of having cars? And virtually every one of those people will be insured and have plenty of experience and training in driving.

    I have carried a pistol almost everyday for the past 5 years. On only one occasion did I brandish my gun. I was thankful I had my gun at the moment. It frightened away someone who was possibly trying to carjack me. Both he and I went home that night unharmed. No statistics, no holes, no crime.

    To be blunt, it’s not my fault or none or my business what other irresponsible people do with their liberties. If someone through their own stupidity causes the death of their child with their firearm or wakes up and decides to kill their whole family, that’s a tragedy. But I don’t care to have my rights curtailed or suffer some exhorbitant cost because of it.

    When I was a broke college student, it was costly enough to get a reliable firearm and pay for the licensing necessary to carry it. Given your insurance or mandatory training scheme, I might not have been able to afford to have a firearm in a time of need.

    • #26
  27. CandE Inactive
    CandE
    @CandE

    DocJay:I’ve seen plenty of holes in people too and most from criminals. My gun has saved my life from one.

    The issue is , having not read the other comments, the progressive left wants to disarm society. It’s a dream of theirs and they like to go after handguns or scary black rifles. No thanks, I’d rather die than let them go. As far as nutbags and guns, you have a point.Ill go for that when we have mandatory mental evaluations for driving and everyone over 70 takes a yearly test as well since dementia sets in about then.Seen a lot more squished people than ones with holes.

    This.

    And while we’re talking about limiting constitutionally protected rights, let’s implement voting tests so we don’t have morons voting

    -E

    • #27
  28. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Ill go for that when we have mandatory mental evaluations for driving and everyone over 70 takes a yearly test as well since dementia sets in about then. 

    Don’t laugh but in the state of FL there is a mandatory annual driving test required for anyone over 75. I was chatting with someone at the DMV recently while waiting to replace a vehicle registration form and she told me that elderly license renewers are judged by their ability to make it through the front door and up to the registration desk in one piece.

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @ArizonaPatriot

    You know what word I really hate? “Permit,” as in “you need a permit for that.” Another word I hate is “license.” We have the most absurd licensing laws, for everything from barbers to pet trimmers. Part of being the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave is that we’re not supposed to have to ask government permission to do things.

    The world is full of dangers. I probably have dozens, if not hundreds, of deadly implements around my house — knives, hammers, axes, drills, power saws, crowbars, and on and on. We don’t need a regulatory and licensing system to deal with all of these.

    The other reality is that I don’t trust the Democrats as far as I could throw an elephant, so I sure don’t want them having a record of everyone who owns a gun.

    As a policy matter, the gun control debate was already decided by the Second Amendment, as the USSC finally recognized in the Heller case. There is a simple principle that we can use to determine which weapons qualify, implied by the word chosen by the Founders — “arms.” “Arms” means hand-held infantry weapons.

    At the time of the founding, there were four basic classes of guns: muskets/shotguns (i.e. smooth-bore long guns for use by a single person); rifles (i.e. muskets with rifled barrels); pistols; and cannon. Of the four, cannon were not “arms,” while the other three were “arms.”

    I think that there is room for good-faith disagreement regarding “machine guns” (i.e. fully automatic weapons) and shoulder-fired rocket launchers. In my view, rocket launchers are more like cannons, and therefore would not qualify as “arms.” Very large machine guns (say the 50-cal and up) are also more like cannons, and therefore would not qualify as arms.

    The toughest question, in my view, is the personal automatic rifle or pistol, like a fully auto AK47, M16, or H&K MP5. I incline toward classifying these as “arms” for Second Amendment purposes, principally on the functional basis that the Second Amendment is intended to allow “the people” to keep and bear the typical personal weapon(s) of a regular infantryman. However, if I were really called upon to decide such a case — which is wildly unlikely — I would want to study well-reasoned and researched briefs on both sides of the issue. I thought that Justice Scalia’s dismissal of the implications of the Heller decision on the question of automatic weapons lacked any meaningful analysis (to which I don’t strongly object, as I don’t think the Court was called upon to address the issue in the Heller case).

    On the other hand, I concede that the “well-regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment would allow the type of training and licensing system that you propose. I just don’t like it much as a policy matter.

    Finally, I’m all in favor of allowing Massachusetts to have one rule and Arizona to have another.

    FYI, out here in the Wild West, we’re allowed to concealed carry without even needing a permit. We may even beat Texas on gun rights!

    • #29
  30. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Kate, here is the problem that I see with what you’re saying – I’m not addressing the actual proposals, but the ideology, or at least the goal of what you’re hoping to accomplish. Let me do that in a somewhat narcissistic manner (I apologize). I write a lot about things that really suck… kids who may not be killed (but sometimes are), but are often abused or neglected; people who commit crimes, etc… I don’t think I’ve ever written a piece where I attempt to pin down the problem and propose a solution. Rather, it is only to point out that, well, quite frankly, there is no solution. Life is a bummer and human nature is a bummer. Guns put holes in people, and spears put holes in people, and tigers’ fangs put holes in people. I heard that a tornado can even produce winds that will cause a piece of straw to put holes in people. Where the liberal ideology gets it wrong is every time it presumes – as Hayek so eloquently pointed out – that man really knows anything about what he imagines he can design. What we have consistently discovered is that our attempts to “repair” mankind or society or life in general only ever make things considerably worse. The idea of conservatism (when it comes to things like guns) is not that guns themselves are some human right that cannot be infringed, it is that the Government – and anyone in or even associated with the Government – cannot possibly fix the problem of human nature and crime by removing those freedoms.

    So yeah, as individuals, we still end up having to do the dirty work. In your case, it is working with families of people with holes in them. My Dad is a hospital chaplain… in his case, it is holding the hands of those people with the holes as they die. The ultimate folly is to assume that this is anything less than the long-standing and ultimately unchangeable (in a macro- sense) nature of things. We can deal with it on an individual and spiritual level, but we cannot make laws that make humans into something that all of history has proven that they are not.

    • #30

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