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  • Dr. T

Here we go, again.....

Updated: Apr 2

Gun violence: the time has come and gone for playing the blame game. This method of thinking never solves problems - it only alienates solutions. A better approach is to identify the root cause and devise a plan.


With a bit of research, one can find statistics to support or negate a particular position on a divisive topic. For instance, an NPR interview postulated that police are the cause of an uptick in gun violence in 2020. Another source stated that gun violence is down because of the pandemic, while another insisted violence is up because ‘violence disruptors’ are missing from social programs due to the pandemic. The degrees of separation are mind-boggling! How can citizens sort out what is really happening versus what ‘trusted’ sources claim?


Put all claims into a bucket and stir for 2 minutes. The end result will be one mucky mess with no clear winner. In other words, a singular answer to the gun violence issue does not exist. What is often overlooked is the fact that homo sapiens have acted with violence, or displayed a war-ish nature, since the beginning of time. Claiming that guns cause violence is paramount to blatant disregard of reality. Ergo:


Why are prisons full of non-gun related violent offenders?

Why do we need protective services for battered women and children?

Why are there laws to protect minority populations?

Why are animals on protected lists?


It is never a good idea to paint a problem with a broad brush, especially one with such complex consequences. As such, claiming that a gun is the cause of violence is myopic and unfounded. Domesticated animals are not being shot by guns, they are harmed by abuse and other nefarious methods- think dog fights and rooster fights. Women and children are victims of domestic abuse, largely by physical and psychological violence. Prisons are full of all sorts of non-gun related offenders- sexual, physical, burglary, white collar, etc… Gun legislation does not empty prisons, nor will it protect women, children, or minority classes from the non-gun (or gun) violence. (At the end of this document is some research and stats on gun violence which can shed more light onto the issue.)


Could it be that the underlying cause for all violence is something to consider? Is it mental health or something else? Can killers be remediated? Is the will to hurt others dependent upon what weapon is available - or is it irrelevant? Do domestic abusers need a gun to do their dirty work? What about sexual assaults? Is the overmedication of our youth leading to violent behaviors? Is the lack of mental health support a factor?


Big picture thinking can shape a conversation better than politicians and media outlets.


https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/gun-violence-america

https://www.npr.org/2021/01/03/952969760/2020-was-a-record-breaking-year-for-gun-related-deaths-in-the-u-s

https://www.factcheck.org/2021/03/facts-on-the-house-gun-bills/

https://fact-s.me/2021/03/23/should-assault-weapons-that-kill-many-in-a-few-minutes-be-outlawed/


Conflict is a necessary aspect to life and there will always be those who choose violence to solve problems. However, the singular mindset against weaponry, although a worthy concern, is detrimental to finding solutions. Moreover, violent behaviors will never be eradicated through gun legislation and political posturing. Nor will violent behaviors be mitigated by protecting gun ownership. Think bigger!


Hard fact: Those who want a gun, can find a gun - regardless of laws.


Isn’t cocaine illegal? And heroin? Crack? The national speed limit is 55 mph, yet cars are made to far exceed the law. Does that mean cars that exceed 55 shouldn’t exist or is it a personal choice to break the speed limit? Are elephants still being killed for their ivory even though it is illegal? Is texting and driving a bad idea and against many states’ laws? People die because of this behavior, yet legislation hasn’t changed peoples’ minds about doing it anyways. These are simplistic comparatives, but fit the illogical narrative on gun violence.


Hard fact: Behavior cannot be legislated.


It is impossible to remove guns, illegal drugs, fast cars, and texting drivers from the world so why not focus on what is possible? How about conflict management skills, mental health, education, and family support - just to name a few. Don’t like guns? Or just certain guns? Vote accordingly to reflect that stance. Want to protect lawful gun ownership? Again, vote accordingly. In the meantime, it is archaic and bully-ish to blame innocent neighbors for what violent offenders are doing of their own accord. It is a perilous precedent to have a singular focus on feelings rather than facts. This country united around victims of race violence, justifiably, but ignored umpteen other violent crimes that deserve the same rallying cries for justice. Victims and their families deserve love, support, and a degree of privacy - not self-important politicians and media pundits who sensationalize and monetize the grief of a select few. We have become a culture that glamorizes violence to an extent that it equates to dollar signs, instead of focusing on the bigger indication of a potential mental health crisis.


The true crux of gun violence has not been clearly identified and it is largely being ignored.


The root of violent behavior is in the heart and mind of the offenders. No outside force can put a weapon into the hands of a person and force them to commit a crime. Would it help that automatic weapons were difficult to get? You bet, but the reality is, bad people will do bad things no matter what hurdles are in the way. It isn't a bad idea to legislate fewer opportunities for civilians to have automatic weapons, but until and unless that legislation can be enforced, we are no closer to the goal of zero violence. In the meantime, what can we do?


Be vigilant and call for help if someone is in crisis and might do harm.

Teach children how to resolve conflict in healthy ways.

Model good conflict management in daily life.

Get to know the people who make up the neighborhood- power in numbers!

Communicate with local leaders.

Be informed!


Research is available- but use caution when choosing sources. Watch for those pesky opinion pieces, subtly labeled that way to give the impression of fact-based writing. National government agencies are a good place to start for data, but keep in mind the potential for imperfection – as in all things. Compare data reports from national agencies to those published by media outlets – check for emotionally charged inflections that skew impressions. There is a national predicament of confirmation bias, and it is detrimental to overall growth and empowerment of truth.


https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/law-navigator.html

https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2019-statistics-on-law-enforcement-officers-killed-in-the-line-of-duty

https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/

https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/use-of-force



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Research and discussion surrounding recent proposed gun legislation (2A).

- Sources embedded, and correlations provided.


2A- HISTORICAL CONTEXT

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

by Nelson Lund

University Professor at George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law

by Adam Winkler

Professor of Law at University of California Los Angeles Law School


Modern debates about the Second Amendment have focused on whether it protects a private right of individuals to keep and bear arms, or a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard.

Much has changed since 1791. The traditional militia is no longer a thing, and state-based militia organizations were eventually incorporated into the federal military structure. Furthermore, eighteenth century civilians routinely kept at home the very same weapons they would need if called to serve in the militia, while modern soldiers are equipped with weapons that differ significantly from those generally thought appropriate for civilian uses. Civilians no longer expect to use their household weapons for militia duty, although they still keep and bear arms to defend against common criminals (as well as for hunting and other forms of recreation).

The principle that reasonable regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment has been affirmed throughout American history. Ever since the first cases challenging gun controls for violating the Second Amendment or similar provisions in state constitutions, courts have repeatedly held that “reasonable” gun laws—those that don’t completely deny access to guns by law-abiding people—are constitutionally permissible. For 150 years, this was the settled law of the land—until Heller.

Until recently, the judiciary treated the Second Amendment almost as a dead letter. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), however, the Supreme Court invalidated a federal law that forbade nearly all civilians from possessing handguns in the nation’s capital. A 5–4 majority ruled that the DC ban on handgun possession violated the 2nd amendment right because it prohibited an entire class of arms favored for the lawful purpose of self-defense in the home. It also found that the requirement that lawful firearms be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock made it impossible for citizens to effectively use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.

Pew Research Center 2019

Guns are deeply ingrained in American society. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms, and three-in-ten American adults personally own a gun. Most of these gun owners say the right to own firearms is essential to their own personal sense of freedom.

While men and women are about equally likely to cite personal protection (65% and 71%, respectively) as a major reason they own a gun, women are more likely than men to cite protection as the only reason (27% of women vs. 8% of men).

At the same time, gun violence – from big-city murders to mass shootings – has spurred debate in Congress and state legislatures over proposals to limit Americans’ access to firearms. Counting murders and suicides, nearly 40,000 people died of gun-related violence in the United States in 2017, the highest annual total in decades.



NEW LEGISLATION

HR127 was introduced in January of 2021.

The Attorney General, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, shall establish a system for licensing the possession of firearms or ammunition in the United States, and for the registration with the Bureau of each firearm present in the United States.

The Attorney General shall establish and maintain a database of all firearms registered pursuant to this subsection.

“(B) ACCESS.—The Attorney General shall make the contents of the database accessible to all members of the public, all Federal, State, and local law enforcement authorities, all branches of the United States Armed Forces, and all State and local governments, as defined by the Bureau.

…..“(A) the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, the identity of the owner of the firearm, the date the firearm was acquired by the owner, and where the firearm is or will be stored.


Licensing

“(II) undergoes a psychological evaluation conducted in accordance with paragraph (2), and the evaluation does not indicate that the individual is psychologically unsuited to possess a firearm; and

“(D) as part of the psychological evaluation, the licensed psychologist interviewed any spouse of the individual, any former spouse of the individual, and at least 2 other persons who are a member of the family of, or an associate of, the individual to further determine the state of the mental, emotional, and relational stability of the individual in relation to firearms.

Insurance

“(1) IN GENERAL.—The Attorney General shall issue to any person who has applied for a license pursuant to subsection (c) and has paid to the Attorney General the fee specified in paragraph (2) of this subsection a policy that insures the person against liability for losses and damages resulting from the use of any firearm by the person during the 1-year period that begins with the date the policy is issued.

“(2) FEE.—The fee specified in this paragraph is $800.”.

STATS

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics

Based on a 2016 case study of over 300,000 convicted felons about 1 in 5 (21%) of all state and federal convicts had possessed or carried a firearm when they committed the offense for which they were serving time in prison.

Among these, more than half (56%) had either stolen it (6%), found it at the scene of the crime (7%), or obtained it off the street or from the underground market (43%).

Let’s go after the folks that purchased guns legally from stores and dealers.

About 1.3% of prisoners obtained a gun from a retail source and used it during their offense.

Let’s go after the gun shows and close the quote “Loop holes”

0.8% obtained it at a gun show

Let’s put this in perspective.

Data shows that approximately 0.7% of the American population is currently imprisoned. With that data coupled with the gun data we just talked about here’s what it could look like in your community.

If your community had 10,000 people in it, approximately 700 people are imprisoned. From that imprisoned 700, only 21% of them possessed a gun while committing the crime they were convicted for. That’s 147 people. Now out of that 147 people, only 2.1% of them purchased those guns at a retail store or at a gun show. That’s only 31 people. That’s less than 1/10th of a percent. The rest obtained their guns illegally.

So most proposals seeking to restrict gun ownership in some way for those looking to purchase guns legally will really impact the 3,000 law abiding citizens in that same community. And of course, inherently the 31 people that committed a crime while in possession of a weapon and obtained that weapon legally. The narrative that supports the idea that tighter gun laws will help diminish gun related crimes is just not supported by this data. Sure, it may help mitigate the crimes committed by those 31 people but it really impacts the 3000 law abiding citizens much more.

How about the “everyone who has a weapon uses it to murder and injure people” discussion….

Among state convicts who possessed a gun during their offense, 27% killed someone with it, another 12% injured someone, 7% fired the gun but did not injure anyone, and 54% did not fire it.

And now for the “Veterans are more likely to use guns because they have been trained” argument.

State convicts with no military service were more likely to possess a gun during their offense (21%) than prisoners who had served in the military (16%).



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