I recently got into a Facebook discussion with a sincere and articulate young man over gun control in the wake of the Bakersfield terrorist shootings. After several exchanges, I got a little too verbose for Facebook and decided this is a more appropriate venue.
He cited an article lauding Japan from The Atlantic which was especially interesting. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/
The headline implies that Japan has done something the US can emulate. However, the article itself says:
The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different—and Japan is such a generally peaceful country—that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments.
It goes on to say that the Japanese restrictions amount to a police state unlikely to be accepted in the US.
Australia was also used as an emulation example as it is frequently in these discussions. While there is plenty of political rhetoric attributing a decrease in homicide to gun control, there is little scientific evidence.
University of Melbourne researchers Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi concluded their 2008 report on the matter with the statement,
There is little evidence to suggest that [the Australian mandatory gun-buyback program] had any significant effects on firearm homicides.
A 2007 report, “Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference?” by Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran similarly concluded that the buyback program did not have a significant long-term effect on the Australian homicide rate. http://c3.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/Baker%20and%20McPhedran%202007.pdf
In the study of logic, alleging that a real or imagined correlation means causation in a logical fallacy called
Correlation does not mean causation.
For example, in Rifle, Colorado everyone in the Shooters restaurant carries openly, staff and customers alike. There has never been a shooting of any kind, let alone a mass shooting. On the other hand, California has the toughest gun control laws in the US. Yet there have been more shootings in the last month (December 2015) in the city of Bakersfield, California than in the entire history of Rifle, Colorado. Using the Australia/US rational, one would conclude that if everyone were required to carry firearms, homicide would be eliminated. Sounds like flawed logic to me; exactly the way gun confiscation sounds. In reality, there are just too many factors at play to come up with a simplistic solution.
Even if gun confiscation had any significant long-term effect on the Australian homicide rate, the US is too dissimilar.
Australians have no constitutional right to bear arms, so seizing their weapons did not violate their constitutional rights.
http://thefederalist.com/2015/06/25/the-australia-gun-control-fallacy/ . Their gun “buy-back” was mandatory and effectively confiscation. Gun confiscation in the United States would require violating not only the Second Amendment, but the fourth and fifth as well and possibly even the first.
The gun issue in the US is 300 times more complicated.
Aside from constitutional issues, the two countries are simply not comparable. The population of the US is about 320 million; about 23 for Australia. The New York metropolitan area alone has about 20 million people. Two-thirds of Australians live in six capital cities.
About a third of Americans own approximately 300 million guns…legally. On the high side, the estimate of Australian guns confiscated is 1 million…one-three hundredth of the guns owned legally in the US. There is no way of knowing how many of either involves illegal weapons.
The point is that at best, the Australian model is unworkable and at worst would require something akin to civil war. Some polls indicate that the US is split about 50-50 on the issue of tighter gun control. However, the poll questions typically revolves around background checks and education. Poll again as to how many would vote to repeal the 2nd amendment and the number in favor would fall precipitously even further from the required two-thirds majority and 50-state ratification. Not likely to happen in our lifetimes.
I have previously made the wonderful and practical
Proposal Number One
Ban publicizing the names of mass shooters to deprive them of their driving force and discourage copycats.
Here are two more amazingly insightful recommendations for my anti-violence platform.
The Big Number Two:
Implement a Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit but require an extensive background check and education.
Unlike the NRA, I do not oppose background checks and education. I don’t think either would prevent mass shootings any more than they prevent people who get driver’s licenses from driving drunk—or for that matter driving without a driver’s license. But, weeding out some of the most blatant wackos, teaching laws and requiring some degree of competence seem like worthy goals. As long as both the background check and education requirements are reasonable and not designed to eliminate the average competent person, I don’t feel they impinge unreasonably on my right to drive or bear arms.
The NRA feels that these are just dominos in the government’s attempt at totalitarianism, but you can’t have compromise and break down obstructionism without each side giving and getting something.
Here is the give/get: Gun owners such as me would like to have our Concealed Carry Weapons Permits accepted nationwide. Gun control advocates want background checks and educational requirements.
So, Part A is a National Concealed Carry Permit for Guns (NCCPG) that requires a universal background check and education standards. Neither exists now so each side gets a win.
Part B of this provision is that in a NCCPG would entitle concealed carry anywhere. On December 3, The Washington Post reported that gun crime has been on the decline for about 20 years, except for high-profile shootings in gun-free zones. There are other factors, but let’s at least eliminate target-rich soft sites. I don’t know about anyone else, but if shooters attack my screening of the new Peanuts Movie, even armed with only an 8-shot pocket pistol my odds are better than playing unarmed dodge bullet with AK-15 projectiles. The only thing that would improve the odds is if in addition to me, half the other people there are packing.
Since quid pro quo is about give-some-get-some, if NCCPG holders get to carry anywhere, the offset is to increase the penalties if they violate that privilege. That is, anyone using a gun in violation of law gets a “surcharge” on the penalty otherwise applied for the crime.
Run a pilot gun-confiscation program.
In a controlled environment, what could go wrong?
I know this is heresy and I will surely be censured by the NRA for this, but while I believe gun confiscation is not a viable option, I am willing to test the hypothesis. In a small, controlled, highly favorable political environment, where nothing can go wrong, let’s implement Australian-like gun confiscation.
Run a trial in a single, high crime city where the vast majority supports gun control and are willing to give up some civil liberty in pursuit of eliminating gun violence. Chicago comes to mind, but New York, Miami and a few others would qualify if they want to volunteer. Chicago: Home of the Commandeer in Chief, decades of experience implementing gun control, decades of high violent crime—perfect.
Here is how it works. In the greater metropolitan city of Chicago, guns will be banned and confiscated. To be fair to the Australian model, the city of Chicago will “buy-back” the guns at fair market value…kind of like eminent domain. Citizens and businesses of Chicago who, based on their voting records, no doubt overwhelmingly support gun control will happily pony up a tax to pay for the buy-back and costs of police enforcement.
The buy-back will be mandatory, but according to their spokespersons, the majority of these people already agree with gun control, so they will all surrender their weapons voluntarily. Right? It isn’t like Texas or Arizona where we would have to deal with that whole prying…cold dead hands thing.
Since Chicagoans would like to repeal the 2nd amendment anyway, they will stipulate that the reduction in violent crime will be worth the loss of civil liberty. Anxiously awaiting the ACLU response.
Track the cost and results for 5-10 ten years to allow for the temporary crime reduction while TLC (terrorists, lunatics and criminals) are incapacitated by uncontrolled giggling. Evaluate the results. If it works consider how to expand to a broader venue. If it doesn’t, whoops. My bad.
I know, I know. Not fair. Even if you could confiscate all legal guns, what about illegal guns? Plus, even if you could confiscate all of the illegal guns, bad guys and gals would pop right next door to, say…Madison, Wisconsin or Indianapolis, Indiana and buy or steal more. Sorry for slighting Detroit, but after the hail-Mary debacle on Thursday Night Football (12/2015), I thought they had endured enough. Guess it would help if the US was an island like, say Japan or Australia (OK, not technically, but it is surrounded by water).
However, if gun confiscation were to be implemented nationwide and there was a lawless country abutting the US, say a hypothetical country rhyming with Sexico, the pilot program would still be valid. I am not sure how we would evaluate the impact if TLC’s actually relocated to the Chicago safe zone from less hospitable environs. Have to give that some thought.
So, there you have the perfect bi-partisan plan to control TLC homicide and mass violence.
- Deny terrorists and lunatics public recognition. That will no doubt hurt their feelings but we could create “safe zones” and put signs on the windows so they would not be depressed. I have a niggling feeling that I am missing something here. It will no doubt come to me in the next bullet point—er—paragraph number. Sorry, Freudian slip.
- Implement universal background checks and education for an NCCPG to aid in eliminating soft targets.
- Test gun confiscation in a favorable environment that won’t be missed if anything goes wrong. Sorry Chicgone.
Win, win! Let me know when you have the cons on board and I will supply the pros. If only congress could get along this well.
Note: This doesn’t cover mass violence committed by other means such as bombs. That will of course require banning and confiscating chemicals used to make bombs (sorry farmers), bomb materials (sorry Home Depot) and instructions (sorry Internet).
Heck, once you get going, this stuff is easy.