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Putting gun control in perspective.

The question of age.

Will raising the age to buy any kind of gun stop school or indeed any mass shootings? Well, let’s apply the same logic to far more deadly statistics.

Consider the following quote from the CDC

In 2015, 2,333 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 221,313 [606 per day- editor] were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014.1 That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.(emphasis added)

In 2013, young people ages 15-19 represented only 7% of the U.S. population. However, they accounted for 11% ($10 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries”

Wow, that’s a lot more death and injuries every year than is caused by all the guns in America, and often the carnage is caused by the drivers deliberately driving while impaired either by alcohol, drugs or use of cell phones, all of which are intentional acts.

Using the logic of the left, would denying teens the right to drive or buy a car until they are 21, stop all that death and destruction?

Damn right it would, at least in that age group. Do you see that offered as a solution anywhere in the above quotes?

Ah….no.

The question of intent.

Both guns and cars are inanimate objects until acted upon by human impulse, which can turn them into deadly weapons.

Let us examine that analogy again. Pardon the bold print, but you need to read this next part.

No car injures another person or animal or someone’s property until you hit the start button or turn on the key, put it in gear and it moves.

No semi-automatic weapon, unless it has been modified, fires even one shot until the human pulls the trigger. Every time that rifle or handgun fires, it is because someone pulled the trigger.

That’s something gun control people don’t want you to notice.

What makes a semi-automatic weapon different from say a bolt action 30.06 or a single-shot .22 or a 6-shot revolver is that it doesn’t take a manual act to extract the shell casing. For the uninitiated, that is the part that holds the gunpowder. That makes getting the next round into firing position a lot faster.

To make semis fire a projectile, you must pull the trigger. They fire faster only because the casing ejector doesn’t require a separate manual operation.

That means the Florida killer pulled the trigger on his weapon 150 times, unless he modified its action. From a legal standpoint, that technically makes each time he fired but didn’t hit anyone, a separate act of attempted murder. It is unknown whether the Florida killer had modified his weapon.

For the record, AR-15s are often modified for burst fire (clusters of rapid fire) by civilian owners for competitive shooting. That is legal at this point in time, and is relatively easy (but not necessarily cheap) to do for a skilled owner with the proper parts and tools, or by a gunsmith. There are also cheaper add-ons like the so-called “bump stock.”

They are not legally sold to civilians as fully automatic weapons and even with modifications don’t shoot 150 rounds all at once, as one so-called expert alleged, primarily because the comparatively thin metal of the barrel would deform so much the weapon would be unusable.

For the record, fully automatic weapons have been banned from civilian ownership since the 1930’s.

Yet, in the aftermath of the school shootings, somehow everyone thinks that raising the age to buy a firearm of any kind to 21 or banning the sale of unmodified semi-automatic weapons is magically going to solve the problem.

That’s what makes all the gun control arguments so maddening. They remove the element of personal accountability.

There is a reason we call these active SHOOTER incidents, not active DISCHARGE incidents.

There are some suggestions out there that would be effective on some level, but as we saw in Florida, that too is human-dependent. .

Hardening the schools is perhaps the most effective proposal and statistics illustrate why age-limited purchases would be ineffective.

Only a fraction of on-campus deaths and injuries on schools involving guns, and NOT including suicides, off-campus deaths and injuries and accidental shootings are committed by people under the age of 21.

Ponder this for a minute.

Since January 1, 2000, there have been 246  documented, deliberate attack-style K-12 campus related school shootings, as gleaned from this information compiled by Wikipedia (the most complete open source compilation of statistics available to an average reader).

Of those instances, where ages were given, 86 (or 35%)  were committed by persons under 21.

Not included in that tally for this article were:

Colleges and universities (which have their own campus police forces), drive-by shootings and other shootings where the shooters were fully off-campus, or where ages or shooters couldn’t be identified. Choice of weaponry documentation was too fragmented to include here.

The moral here is that one-size fits all solutions aren’t the answer because the shootings are not being committed only by people under 21.

Background checks are valuable, but not unless they contain all the reasons a person should not have a gun.

First, there is the mental health debate. Some gun control activists want everyone to undergo a separate psych evaluation, at their own expense, before being allowed to purchase a gun.

Political correctness, outdated laws and pure propaganda.

The social justice activists oppose reporting someone as mentally ill because it might stigmatize them.

Then there is the question of HIPAA.

Reportable reasons for relevant mental instability can include certain defined mental illness diagnoses to using certain kinds of medications such as antipsychotics and illegal prescription drug use to any kind of criminal record more egregious than parking tickets or jaywalking.

Even responsible health professionals are very loathe to report those things, for fear of being charged for HIPAA violations or sued in civil court.

To make mental health reporting work, you have to first define all the things to be reported and then provide and enact significant  penalties for noncompliance in the reporting, as well as protections for the reporting authority.

As we have seen so tragically in Parkland, even that isn’t foolproof. Every process and every over 21 adult who could let those Stoneman-Douglas high schoolers down, did let them down, including apparently some police officers.

What about all the impassioned cries for more money and resources for mental health?

Unless we are willing to stop worrying about the so-called social stigma of mental illness, that’s pretty useless too.

Accountability.

There are dozens of people who should be charged as accessories to the Parkland shooting.

A Florida state senator, Kathleen Passidomo(R), during a segment on Fox News on Friday noted that the Parkland shooter had been recognized to have serious mental health problems since he was nine years old.

Are we to believe that there were no beds for him in a mental health facility for 10 years? That wasn’t the problem. The problem is that no one wanted to put him in one of those beds, nor did they want to keep him there, if that was the only avenue to keep him under control.

What’s next?

Well, for some it’s the total disarming of America. Those people are calling for an outright repeal of the Second Amendment.

Then there is the proposed requirement to require background checks even for members of the same family selling guns to each other. That would only work if there was a Federal agent in every home 24/7/365, so that’s just another touchy-feely PR stunt.

The next tactic is making it so expensive to buy or even own a gun that it will cut off the supply.

And there are a lot of people who would accept common sense laws, like banning rate of fire modifications or requiring confinement and longer-term evaluations for certain mentally ill people with probable cause, or making it easier to red flag certain gun owners for repeated brushes with the law so their weapons could be at least temporarily confiscated.

Any of those last suggestions would probably receive little to no opposition from responsible gun owners , and would actually have an effect on homicidal shootings of all types.

It’s human nature to want a quick fix for problems, but raising the purchasing age or banning the sale and possession of certain kinds of firearms is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a brain tumor.

TGIF – February 23, 2018

Promoting the language of emasculation.

Another “prestigious university” (read that as, ‘it costs an arm and leg to go there) has fired another shot in the war to control men via language.

Purdue University, joining Princeton and a number of other institutions of “high”-er learning in demanding that its students and faculty avoid “…”the generic use of MAN and other words with masculine markers.” reports Campus Reform.org.

Wonder how that works on restrooms?  Maybe they differentiate by changing “men” and “women”  to “sit” and “stand.”

Maybe next these learned institutions can just ban the men completely and create the Confederation of the Amazonian schools of learning.

Beware kids with working brains…

At least if you are CNN.  Several people have commented that some of the students protesting at Tallahassee seemed to be parroting lines we often hear from paid activist organizations.  One was even accused of being a plant for an anti-gun group, although he was interviewed on the Stoneman-Douglas campus within a few minutes of the Parkland shooting.

We don’t know about that, but at least one young man says CNN attempted to have him ask a scripted question during a town hall and he refused to go along with it. CNN immediately denied the accusation and followed up by alleging that the student’s father pulled him from the town hall.  Not sure what they’ve had to say about the father of another student who alleges the same thing happened to him.

Who would you trust, the ethics of CNN, or Colton Haab?

Inasmuch as ye have done unto the least of these…

Two Lehi (Utah)  city workers  came across a cow stuck in thick mud in an irrigation ditch, and without hesitation they worked for some time to get her out of the freezing mud, according to Fox13 in Salt Lake City,  Utah.

It wasn’t their cow, and neither man professed to be a cowboy, but hey, sometimes you do things just because it’s the right thing to do.

 

A tale of two meetings.

It was and is interesting and maddening to listen to the media spin concerning the two meetings that occurred yesterday concerning what to do about school shootings.

Yesterday, if you were able to watch and listen you heard a lot of anger, fear and disillusionment from the young people’s public demonstration in Tallahassee.

After all, many of them are just a week away from having their whole world turned upside down, and in their own way they are trying to get back to a place that will never exist for them again.

That demonstration was highly photogenic and there were a lot of angry and emotional people there, along with paid agitators and a few  politicians happy to prostitute themselves for a few more campaign contributions.  It’s likely that’s the gathering from whence the majority of the sound bites will come.

On the other end of the spectrum, the meeting at the White House, while still emotional and sometimes incredibly sad, pretty much embodied what’s been missing from all the media hype.

In a word, people communicated, largely without resorting to tribal rancor or political grandstanding.

Black inner city school administrators freely shared their common sense and effective solutions with grieving white fathers and mothers and siblings.

Perhaps Andrew Pollak said it best, when he implored the President and even those not in the room to handle the problem at hand, which is school safety, and leave all the political grandstanding over gun control for another time.

Many of the solutions needed were advanced in that White House meeting.

The one thing that came across strongly is that we, that is the collective we, don’t need and probably shouldn’t waste time waiting for Washington or some state legislature to act constructively.

Parents and educators that have already had time to move past the anger and deal with their grief as best they can offered solution after solution that has worked for them.

Things like closed campuses, like metal detectors and checkpoints and making kids and teachers relate to one another as human beings by barring cell phone use in the school and training staff to profile kids having a bad day and divert them from class.

And yes, having armed personnel on campus and finding more physical capacity to deal with the seriously disturbed people who commit these school shootings and not being afraid to label a kid as mentally ill, or even as a criminal was part of the conversation as well.

One lady who had to deal with the Columbine shooting said it perhaps as well as anyone, when she said it was the person behind the trigger and how we identify and protect ourselves from them that is the problem we have to solve.

There’s another side to this as well, one that is given absolutely no credence whatsoever by the fear mongers, race baiters and political prostitutes who seem to have carefully coached some of the students in Tallahassee.

Some statistics say that there are 300 million guns in the country.  99.9999% of the people that own those guns haven’t shot any kids and have no intention of ever doing so, and they are very tired of being painted as would-be murderers simply for political gain.

Most of them don’t even belong to the NRA, whose membership fluctuates around the 3 to 5 million mark or an estimated 7% of all legal gun owners.

They are hunters and target shooters and collectors and people that own one gun for self-protection.  They are the people who volunteer to teach other people about gun safety and responsible gun ownership.

They are black, white, red, and yellow and represent just about every ethnicity on earth. They are male and female, gay and straight, young and old, military veterans and people who have never served.

The so-called gun lobby consists of your friends and neighbors. They are just as pissed as Meadow Pollack’s father that we can’t seem to move this problem past political rhetoric to practical solutions. They are no more for bump stocks and 100-round magazines or selling guns to the criminally insane than is Mr. Pollack.

What they are NOT is murderers, and even considering the shock and outrage, the students who parroted that claim are doing their cause no good whatsoever.  Indeed, that might have had a lot to do with why the Florida legislators refused to consider their demands.

There were one hell of a lot of adult failures that led up to this shooting, and NONE of them have anything to do with any of the solutions  President Trump backs, or the gun control activists or even the NRA.

Politicians and Hollywood actors and MSM opinion readers won’t solve this problem.  If it gets solved, it’s going to be done by the people closest to the problem with solutions that come from hard-won experience, not from crackpot political partisanship.

 

Taxing questions.

Remember when we said that new taxes would eventually cut into the benefits from the Tax Cut Act?

That was inevitable, both at the state and Federal level, given the fact that the President has an ambitious agenda for playing catch-up on all the things that weren’t funded during the. previous administration, particularly the military and roads and bridges.

Enter the gas tax, or rather a proposal to increase it.

If the President gets all the public-private spending he wants on highway infrastructure, the Federal portion of the money has to come from somewhere, and apparently, the money received to date isn’t sitting in a savings account somewhere.

Actually, the title of Highway Trust Fund is a bit of a misnomer, since a lot of it goes for things other than highways.

Some of it has been spent as intended, while some of it has been legally siphoned off for things like mass transit, bike paths, walking paths and the like, uses that are permitted because the fuel tax is divided into two funds, with only about 60% allocated for road and bridge maintenance.

Whatever it has been spent on, the Highway Trust Fund is essentially bankrupt, having been kept solvent by transfers from the General Fund and other creative spending fixes for at least the past decade.

Raising the gas tax, (or rather the fuel tax, since it covers everything from jet fuel to diesel to gas for your lawnmower) is promoted as a user fee, and to some extent it is.

Obviously if you have to buy fuel, you are using the highways and airport services it’s supposed to pay for, if not directly, then by purchasing the goods that travel throughout the country on commercial vehicles, planes and trains.

Which gets us to the crux of the matter.

At some point, probably now, we are going to have to differentiate between things we need and things we want.

Do we want free college tuition, or bridges that are safe to cross? Do we want to fund a bike path, or roads that don’t have giant potholes? How about “free” women’s healthcare versus airport runways that don’t crumble under the weight of the planes?

Also at issue is whether people that buy and use fuel should have to subsidize road maintenance for vehicles that use no fuel at all.

President Trump wants to leverage a little Federal money to entice large private investment in “infrastructure” i.e.  mostly targeting transportation routes. .

That’s great, but even if it works, private businesses will not spend a dime if they can’t recoup it.

There are two ways to do that. Either they can submit flat bids that have a built-in profit margin, or they can charge an ongoing fee, to use the roads and bridges they build or renovate.

In areas where volume makes tolls attractive, that can cost an office worker  driving in to work from suburban New Jersey as much as $15 per crossing, while commercial six-axle  trucks pay as much as $126 per crossing, according to this 2015 article from patch.com.

In areas where traffic is sparse, the tolls would have to be exponentially higher.

Another “fix” could be adding an annual highway user fee to license plate or registration for aircraft renewals. That would at least spread the cost over a greater number of users who don’t buy gas at the pump. Private businesses like freight companies and airlines already add a fuel surtax, and transport costs are added to the markup on retail sales prices.

In short, like it or not, you can’t rob from Peter to pay Paul forever. At some point, the bills become due.

Punting on DACA?

The much-vaunted DACA fix seems to be in a fix.

After the Senate failed to pass anything remotely related to DACA or immigration reform, House members are now signaling that they too might prefer to keep this as in issue through the midterms.

Lawmakers seem to counting on the recent lower court injunctions to keep the Dreamers out of harm’s way until after the midterms, but that could backfire spectacularly.

If the White House can get the Supreme Court to rule favorably on the issue of whether the President has standing to issue an executive order to overturn the Obama EO that created DACA before the election, things could get very messy, very quickly.

Indeed, a lot of people are asking, if President Trump’s EO to end DACA is unconstitutional, doesn’t that mean the original order was also unconstitutional?

An awful lot of Dreamers can clearly see why they are here, in the political sense. What they do about it remains to be seen.

There’s always the chance, slim though it might be, that the House manages to cobble together a bill the President would sign, and send it to the Senate.

Unfortunately, the Senate bill that failed most spectacularly was the one the President supported, drawing less than 40 yes votes. That, coupled with Ryan’s statement that the House won’t act on DACA until March, pretty much tells you what Congress is willing to do to support anything the President wants.

At that point, Mitch McConnell is going to have to decide whether to introduce the so-called skinny bill, consisting of just DACA and full funding for the “border wall” and risk the President not signing it, or suspend the rules so he can pass the as-yet nonexistent House bill with just 51 votes. And that’s assuming he could get his slim majority to vote as a bloc.

And all of this is supposed to happen while the President is under an increasingly nasty attack from both his left and right.

On top of all that we have all the tumult over the Russian affair, in the wake of the somewhat anticlimactic declaration from the Special Counsel that yes, Russia does meddle in other countries’  political processes.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget calls to repeal the entire Second Amendment, or North Korea, to mention just a couple of things.

Imagine a singles tennis match with a dozen balls in play, and that’s Washington today.

Good luck, Dreamers. You’re going to need it.

Restating the problem.

Banning semi-automatic weapons, strengthening background checks, throwing more money at providing more mental health counselors or trashing the NRA isn’t going to fix what happened in Parkland, Florida.

That shooting was the result of the perfect storm of human error and reactive, instead of proactive legislation.

This was a case of refusing, or not legally being able to remove the killer from society.

Somehow, doing the right thing didn’t produce the right result.

The background checks were done.  The school expelled the killer. Local law enforcement did respond to complaints from the killer’s family or community members. The killer was exposed to mental health counseling. Social workers did observe him. People did see something and they did say something.

The thing is, none of those actions accomplished the one thing that would have stopped him.

That one thing? Following through, by putting him in a padded room.

The background check isn’t of much use if he wasn’t on the list. Nothing was done to keep him physically away from the school. Local law enforcement couldn’t or didn’t want to have him forcibly committed for long term observation. The voluntary mental health exposure he did get was ineffective at best. The social worker who deemed him to be just looking for attention apparently saw nothing harmful about a young man cutting himself and threatening people to get that attention. The FBI didn’t act, even in the face of specific information, citing the fact that he hadn’t done anything yet and hadn’t threatened a specific person.

No one had the killer arrested for threatening the girl he was obsessed with, and apparently whatever caused the police to visit his home 30 some-odd times didn’t result in anyone filing charges against him, even under domestic violence or assault laws.

You can certainly understand why the students want to punish someone for what happened, or do something to make themselves feel safer, and there’s no shortage of people willing to use their pain for their own purposes.

The problem is, even if they get guns of some or all classifications banned, or the age limit raised to buy a gun, or the NRA disbanded, that’s like killing every dog in town because one chewed up your lawn furniture.

Here are ways to make things better, but maybe marching on City Hall or the state capitals might provide more immediate results than marching on Washington.

Nothing we do as a nation is going to remove every sociopathic or potential mass killer from our world, but it would certainly help if we at least identified them and put them and their enablers away where they can’t hurt us when we do.

Digging deeper – it isn’t just about school shootings.

Someone messaged me about yesterdays lead article and asked why I wanted to enable “more police interference in our lives.”

Really?

First of all, taking a potential school shooter off the streets is kind of why we have police in the first place. Second, this would be proactive legislation.

The type of law I proposed would require an actual threat before it went into effect, but it would  solve the problem of providing entry-level prosecutable probable cause so the police could act.

Having said that, in this specific case it now appears that the local LEOS in Parkland as well as the FBI already had probable cause to arrest the shooter and review his online presence, if for no other reason than he was a danger to himself

It has been reported that the police made a reported 36, count them, 36 trips out to this shooter’s  residence. If they had grounds to search his house and his computer, he could have been stopped before he could buy a gun or make a bomb.

Guns aren’t fired by robots. That’s why such sterling examples of liberal logic as Donnie Deutsch or Chelsea Handler have it wrong.

Let’s make no mistake, what many anti-gun people want is total gun confiscation, and they aren’t above using the same sort of disinformation campaign as we accuse the Russians of doing during the election. Indeed one of these reports was given four Pinocchios by the Washington Post, and yet was still on serial replay across the internet and the MSM yesterday.

Some of them probably truly believe that would stop any mass killings. They apparently have amnesia about the Boston bombing, 9/11, or the New York City truck killings.

Even if it’s only about assault weapons, we’ve banned assault weapons before, from 1994 to 2004, and it didn’t stop people from being shot, as shown by a study done in 2003. The Florida shooter could have just as well had a pump shotgun loaded with double-ought buckshot as an AR.  Believe me when I say that would have had the same result as did the semi-automatic weapon.

In yesterdays post I said that some questions weren’t so easily answered with a law.

One of them is:

“What the hell has happened to our country’s values?”

Yesterday the news broke that the Russians have been running a highly sophisticated cyber warfare campaign to cause disruption in our society since 2014. That’s not where all this hate and discontent started.

To the extent that their operation was successful, it almost says less about Russia than it does about us.

When I was growing up in the 1950’s  there were at least as many guns in homes as there are now, partially because of WWII and the Korean War. Servicemen brought them home or bought them, but they knew how to handle them. More importantly, they taught their kids respect for them.

I’ve told this story before, but what’s lacking now is accountability and discipline, and banning guns or trashing President Trump isn’t going to solve the problem.

The first time I ever saw or heard a gun fired, my Dad took me with him when he was asked to put down the neighbor’s dog. I think I was five or six (imagine the uproar if he was to do that today). I knew from that moment on that when you pointed a gun at something and pulled the trigger that something died.

We had several  hunting rifles and two handguns in the house and I knew never to touch them unless my parents said I could. I got my first gun before I was even a teenager, but I didn’t play with it. It stayed on the rack in the closet until my Dad took it down when we went hunting or to the gun range.

That was pretty much true for every kid I knew, and none of us turned into mass murderers.

So what happened?

For one thing, Viet Nam happened, and it became trendy to portray the military as crazed killers, much as the police are portrayed now.

Drug use increased partially because of Viet Nam (where many soldiers picked up their habit, not in a doctor’s office) but also when escapism became the method of dealing with life’s hard problems, often with a joint in hand.

It also became OK to have unprotected sex or a baby out of wedlock. Supposedly that was so women would have the same rights as men, in an early display of equal rights(?) for women.

Family abandonment, including withholding financial support, was another one of those arcane Christian notions that people thought were too restraining. Today  the CDC says 40.3% of all children are born out of wedlock and the number of two-parent households has decreased from 88% to 69%.

Then there is our national addiction to keeping our noses and eyes glued to our phones. Tech companies knew what they were doing when they invented a way to stop us from interacting with each other on a personal level. It’s a lot safer to post threats to shoot up a school online than it is to say it to a real person.

And finally there is the constant political correctness that prevents us from even calling evil by name for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

We need to cut out the PC BS.  One young lady was so aware of being PC that while being interviewed on TV as an eyewitness to seeing her friends shot mere hours before, she qualified a perfectly rational comment she made about the shooter by saying “I don’t want to be mean.”

Which brings us to the current disdain for religion, as portrayed so ably by the mush-for-brains hosts on The View.

Whether people like it or not, our Judeo-Christian roots provided us with limits on behavior, and limits are things too many people don’t think should apply to them.

Even people who don’t choose to belong to a specific faith or even to believe in a higher power still benefit from the religion-based laws that form the basis of our legal system.  You know, like the one that says “Thou shalt not kill”?

To make a long story short, the nation has lost much of both its moral character  and common sense.

I’m not sure what law you can pass to get that back, but I’m damned sure we better change the landscape, before all we have is a country that functions like Venezuela.