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Monday, January 10, 2011

I really can't believe I'm about to do this


In seven years of keeping up this site and almost 2000 extremely wordy posts... I have written less than five posts in which private gun ownership was specifically mentioned... and only two posts (including this one) in which I discussed the topic at length.

The reason I have avoided this topic like the plague is that in the history of the world, nobody has ever changed their position on private gun ownership based on a persuasive argument. In my experience, people are more likely to convert religion, change political party or even renounce citizenship before they would consider changing how they feel about guns.

I don't know why this should be, but it is... so I have pretty much stayed away from the topic. On the few occasions when I've had to touch on the subject, I've simply said that I have a gun for reasons that make sense to me, and left it at that. I have never tried to expand my rationale to fit the needs and circumstances of others. And I'm not going to do that today.

But after seeing some of the comments on yesterday's post completely sidestep the excellent (if I may say so) points I made about the human condition, and focus exclusively on the gun issue... well, I knew there'd have to be a follow-up post.

I get that some of you look at a gun and see only the devil (or some other completely evil, malevolent entity)... a corrupter... a destroyer. When you see even a picture of a gun sitting on a table, you fully expect that it will suddenly begin spitting death in all directions. You want to get as far from it as possible. You don't want your loved one's to even see it. I get that. I really do.

I, on the other hand, look at a gun and see a tool. Yes, this tool is a potentially dangerous weapon, to be sure. But this weapon has no will of its own, and has the potential to do only what the person holding it wants it to do.

I can already hear the objections to my use of the word 'only' in the previous sentence. You are already reaching for your mouse and keyboard in order to scream, "But that's not true! It isn't guaranteed to do only what you want it to. You may intend to shoot an intruder or a terrorist... but you could accidentally kill a bystander or a member of your family instead!"

It may surprise you, but I agree with you. But I would remind you that everything is relative.

Let's say that I'm the victim of a home invasion and I manage not to accidentally shoot a family member or a bystander, and instead use this extremely dangerous tool as intended; and instead successfully kill the burglar who was trying to kill me. One still can't really call that a completely positive outcome, since the burglar's family probably wouldn't see the outcome in the same positive light that I would, right? Everything went as planned... yet someone ends up unhappy! How is that?

TV and movies have conditioned us to see things in absolutes of good and bad. Unfortunately, life isn't like that. It's messy, confusing and full of gray. Even good decisions often have dire consequences for someone.

I would add that when I use a hammer to bang in a nail, I may unintentionally hit my thumb in the process once in a while. Does this mean I should never use a hammer? Should I swear off hammer ownership and try to convince my friends and neighbors to do likewise? I know... I'm being snarky and unreasonable. Shoot me.

What I'm trying to say is that the potential for accidents exists with all tools. The more powerful the tool, the more terrible the potential results of an accident.

But what about someone who wakes up one morning and, for reasons unknown, decides to act out the lyrics to the excellent Beatle's song 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer', and starts bashing random people's brains in on his way to work? Even though a hammer is a rather inefficient weapon, if you were unlucky enough to be hit in the head by this ersatz 'Maxwell', you'd quickly find that what a hammer lacks in efficiency, it more than makes up for in effectiveness.

But in reality, because serious injuries from hammers are few and far between (likely due to its innate inefficiency as a weapon), few societies feel the need for hammer control laws.

Guns, as some of you correctly pointed out, are extremely efficient weapons. And even in relatively untrained hands, they can do a lot of damage in a relatively short period of time. I totally agree with you, in the light of this past weekends events, the efficiency of guns as weapons is truly horrifying.

But what if several armed terrorists were (G-d forbid) to break into my house, or accost me during my commute? I think you'd agree that an efficient weapon capable of inflicting a lot of damage in a very short period of time is exactly what you'd want me to have in my possession, right? [That assumes, of course, that you like me and are not rooting for the terrorists.]

As an aside... what if one of the victims or bystanders in Arizona had been armed with a personal weapon? Is there a tiny chance that fewer people would be dead today? I have no idea. Nobody does. But I throw it out there anyway for your consideration, because here in Israel, countless terror attacks have been successfully ended prematurely by armed bystanders.

Moving on to politics (smooth segue, no?), in my limited experience, there is a lot of overlap in how people view guns and how they view government.

Those who view the government as organizer, provider and protector all rolled into one, tend to be against guns. 'Why should we have guns?', they ask. We have police... and they have guns. In my mind, people who hold such views see themselves like renters in an apartment building. Why bother having tools in the house?, they ask themselves. I have a landlord and a super to turn to if something goes wrong.

On the other hand, those who view the government and it's agents as less omnipotent/omnipresent, tend to pay special attention to the limits of the government's protection. And some (certainly not all) may find it comforting to have a weapon in the house for when the police aren't actually patrolling their street when/if the burglar breaks in.

This type of person is (in my mind) more like a home owner than a renter. If a pipe bursts in the attic, the home owner may still have to call in outside help. But having the basic tools on hand to shut off the water before the plumber arrives will certainly mitigate the damage.

While this type of person also views the government as a protector; both globally (armed forces) and locally (police), he sees the realistic limits... especially of the local protection, and might want to keep a tool at home to deal with a potential emergency until more formal help arrives.

Personally, I consider the discussion of whether everyone needs a gun to be completely silly. I consider it silly because there are countless reasons why one might want to own one. I touched on this in the comments yesterday so I won't repeat myself. There are also countless reasons why it might be a bad idea for someone to have a gun. There is no end to that discussion and I won't be drawn into it. You're all smart enough to know the answers.

Instead I'd like to go off an a tangent in order to make a point:

It might surprise many people to know that religious American Jews vote overwhelmingly in favor of abortion rights, despite the fact that Jewish law allows abortion in only a very narrow/finite context (i.e. when the mother's life is in imminent danger).

They vote this way so that, in the event that (G-d forbid) a Jewish woman might find herself in the unenviable position of having her pregnancy endanger her life, she will have access to a safe, legal abortion.

Religious Jews don't generally allow themselves to be drawn into the endless chatter of how some irresponsible people use abortion as a form of birth control, or when life actually begins. All they know is that, given the terrible choice of whether to save the life of the mother or the life of the fetus, the majority of American citizens (meaning Christians) view the fetus' life as more more important than the mother's (the opposite of how Jewish law operates).

Women's rights and feminism aside, if abortion rights were not enshrined in US law, an American Jewish woman could one day find herself doomed because the society in which she lives doesn't view her fetus as a 'Rodef' (someone who is pursuing with intent to murder) as Jewish Law does. You may call her reasoning narrow and selfish. And you'd be right. But the result is that on this one issue, there is a confluence of interests between Orthodox religious Jews and liberal, secular society... proof again that politics makes strange bedfellows.

I've gone off on this tangent because this is how I view the second amendment to the US Constitution (which enshrines the right to keep and bear arms in law).

Just as I don't believe everyone should have guns (or abortions), I am 100% in favor of those who need them having unfettered access to them.

By the same token, there are people who annoy the hell out of me (and probably you too) who say and do some really offensive things in order to demonstrate their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the constitution. But as Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said (misattributed to Voltaire), "I disapprove of what [they] say, but I will defend to the death [their] right to say it"

So go ahead... disapprove of 'gun nuts' and the people whom you think are playing out a cowboy fantasy, and who probably don't need a gun. I tend to sneer at them also. But when talking about rights - any rights - whether it is abortion or gun ownership or free speech; If one person who really needs it can't exercise it... it isn't a right anymore.

Just as you can argue all day long about all the people who (in your opinion) shouldn't have abortions, someone else thinks those abortions are just fine. Okay, they are probably bothered by them, but they view it as the cost of making sure that someone else has the legal option in case of 'real' need.

And it is precisely because you may not agree with me about what constitutes the 'need' to own a gun (or have an abortion) that I want those rights to be enshrined in law, where your opinion doesn't matter.

Now you tell me how I'm wrong.

Posted by David Bogner on January 10, 2011 | Permalink

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Hi David-I didn't read your post and comments yesterday but came across this one on Twitter just now. I actually don't have a problem with guns in Israel as there seem to be a lot of them here with no random, accidental violence. (Although that has been changing over the last year or two so maybe my feelings will change.) I can think of reasons why you might need one (protecting yourself from people from other societies who may not even share the same values or laws as we do....I'm making a bit of a leap and saying that all Americans should at least be governed by the same laws if not values.)

I have a problem with them in America where I don't look at it much more deeply than "lots of guns, lots of deaths". As I posted on Facebook this morning, a Scottish friend of mine asked me after the Virginia Tech massacre why American need semi-automatic weapons and I had no answer. So I guess it's even more gray than you portray it with differences between different countries. I have no idea why it's never been much of a problem here but I feel like something is horribly broken in America and no one seems to be doing anything to fix it.

Posted by: Benji Lovitt | Jan 10, 2011 1:58:43 PM

Benji Lovitt... It's interesting that here in Israel, citizens don't have an automatic right to own and carry a gun the way they do in the US. Here you actually have to show need. That said, I think it is funny that you ended with "I feel like something is horribly broken in America and no one seems to be doing anything to fix it", since that was the point of yesterday's post. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 10, 2011 2:19:40 PM

Wow - Benji wrote almost exactly what I was going to say.

The only thing I would add, is that the debate over guns, and turning the need for them into a "right" (the highest value in civic America) has distorted the issue. If it's a "right", then there's a much greater likelihood that a crazy or criminal or otherwise inappropriate person will get their hands on one. Here, in Israel, having a gun is a function, not a right, and that makes me feel much safer.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jan 10, 2011 3:17:36 PM

Cogent argument, David.
You can't believe what you did, well I really can't believe I agree with you!

Posted by: IMA2FOUR7 | Jan 10, 2011 3:36:09 PM

oops...

Gee, I get the impression that this post was directed (at least in part) at me...

Sigh... OK, first of all I'm really truly sorry that my "one quibble" hijacked yesterday's post. I'm especially sorry that my rantings painted me as an anti-gun-nut.

I have nothing against guns. I have no use for them in *my* day-to-day life, but I absolutely see the need for other people in different circumstances to own and carry a gun. As such, I too am glad to live in a country where the law allows for it.

Posted by: wogo | Jan 10, 2011 3:41:27 PM

Wow, I missed out on yesterday's rantings so I'm giving you my two cents today...

@Dave Balashon & Benji Lovitt - After living in America (NY, Los Angeles, SC, WV, TN, OH, etc.) for 50 years I can assure you that the crazy, criminal and inappropriate people you speak of will get their hands on guns whether or not they are legal.

When I lived in Los Angeles I had the misfortune of meeting several (probably illegal) Mexicans carrying guns and I assure you that the sawed off shotgun that I encountered wasn't legally acquired. This young man felt the need to take my car while I sat in traffic on the freeway. I had had a particularly stressful day at work and was in no mood to surrender to this low life who probably would have killed me anyway (since that had been the entertainment outlet for them in the early 90s), so I reached to unbuckle my seatbelt and grabbed my Glock (which I kept between the seats in anticipation of such a situation due to recent news reports) and as I turned and opened the door (which he thought I was getting out of) I pointed it between his eyes and voiced a few strong words in my NY English. Fortunately for both of us he decided to run. I didn't shoot, but would have if he hadn't backed away - and was sorry later that I didn't at least disable his shooting arm.

On another occassion a young neighbor girl (maybe 8 or 9) was shoved into the stairwell of our security-gated apartment building by a thug while I was removing groceries from my car (in the security-gated garage). I heard her scream, grabbed my gun from my handbag and fired a warning shot. In his drugged state he ignored the warning and I slammed him in the head with the butt of the gun from behind as he was about to do something unthinkable. The police took him away unconscious.

I could tell you many more stories of friends and relatives who have survived altercations on the subway in NY, trains of Long Island, a drive-up ATM in St. Louis, streets in Houston, retail stores all over the country, and my Dad who used to drive a truck and carry large amounts of cash he collected from customers (back in the 60s & 70s before credit card use became more common), but this is Dave's blog.

The point is two-fold:

1) Owning a gun is a right and a responsibility. It is not something to fear, but rather a tool to respect. And if it's not your cup of tea, well that's fine because no one is asking or demanding that you possess one. But I am saying that you have no right to tell me that my life, and that of the child in the stairwell, or anyone else who has been threatened by criminals, is any less valuable than yours. If not for responsible gun ownership, we probably wouldn't be alive today.

2) Unfortunately US citizens cannot depend on the government - at any level - to protect them during the course of daily life. And certainly not during a crisis!

I feel much safer knowing that when the power grid goes down or some natural or economic disaster hits that my brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces, etc. will be there to protect my 70-something year old mother from the dregs of society. Because I know damn well that the local police can't and won't.

FACT: Guns don't kill people. People do. Bad guys will always have guns. Good guys need guns for defense.

As Thomas Jefferson said:
"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Posted by: Tehillah Hessler | Jan 10, 2011 4:22:11 PM

Sorry. Just can't do it.

I can't tell you how you're wrong. ('Cause you're not.)

Posted by: Elisson | Jan 10, 2011 4:37:21 PM

So it seems I am the only one who can't see any good points in gun-ownership. The only guns that make any sense to me are those lawfully entrusted to regular soldiers.

Posted by: Ilana-Davitata | Jan 10, 2011 4:53:50 PM

Dave (Balashon)... As I've previously stated, here in Israel you have to demonstrate a need to get a gun, and in the US everyone is (theoretically) entitled to keep and bear arms. In practice, all but a few states in the US grant gun licenses based only on need. Try getting a carry permit in New York, New Jersey or California... I dare you.

IMA2FOUR7 ... Quick, someone mark the date! :-)

wogo ... No, it wasn't just you. Trust me, if I was bothered by it I wouldn't have written another post. As much as it surprises me when people focus on something other than what I thought was the central point of a post... it sometimes offers an opportunity to write about what is on other people's minds. :-)

Tehillah Hessler ... I'm only going to relate to a couple of things in your comment since I am in agreement with most of what you've written: 1) In most places in the US, if you draw your weapon you should already have made the decision to fire it. Pointing a gun at the Mexican car jacker without firing was (IMHO) a needlessly risky move. To quote one of my favorite spaghetti westerns: "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk". He could have fired, and with a shotgun his aim was less important than yours. 2) In most case firing a warning shot can not only get you locked up, but it needlessly endangers bystanders (the slug has to land/hit somewhere, right?). again, if you are faced with a situation where someone's life is in danger (the criteria for using deadly force in most places), you shoot at the center of mass and don't stop firing until the target is no longer a threat.

Elisson... Sure I am... about lots of stuff. Just ask my wife. :-)

Ilana-Davitata ... Then you are among a small, lucky minority who not only have never been attacked, but you have been privileged to live in such a safe environment that even the idea of an attack is unthinkable. I envy you.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 10, 2011 5:24:00 PM

OK, I do realize this is futile, since no one's mind will be changed.
But here goes.
Yes, I'm on the more liberal (progressive) side of the spectrum.
Yes, I would never think of owning a gun.
But I have eyes.
364 people died from guns in New Jersey in 2010 (population between 7 and 8 million).
Most were males between the age of 18 and 35, mostly minorities.
The ones I've seen who were brought into the emergency rooms of Bergen County where I've worked were victims of gang violence, a domestic dispute, or an argument.
They had cheap, easily available handguns, mostly illegal.
I'm pretty sure the original intent of the US Constitution guaranteed the right to bear arms because of something to do with the need for a militia.
So whom are we kidding?
Any of you with any law enforcement exposure, what do the police advise you to do if you are held up at gunpoint but own a gun(even if it's strapped to your hip at that moment)?
That's right: GIVE THEM THE MONEY.
As a pediatrician, I routinely ask parents if they have a firearm, and if they do, is it locked away securely where their child can't reach it.
You wouldn't believe the answers I get.
So I find this argument a bit silly. It's obvious to me that less guns on the streets of the U.S. would lead to less deaths.
If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, I think he'd be shocked, if not amused, by how his words were interpreted. Then again, the man was a slave owner, so who knows?
Just thought I'd give you the liberal, pinko, commie,Volvo-driving, ACLU card-carrying point of view, for what it's worth.
:)
Larry

Posted by: LARRY | Jan 10, 2011 5:57:36 PM

I possess New York and Connecticut gun permits. I own two handguns, which I use for target practice. They are securely stored, unloaded, in a safe, so I would not say I consider them weapons of self-defense at home. I am a combat veteran of the IDF, and a former police academy- and NRA-trained auxiliary and peace officer in a small city near New York City. I do not try and persuade anyone to acquire handguns, but expect others to accept the fact that I have a right to own them and have demonstrated an ability to handle them responsibly. Like it has been said, a gun is a mechanical tool that is as safe or dangerous as a vehicle on the highway at the hands of its operator.

Posted by: Yaron | Jan 10, 2011 6:42:33 PM

Nothing to add that hasn't been already... but a ton to process... thanks for two very thoughtful posts!

Posted by: Matthew Thull | Jan 10, 2011 7:10:00 PM

Larry, FWIW, you didn't change my mind, but you gave me a much needed giggle! So, thanks! :-)

Posted by: zahava | Jan 10, 2011 7:52:09 PM

Just doin my job, Ma'am...

Posted by: LARRY | Jan 10, 2011 9:47:15 PM

Larry you have expressed my own thoughts better than I could have done. Thanks!

Posted by: Ilana-Davitata | Jan 10, 2011 9:57:35 PM

I agree with you but would go a step further. Society is and has never been utopia there will always be included in the mix sociopaths, psychopaths, and the truly disturbed. sometimes they are within the mass sometimes they are the leaders. we as individuals have very little recourse to protect ourselves from them without society revolting at our response. to say to someone being mugged "just give him your money" is wrong and can and does lead to anarchy or totalitarianism.

Posted by: dave | Jan 10, 2011 10:01:36 PM

Right to bear arms? Gezunte heit. Feel insecure? Get a pistol. Want to hunt? Get a rifle. What's this _-- now you want to get a semi automatic or a machine gun? I'm sorry; you don't want to defend yourself and your family. What you want is to start a war.

Assassinations carried out by gun toting, mentally ill civilians used to take out officials and maybe an aide. Now, they eliminate the entire neighborhood or classroom. See, things really were idyllic in the old days.

Posted by: Ari | Jan 10, 2011 10:42:40 PM

I find myself somewhere in between Larry and David's position. I think it is possible to preserve the right of people to bear arms, should they demonstrate the competence and stability. At the same time, it doesn't mean we have to react to every attempt to place reasonable limits on gun ownership as a fundamental attack on basic civil rights. Quite the contrary, we have numerous regulations that require us to do things in a safe and reasonable way. You can't drive a car until you've passed a test, and then only if you are of age. When you drive a car, make sure you are not inebriated. Make sure your seatbelt is buckled. Make sure you re using a hands free device when speaking on your cellphone while driving. We all agree that a car is a tool. It carries with it potential dangers.
A gun is a tool. It carries with it potential dangers. If the current regulations are insufficient, we need to examine them and make them more stringent. Surely no reasonable person would argue that dangerous tools require safety regulations. Only people with an ideological agenda can make the case that there is no difference from the point of view of the interplay of rights and the regulatory state that there is no difference between a handgun, or a hunting rifle, and a semi automatic weapon. And I agree with David, BTW. This crime is not really about gun control. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take the opportunity to ensure that the right to bear arms is being enjoyed in a safe and responsible manner.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jan 10, 2011 11:06:00 PM

ooops..that should read "surely no reasonable person would argue that dangerous tools DO NOT require safety regulations."

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jan 10, 2011 11:07:55 PM

It should be noted that the quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson is counterfeit. It is one of many floating around the Internet that cannot be found in Jefferson's writings. A quick Google search will support this and provide you with 100's more fake quotations. This does not affect Tehilla Hessler's opinions but it does eliminate Jefferson from the support team.

Posted by: Charles Atkinson | Jan 11, 2011 12:02:09 AM

@Tehilla

I've had this discussion with a number of friends and even acted out a few scenarios. I broke into my friend's house and made my way into the bedroom and prevented them from obtaining the firearm in the safe. I also sprinted from ten feet away and took the gun away from them with minimal effort.

First point of interest. We used a common squirt gun for this. No one cared about getting wet, but getting shot is different.

I am not against people owning guns, but I am quite cynical about their ability to produce them as fast as they might like to think that they can.

As a caveat, I lived through the riots and the Northridge earthquake and am well aware of what can happen when a mob gets moving. That is an entirely different situation than being unexpectedly accosted. If you don't include some sort of self defense training along with your gun you are making a mistake because no one is truly afraid of NY English.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 11, 2011 1:20:51 AM

Jack made my point. I want to add the problem is that if you do fire a weapon in self defense without training, the adrenalin cascade can cause tunnel vision putting others at risk.

As far as carry permits go,it varies by local law. However I understand that a non resident can obtain a Utah carry permit that has reciprocity in 32 states without ever having fired a gun. This may be changing as states catch on. Arizona, which started this whole topic, does not require a carry permit.

If you would like numbers on gun ownership, demographics and attitudes, here is a source

http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/13/1/15.full

Posted by: lrg | Jan 11, 2011 5:31:35 AM

That's not why religious Jews vote for abortion. I doubt many think it through that much. They vote the way they do because, for any of a number of reasons, they are hopelessly in thrall to the Democratic party. The reason you give is the excuse the few who do think it through give, and those are usually the kind who would be for abortion anyway.

Posted by: Nachum | Jan 11, 2011 9:33:41 AM

LARRY... I always value your voice in the discussion even though I sense we will continue to dissagree. Thanks.

Yaron... Agreed.

Matthew Thull ... Don't thank me, I'm a giver. :-)

dave... I've had a few police officers told me that they advise people to 'just give them whatever they ask for' because even an armed citizen has lost the ability to defend themselves if a mugger is already holding a gun on them. However, they admit that if the person is armed with a knife or an opportunity presents itself (i.e. the mugger points the gun in another direction momentarily) you have every right to defend yourself to the extent possible.

Ari... The gunman didn't have a machine gun. He had a glock just like mine. Ranting against semi-automatic assault rifles is irrelevant to this discussion of the events in Arizona.

Jordan Hirsch... Driving a car is not a right guaranteed by the constitution. Therefore local, state and federal agencies can regulate it to their heart's content. As to your last statement ("But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take the opportunity to ensure that the right to bear arms is being enjoyed in a safe and responsible manner."), try substituting 'free speech' or 'free press' instead of 'bear arms', and let me know if you get a funny feeling in your gut. I do. Speech and press are the first amendment... keep and bear arms is the second. To me, that indicates the framers mindset in terms of priority. A right is a right. Until it isn't.

Charles Atkinson... I try not to support arguments with old quotes. You can find quotes (even real ones) to support just about any position.

Jack... You can be synical about anything yo want... so long as it doesn't interfere with my constitutional rights.

lrg ... There are no lack of sites which purport to show how guns are out of control. There are still others that would purport that the very control the state and federal agencies want to exert over guns is unconstitutional. I'm not a lawyer and don't know enough to weigh in. What I do know is that in places like California, New Jersey and New York (where it is extremely difficult to get a carry permit) violent crimes committed with guns is through the roof, while places like Utah, Texas, Vermont and New Hampshire where all you need is a hand to carry a gun, the rates of the same sort of crimes is significantly lower. I can't draw cause and effect, but it seems to me that once you level the playing field, the criminals are a tad less likely to pull a gun on you.

Nachum... I'd be pleased to see your source for that satement. I can provide several scholarly articles with surveys/polls to support mine.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 11, 2011 2:13:05 PM

I know a lot of Jews.

Posted by: Nachum | Jan 11, 2011 2:16:13 PM

Nachum... Well that settles it then. Silly me.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 11, 2011 3:27:12 PM

Nachum - I'm with David on the abortion rights argument, even if I would personally reluctant to condone or practice it. As an orthodox Jew, I'll vote for tolerance, civil rights and diversity every time. Abortion rights = my freedom to practice Judaism.

David - Wasn't complaining only about assault rifles, offensive as they are. Can't Glock handguns spray 30 bullets in a clip? To me, it seems like a tool for attacking, not defending. Most criminals is Arizona sticking you up for money aren't doing it with a machine gun, and a regular ol' pistol seems sufficient to me. But what do I know? Semi automatic pistols and machine guys = military; pistols and rifles = civilians.

Posted by: Ari | Jan 11, 2011 3:50:44 PM

"That's not why religious Jews vote for abortion." Actually it is. Halacha has a strict definition of when abortion is required and laws that are influenced by churches worries me. I am NOT pro-abortion, just pro-choice.

Posted by: Aharon | Jan 11, 2011 3:56:51 PM

Ari... The Glock pistol he used can accomodate a 15 round clip. There are larger clips availible (and they can also be be made at home by anyone who is handy), but that goes for most guns. I haven't heard if he had a larger clip or if he just changed magzines. Your use of the term 'spray' suggests a fully automatic weapon. Like most semi-automatic guns, the Glock can be made fully automatic a with small modification, but I have heard no reports that the shooter had done that. As far as I can tell, he had to have pulled the trigger once for each bullet he fired. Let's just be clear about things. These discussions tend to devolve into hysterical, wrong-headed statements about weapons that weren't used and capbilities that the real weapons used didn't have. The shooting was tragic. Full stop. But pulling at your hair and screaming about spraying bullets and machine guns is just a smoke screen for your dislike of guns. Discuss the events, discuss the issues... but don't inject hyperbole. It isn't helpful.

Aharon... Thanks.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 11, 2011 4:20:17 PM

David - Nope, I don't mind guns much. No hysteria or hair pulling here. I agree that firearms can be an important tool to defend ones self and family with the proper training and temperment. They are a right and a responsibility. But I simply question whether we are doing enough to regulate civilian guns that seem to cross the line from defensive to offensive. And I am concerned that explosive rhetoric, mental illness, and ease of access to certain firearms is a recipe for disaster and tragic collateral damage.

BTW, I enjoy your blog very much, by the way; keep up your stellar writing. You make me laugh, cry and everything in between. So as a fan, and as someone who is cognizant of the "neighborhood" you live in, I'll say that we will respectfully agree to disagree on this one.

Posted by: Ari | Jan 11, 2011 6:18:09 PM

Well, the fact that my example is not totally equal does not negate the logic behind it. Besides, substituting Speech for Bearing Arms does not frighten me at all. We regulate speech all the time. Perhaps not as much, but then, if someone uses speech in an unregulated or unsafe manner, the consequences are not really final the way they can be with guns. Besides, after the Citizens United decision, don't be so sure that driving isn't also an expression of free speech. Especially in NYC.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jan 11, 2011 7:54:54 PM

David,

I never said that you shouldn't be allowed to own a gun- although your Constitutional rights are different than mine. Happens when you are ten thousand miles away. ;)

But I will say that I am not convinced that people deserve to be able to own assault rifles or automatic weapons.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 11, 2011 9:36:51 PM

Guns and abortion in a single post? Walla! You'da man - said in the dulcet tones of Cyndi Lauper. I'm off to work on the new weaponized Accent Discombobulator. Thanks for a great blog.

Posted by: Gramoflanz | Jan 12, 2011 1:33:11 AM

Jack - But I will say that I am not convinced that people deserve to be able to own assault rifles or automatic weapons.

In the USA, they aren't. (now look up what an assault rifle is)

Posted by: Mark | Jan 14, 2011 6:11:55 AM

Well said. I am an American, and I'm not going to get philosophical, or debate the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but the bottom line is:

If someone has a gun and you don't, chances are you'll lose. If you have one, at least it's 50/50. I favor those odds.

Posted by: Yabu | Jan 16, 2011 2:51:59 PM

Ultimately, the question is not how many guns are out there, but who is carrying them?

Posted by: Jewish Ideas Daily | Jan 20, 2011 11:24:24 AM

A bit of history on the semi-automatic pistol craze: back in the '80s and '90s, criminal gangs began doing particularly vicious home-invasion robberies while armed with semi-and real automatics. The homeowner with a 6-cylinder handgun was outgunned and dead. The cops responding to the crime scene were greeted with a hail of bullets. Homeowners with guns naturally upgraded to semi-autos. Home invaders got repelled and killed. Home invasion robberies stopped being popular. Homeowners found a good deterrent and kept the semi-auto on hand.

Larry: with all due respect, with fewer cars on the streets of the U.S. would lead to less deaths, also. Two tons of steel driven by a drunk is more offensive to me than owning a gun.

Ilana-Davitata~ A man with a gun is a citizen--a man without a gun is a subject. The last outfit I would trust with all the guns is any government. Shades of Macchiavelli!

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jan 30, 2011 11:16:08 PM

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