Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Gun Debate Reading List

I want to open with disappointment. I'm disappointed in the defensive, unproductive, misleading, and ultimately uncontributive statement put out by the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre.



And you can read a concise compendium of why more guns is empirically problematic as a solution here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/armed-civilians-do-not-stop-mass-shootings

And a (weak) but very true synopsis of the second amendment here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html

That said there is plenty that can be done to really address issues of gun violence, safety, mental health, and the rights of gun owners without excluding any of those things.

It is instructive to remember that the NRA has been obstructionist by and large in helping create meaningful gun laws. The 300ish laws that stand on the books have been passed in spite of one of the most powerful lobbies in the country and not with its help. I want there to be no ambiguity about that.

But often these laws are passed and are deemed ineffective either due to loopholes, funding shortfalls, or other difficulties with enforcement. Sometimes they are just poorly written. But make no mistake about it gun control measures work. Read about that here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/the-simple-truth-about-gun-control.html?mbid=gnep&google_editors_picks=true

Why would the NRA be so belligerent? The factually untrue (mostly) assertion that the NRA speaks for gun manufacturers is debunked here: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/12/whom-does-the-nra-really-speak-for/266373/?google_editors_picks=true

So why? Attitude. Hopefully you read the full NRA statement. From my perspective LaPierre believes two things: his rights are on the verge of being taken away, and he is the last bastion of hope for protecting them.

And, well, that's wrong. Americans by and large are well aware of the 2nd amendment and are pretty rational about it. And a reasonable American can also say that there are limits to bearing arms. We don't allow automatic weapons, and we also put limits on our other amendments (no fire in a crowded theater). So, his position obscures the debate because there are many actions that can be taken that reduce gun crime—such as the COPS bill, closing the gun-show loophole, and better enforcement of background checks. Because overall, we don't want more gun crimes.


What we want is responsible gun ownership and reasoned debate. Here's a comedy website that gives a great analysis of the gun debate: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-4-most-meaningless-arguments-against-gun-control/

That's my reading list of late, and basically I want to end on a note of hope, but I've seen little that encourages me thus far.