Monday, September 30, 2013

Chicago: The Nation's Gun Control Joke

Chicago is the city that gun-grabbers wish you did not notice, and the punchline to gun right advocates' jokes.  Yet again, there has been another mass-shooting in the city that has touted it's strict gun control laws.  This time, 13 people were wounded on September 19, 2013, when a gunman opened fire on a crowded city park.  Immediately, the city leaders, outspoken on gun control, made their rounds with the media.  The Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, spoke about how those responsible would be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law" and the Superintendent of the Chicago Police, Garry F. McCarthy, blamed "illegal guns" and how assault weapons were used and obviously to blame.  Another tragedy, another exploitation of such to further an anti-gun agenda.  The sad fact of the matter is, the city that pushes most for further gun control, is yet another great example of how our current gun laws go largely unenforced.  The alleged gunman, Bryon Champ, fired some sort of "assault rifle" into the crowd, but he should not have been there that unseasonably warm evening, he should have been sitting in a prison cell.  Rewind 15 months, Champ was arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic pistol on him, he could have been sentenced with up to seven years in a state penitentiary, but instead he received a lax punishment of just four months in a "boot camp".  Ironically, the same people that believe in prisoner reform are the ones that push gun control laws, and were ultimately to blame for Champ not being in prison.

Using Examples Without Context

Recently, Democratic Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), wrote an opinion article for the Huffington Post, titled "Hawaii Has Shown That Gun Control Works".  The article, published September 26, 2013, was penned by Hanabusa to try to prove that gun control is an effective way to prevent gun crime, but ultimately, the piece was nothing more than opinion, with little factual evidence, and the sparse amount provided was misleading and without context.  Hawaii just took over as the lowest murder rate in the country, a position long held by New Hampshire, the same New Hampshire that is tied for 27th by the same ranking that Hanabusa mentions.  In that Brady Center rating, New Hampshire received just six out of 100 points, far less than the 50 points that Hawaii received, which ultimately shows that Hanabusa was just making a poor correlation.  In reality, Hawaii's murder rate has always been a fraction of the national average, but without any proof of a causation, the numbers mean anything.  Meanwhile, despite the strong gun laws that Hawaii passed in 1994, the murder rate has decreased proportionately with that of the national average, which makes Hanabusa's statement that "The implication is clear:  strong gun laws save lives" just as valid as "The implication is clear:  strong gun laws have no real effect on saving lives", and in reality, the evidence actually gives the latter a little more credibility.  Furthermore, I think there is a strong cultural difference between Hawaii and the rest of the US, plus restrictions on trade, movement, and accessibility, none of which is noted by Hanabusa.  Ultimately, the Congresswoman's entire contention is a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, and based on the gun-grabber's history of misleading the public, was most likely intentional.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Journalism Becomes Unabashed Propaganda

With the media's attempt to give breaking news, there are always inaccuracies in the initial reports, but when editors decide to promote a particular agenda, especially the day after when previous errors have been corrected, it no longer is journalism, but rather propaganda.  This happened the day after the Washington Naval Yard shootings, when the New York Daily News decided to run the front page above.  There were obvious errors and any attempt for journalistic integrity is blatantly absent (but then again, the Daily News lost that long ago).  The cover is tied to an article by Mike Lupica, titled "Lupica: AR-15 is the rifle for the 'sport' of hunting humans".  On Tuesday, after the FBI released a statement stating that no AR-15 was used in the shooting (or even present), the Daily News added a disclaimer at the beginning of the article in an attempt to justify all of the errors.  Instead of retracting the story, the disclaimer was supposed to suffice, despite the evening news streams stating that there was doubt that an AR-15 was actually used, the Daily News had made their propaganda and were going to run with it.  It is actually humourous that they opted to try to justify their errors through spreading the blame, that "the Associated Press among many others" had made the same mistake (though theirs were a day earlier.)  The article was very thin on any actual reporting on the tragedy, but rather was mainly just to demonize the AR-15.  It stated that semiautomatics are "mostly for the sport of killing innocent people" (despite all of the FBI statistics showing that rifles are a small fraction of all murders, let alone AR-15s by themselves).  There are an estimated four million AR-15s in circulation within the United States, it is obvious that very few of them are being used in the commission of a crime.  Gun grabbers attempt to sway opinion by jumping on any chance they have to demonize the rifle, as Senator Feinstein quickly made apparent with her calls for a ban in the moments after the tragedy.  Obviously, the most popular firearm sold in America is going to be used in the commission of some crimes, but consider that the AR-15 is actually far under-represented when it comes to murder (or really any crime).  ...But let's not start talking logic and facts, those are the enemy of emotional debates and gun grabbers.  The Daily News also took the opportunity to overtly criticize the NRA and Republicans, though neither groups are mentioned in the article, the webpage is littered with images of past front pages that did exactly that, consciously trying to build a correlation to the reader.

The facts of the tragedy are that Aaron Alexis used a Remington 870, a type of pump-action shotgun.  Despite the headline of "same gun", it was far from it, as shotguns account for all of 2.4 percent of homicides in this country.  Additionally, the cover had a picture of a supposed victim of the shooter laying with people assisting him.  This picture was run by numerous media entities, but again, that was at the time when facts were sketchy, but by 6 p.m. the AP had pulled the image and stated that it could not be verified, but again, the Daily News went ahead and used it, to try to paint the image of someone directly affected by an AR-15, to put a face to the issue, drive the point home to their readers.  Unlike the tirade against the rifle, this error was not mentioned or retracted by the Daily News. 

The Daily News opted to lash out and promote the ban of a weapon not even used, when the weapon that actually was used is not even banned in New York, despite their strictest in the nation gun laws.  There's a reason that journalism is supposed to be unbiased, it prevents mistakes like this.

Ignoring The Facts For The Agenda

On September 16, 2013, our nation experienced yet another gun tragedy, and just like the others before it, gun grabbers rushed to politicize it to promote their anti-gun agenda.  There is clearly a rift in this country between those for gun control and those for gun rights, one that increasingly widens each and every time there is a shooting.  I delayed posting anything on the topic initially, as there are obvious sensitivities involved, as well as initial reports are always inaccurate, but there are numerous politicians that are far less scrupulous than a blogger...  As expected, Senator Feinstein was quick to jump into the discussion, releasing a statement denouncing assault weapons and the access that the shooter had to multiple weapons.  As we now know, Aaron Alexis did not have an AR-15, nor did he walk into the Washington Naval Yard with multiple weapons, but rather a single shotgun, but Feinstein did not hesitate to promote her push for assault weapons bans, even if the facts did not support the rhetoric.  The next day, as more facts surfaced, Feinstein stated that the tragedy could have been prevented by universal background checks, using the tragedy as a platform to denigrate those that opposed the Manchin-Toomey Act this spring, but once again, facts did not support her argument.  Senator Dick Durbin also commented about background checks and how "felons" should be prevented from obtaining guns, but Alexis purchased the firearm after completing an NICS background check, though he had some legal issues in the past, none of them were felonies and nothing would prevent him from legally purchasing a firearm.  A far more logical argument that Feinstein or Durbin could have made was that criteria that disqualified gun purchases should be reformed, but rather that does not radically infringe on the Second Amendment, and therefore does not meet their agenda.  Ultimately, there are things that can be improved in the system that can reduce the amount of gun violence, but the logical start would be looking at the current laws, enforcing them, and then basing reform on facts...  But that's too much to ask for.  There's an irony to gun grabbers politicizing tragedies, while promoting legislation that would have done nothing to prevent it in the first place.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Domestic Study on Gun Control

Gun-Grabbers often cite the effectiveness of gun control measures in Britain or Australia (though arguably, they skew the facts quite a bit and misinterpret information), but no place in the world is quite the same as the United States, and in those regards, a domestic study is more appropriate.  In 1998, Massachusetts passed a gun control bill that was lauded as the strictest in the nation for well over a decade.  Gun-Grabbers at the time proclaimed that violence would decrease and lives would be saved, but the truth has been the exact opposite.  In 1998, there were only 65 firearm related murders in the Bay State, but by 2011, the number climed to 122 firearm murders.  Additionally, as the murder rates across the country decreased, Massachusetts found itself with an upward trend.  Advocates for gun control claim the issue is that individuals are bringing guns from other areas to commit crimes, which echoes what everyone says about criminals will always find a way to get a gun, but it further leads credibility to the claim that lawful gun ownership does reduce gun crimes.

As states continue to push forward on gun control measures, they should pause for a moment and think about the purpose...  If it truly is to save lives, they should look and see history is not on their sides.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Look At Expanding Background Checks

Gun-Grabbers have been honing their skills in fear-mongering, fighting facts with emotional appeals.  A 2012 publication titled Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging is pretty much a Gun-Grabber playbook on how to promote their anti-gun agenda.  As most people have already realized, the messaging is made through playing on emotions, and even advises against getting into fact based arguments.  An interesting aspect of the Gun-Grabbers Playbook is that it gives responses to common pro-gun arguments, similar to elementary school "comebacks".  Under the section on the NRA it adivses that if someone says, "The NRA is about one thing- defending American freedom", the 'Best Way to Counter' is by saying, "We all love our freedom- including being free from gun violence and all the pain it brings into people's lives."  Or if a pro-gun advocate says, "We're defending the Constitution, which protects our right to bear arms", the retort should be "Maybe they missed the Declaration of Independence, which defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  I guess the Gun-Grabbers forgot about Article VI of the US Constitution that makes it the "supreme Law of the Land", let alone the fact that the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens that do not infringe on anyone's life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness (wait, it even mentions that "It's effective to emphasize that the vast majority of NRA members are law-abiding gun owners").

In a section on preventing gun violence it states that if someone argues that we should enforce current legislation instead of passing new laws (an argument made by numerous conservatives, the NRA, and even various law-enforcement leaders), that you reply with a diatribe about overworked police officers, loop holes, and the NRA out to make the country more dangerous.  One thing to note is that a survey of almost 16,000 law enforcement members in March 2013, the vast majority felt that increased laws would not affect gun violence.  Anyway, this sort of retort is nothing more than misdirection, as it first leads the observer wrongfully that it is local police that are responsible for enforcement, but it also villifies the NRA.  In reality, a representative from the NRA, Jim Baker, NRA-ILA's Director of Federal Affairs, met with Vice President Biden in January during one of Biden's post-Sandy Hook meetings, where Baker asked about increased prosecution of existing laws rather than adding more laws.  Biden replied that "regarding the lack of prosecutions on lying on Form 4473s, we simply don't have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately."  The head of the President's "task force" on solving the nation's gun violence "epidemic", could merely state that we could not enforce the laws already on the books, yet calls for more and more laws.  The laws that we "don't have the time or manpower" to enforce are felonies punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment, but somehow adding more work to the same agencies would somehow solve it.  The issue that Baker was trying to bring to the Vice President's attention is that in 2010 there were over six million NICS background checks made for gun purchases, and of those 1.2% were denied.  Ultimately, out of the over 76,000 denials that the FBI referred to the ATF's Denial Enforcement branch, only a mere 13 would make it all of the way through the system and result in a guilty plea or verdict.  When only .017% of those that are denied by the background check were punished, it shows that the system is not working.  Another thing to note is that the 2010 percentage of guilty pleas/verdicts is over five times less than in 2006, showing that the system is continually getting less effective.

Unfortunately, facts are ignored by Gun-Grabbers, that's their "playbook".

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gun-Rights and the NRA- A Threat to the Union?

Around the world, America is known as a nation that values gun rights, gun ownership is even codified in our Bill of Rights with the Second Amendment.  The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the Right to Bear Arms is the Right that protects all of the other Rights.  In reality, gun ownership is just as American as apple pie and baseball, so it is odd to hear on a reputable media outlet, one of their hosts speak about how individuals that are pro-gun or members of the NRA are "neo-Confederates".  Yet on August 20, 2013, MSNBC had Joy Reid as a guest panelist on their show Now, where she berated the "hypocrites" in the pro-gun crowd for supporting "States' Rights", but being against (unconstitutional) state laws that limit Second Amendment Rights.  It is far fetched to equate gun ownership to wanting to secede from and wage war against the Union, but that is exactly what Reid postulates.

Ironically, labeling the NRA as a "neo-Confederate" organization is so far from the truth, as it was actually created by former Union Officers that had just defeated the Confederacy in the Civil War.  These Officers saw that marksmanship was such an issue during the war, that on average Union troops fired a thousand rounds to instill a single Confederate casualty.  Furthermore, by the time WWII broke out, the NRA provided substantial contributions to the American war effort.  The NRA allowed the US government to use its ranges for training Soldiers, provided reloading services for the protection of American factories, trained civilian security personnel and guards on how to shoot, and even collected over 7,000 firearms that were sent to Britain for defense prior to America's entering the war.  There is also historical proof that the NRA was crucial in the post-slavery America as an organization that promoted gun rights for all Americans, not just whites, where as much of the South had very restrictive gun-control laws focused solely on the prevention of black gun ownership.  The NRA also gave charters to black organizations in the South that allowed their members to practice shooting.  Considering their history, the NRA's actions directly conflict the ideals of the Confederacy, with the sole thing coming close to comparing gun-rights to the Confederacy is Reid's ignorance of what the Tenth Amendment means.  Millions of law-abiding and patriotic American gun owners are members of the NRA, and regardless to that association, it is offensive to liken them to the Confederacy.  An argument made like this intentionally attempts to portray gun owners as racist white men (as imagery of the Civil War South assuredly brings up slavery), but cannot be further from the truth.  Yes, the pro-gun side does support States' Rights, but they also support the Second Amendment, and even states are not supposed to "infringe" upon the Right to Bear Arms.

Reid's full statement below:
Yeah, it’s interesting. There is a sort of Neo-Confederate thread that runs through these sort of pro-gun movements and the NRA movement and they believe in sort of tentherism and trying to pull back from federalism in everything but this. Because when a state decides that it wants to pass gun laws, they say oh, no, no, no, no. We won't even let a state decide its own gun laws. We’re going to go in and upend and pull back anything that restricts gun ownership, and they’ll go state by state and do that. They’ll try to challenge it in states – even blue states like Illinois. So there’s this sense that even states don't have the right to restrict gun use within their borders. The NRA will come in, helicopter in, and undo that.