Political parties suck. They are private institutions that have collectively gained control over our government. The sole goal of political parties is to obtain and maintain power. When Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became Speaker of the House she stated that her most important job was not to be the third in line to succeed the President in a national crisis; not to lead the largest body of directly elected representatives in our nation; not to safeguard the rights of the people; and not to work for her constituents that elected her. No, her most important job was to get more Democrats elected. Similarly, of all the important tasks one could emphasize for a Senate minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that his number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one term President. A Senator’s top priority was not even in the Senate, it was in the White House. Clearly these leaders of their parties were working against the will and good of the people.
It is not that being liberal, libertarian, or conservative is a problem; the problem is that these parties serve themselves, not the United States. Perhaps the most dangerous symptom of this the fact that party loyalists quite literally become convinced that the other party is evil–not just bad, but knowingly, deceitfully, intentionally evil. (If you don’t believe that go to one of the wingnut radical blogs like redstate or dailykos, or even Rachel Maddow or CNS news and read the comments) If you literally believe someone or something is evil it becomes not just easy, but necessary to oppose them, even if you are breaking a law to do so. This, I really fear, is going to become regular occurrence if we allow the party beasts to continue to feed themselves. Elected officials swear to uphold and defend the Constitution; however, because we have created an incentive system that rewards radicalism, more often than not politicians are more concerned with upholding and defending their political party. And why shouldn’t they be? We have allowed losing the next election to become the worst punishment a politician can face.
Breaking a law to oppose another party, or to uphold one’s own ideology is deplorable for a citizen, but detestable for a politician. The problem is the citizen is punished by our legal system, but who is to punish the politician? This week Gov. Hickenlooper of Colorado signed into law a set of gun control measures, including a magazine capacity limit. Weld County Sheriff, John Cooke, went out of his way to let everyone he could reach know that he will not be enforcing this law, and he knows many other Sheriffs that also will not. Sheriff Cooke even made an appearance on Fox Propaganda to tell us this.
I have opposed gun control because research shows it does nothing to reduce crime, but a sheriff deliberately ignoring a law, even if to oppose gun control, does more to eliminate freedom than any gun control measure. If Sheriff Cooke wants to make laws he can run for the legislature. Unfortunately, Sheriff Cooke is not alone in his refusal to accept the laws. He is only following in the footsteps of one Barack Obama.
The constitution clearly points out that it is the duty of the Executive Branch to enforce the laws made by the Legislative Branch. Congress passed an immigration bill, and since his inauguration, President Obama has decided to use it as toilet paper. Not only has he deliberately decided not to enforce immigration laws, he sent the justice department to the Supreme Court to argue against an Arizona immigration law that mirrored the Federal law; a law Arizona felt they had to pass because President Obama refused to enforce the existing one. On top of that he implemented the Dream Act without a Congressional approval.
I am very much in favor of immigration reform, and a path to citizenship or something close to it, but the law is the law. If President Obama wanted to make laws, he should have stayed in the Senate. A President must uphold the office. Part of this means having enough integrity to enforce a law Congress has passed even if the president disagrees with it–no matter the law, no matter the President. Instead, President Obama refuses to send his administration before the Supreme Court to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. I understand that he supports gay marriage, and I respect that, but nowhere in the Constitution does it allow a President to choose which laws hold merit because of his personal beliefs.
John Roberts said it best. Though I have been an opponent of Obamacare from the beginning I have to agree with Chief Justice Roberts. It is up to Congress to make the laws; the Supreme Court does not determine which laws are good laws, only which laws violate the Constitution. It is not up to Governors whether or not to follow Obamacare. Every elected official must have this same amount of respect for democracy in order to ensure democracy is living a century from now. People angry about judicial activism ought to be equally as angry about Executive activism. If a President wants to change a law, do as Lincoln did; push, pull, pry, preach, beg, and put together a public campaign to pass a law or amendment. But a President is an executive, not a legislator.
It is not a Sheriff, Governor, or President’s job to determine laws. In a Democracy we govern ourselves. We have a Congress that makes laws, and if we disapprove, we vote for new members. If a law is unjust or unconstitutional, we (or even the President, Governor, or Sheriff) can try that law in the courts. This is the system devised to ensure the rights of life, liberty, and property to all citizens of the United States. A law does not become invalid simply it does not fit with the current desires of a figure head. The last time one figure head determined the law for all Americans to follow declared independence and fought a revolution. We vote for representatives and executives, not monarchs. No matter how you feel about a law, seeing an elected official refuse to follow that law should make you cringe. If this becomes a pattern, our democracy will erode from under our feet.
21 March 2013
George Stephanopoulos said it best; Adam Lanza was driven by demons when he shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary and murdered 20 innocent children, and 6 heroic adults who attempted to stop him. When the tragedy in Aurora Colorado happened I wrote that gun control would not stop this violence. Now I have to second guess myself. These were 20 pure souls lost to the rage of a mad man; I thought of my own young child and how the innocence of children—unconditionally loving, trusting, giving, and altruistic—might forever be shattered by this. But children are resilient; children have a way of moving on us adults often lack. Regardless, there cannot be enough prayers said for the children and their families.
Friday I found myself wanting gun control, wanting to get rid of the weapons that can end so much life so quickly. I found myself agreeing with those on the left wing who ask, “Hasn’t enough life been lost?” “When is enough, enough?” and “What will it take to fix this?” I have asked myself that question more times than I can count over the last 3 days; what will it take to fix this? To find out, I had to research the data.
I cannot hide my anger, my agony, my confusion, or my lost conviction that have resulted from Friday’s tragedy. Even as I write this I still feel so conflicted by what I want, and what the data portrays. As badly as I feel like we should restrict guns, the data still tells me that we should not. Even as I write this I question the data, and lose confidence in my own research, but I cannot deny facts. Facts, above all else, need to be told in this now raging gun control debate.
The theory that eliminating guns—even if entirely—will eliminate violence has one glaring flaw. Guns do not kill people; they never have and they never will. People kill people, whether they have a gun or not. I would recommend everyone read the book “More Guns, Less Crime” by Sociologist John R. Lott Jr. He breaks down in painstaking detail the data on firearms in society. His conclusion is simple, and it is backed up by data; the more firearms that are possessed by responsible citizens, the less violent crime results. Our problem does not lie with guns, our problem lies with people. No amount of gun control could have stopped this tragedy because Adam Lanza did not buy his guns; he stole them. Even if we were to take away all guns, it would not stop this. Crazed radicals committed to suicide, as Adam Lanza was, would simply do what others have done when they had no gun available; us bombs. The deadliest school killing in history did not come from guns; it was in 1927, and the perpetrator used explosives.
Still, that does not change what happened Friday. That does not change that in school shootings since Columbine there have been an average of about 7 students (8 if we include Columbine, which we should) killed every year. Those numbers do not even include the shootings in places such as the Aurora movie theatre, the Sikh Temple in WI, or the Tucson, AZ shooting. The fact that, according to John Lott’s research, deaths from mass shootings in areas that allow guns are down 78% does not change what happened Friday. The fact that the violent crime rate in America is half that of Canada and far lower than other developed nations, where there are stricter gun control laws, does not change what happened Friday. None of this will bring a single life back. The fact that violent crime has dropped significantly in Chicago since the Supreme Court overturned a ban on guns does not change the fact that a child who may have cured cancer, who may have been President, who may have brought peace to warring nations, or who may have ended poverty is now gone forever.
My heart is harrowed because I wish it was as simple as passing gun control laws to stop this; but it is not. In nations, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Jamaica, and others the violent crime rate has risen since gun control laws were passed. Japan seems to be the lone exception to this pattern. When gun control laws were passed in D.C. the crime rate stayed equal at the same time it fell in neighboring Baltimore, where gun control laws were not passed. When the Brady Bill was passed, banning assault weapons, it had no effect on violent crime, and when it expired experts predicted crime would soar overnight; instead, it continued its downward trend with no change. Gun control advocates will point to Australia for support. After a school shooting on the island state of Tasmania Australia imposed very strict gun control laws, but this actually lessened the downward trend of violent crime. It continued to fall, but it fell slower than before the ban. Personally, I have lived in Australia, and have never seen any place more violent. That includes the west Louisville suburb of Portland, KY which is not far from where I grew up, and has been one of the more violent places in the nation in recent years.
It is very telling that most of these shootings take place in gun free zones. In Aurora for instance, James Holmes chose the only movie theatre within a 20 minute drive that did not allow patrons to carry firearms inside. He did not choose the theatre closest to him, he did not choose the theatre with the largest screen or seating capacity, he chose the one that banned guns. I am not trying to say, as callous Second Amendment advocates have, that the blood of these children is on the hands of gun control advocates; that is as ridiculous as gun control advocates insisting that Second Amendment advocates do not want to stop these shootings because of their support for guns. But to my knowledge, there is only one time that additional bystanders were hurt because people stepped in to stop violence, and that was the shootings outside the Empire State Building in NY in which law enforcement shot the additional victims. I could not find a single instance in which a citizen shot another citizen while stopping a mass shooting. If you know of one, please email me, because I could not find one.
Some of the gun reform being proposed now seems to come from people who know little about guns. The propose a ban to “assault weapons” because they are semi-automatic weapons used to kill; but many, if not most hunting rifles are now semi-automatic as well and could cause the same loss of life. Moreover, the assault weapons ban under Clinton had no effect on crime. Others propose limiting the size of magazines to 10 rounds of ammunition because the standard 30 round magazine is too dangerous, but in most guns it takes mere seconds to reload a clip, and that process can be sped up by taping two clips together. What surprises me is that nobody is talking about body armor. In at least two cases this year shooters donned body armor, making them much more difficult to stop and apprehend even if there had been someone with a gun who could have done so. I cannot think of any reason why any person in the United States would need body armor unless they are law enforcement or military. Yet national law is very lax on its purchase, and local law is also very unfettering in most places. Why is this? Body armor should not be available to average citizens because more often than not it is used for crime. Moreover, why do we have to have every single vehicle licensed and registered but not every single gun? If you buy a car at an auto show or from someone in your neighborhood you still have to register it; why, if you buy a gun from a gun show or from a neighbor do you not have to undergo a background check or register it? This makes as much sense as requiring a photo ID to drive, go on a plan, drink, buy cigarettes, buy prescriptions, or go to college, but not to vote. Every gun needs to be registered, and every purchase subject to background checks. Estimates are that as much as 40% of firearm purchases escape these precautions.
Even still, those reforms may not have saved a single life on Friday. Banning guns may save students’ lives and end violence in schools, but they will result in on overall increase in violence throughout the rest of the nation. Is that worth it? How do you tell mothers that their children are now subject to a less safe society so other children can have a more safe school house? How do justify saving 8 lives of students per year for the cost of more than that outside of school? I cannot, can you? Gun control laws will not stop the violence in this nation. We have seen from other nations that it may increase it. This is clear evidence that responsible gun ownership makes us safer; I have yet to hear anything but anecdotes from gun control advocates supporting their case. Again, if you have evidence, please email me. As far as the data is concerned, gun control seems like a bad idea.
I want the easiest answer, as you do, but there is no easy answer. There is no law that will stop this. There is no law that can bring these lives back. Guns do not kill people; people kill people, whether they have a gun or not. No law, no regulation, no punishment will change that. We can make some changes, and we need to; but we cannot ban guns and make our nation more dangerous. I want to be wrong, I want to second guess myself, I want there to be an answer for this violence; but the data we have does not provide one. It is not a gun problem, it is a people problem. And people are much harder to change than guns; I suppose that is why I feel so conflicted.
16 December, 2012
The massacre in Aurora, Colorado is one of the worst tragedies in this generation. For any teenager too young to have understood 9/11 or the Virginia Tech massacre, this is most likely the first introduction to the reality of wickedness in the world. James Eagan Holmes had no apparent motive or cause, only a thirst for violence. We must all keep the victims, those still recovering and those departed, and their families in our prayers. Their livelihood should be our greatest concern. Despite that fact, when a tragedy like this occurs the political world invariably reverts itself to a debate on gun control. Unfortunately, the gun control debate has taken center stage; however, we cannot forget the victims, the message, the lives, the love and the people of Aurora, Colorado.
Gun control is a very politically charged subject, and I feel it would do an injustice to the victims if I wrote today with passion and solidarity about gun control, so I tread lightly, hoping not to start a heated argument or discussion, but hoping that each reader will consider the facts, think objectively about what I am saying, come to their own conclusions, and go hug their family and loved ones, thankful we are each alive to have this debate.
Gun control is one of those political anomalies that baffle law enforcement and political scientists continuously. Patriotslog lives and writes by the evidence given, even when we disagree with the conclusion, the bottom line is this; we cannot argue with evidence, and the truth is the most meaningful message we can send; even if we do not always like the truth. This topic has been researched for decades, and many hours have personally been put into researching it. Gun control, for some unexplainable reason, seems to always have the opposite of the expected effect. What I mean is that it is like higher taxes, you would expect that to hurt the economy and take away jobs, but the evidence shows it does exactly the opposite. That is why Reagan and Clinton economies were so strong. Gun control is similar. You would expect fewer guns to mean less crime; however, the fact is that for some reason, it is the opposite. More guns does not always mean less crime, but less guns usually does end up meaning more crime, more violent crime. I do not know why that is, but consider the evidence. Canada, which has much more strict gun laws than the United States as nearly double the violent crimes per 100,000 people than we do. The key is per 100,000 people. The United States seems to be the most violent western nation simply because we have such a large population, but the statistics are clear; England, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, and most other developed nations with gun restrictions have a higher (many significantly higher) violent crime rate than the United States. I lived in Australia and have personally seen that the general public has far more violent tendencies than the general public in America. It shocks people when I say this, but I have never heard of someone in our nation being murdered because of a dispute over who was in line first at Burger King.
In the mid 90’s Congress passed a ban on assault weapons and what is called the Brady Bill. The Brady Bill, which Patriotslog supports, created a federal database for background checks on potential gun buyers. Before these were passed gun violence was already on a steady decline in our nation; the interesting thing is that these laws had no effect on that. The rate of decline stayed constant. Under President Bush, when these laws expired, experts expected crime to soar overnight. They were shocked when letting these laws expire ended up having no affect whatsoever on the crime rate. Gun deaths on school property, despite Columbine, Virginia Tech, and others, are down 78%. You are now far less likely to encounter a violent incident in your daily activities than you were in 1990.
We have examples to support this as well. Not only are the other western nations more violent than the United States, but in our own Capital we have a perfect example. After the Supreme Court upheld the gun ban in D.C. it was expected that crime would decline: it did not. In fact, it showed that banning guns had no effect at all on the city. Consider the shootings just this decade. In Trolley Square, a mall in Utah an armed off duty police officer was able to stop the shooting, keeping the loss of life minimal. Joel Myrick an assistant principal in Pearl, Mississippi was able to stop an armed student with minimal loss of life as well. This same thing happened at the Appalachian School of Law, when a student retrieved a gun from his car, and put an end to a shooting spree in the first moments. Students interviewed at various universities around the nation, including Virginia Tech, stated they would feel safer if they could carry guns on campus. People who support gun control often make a critical logical fallacy; they believe guns kill people. The fact is guns do not kill people, people kill people. Even if the nation were to ban all guns effective today, people—deranged, disturbed, terrible people—like James Eagan Holmes will not be stopped. Someone hell-bent on murder will be able to obtain a gun one way or another, just as they have in nations like Australia, where there is a gun ban. Consider Anders Behring Breivik, who killed or injured nearly 200 in Norway last year. Do we really think a man who believes himself to be the Joker is any different? Even in the best of circumstances, where no gun would possibly be available, Holmes still could have caused the same damage. His Apartment was rigged with as many as 12 Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)—homemade bombs—set to kill police when they entered. Suppose he could not get any weapons, he still could have used IED’s to attack the Aurora theatre. Moreover, the worst attack in U.S. history was carried out without weapons. Crazed men determined to kill as many people as possible used box cutters to take over planes and fly them into crowded buildings.
It would make no sense to read this evidence and take an NRA stand, saying that we clearly should not regulate guns at all, but we cannot assume limiting guns will help us. In fact, if anything, it means people cannot stop these shootings as they have in the past. We could make the punishment much more severe for someone carrying a handgun with no permit, we could make sale of firearms over the internet require background checks as well. There are things we can do to make people safer without taking away guns, and thereby, according to the evidence, making them less safe. 100 round magazines, as Holmes had, are probably excessive, as is purchasing so much ammunition at one time, like he did. Of course we cannot allow automatic weapons, nobody reasonably needs those to defend themselves; they would only be used for killing; we can also keep bans on armor piercing bullets, and explosive ammunition, but there is still nothing we can do to stop something like this from happening again. Gun bans will accomplish nothing. The evidence shows that guns are not the problem, people are. Taking away a gun only means a killer will be more creative, and possibly more destructive.
24 July, 2012