Gnomicon 225

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Gnomicon  225
Sunday 23 December 2012
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I think we ought to raise the age at which juveniles can have a gun.
George W. Bush (6 Jul 1946 –  )

If the former president actually said this, it’s unclear to me if he meant it, came up with one of his malapropisms for which he was famous, or was inadvertently being inappropriate (from my vantage) in a rather insensitive (from my vantage) fashion.  A juvenile is defined in the states variously as a person younger than anywhere from 19 to 16 (16 in Connecticut, New York and North Carolina), and at the federal level, a person younger than 18.  Thus, in, say, Connecticut no person older than 15 would fall into the category of juvenile, and therefore if one wanted in Connecticut “to raise the age at which juveniles can have a gun” one could not raise that age on anyone above 14:  if you raised it on a 15-year old person it would mean that the person would be 16, and therefore — according to the law in Connecticut — no longer a juvenile.  It would appear to me that in Bush’s formulation it must necessarily follow that on someone 14 years old (and younger), one can raise the age of gun ownership without fear of removing that individual from the legal status of juvenile.

It is possible that I am being far too punctilious and pettifogging here for my own good.  But even if one should in my view be precise and punctilious in terms of the law, I wonder if the epigraph ought not more reasonably not so much have quibbled about the minimum age for ownership of guns as explored the question of whether juveniles – or anybody else, for that matter — should even have guns?

Exactly one week before the horror in Newtown, the New York Times carried an article about a man in central China who stabbed 22 children in a primary school in the village of Chengping in Henan Province – one of several such attacks in recent years that have prompted the posting of guards in schools in China.  Horrifying as such an act is, remarkable by comparison with the 27 people shot in Newtown a few days later is the fact that of the 22 attacked “there were no deaths among the nine students admitted to the hospital.”  There is of course a single over-riding reason for this vast discrepancy:  one perpetrator used a knife, the other, firearms, among them “a military-style Bushmaster rifle [modeled after the military M-16 rifle] with 30 rounds in the ammo clip and hundreds more at the ready”.  What if the damaged people who want to do wholesale murder had only knives … but no guns and certainly no semi-automatic rifles stuffed with clips of twenty or more hollow-points?

On the occasion of the Aurora CO movie theater massacre last July, the current president said that it was a “time for prayer and reflection”, and in his no doubt heart-felt condolences to the families in Sandy Hook over the murder of the children I personally find his observation that “God has called them all home” to be profoundly wanting (and that is a very personal opinion!) … if anything is to be done seriously about stopping these firearms-leveraged rampages the need here is neither for Christian homiletics nor for “a time for prayer and reflection” — but for legislative action.

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2 Responses to Gnomicon 225

  1. Al Cram says:

    I think it is not so simple. All of the recent multiple murders have occurred in areas where the shooter no doubt felt they could do a lot of damage since all are “no weapons allowed” zones, so a shooter will usually have at least 10 and usually more minutes before law enforcement can arrive. The only recent intended mass murder attempt cut short at two instead of 20 or 30 was in a mall in Oregon where a man with a concealed carry permit who didn’t realize it was a no weapon zone pulled his weapon and the shooter, realizing the game was over, shot himself. Funny how that fact gets left out of the press reports on the incident. These incidents are tragic, and nearly all the perpetrators are on psych drugs which sometimes cause violent behavior rather than prevent it. Certainly people who require strong anti depressants or strong tranquilizers should be on a no buy list, but of course the Hippa laws would prohibit their physicians from telling authorities that they were on such medication. Catch 22!
    Asking teachers to act as unarmed human shields is ……inhumane in my opinion. It would be like asking the Secret Service that protects the President to do so unarmed. The tragedy at the physics building at UI could only have been cut short once Gang Lu procured a gun, if a faculty person or student with a concealed carry permit had heard and responded to the first shot. Thugs and psychotic killers do not fear the no weapon signs, it just usually means they have at least ten or more minutes to try for a new record. The media lets them know over and over that in the USA the current record is 20 children and 6 adults in a locked school building. Really they could get off a couple hundred rounds from a 22 pistol in ten minutes, they don’t really need an AR15 with a high capacity magazine.

    Bans on alcohol and drugs have failed despite a massive law enforcement effort. I don’t think assault weapon bans will be successful either. It just makes the legislators and many of the public feel like they have done something. I will pray that whatever they do come up with will work despite my pessimism. I will also continue to carry my legal concealed carry weapon where not prohibited by signs, and will avoid so far as I am able those areas that have such signs. I hope I never have to use it to protect myself, just like I always wear my seat belt though I’ve not needed it yet.

  2. laohutiger says:

    That is a very thoughtful and informative response, and I thank you.
    You make several excellent points, among them that that business in the Oregon mall was not reported (“Funny how that fact gets left out of the press reports on the incident.”) – I did not know this. I wonder why it was not? Were the media biased in favor of tighter gun laws and did not want to make a point favoring ‘carry’ laws that would damage their position? Who knows?
    The point about the HIPAA laws I had not thought of, but it is a very valid one – still, though, there are in fact exclusions in those laws that stipulate a doctor (psychiatrist), for example, who genuinely fears a patient means to do harm to self or others can report this to the police without violating those confidentiality laws. Whether or not the police then do anything is of course another matter – kind of like the mess in Benghazi, where apparently the local requests for more security were simply ignored in D.C.
    As for arming teachers … strictly looney tunes!
    It’s true that laws proscribing drugs, and in certain circumstances (e.g., before driving), alcohol are too often simply ignored. The ‘War on Drugs’ is now going on, what, forty or fifty years, another of our forever-wars, and domestically about as successful as the foreign ones. So what is the answer there?
    The fact remains that many other countries very strictly regulate gun ownership and in my view there probably is a correlation between their very low numbers of these kinds of eruptions of mass killings as well as individual one-on-one murders and and their much stricter laws on guns. Apparently those laws are obeyed; ours, not. I gladly concede that if legislation is not the answer, can we find out what is? Or is the answer, as a very cynical Gerturde Stein once noted in another connection, that there is no answer?
    It’s clear that bad as the situation is in the United States — with the highest rate (88 per 100 people) of firearms ownership in the world — there are worse places. But it’s cold comfort that we are ‘only’ number28 (out of 178 countries) in terms of firearms murders, behind Honduras and El Salvador, for example. What is it that all the 150 countries that sit below the Unites States in this ranking are doing that we are not doing? Is it some vague thing (over and above the Second Amendment) in grained in our history and culture? The debate will go on but I just hope there will be more than more debate.
    And many thanks to Al for taking the time to engage so vigorously in a very, very difficult issue.

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