Friday, May 12, 2006

A Plea For Common Sense

You don’t have to be a staunch gun control advocate to realize that something has gone badly awry in the U.S. and in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is huge difference between taking away a farmer’s hunting rifle and having laws that protect the public from a mentally ill, suicidal teenager with a cache of military assault weapons.

When police entered the home of Michael W. Kennedy, the youth who shot Detective Vicky Armel to death at the Sully District Police Station, they found nine guns, several of which were loaded, a bayonet, ammunition and knives all lying around the house. There were still other weapons locked up in cabinets.

Michael Kennedy had on his person an AK-47 style assault weapon, a high power hunting rifle and five handguns when he drove to the police station, where he fired 70 rounds of ammunition, killing Armel and seriously wounding Officer Michael Garbarino.

In addition, at his home police found records of his mental illness and attempts to get treatment, including a file from 4/26/06, labeled “mood disorder documentation,” from Prince William Community Hospital. There were also records of his treatment at Woodburn Center, in Fairfax, and he had just checked in and then immediately left the Potomac Ridge Behavioral Center in Rockville, Maryland a week ago.

There had been a decade long ban on high power assault rifles exactly like the kind that killed Armel and seriously wounded Garbarino. Then two years ago, President Bush and a Republican Congress let that ban expire despite the nationwide warnings of police chiefs. As the Washington Post said in an editorial,

“Two years ago, nationwide police chiefs tried to convince Congress to renew the ban and they made the point that these are not weapons that hunters ever need for their sport. And no mentally ill person should ever have such easy access to these types of guns.”

In addition, the Post pointed out that since the ban expired, 44 people have been killed with assault weapons and 38 others have been wounded.

It would be easy to just blame Bush and the federal government. But the truth is, Virginia too can do something. We don’t have to wait for the federal government to craft sensible legislation that respects the rights of hunters while protecting the police and public from deadly attack. No legitimate hunter needs an AK-47 or a bayonet. Can sensible people at least agree on that much? Or is the NRA’s influence so complete and our political leaders so cowardly that the art of sensible compromise is now completely beyond them?


Info_Tech_Guy said...

Who is the owner of record of the firearms you mentioned? I believe that the weapons belong to the perpetrator's father. If so, the father should be questioned re. the measures he took to secure the firearms in his possession. It seems reasonable to me that people must be held accountable for securing the weapons they own.

GOPHokie said...

We could also blame the judge for letting the guy out to start with.
The problem with most every gun control arguement can be preferenced by laws not being enforced or judges being too leninent on criminals.
Also, the assault rifle ban only banned the new sale of these weapons. It did not ban them from personal ownership, so this guy would have still had these guns if that law was reenacted.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

gophokie, that argument is true in some cases, but not all. In this case, I don't think Michael Kennedy had yet committed a serious enough crime that he could have been incarcerated for long. The aim, here, would have been to prevent him from reaching that point. That's what failed and I don't see how a judge could be to blame. His record of police involvement was for fairly minor offenses.

Also, we don't yet know when the assault weapon was purchased so we also don't know for sure whether it could have been prevented.

In general, I think it's possible to protect the rights of hunters and gun collectors while also enacting some sorts of restrictions to weed out some of the most egregious examples of people whose access to deadly weapons should be limited whether because of a criminal record or a history of mental illness.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

info-tech guy, I wasn't going to touch that but it's a good point. There are lots and lots of troubling aspects to this whole thing. I'll probably do a more in depth blog on it tomorrow.

American said...

>>>taking away a farmer’s hunting rifle

-So you are saying I need to be a farmer who hunts to legally own a rifle?

>>>since the ban expired, 44 people have been killed with assault weapons and 38 others have been wounded.

-Which is still less than 1% of all people killed by murderers using guns, the same as it was before AND DURING the 10-year ban (which changed nothing). While what you state may be true, it would be equally correct to say "The ban did nothing because the statistics remained unchanged before, during and after the ban." It was criminals that killed the people you mention, not the guns, and all types of guns are used by criminals to kill people every day, not just the sensational "assault weapon" stories reported by the media.

>>>craft sensible legislation that respects the rights of hunters

-Silly Liberal, its not "the right of the people to hunt shall not be infringed." Hunting rights are unrelated, in an entirely different category from "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

>>>No legitimate hunter needs… a bayonet. Can sensible people at least agree on that much?

-Good point! Big Nanny Government should make a law against bayonets because of all the drive-by bayonetings I've been seeing in the news lately. Or is that really just another non-issue ginned up by elitist busybody control freaks? (And notice how if one doesn’t agree with this then one is not "sensible people".) You forgot to add that "If you won't support the banning of bayonets for yourself, at least you should - Do It For The Children!"

>>>I think it's possible to protect the rights of hunters and gun collectors

What about protecting the rights of _all_ Americans, not just the 'groups' _you_ think should be protected. I'm not a "legitimate" "hunter" and I'm not a "gun collector", per se.

Like tens of millions of other law-abiding Americans, I own and shoot, among other guns, a few so-called "assault weapons" (which work the same way and often shoot the same ammo as Grampa's old deer rifle, in many cases). I believe in personal responsibility in all ownership of firearms, not fear-mongering among the sheeple and political pandering to what Lenin called "useful idiots", resulting in wholesale bans of "scary-seeming" kinds of guns which affect only the law-abiding citizen.

By definition, criminals do not follow the law and so do not turn in banned weapons, do not honor laws while buying and selling guns, obviously do not honor so-called "gun-free zones", and will _always_ be able to get the guns they desire. In all countries that have banned guns, bad guys still have guns but the law-abiding are left defenseless. Even if _all_ guns are banned worldwide and somehow magically disappear, anyone with a few basic tools and a general knowledge of metalworking can make guns in their basement or garage - even AK-47s can be (and are) made from scrap metal by relatively poor peoples with charcoal forges and no power tools. Its a basic denial of factual reality to believe otherwise.

One reason I keep and bear guns is the same reason police have guns - to protect human life, for the "security of a free state". My right to my own life (which I'm not sure you take seriously) directly implies my right to self defense of that life (and of the lives of other innocent humans), which in turn directly implies my right to keep and bear properly effective tools to that end - firearms.

This right is mine because I am alive. It pre-exists government and is not granted to me by any government - if a 'right' depends on government permission for its existence, it is not a right at all, but a privilege. Keeping and bearing arms is a right, driving a motor vehicle on public roadways is a privilege.

The Bill Of Rights does not _grant_ us our basic rights, it only corroborates and emphasizes their timeless existence to elitist busybodies and would-be tyrants who think they know better than I do how I should live, how my money should be spent, what I may and may not do with my property, and what particular small arms I "need", or "don’t need", or should or shouldn’t be "allowed" to own. If a people possess basic rights only at the whim of the latest tyrant or even elected official de jour, theirs is a very precarious Liberty, if they can be said to have any Liberty at all. Only totalitarians, elitist busybodies, and their hordes of "useful idiots" believe that basic rights as mentioned in our Bill Of Rights come from 'society' or from government (which are the same thing in this case).

Also, the Second Amendment does not mention anything of hunting, sport, or gun collectors. It is about the individual right, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" for the "security of a free state", which means only two things when weapons are involved - defending from enemies from outside the country and from violent criminals. And make no mistake, it is an individual right - "the people" mentioned in the Second Amendment is the same usage and language as "the people" mentioned in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments which none but tyrants would argue are "collective" or "negotiable" rights.

The ban of so-called "assault weapons" you mention did nothing to lower crime. How could it? Crime statistics show that these weapons were only involved in less than 1% of crimes involving guns to begin with, that number remained the same during the ban. Anti-gun hysterics were having no success banning handguns and so had focused on this miniscule subset of guns because of their 'scary' and 'military' appearance and so it was easy to alarm the herds of sheeple, and whip the "useful idiots" into a righteous (lefteous?) frenzy, as admitted here:

"[Assault weapons'] menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons --anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun-- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons."
-- Josh Sugarmann, spokesman for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns, 1988]

These same hysterical alarmists predicted that "our streets will run with blood" if the "assault weapon ban" was allowed to sunset - which it did in 2004. Of course, nothing happened except that a few "evil features" were again legal on guns (the "evil" bayonet attachment lug, for one).

And to this day, less than 1% of crimes involving guns involve this "evil" subset of guns (but they make disproportionately big "news"). Even the term "assault weapon" was ginned up by anti-gun hysterical alarmists. It has no meaning to our, or to any other military in the world - militaries do not even use so-called "assault weapons", they use real, fully-automatic 'assault rifles' which are capable of firing more than one shot for each single pull of the trigger, and possession of which is closely regulated by federal law. So-called "assault weapons" are not 'machine guns', they are just regular guns that seem "scary" to ignorant people.