NPR: “Science Provides Few Facts On Effects Of Gun Policies, Report Finds”

This article from NPR is interesting, as it refers to a recent study from the RAND Corporation (rather than some gun-control think tank) about what gun policies actually work to reduce violent crime.

The article can be summed up by the line, “The nonprofit RAND Corporation analyzed thousands of studies and found only 63 that establish a causal relationship between specific gun policies and outcomes such as reductions in homicide and suicide.”

Let’s go through the meat of the article:

“Most of the effects that we were looking for evidence on, we didn’t find any evidence,” says Andrew Morral, a behavioral scientist at RAND and the leader of the project.

This isn’t surprising: in general, criminals don’t follow laws, so gun control means little to them.

They found, for example, no clear evidence regarding the effects of any gun policies on hunting and recreational gun use, or on officer-involved shootings, or on mass shootings or on the defensive use of guns by civilians.

Again, not particularly surprising: most gun laws don’t seek to restrict hunting (other than basic things like hunting season times, restrictions on certain prey, etc.) or recreational gun use.

Officer-involved shootings and defensive gun uses by civilians (note: police officers are also civilians) are usually explicitly permitted by law in life-threatening situations, so I don’t really see the relevance.

The point about mass shootings isn’t unexpected: mass shooters tend to plan their attacks meticulously for a long period of time and are very detail-focused. All the “common sense gun laws” like waiting periods, background checks, etc. wouldn’t have any effect on someone willing to plan and wait as needed.

There were some categories with better data, however, Morral says. There is relatively strong evidence, for example, that policies meant to prevent children from getting access to firearms — such as laws that require guns to be stored unloaded, or in locked containers — reduce both suicide and unintentional injury and death.

Makes sense. Leaving loaded guns lying openly around the house when there’s kids or irresponsible adults around is an invitation to disaster. Fortunately, this is quite rare.

Guns should be secured when not under the immediate control of the owner.

Previous work has also found that places that require a permit (issued by law enforcement) for the purchase a firearm do reduce violent crime.

This surprised me a bit, but I’m curious how that works out: I suspect that criminals of any sort don’t end up getting permits, and that permit holders don’t commit much crime.

[a few minutes elapse as I read the linked study, available as a PDF]

Ok, the study basically says that if a state requires permits to purchase a gun, guns are less likely to end up being diverted to criminals. I wonder how much of this is psychological, in that the would-be straw purchaser is a bit more concerned that their name and fingerprints are “in the system” once they get a permit, even though their information is kept on the Form 4473 during a retail purchase anyway. Either way, permits should never be required for a constitutionally-protected right.

There is also some evidence that prohibitions against purchase by people who have been diagnosed with mental illness reduce violent crime, and that “stand your ground” laws, which allow citizens who feel threatened in public to use lethal force without retreating first, lead to an increase in violent crime.

As for mental health, that’s expected. As for stand your ground laws, the issue is not so much an increase in violent crime, as reported by NPR in this article, but an increase in homicides. How a homicide is classified — as a justifiable homicide, for example, or an unlawful homicide — is dependent on how police classify shootings. From an earlier NPR article on the topic, “Police guidelines likely vary from state to state, and police in different places may be interpreting shootings differently in light of stand your ground laws.”

Also interesting is the results of a survey of 95 gun policy experts “from across the political spectrum”, who they asked for their thoughts on effects of various policies including “universal background checks, bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, expanded mental illness prohibitions, minimum age requirements and required reporting of lost or stolen weapons”.

The vast majority of the specialists RAND surveyed agreed that the primary objectives of gun policies should be reducing suicides and homicides, and that protecting privacy, enabling hunting and sport shooting and preventing mass shootings were secondary priorities.

“That was a surprise, actually,” says Morral. “I think people on either side of gun policy debates think that the other side has misplaced values — or that it’s a values problem, in any case. But that’s not what we find. We find people prioritize the same things in the same order.”

However, those surveyed varied widely in their predictions about how different policies would affect each outcome.

“Where they disagree is on which laws will achieve those those objectives. So this is a disagreement about facts,” says Morral. “And the facts are sparse.”

So, no surprises there. Still, it’s an interesting study and I recommend you read it.

“Gun Control, Duck Vaginas, and Why Your Opinion Might Not Matter”

The title for this article is so great that I couldn’t help but reproduce it here.

Here’s the best part:

Lastly, I’ll note that recently we saw a popular cry of “No vagina, no vote” regarding women’s health issues. I personally agreed with this position 100%. If you cannot be affected by a proposed piece of medical legislation for the opposite gender, and are functionally ignorant on the topic, you clearly have no business telling a woman what to do with her reproductive organs, let alone a duck.

So the next time you hear people talking about Assault Weapons, ask them to define that term, because it’s got a different definition in almost every piece of legislation regulating them. Sometimes it includes handguns, sometimes it doesn’t. Bayonet lugs? 30 round magazines? Does the stock fold? Do they even know what they’re talking about? Do you? Are you informed enough to have a worthwhile opinion, or are you just repeating things you’ve heard that fit your preconceptions?

If you don’t know anything about guns, and won’t be personally impacted by legislation controlling them because you don’t want to own any, do you even deserve a voice in this debate?

Good advice in general.

Polymer80 subcompact PF940C coming soon

After building a Polymer80 80% AR lower and being extremely impressed thus far, one of my next projects is the Polymer80 PF940C, an 80% receiver that’s compatible with compact Glock GenIII slides and parts, such as those from the Glock 19.

I’m a huge fan of the G19, so being able to make my own looks like a fun weekend project. Still, it’s not particularly small, so I sent Polymer80 an email asking if they have any plans for a subcompact (read: G26 compatible) 80% receiver in the foreseeable future.

Their answer? Yes, and they plan to have them in dealers in March or April of this year if all goes well. Most excellent.

I owned a G26 back when I first moved to AZ, but sold it since I was a bit short on money and it’s not exactly irreplaceable. I’ve been meaning to get another one of these days, and being able to make my own sounds fun. I’ll start saving a few bucks here and there to get one one of them once they’re out.

This Is Why We Win

Today I read the following quote, presented here in its original form, warts and all:

[user to which they are directing their reply] during 1936-1959, the standard infantry rifle was the M1 Garland. It was a rapid fire semi automatic General George Patton called “the greatest battle implement ever devised”. Just because our military now has more efficient and powerful weapons (60 years), that does not discount the destructive power of the M1 Garland, a rifle similar in nature to the yet more powerful and modifiable AR 15, and once used in our military

-Tafari Gh, a commenter at the Huffington Post

Nearly every thing this commenter wrote is wrong.

We win because our opponents are idiots and know not about what they speak. It should really hurt to be that stupid.

Hat tip to J. KB for the original link.

NPR asks “What’s The Potential Impact Of Gun Control Ideas Following South Florida Shooting?”

Answer: Pretty much nothing.

Adam Winkler, the UCLA professor they interviewed, essentially says, “There’s very little evidence that anything will work. Still, we must do something, and the low hanging fruit is bump stocks and universal background checks. It won’t do anything though.”

We’ve come a long way since I first got into gun rights activism 15 years ago when the NPR host, Alisa Chang, asks:

CHANG: You know, as we’re talking here, I’m reminded of sort of the ultimate argument often heard on the gun rights side, and that is, someone who is intent on murdering a lot of people can easily circumvent the law no matter what laws are passed. You’ve studied this for a very long time. What’s your take? Is it still worth it to try to come up with legislative solutions?

Did you get that? NPR is asking if it’s even worthwhile to even try to address this issue legislatively. I think they see the writing on the wall that gun control, even if it’s something they feel is the right thing to do (and it isn’t), is simply impossible.

Even Adam Winkler recognizes the futility of gun control, particularly in the context of standard-capacity magazines:

The difficult thing is that California, for instance, has banned the possession of high-capacity magazines. But initial reports from law enforcement were that virtually no one has turned theirs in even though there’s probably somewhere between 7 and 10 million high-capacity magazines in California.

Excellent. Well done, California gun owners. Civil disobedience is a wonderful thing.

We shouldn’t rest on our laurels, of course, particularly now, but it’s refreshing seeing things shift so much in just the time I’ve been involved with guns to the point that gun owners are basically saying “No more. Not another inch.” while gun control advocates are even wondering if they should bother with gun control laws at all.

Dammit

In the SF Bay Area there is a limited number of good rifle ranges. There’s a few commercial  indoor pistol ranges, but they tend to be a bit spendy, but the outdoor rifle ranges open to the public tend to be run  by local authorities like the county recreation department, the sheriff’s office, etc.

One of the more pleasant, well-run ranges I’ve had the pleasure of vising was the Chabot Gun Club in the East Bay. I was really looking forward to visiting it again and shooting there, particularly on their 200 yard line, which is a rarity in the area (most rifle ranges max out at 100 yards).

Unfortunately it was not to be: the local park and recreation authority decided to play stupid politics and, even after the legal intervention of the NRA and the local state affiliate, petitions from members, etc., declined to renew their lease and so the range shut down last year. The range had been there for 50+ years.

That’ Continue reading “Dammit”

Remember when?

FedEx evidently is sticking with the NRA, at least for now, in terms of offering its members discounts on shipping. That’s good, and I hope they continue to do so.

On the other hand, they released a statement that FedEx opposes the NRA’s position on “assault rifles” and that they think they should be limited to the military. (It’s worth pointing out that true assault rifles are indeed mostly limited to the military, police, licensed dealers, and those who jumped through NFA hoops to open them.)

Anyone remember when major companies tried to avoid taking sides in major political issues? Those were the days.

Frankly, I don’t think FedEx as a company should hold or mention political positions unrelated to its business of moving packages around.

So long as the contents of the packages they transport are legal and shipped in accordance with the relevant regulations, they should deliver the  without issue or comment and stay out of unrelated political issues entirely.

Arming teachers is *optional*, not mandatory. Jeez.

Evidently there’s an enormous number of people who seem to think that proposals to arm teachers (or, more accurately, to remove the prohibitions on people carrying concealed at schools) are something that would be mandatory. That is, that teachers would be forced to carry a gun.

Take, for example, this article from the Daily Beast. The summary at the top says, “The Daily Beast asked educators what they would do if they or their colleagues were asked to carry guns in their classrooms. None supported the idea.” No shit. Nobody’s going to ask them to (let alone make them) carry guns if they don’t want to. In the states that allow for armed teachers, nobody is being forced to be armed against their will and, indeed, few people other than the armed teachers themselves and a select number of administrators know who is armed.

The vast majority of the people interviewed in that article seem to think that they’d be mandated to carry, while nothing could be further from the truth. How this misconception keeps spreading, I don’t know, but I suspect it’s intentional at this point.

One interesting response from a former teacher quoted in the article is, in part, “More guns in any equation equals more death, not less.” Does it, now? If someone kills the deranged madman murdering innocent people, the life of the murderer was lost but the lives of a multitude of innocent people would have been saved. That seems like a net-positive thing to me. In other words, not all deaths are bad.

The former teacher also states, “The number of times a teacher stops a mass murder with his gun will be dwarfed by the number of times a teacher kills a fellow staff member or student, intentionally or otherwise.” without presenting any evidence of this have occurred ever in the history of armed teachers.

An elementary school teacher is quoted as Tweeting (*sigh*), “The thought of a loaded weapon in my 1st grade classroom scares the crap out of me.” The thought of a mass murderer slaughtering me and my students while we are made defenseless by immoral laws scares me a lot more, but your mileage may vary.

A recent college professor says he’s oppose being armed for several reasons: “First, education has always been collaborative, and students knowing I was armed would undermine that relationship.” Would it? I’ve collaborated with many people while one of us or the other (or both) have been armed. No issues there. Of course, you could resolve the problem entirely by not telling anyone you’re armed. Concealed means concealed, after all.

“Second, the presence of firearms leads to an increased likelihood of accidental gun related issues/deaths… even among trained individuals.” To quote the Wikipedia, “[citation needed]”.

“Third, my wife said she would divorce me if I started carrying a gun.” To each their own, I suppose. Personally, I encourage my wife (who’s a teacher) to carry if given the chance, but ultimately it’s up to her. She’s pretty supportive of the idea.

“And fourth, perhaps most importantly, this isn’t what I signed up for. Police officers and military join knowing firearms are integral. If guns become the norm among teachers, the type of person who pursue academic careers with change. I would posit, for the worse.” I seriously doubt guns would ever become “the norm” among teachers, but I can’t really see how having academic positions filled by people who are upstanding, responsible citizens with a strong sense of self-sufficiency and a desire to protect both themselves and those in their care would be a downside. If anything, that sounds like a great plan to me.

That said, I’d like to see the lawful, concealed carriage of arms (whether guns or other arms) become a normal, everyday thing for responsible, law-abiding citizens as means of resisting criminal predation.