911 should be part of a plan, not the whole plan

One of the key points of disagreement between pro-gunners and anti-gunners is on the concept of whether or not it is necessary, or even appropriate, for an ?average? citizen to have ready access to a lethal weapon in case they are attacked. Anti-gunners often hold that the proper course of action when one is threatened by another is to call the police and let them deal with the problem. To the average person this might sound like a perfectly reasonable answer, but it reallyisn?t. The giant hole in the anti-gunner self defense plan is that even the best police response is going to be minutes out in a situation where seconds define the boundaries between life and death.

Tim at Gun Nuts Media.
Read the whole thing. Lots of good info.

Guns vs. Cars

Miguel over at GFZ posted an image from the?CSGV in which they claim that “strictly regulating cars, drivers, and roads” has resulted in a 90% drop in automotive-related fatality rates in the last century or so.
Leaving aside the fundamental difference that the majority of automotive-related fatalities are due to accidents while the majority of gun-related fatalities are due to intentional acts (either suicide or homicide), I thought it would be interesting to do a quick apples-to-apples comparison between guns and cars:

Regulations on Cars/Guns

The “strict regulations” on cars were almost exclusively related to actual safety concerns of passengers in cars: seat belts, laminated windshields, safety glass, air bags, having electric lights instead of kerosene lamps, not exploding when rear-ended, generally not being made of flimsy materials like wood, etc. Compare, say, a Model T to a modern vehicle and the differences in regards to the safety of the occupants are obvious.
There’s also the matter of the environment in which cars are operated: in the early 1900s, cars were operated alongside pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages, etc. where collisions were much more likely. Modern cars are operated on dedicated roads and highways that are more isolated from pedestrians and slower-moving vehicles.
Guns are similar: guns that fire without the shooter desiring it (e.g. when dropped) are broken, as are guns that explode in normal operating conditions. Such guns are defective and are recalled or replaced. Guns have had many safety mechanisms for a long, long time: the 1911 has both a grip safety and a manual safety. The only major improvement I can think of that modern pistols have made in that regard is the addition of drop safeties.
Modern holsters are extremely safe (more so than just dropping a gun loose into a pocket) and retention holsters are available for modest cost to those who wish to buy them.
If anything, guns are far ahead of cars in regards to the safety of the operator.

Regulations on Drivers/Gun Owners

The “strict regulations” on those wishing to drive on public roads are basic vision tests that my grandparents had no trouble passing, a few hours of lessons in high school followed by a short written and behind-the-wheel exam by the DMV and you’re good to go for life.
Similar standards exist for those wishing to carry firearms in public: a few hours learning the basics of the legal issues regarding self-defense (e.g. when the use of force is appropriate), basic instruction on safe gun-handling, and a little time at the range. Typically such licenses must be renewed every few years.
No license or training is necessary for someone to operate a vehicle on private property. In most states guns that are used only at home or the range, but not carried in public, don’t require any license or permit,

Regulation of Roads/Ranges

In regards to roads, older roads are little more than paved country paths. Modern roads are well-engineered and safe.
The only things that’s really comparable for guns are?organized ranges, which are typically well-managed and extremely safe.
All the ranges I know are extremely attentive about keeping the property well-maintained, in good repair, clean, etc. They all have regular clean-ups of the range as well as extraction/recycling of bullets from berms/backstops.

Discussion

Nearly all of the changes to laws regulating cars and drivers over the last century or so have related to genuine safety concerns and there is clear evidence for the effectiveness of seat belts, air bags, non-exploding cars, well-maintained electric lights, etc. in regards to improving safety.
Other important regulations have been in regards to improving fuel efficiency and reducing pollution, and while many people?have been encouraging mass transit and improving street/city design to minimize the necessity for cars,?there has been no non-lunatic-fringe efforts to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of cars.
The same cannot be said for firearms: the majority of laws enacted regarding firearms have nothing to do about the safety of the operator of a firearm. A few, such as those requiring safe storage of firearms and mandating that gun locks are sold with each new gun, are nominally about safety but there’s no evidence that they’ve actually done anything positive for safety.
Also, essentially all of the so-called “gun safety” are, in fact, “gun control” groups that seek to significantly reduce the number of privately-owned firearms. Some groups and their members are willing to let hunters and sportsmen maintain guns suitable for those activities while eliminating?”undesirable” guns like handguns, modern rifles, and so on, while others aren’t even willing to allow that and seek total civilian disarmament.
None of those groups promote things that would actually improve safety, like age-appropriate educational safety classes for children and adults.

?In Short

With very few exceptions, cars and guns are safe to use. Saying that more legislation is needed so guns can be “safer” is disingenuous, especially when there’s not really any pressing need (that is, guns exploding or otherwise accidentally injuring their users is very rare, and not typically the fault of the gun).

ARS is getting nervous

Americans for Responsible Solutions seems to be getting a bit nervous.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent fundraising email entitled “Potentially devastating” which I received from them:

Bad news. This headline just came in:

NRA goes big in key 2014 races

“The National Rifle Association has reserved $11.4 million for its initial fall advertising campaign and will begin airing its first TV commercials in three Senate races crucial to determining which party controls the chamber next year.

“The gun rights group said it plans to spend much more than the initial outlay during the final weeks before the midterm elections.”

$11.4 million, with “much more” to come? That could be more than enough money to unseat leaders in Congress who support commonsense proposals to reduce gun violence.
We [ARS] already have ads on the air in 4 House races. But now that the NRA’s moving into statewide races, we need to be there too.
Our country simply can’t afford to lose members of Congress who voted to expand background checks. If they lose, the gun lobby’s candidates will sit in the House, Senate, and governors’ mansions around the country.
They won’t just block expanded background checks — they could even roll back some of the most basic laws in place that help make our communities safer.

It sounds like ARS is getting worried. Good.

Shooting sports gaining in popularity with young people

Thanks to Jeff Soyer, I came across this heartwarming article from, of all places, the Boston Globe that talks about how the shooting sports are increasing in popularity among young people:

Participation in the nationwide 4-H Shooting Sports Program, which includes archery, hunting, pistol, rifle, and other firearms, has nearly tripled since 2009 and last year drew 336,558 program participants nationally. The actual number of youths involved is doubtless somewhat different than that, as some sign up for more than one offering and not all states report, but the trend is clear.
Also, after a long decline, participation in hunting in the US increased by 9 percent between 2006 and 2011, and one of the main reasons appears to be an array of youth recruitment and retention programs sponsored by local clubs and national youth organizations, according to a recent study funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Throughout the region, junior shooting programs with names such as “The Projectiles” and “The Hot Shots” are generally open to children age 10 and up. The ranges are packed with boys and, increasingly, girls.
Shooting appeals to young people for unexpected reasons; the sport is unlike the standard competitive fare offered at most of their schools, they say, and measures their individual skill in ways that team play does not.
Many parents of young shooters like it, too. Not only do the demands of target practice improve their children?s focus, they say, but the programs demand a high level of personal responsibility. There are no-exceptions safety rules on the range. And youths are routinely asked at some clubs to bring in their report cards ? good grades can be a condition of participation.

Articles like this are incredibly satisfying to read, reach a large audience who may be fence-sitters or somewhat anti-gun, and help show such people one of the many positive aspects of firearms. People in cities like Boston might not otherwise see firearms in a positive light and may have a mental image of gun owners as overweight country bumpkins or inner-city violent thugs, so having a major newspaper cover youth shooting sports in a positive light is a big thing.
Truly, the future of not only the shooting sports, but of our rights and liberties, rests in the hands of young people and it’s good to see young people getting involved in the outdoors, shooting sports, hunting, etc.
While I don’t understand why they would bother contacting such an irrelevant “group”, the Globe contacted Josh Sugarmann at the VPC and he made a statement that shows how extreme and out-of-touch the anti-gun side is:

“The fact is, children don?t have the developmental skills to hold highly developed military weapons,” says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington.

I have no idea what “highly developed military weapons” are, but whatever they are and regardless of where Mr. Sugarmann gets his “facts”, the article clearly shows that there are children who have the developmental skills to not only hold and use such firearms, but additionally have the discipline and proficiency such that they compete and excel in high-level competitions.

PolitiFact calls Everytown’s “school shooting” map “mostly false”

From “Have there been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook? A closer look at a tricky statistic

A statistic calculated by Everytown for Gun Safety, and shared widely on social media, said that there have been 74 “school shootings in America since Sandy Hook.”
The group?s figure is accurate only if you use a broad definition of “school shooting” that includes such incidents as suicides, accidents and spillover from adjacent criminal activity. The figure has some value in quantifying the proximity of guns to school campuses, but the group makes a significant stretch by tying the statistic so closely to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook. By doing this, the group closely associates the statistic with planned mass shootings targeting students and school staff — a category that, using a more strict definition, accounts for only 10 of the 74 incidents.
The statement contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Ouch. Between that and CNN’s debunking of the map, that’s gotta hurt.

Sen. Reid proposes more gun control, time to contact your Senators/Representatives

From Guns.com:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid challenged lawmakers on Capitol Hill Monday to expand mandates on background checks for guns, citing the recent murder of two police officers and a concealed-carry permit holder in Las Vegas.
Reid, senior Senator of Nevada?s delegation in that chamber, voiced sadness for the loss of life in the incident, and then called for additional gun control laws.
?We in Congress, we do need to put in place legislation that helps prevent these deranged, these weird, these evil people who carry out such savage acts of violence,? said Reid Monday.
The legislative solution proposed by the Senator?
?Background checks so that people who are criminals, who are deranged can?t buy a gun,? explained Reid. ?The American people are depending on us to pass legislation to prevent gun violence and safeguard communities, schools, and families.?
According to the senator, future incidents such as the Las Vegas attack could be mitigated by a move to require all firearms transfers, even those between two otherwise law-abiding citizens, be subject to a background check. At least one of the suspected murderers from this weekend?s violence is known to have a criminal record, although it is currently not known how he obtained the weapons used in the ambush.
?A step in the right direction would be universal background checks, so that people who are criminals, who are deranged, can?t buy a gun,? contends Reid.

It’s probably a good idea to contact your Congresscritters and let them know you oppose such ineffective, feel-good measures. It probably wouldn’t hurt to contact Sen. Reid and let him know too. (I tried contacting him via the website, but the contact form seems unresponsive. Awesome.)
From his own words, it’s clear Sen. Reid (and no doubt others, like Sens. Feinstein and Schumer, not to mention the various gun-control groups) considers banning private sales and mandating all sales be conducted via a licensed dealer as only a “step” towards even more restrictive policies. Better to keep that camel’s nose out of the tent entirely.
Taking a couple minutes to call and express your opinion carries a lot more weight than an email, and sending a brief, polite letter or postcard is also an improvement.
In my case, Sen. Flake of AZ is solidly in the pro-gun-rights camp. McCain is a bit iffy. The senators representing my extended family in California and Massachusetts are essentially lost causes.
As usual, keep up the pressure and let them know that we want “Not One More” gun control law.

Hunting with suppressors to be allowed in Louisiana

From guns.com comes this report that, effective August 1st, 2014, it will be legal to hunt game in Louisiana with suppressors, thus adding Louisiana to the list of 33 states where hunting with suppressors is legal.

Hunters in the Sportsman?s Paradise will be able to use legally-owned suppressors to both harvest game and control pests following Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal?s signing of House Bill 186 into law Friday.
HB186 strikes the state’s ban on using National Firearms Act-registered suppressors, commonly but incorrectly referred to as “silencers,” in hunting, and replaces it with language to allow widespread use by lawful sportsmen.
The popular bill had sailed through the state Legislature, passing the Senate unanimously on May 20 with little comment by lawmakers.
“This is about mitigating the noise and preventing hearing loss,” said Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Metairie), sponsor of the legislation.
The law will?allow any person who possesses an NFA-compliant and properly registered firearm suppressor to use the device to both harvest game animals as well as pests and nuisance wildlife such as beaver and nutria. However, in an apparent bid to void use by those with a history of poaching, it forbids the use of suppressed firearms by those who have been convicted of certain wildlife violations in the past five years.

As a suppressor owner and advocate, this is excellent news. I had no idea that so many states allowed hunting with suppressors.
I really should join the American Suppressor Association, as they and the NRA were instrumental in getting this bill passed.
Of course, not everyone was happy:

Only a handful of Louisiana House representatives voted against the suppressor bill when it passed through that chamber in an 82-15 vote in April. Those who did oppose it voiced concerns about the use of suppressors by criminals as well as the broad allowances to use the devices for virtually all game in the state.
“I don?t know why we need silencers to hunt birds,” said Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans). “We don?t need this bill.”

For some reason, Americans are seemingly unique in the widespread belief that suppressors are tools of assassins, hit men, secret agents, and other stealthy types. In many countries, including those that are decidedly anti-gun like the UK, the use of suppressors is considered one of being polite and neighborly: just as it’s rude and disturbing to drive a car without a muffler, shooting unsuppressed firearms can be impolite in some circumstances.
Rep. Badon is off the mark: all shooters should be able to use suppressors if they wish, and their use should be encouraged. Not only does it help reduce hearing damage for the shooter, but it minimizes the irritation of those who may be disturbed by the sound of unsuppressed shooting. Win-win for everyone.

Why we win

As Uncle says, “No one grins like that at an anti-gun event“.
He’s right. The antis focus entirely around the negative: crime, violence, etc. There’s basically nothing positive for them except maybe laughing at fools on our side as they put their feet in their mouths.
On the other hand, the pro-gun folks have a bunch of fun shooting at the range (there’s not really an “anti-gun range”), engaging in competition, training, hunting outdoors, checking out stuff in catalogs or at the shop, asking questions and having discussions on forums, blogs, and other media, etc. We have multiple magazines and other publications dedicated to the shooting sports and related outdoor activities, all of which are funded by people who are interested in those topics and who contribute their own funds.
The antis? They’ve got the likes of the Brady Campaign, Shannon Watts, and Michael Bloomberg. There’s only a few funding sources, typically from the Joyce Foundation and Bloomberg, with very little actual grassroots support. It really must be quite depressing.

On going back in time

NPR had a recent article discussing the dangers of stray bullets, something which I agree is a problem.
Unusually, a few sentences in the comments section attracted my interest; I typically don’t participate in comment threads on news articles and try to avoid them where possible. However, a comment by an individual going by the name “Sean Gay” attracted my attention. This comment starts with,

Yet another reason to go back to the pre-2008 second amendment and allowing the implementation of gun laws to restrict access.

In a separate respond to some other commenter, Mr. Gay says:

Right, but all decisions prior to 2007 included the full text of the second amendment as a right for state-sanctioned militia. The decision of 2007 fundamentally rewrote the second amendment and the McDonald v Chicago decision exacerbated the situation. By striking down a completely reasonable restriction in 2007 it opened the gate for other reasonable controls to be broken down. It was a bad decision that went against the Constitution, precedent, law, and common sense.

I’ve seen a few articles and comments of this type recently, no doubt spurred on by media coverage of some recent, high-profile crimes. (As an aside, I note how individuals and the media basically ignore more routine crimes in places like Chicago.)
Some have gone to the extreme of comparing the Heller and McDonald cases to?Dred Scott and other cases where the Supreme Court got things very, very wrong and suggest that the court ought to change their rulings on Heller and McDonald. Of course, such comparisons are absurd: Dred Scott and other similar cases are clear examples of the court ruling to explicitly deny or restrict people’s human rights (which is objectively wrong), while Heller and McDonald serve to protect people’s rights.
However, most of the comments avoid such explicit comparisons and are of a “Why can’t things be like they were before?” nature. They always seem to ignore the case law and historical context of the Second Amendment, which is well-cited by the Supreme Court in the Heller case, and erroneously assume that Heller made things up out of whole cloth.
They seem to think that if only Heller and McDonald were undone, the Second Amendment would be no obstacle to restricting guns. Perhaps they’re right, but it seems unlikely that they’d gather much traction: in addition to state constitutions protecting the right to keep and bear arms, the right to self-defense is an inherent one, and that right exists absent the protections of the Second Amendment or particular court rulings. Firearms have a long tradition of being used for defensive purposes, both in the US and abroad, and there’s certainly a lot of legal precedent that does not rely upon the Second Amendment and which supports the right to own firearms for self-protection and other lawful purposes.
Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that there are ordinary people out there who think that a complete ban on handguns (in the case of Heller) is a “reasonable restriction”. Such a position is both unreasonable and extreme, and serves only to restrict the rights of ordinary people. Readers would do well to remind their legislators of that fact, and to keep that in mind when voting in upcoming elections.
Update: I foolishly forgot to include a title in this post before publishing it. This has since been corrected.