Subscribe: Guns
http://reason.com/topics/topic/163.xml
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
Tags:
control  crime  gun control  gun violence  gun  guns  mass shootings  mass  people  school  shooting  shootings  violence 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Guns

Guns



All Reason.com articles with the "Guns" tag.



Published: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0500

Last Build Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2018 03:39:02 -0500

 



17-Year-Old Says 'I Could Buy an AR-15,' Gets Arrested

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:15:00 -0500

(image) A high school in Ledyard, Connecticut, called the cops on a 17-year-old student who made a non-threatening comment about a gun in class. Police then arrested him, and he now faces charges of breaching the peace.

According to Ledyard High School Principal Amanda Fagan, the student said "I could buy an AR-15" or something very similar. That's it.

"In an abundance of caution, despite the fact that this student is a minor who cannot, in fact, legally purchase such a weapon, we made the decision to consult with the Ledyard Police, who made the decision to take the student into custody," Fagan said in a statement, according to FOX61.

The student made the comment during his first-period class. The principal was quickly notified, and she made the decision to call the cops—even though it was clear to her that he was neither making a threat nor in possession of any actual guns. In a message to parents, Fagan stressed that the student presented absolutely no danger.

"The student in question does not have access to firearms at home," she said. "There was never any threat to the safety of your children or the adults who teach and tend to them each day."

It's not clear what the tone of the remark was—perhaps the young man was complaining that it's too easy to buy a gun. I called and emailed Fagan for additional clarification, but she did not immediately respond.

The Associated Press reports that the student will be appear before a juvenile court to face charges of breaching the peace.

"The offense is akin to joking about a bomb in the airport," Fagan said in her message. "One simply doesn't do it."

And one shouldn't. But the question is whether someone should face life-altering consequences for doing it. There was no harm committed. There was no real danger. The authorities involved understood that there was no real danger. The kid is being punished anyway.

In her statement, Fagan referred to the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting:

In the wake of any school violence, nerves are often frayed. Today is no exception. Many of us—parents, students, educators—faced today with feelings of sadness, anger, even fear as we began to process the news of the eighth fatal school shooting in America in seven weeks. This time, it was 17 high school students and staff members who lost their lives yesterday at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Like every school staff in America today, the staff of Ledyard High School had heightened senses all day, working to be sure our smiles were particularly welcoming, our ears were particularly open, our interactions particularly genuine.

Incidents like this—the arrest of a teenager for daring to even mention a gun—are precisely why I've warned that putting more cops in schools and encouraging a see-something-say-something mentality are not reasonable responses to school shootings. These policies make us feel like we did something, but they wouldn't necessarily make school any safer. They're more likely to curtail teens' civil liberties and needlessly draw students into the criminal justice system.




More Cops in Schools Is the Wrong Answer to Mass Shootings

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:28:00 -0500

As we grapple with the tragic deaths of 17 people in a terrible mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, some conservatives are already suggesting that the best way to prevent future massacres is a massive increase in security, including more cops in schools. Sean Hannity of Fox News opined that schools should hire former military servicemen and retired police officers to keep kids safe in class. "Let's protect the kids," he said on his show last night, "Former military, retired military, retired police...every school should have basic fundamental security. Not like the White House necessarily, but we can secure anything we choose to secure." Fox correspondent Geraldo Rivera agreed, insisting that schools "should be at least as secure as airports." .@GeraldoRivera: "[Schools] should be at least as secure as airports." #Hannity pic.twitter.com/N1ZvpIxJUq — Fox News (@FoxNews) February 15, 2018 Airports are an example of security theater run amok. Despite its heavy-handed approach to screening passengers, the Transportation Security Administration routinely fails to stop people from bringing guns and knives into the terminal: The agency missed 95 percent of the weapons in 2015's security tests. Over-the-top security measures in airports provide the illusion of safety rather than actual protection, and they come at a significant cost both in money and in civil liberties. You wouldn't realize it from listening to Hannity, but schools have already beefed up security significantly since the 1990s. One way they've done it is by hiring "school resource officers"—law enforcement agents that work in the school. In fact, 43 percent of public schools in the U.S. have an SRO right now, up from 20 percent in 1996, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas and every other school in the district where it's located. These aren't part-time security guards or retired persons, they're the real thing: on-the-job law enforcement agents. Fear of mass shootings was a main driver of increased demand for SROs. Between 1999—the year Columbine happened—and 2005, the federal Department of Justice gave schools $750 million to hire cops. There's scant evidence that this spending binge made schools any safer, since the school crime rate had already been trending downward (it fell by half between 1992 and 2002, consistent with the overall crime drop in the U.S. during the latter half of the 1990s). It's tough to imagine that hiring even more officers to patrol schools would further reduce a form of crime that's already fairly rare. (As Reason's Nick Gillespie noted last night, mass shootings have not been getting more common, though they have been getting more deadly.) This is especially true when, as in Florida yesterday, the existing security measures failed so dramatically. (I don't just mean SROs. Metal detectors aren't nearly as effective as one might expect.) Meanwhile, whatever benefits those measures bring come with ugly trade-offs. The ubiquitous presence of law enforcement in public schools has led to serious infringements of students' Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, and it has increased the likelihood that minor disputes between students will escalate into criminal justice issues. I've covered case after case of teenagers arrested on child porn charges because they swapped sexually suggestive text messages with other students—something that shouldn't even be a crime, but which often ends up in police hands because teachers and principals defer to SROs in such matters. More broadly, the increased police presence in schools is directly related to the rise of zero tolerance and the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. After a high-profile crime, pundits of all political persuasions go looking for soundbite-sized solutions, from an "assault weapon" ban to a vaguely pitched overhaul of the mental health system. Beefing up school security belongs in the same category as those well-meaning but flawed fixes.[...]



Brickbat: No Good Deed

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 04:00:00 -0500

(image) When Mike Becker heard his family was being threatened by a man with a gun at an Independence, Missouri, store, he rushed to the scene with his own gun and confronted the man. Police arrived shortly after, and Becker put his gun down and raised his hands. Then he was shot by a cop."I was figuring, 'How the hell do they shoot him?' He never pointed a gun at the cops," said a witness. "He complied with everything they said."




Yes, This Is a Good Time To Talk About Gun Violence and How To Reduce It

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 23:37:00 -0500

In the wake of the Florida school shooting that has left 17 dead, politicians who typically promote Second Amendment rights to gun ownership have already gone into a defensive crouch. At a press conference near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Gov. Rick Scott, a favorite of the National Rifle Association (NRA) parried away a question about gun control by mumbling platitudes about a "mental health" crisis in America before saying this wasn't a good time to talk about politics. The reluctance is understandable but ultimately self-defeating and cowardly. While it's true that few things are more reprehensible than the instantaneous politicization of terrible events, it's also true that constantly dodging heartfelt questions about the apparent effects of your policies is neither legitimate nor convincing. Scott's quick invocation of mental illness is weak as well, especially since one thing we can likely be sure of is that most information about the shooter, identified as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, will be heavily revised or abandoned completely. Indeed, it turns out that virtually everything most of us still believe about the killers behind the 1999 Columbine school shooting, the incident that dominates our thinking about such events, is wrong. The shooters weren't bullied, they weren't goths or obsessed with video games, and they didn't target minorities or jocks. If we can't yet confidently say anything about this particular shooting, however, there are still large points we can make and questions we can ask, including the following: Mass shootings aren't getting more common, but they are getting more deadly. As researcher Grant Duwe wrote in Politico last fall, "What has increased over time is the number of people shot in these incidents. Looking at annual trends in the total number of victims shot in mass public shootings (on a per capita basis), you can see that the severity has recently increased, reaching a 40-year high." Some people will rush to say this is a distinction without meaning, but surely it means something that there aren't more shootings happening. From a strict cost-benefit analysis of gun control, it might be an argument for changing the sorts of guns that are legally in circulation (though there are plenty of issues with effecting that change; see below), but it also suggests that there isn't some sort of social breakdown that is causing more and more individuals to become psychopaths. Gun crime and gun violence are still way, way down from 20 years ago. In the wake of last fall's Las Vegas shooting, I wrote, "'From 1993 to 2015, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older,' says the Bureau of Justice Statistics in its most recent comprehensive report (published last October, using data through 2015). Over the same period, rates for crimes using guns dropped from 7.3 per 1,000 people to 1.1 per 1,000 people. The homicide rate is down from 7.4 to 4.9. These are not simply good things, they are great things. They are the essential backdrop of all discussions about gun crime and mass shootings, even as we grieve the people killed nonsensically in Vegas." None of that takes away an iota of the pain and terror of what is still unfolding in Florida, but the most basic argument for gun control remains that reducing the number of guns in circulation will reduce the amount of gun violence in society. Yet since the mid-1990s, states and localities (and certainly Florida) have mostly made it easier for more people to buy and carry guns in more sorts of situations. The correlation has been with vast reductions in gun crime and gun violence. All mass shooters are "mentally ill," but defining that term is no easy feat. It seems to me that anybody who shoots up a school, a workplace, or a concert is sick in the head. As Gov. Rick Scott's response suggests, one of the standard disclaimers issued by gun-rights advocates in the wake of a mass shooting is to lament[...]



Yes, This Is a Good Time To Talk About Gun Violence and How To Reduce It

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:35:00 -0500

In the wake of the Florida school shooting that has left 17 dead, politicians who typically promote Second Amendment rights to gun ownership have already gone into a defensive crouch. At a press conference near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Gov. Rick Scott, a favorite of the National Rifle Association (NRA) parried away a question about gun control by mumbling platitudes about a "mental health" crisis in America before saying this wasn't a good time to talk about politics. The reluctance is understandable but ultimately self-defeating and cowardly. While it's true that few things are more reprehensible than the instantaneous politicization of terrible events, it's also true that constantly dodging heartfelt questions about the apparent effects of your policies is neither legitimate nor convincing. Scott's quick invocation of mental illness is weak, as well, especially since one thing we can likely be sure of is that most information about the shooter, identified as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, will be heavily revised or abandoned completely. Indeed, it turns out that virtually everything most of us still believe about the killers behind the 1999 Columbine school shooting, the incident that dominates our thinking about such events, is wrong. The shooters weren't bullied, they weren't goths or obsessed with video games, and they didn't target minorities or jocks. If we can't yet confidently say anything about this particular shooting, however, there are still large points we can make and questions we can ask, including the following: Mass shootings aren't getting more common, but they are getting more deadly. As researcher Grant Duwe wrote in Politico last fall, "What has increased over time is the number of people shot in these incidents. Looking at annual trends in the total number of victims shot in mass public shootings (on a per capita basis), you can see that the severity has recently increased, reaching a 40-year high." Some people will rush to say this is a distinction without meaning, but surely it means something that there aren't more shootings happening. From a strict cost-benefit analysis of gun control, it might be an argument for changing the sorts of guns that are legally in circulation (though there are plenty of issues with effecting that change; see below), but it also suggests that there isn't some sort of societal breakdown that is causing more and more individuals to become psychopaths. Gun crime and gun violence are still way, way down from 20 years ago. In the wake of last fall's Las Vegas shooting, I wrote, "'From 1993 to 2015, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older,' says the Bureau of Justice Statistics in its most recent comprehensive report (published last October, using data through 2015). Over the same period, rates for crimes using guns dropped from 7.3 per 1,000 people to 1.1 per 1,000 people. The homicide rate is down from 7.4 to 4.9. These are not simply good things, they are great things. They are the essential backdrop of all discussions about gun crime and mass shootings, even as we grieve the people killed nonsensically in Vegas." None of that takes away an iota of the pain and terror of what is still unfolding in Florida, but the most-basic argument for gun control remains that reducing the number of guns in circulation will reduce the amount of gun violence in society. Yet since the mid-1990s, states and localities (and certainly Florida) have mostly made it easier for more people to buy and carry guns in more sorts of situations. The correlation has been with vast reductions in gun crime and gun violence. All mass shooters are "mentally ill," but defining that term is no easy feat. It seems to me that anybody who shoots up a school or a concert is sick in the head. As Gov. Rick Scott's response suggests, one of the standard disclaimers issued by gun-rights advocates in the wake of a mass sho[...]



Two Baltimore Police Officers Found Guilty of Armed Robbery, Racketeering

Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:00:00 -0500

A jury has found two former Baltimore police officers guilty of robbery, racketeering, and conspiracy for their years-long participation in a crime ring within the city's Gun Trace Task Force. By detailing one of the most egregious cases of police corruption in Baltimore's history, the trial has raised broad questions about misconduct within a department that has struggled for decades to shake a reputation for malfeasance and to gain the public's trust. Eight members of the task force were indicted; Officers Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor were the only two to reject plea deals and face trial. They now face a statutory maximum of 60 years in prison, though they will probably receive a lesser sentence following what are likely to be complex negotiations over the applicable federal guidelines. During three weeks of testimony, the jury heard from four other task force members from a number of the officers' victims. The witnesses painted a picture of a group that stole money, guns, and drugs both under the pretense of doing police work and off the clock as a masked gang of stickup men. The cooperating co-conspirators testified that the officers, under the direction of the task force's sergeant, used their police powers to gather information about the location of stashes of guns, cash, and drugs, which they would then either "seize" and keep for themselves or steal in armed robberies and home invasions. Among other things, jurors heard that the cops carried a "robbery kit," containing masks, crowbars, and a grappling hook, in their police vehicles; carried BB guns to plant on the bodies of anyone they might shoot during a robbery; resold drugs that had been looted from pharmacies during the Baltimore riots of 2015; stole half of $200,000 found in a safe during a burglary, then covered up the theft by staging a videotaped "search" during which they "discovered" the safe and the remaining $100,000; and shot a fleeing suspect in the back to avoid having to chase him. In one particularly memorable section of the trial, a parade of career drug dealers took the stand to testify that task force members had robbed them. The trial has also raised the specter of another recent sensational crime in Baltimore. One of the co-conspirators testified that homicide detective Sean Suiter participated in at least one of the gang's robberies. Suiter received a subpoena to appear before the federal grand jury investigating the task force, but he was shot and killed the night before he was scheduled to be questioned. The killing remains unsolved. Suiter is not the only officer who has been implicated by witnesses but not indicted. A number of cops who were no longer affiliated with the task force at the time its crimes were discovered participated in its illegal activities before transferring out, according to the cooperating officers. They also alleged that a deputy police commissioner, Dean Palmere, coached task force members in what to say to avoid punishment following an unjustified shooting in 2009, and that the chief of the internal affairs unit, Ian Dombroski, routinely agreed to authorize fraudulent overtime hours as a reward for making gun arrests. A local prosecutor may have been a conspirator as well. In pretrial proceedings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise told the judge that his office suspected someone in the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office of tipping task force members off to the existence of a federal investigation into their activities. The revelation of the Gun Trace Task Force's misconduct is already causing fallout. State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has already vacated 125 cases in which the convicted officers were involved, and defense attorneys say that thousands more are tainted and must be reviewed. What if any steps will actually be taken to review and address such cases remains to be seen, as does whether prosecutors will pursue cases against any of the other officers implicated durin[...]



"Second Amendment Law Lessons: Look Beyond the Courts for Freedom"

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 16:56:00 -0500

D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago were important, symbolically and in the long term (because symbolism often matters in the long term). But the concealed-carry revolution, carried on over the last 30 years in state legislatures throughout the country, has been much more practically significant: From about ten states in 1986 in which pretty much any law-abiding adult could get a license to carry a concealed gun (or didn't even a license), we've moved to about forty such states (see the animation below, by Jeff Dege). And with a very few exceptions -- mainly Illinois, which went shall-issue as a result of Second Amendment litigation, and perhaps Vermont, which hasn't required a license since a 1903 Vermont Supreme Court state constitutional right to bear arms case -- this has stemmed from legislative victories. As Glenn says,

There are two lessons [here].... One is that courts can't always be counted on. The other is that there are other ways to protect civil rights than filing a lawsuit. Just as Brown v. Board of Education got the desegregation ball rolling, but it took the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a decade later, to really affect institutions, I think it's fair to say that the Heller decision made a difference, but legislation is having more of an actual impact.

[UPDATE: To see an animated version of the item below, click here; I'm not sure why this version doesn't come out animated.]

(image)




GAO Agents Tried 72 Times, Failed to Buy Guns on the (Normie) Internet

Fri, 05 Jan 2018 12:56:00 -0500

(image) Government Accountability Office employees posing as sketchy buyers tried and failed in 72 attempts to purchase firearms on the internet, part of a failed investigation called for by a trio of Congressional Democrats.

While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) insisted in its most recent strategic plan, as cited by the GAO, that "the privacy of the Internet makes it an ideal means for gang members, violent criminals, terrorists, and juveniles to traffic and obtain illegal firearms," the new report released by the (GAO) could not corroborate any of it.

The GAO did not fare much better on the so-called "Dark Web." Agents made 7 attempts and were successful just twice, purchasing an AR-15 and an Uzi.

There's not much in the report for Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) from which to demand stricter internet gun laws, but it may not stop Democrats from trying to impose new laws anyway.

It's unclear what kind of internet-specific gun laws there could be other than a blanket ban (LOL trying to enforce that) or enhanced sentencing (a dubious legal tool to say the least).

In all, 56 sellers refused to complete the requested transactions; 29 said they wouldn't ship the requested firearms and 27 refused after the agents disclosed they were prohibited from purchasing firearms. One five separate occasions, the GAO trolls were also banned from the websites where they were inquiring about murky purchases.

"The results of our testing are for illustrative purposes only and are not generalizable," the GAO wrote in a letter to the three Congressional Democrats about the results of the report.

The GAO was also asked to assess how ATF was enforcing firearms laws on the internet, since Cummings, Schatz, and Warren say they worry there are no specific laws about firearm sales on the internet. (As the GAO report notes, a bevy of laws on the book apply to firearm sales that happen to be made on the internet)

Nevertheless, the GAO found that ATF does coordinate investigative work on internet sales through an Internet Investigations Center to "ensure they have the necessary training to operate online in an undercover capacity."

According to the GAO, the ATF center, founded in 2012, uses free open-source software "to analyze online content for investigations," claiming that this allowed "analysts to glean information from public websites without violating users' privacy rights."

In any case, the technology that makes all kinds of commerce easier, including firearms-related commerce, isn't going anywhere. So-called e-commerce continues to grow while other technology, like 3D printing, promises to make government attempts to control all kinds of products, including firearms, even harder.

It's a bright future.




Interesting Story on Black Gun Ownership

Fri, 29 Dec 2017 11:42:00 -0500

The article is Why Black People Own Guns, by Julia Craven; I found the interviews quite interesting to read.




Real Common Sense on Gun Control

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 08:00:00 -0500

Here's how to judge the pragmatic case for gun control: if the pro-control lobby managed to have each of its favorite restrictions enacted, could we as individuals be more casual about our safety than we are today? The answer clearly is no. So what's the point of the restrictions beyond letting their advocates feel good about themselves? A false sense of security is worse than no sense of security at all. Mass shooters have obtained their guns legally, having had no disqualifiers in their records; used guns legally obtained by someone else; or obtained them despite existing laws. Therefore, the controls most commonly called for would not have prevented those massacres. In the latest massacre, the shooter had a disqualifier—a less-than-honorable discharge from the Air Force after a year in the brig for domestic abuse—but the Air Force failed to report that disqualifier to the FBI and so it never got into the database that was checked when the shooter bought guns from licensed dealers. New controls, such expanded background checks, would not have prevented the shooting because the Air Force was already required to report the shooter's conviction to the FBI. Even a ban on rifles with certain features, misleadingly called "assault weapons," would not have prevented the shooting because equally powerful rifles would have been available Thus the victims of the latest shooter, like the victims of the previous mass shootings, would have been no safer under the sought-after gun-control regime than they were at the time they were murdered. But this is not the end of the story. Even if those shooters had been unable to obtain their guns as they did, it does not follow that they would have been prevented from committing their monstrous offenses. How many times must it be pointed out that someone who is bent on murder is not likely to be deterred by legal restrictions on the purchase of guns? The gun-control advocates pretend that legal methods are the only way to obtain firearms, but we know that is not true. People have always been able to obtain guns through illegal channels. Gun-running—firearms smuggling and trafficking—is probably as old as the earliest gun restrictions. Guns can be stolen and sold. (There are 300 million of them.) Guns can be made in garages. Guns will eventually be made routinely on 3D printers. Supply responds to demand. Black markets thrive whenever products are prohibited. But the black market—by definition—is already illegal. So what are gun-controllers to do, make the black market doubly illegal? I don't think that's a solution. Even more drastic forms of control won't change this story. The Australian tax-financed eminent-domain approach, in which the government ordered people to sell their guns to the government, failed to remove all guns from society. "That policy … removed up to one million weapons from Australians' hands and homes," Varad Mehta writes. "This was, depending on the estimate, a fifth to a third of Australia's gun stock." How many bad people do you imagine surrendered their guns? How would an Australia program—which some Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, favor—do here? Not very well, I'd guess. Think what would happen if the government tried to confiscate people's guns with a heavier hand than that used by the Australian politicians. Individual rights aside, would that be an acceptable outcome for the sake of reducing gun violence? (Do be aware that most gun fatalities are suicides.) If people with bad intent would continue to obtain guns no matter what gun controls were on the books, it follows that people's responsibility for their own safety remains the same in all circumstances. Even beefing up police forces won't deliver greater safety: the cops are always too far away, and besides, they have no legal [...]



How to Talk to Your Kids About Guns

Sat, 11 Nov 2017 06:00:00 -0500

Here are two true statements: 1. The number of privately held firearms in America has nearly doubled in the last two decades while the number of gun murders per capita was cut in half. 2. The number of kids abducted by strangers in 2011 was 105, out of approximately 73 million children in the United States. That's down slightly from 115 two decades ago. After Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more by firing into a crowd from the 32nd floor of his Las Vegas hotel in October, America dove headfirst into our now-traditional national shoutfest about gun laws. One side sees its argument as self-evident: The moment when dozens of people lie dying in the street of gunshot wounds is the right time to pass laws restricting private gun ownership. The other side, by and large, frames its argument in the language of rights and freedoms: You may not like what some people do with some guns, but the Second Amendment exists for a reason. Too often absent from both sides of the debate are well-parsed statistics. Restrictionists will cite the approximately 33,000 annual gun deaths in America, but that number reveals almost nothing about the question the public really wants answered after Vegas or the Orlando nightclub shooting before it: How likely am I to die in an incident of random violence? Two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, as statistician Leah Libresco explained in The Washington Post shortly after the Vegas shooting, and "almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them." Next are "young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides" that are often gang-related, and after that "the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence." The number of people killed in mass shootings is far smaller—there were fewer than 90 incidents that fit the FBI's formal definition of "mass killing" with a gun in the last three decades, most of them with just four victims—yet the center of gravity in the gun control debate isn't suicide hotlines, drug legalization, or domestic violence shelters. Instead, politicians and pundits perseverate on reducing firing speeds, excluding mentally ill people from the right to buy a gun, and building lists of people with ties to terrorist groups: interventions aimed at minimizing the odds of already-rare deaths from mass shootings. A frenzy of attempts at preventive policy making follows each high-profile incident but actually creates the conditions for future failure. Gun prohibition produces the same problems as drug or alcohol prohibition; attempts to restrict harmless sale and possession in order to catch a minority of misusers yield all kinds of unintended consequences. Black markets make the purchase of prohibited items riskier and more expensive, and make the transactions untraceable. Bans are likely to be disproportionately enforced among black and Muslim gun owners, increasing racial disparities. Narrowly tailored restrictions will push product development teams at big firearms manufacturers and garage tinkerers alike to find workarounds that circumvent the letter of the law. And any mass confiscation of illegal weapons or accessories will lead to more violence, as die-hard gun rights believers inevitably fight back against law enforcement. Take a misunderstanding of the scope and nature of a problem, combine it with a desire to "do something" in the face of national anguish, and you get a recipe for both bad law and cultural conflict. A nearly identical problem plagues another heated national conversation: Are our children in danger? How likely is my kid to be grabbed by a kidnapper? Underlying much of the invective about helicopter parents, millennial snowflakes, and trophies for everyone is the question of what risks American kids re[...]



Sen. Feinstein's New Assault Weapons Ban Proposal Is the Perfect, Pointless Response for the 'Do Something' Crowd

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:35:00 -0500

After another tragic mass shooting—one that likely could have been prevented if existing laws had been enforced—there has been another round of completely predictable calls to "do something" about America's apparent problem with gun violence. For those who want to see something done, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) has done something. Along with more than 20 fellow Senate Democrats, Feinstein announced on Wednesday the re-introduction of a bill to ban so-called "assault weapons" and those bump stocks that took so much of the blame for last month's massacre in Las Vegas. Specifically, Feinstein's legislation would ban the sale and manufacture of 205 different weapons (a full list can be found in the bill). One is the AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle used in several mass shootings, including the attack on the Texas church last weekend—and also used by Stephen Willeford, the former NRA instructor who engaged the church shooter and may have prevented further deaths. Feinstein's bill also targets specific gun accessories, including the bump stocks used by the Las Vegas concert shooter. Bump stocks allow semi-automatic weapons to fire at higher rates but with less accuracy. The bill exempts weapons used for hunting, and it would allow anyone who already owns one of the proscribed guns to keep them. In other words, it would be completely ineffective at removing these weapons from American society. But that's not really the goal at all. The goal is to do something about gun violence, and Feinstein's proposal certainly counts as something. Something ineffective and useless, but still a thing. A thing that could be done. Feinstein admits as much. "We're introducing an updated Assault Weapons Ban for one reason," she said in a statement announcing the bill: "so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote." It's interesting that Feinstein sees that as the "one reason" why this bill has been introduced. Not because it will stop mass shootings, or because it will make it harder for bad people to get guns, or even because it's a small step toward a less violent society. Nope. This bill has been introduced for "one reason": so Democrats can score political points by holding it up and waving it every time there's a high-profile crime with a gun. Look! There's a bill right here, ready for debate and a vote! Will the bill do anything to stop these horrific attacks from happening? Well, no, but that's not the point. At least she's being honest about it. Feinstein has never been particularly good at masking the fact that her assault ban proposals are based more in emotion than reason; this is another entry in that long ledger. The simple fact of the matter is that no amount of new laws will stop mass shootings. And when we can't even accurately enforce the gun laws already on the books—the Texas church shooter would not have been able to buy his AR-15 if Air Force bureaucrats had properly reported his domestic abuse problems, as they were supposed to do—it's even harder to see Feinstein's proposal as anything other than what it is: a nakedly political maneuver meant to score points with the vapid "do something" crowd.[...]



How To Protect Americans Without Destroying the 2nd Amendment: Podcast

Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:00:00 -0500

On Sunday, November 5, a man identified as 26-year-old Devin Kelley opened fire in a church outside of San Antonio, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding at least another 20. Reason's Nick Gillespie speaks with Robert VerBruggen, the deputy managing editor of National Review and a gun-policy analyst, about what can be done to reduce mass shootings without eviscerating the Second Amendment.

In this new podcast they discuss the changing nature of mass shootings, whether an armed society is actually a safer one, how Kelley was able to obtain guns despite being flagged for domestic abuse and a bad-conduct discharge from the military, and what policies can be put in place to limit mass shootings.

Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/352002191%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-hNeF9&color=%23f37021&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="0">

Don't miss a single Reason podcast! (Archive here.)

Subscribe at iTunes.

Follow us at SoundCloud.

Subscribe at YouTube.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.




Mass Shooting at a Texas Church

Sun, 05 Nov 2017 15:28:00 -0500

More than 20 people have been reported dead and more have been reported wounded at a mass shooting inside the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Details are still unclear. The shooter has been reportedly killed as well.

From the San Antonio Express-News:

Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told The Wilson County News that the shooter has been killed.

Another local official who wished to remain anonymous said there are at least 25 dead and 15 wounded. Eight of the wounded were transported to Brooke Army Medical Center and and seven others to area hospitals.

UPDATE: Here's the latest on the death count:

UPDATE II: The alleged shooter has been identified:

President Donald Trump responded with a tweet while he's in Japan:




Overcoming Confirmation Bias on Guns

Sun, 08 Oct 2017 08:00:00 -0400

Confirmation bias is one of the great obstacles to making the practical case for liberty. People see in events what they want to see. I think of the joke about the person who planned to take his hyperactive dog on a train trip and asked his veterinarian for a tranquilizer. The vet mistakenly handed the person a stimulant. On the train he gave the dog the pill, prompting it to run madly up and down the aisle the entire trip. The embarrassed owner said to his seatmate, "Gosh, think what would have happened if I hadn't given the dog the tranquilizer!" We are all subject to this bias. The best we can do is be aware of it and fight to overcome it. When people look at statistics, confirmation bias always looms. It's just too easy to explain any statistical results in terms of what social scientists call one's "priors." But now and again we encounter an example of someone who refuses to let confirmation bias stand in the way of learning the truth. The latest example comes from Leah Libresco, a statistician who used to write at the political data-analysis site FiveThirtyEight. Libresco's example is particularly noteworthy because the issue she was considering was gun violence. If any issue is prone to confirmation bias, this is the one. It is also noteworthy that she published her article at The Washington Post. In "I Used to Think Gun Control Was the Answer. My Research Told Me Otherwise," Libresco begins: Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly. But then she did some analysis, and it changed her mind. For three months she and others at FiveThirtyEight examined the tens of thousands of annual victims of gun violence, prompting her to conclude that "the case for the policies I'd lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence…. As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference." For example, bans on "assault weapons": "It's an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos." As for a ban on silencers, which Hillary Clinton thinks would have saved lives in Las Vegas: "they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don't make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer." Limits on high-capacity magazines? They "were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless." She says nothing about the cause de jour, bump stocks, which even some gun-rights advocates seem willing to regulate ban. I hope she would realize that even if they were banned, a black market would thrive since the existing supply could not be confiscated and people could make them in their garages. (There's a reason no one's heard of them until now.) She also decided that "the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia … didn't prove much about what America's policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their [buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in [...]