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



Published: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 21:38:23 -0400

 



Blame the Shooter, Not the "Rhetoric"

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:25:00 -0400

When it comes to violence aimed at politicians, it turns out that Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is quick to blame "rhetoric" for gun attacks on politicians only when the perpetrator apparently disagrees with his ideology, isn't the only hypocrite and fool. In a house editorial that is stunning in its intellectual laziness and mendacity, The New York Times manages to tie the actions of sniper James Hodgkinson not simply to today's over-the-top #NeverTrump #resistance rhetoric but to...Sarah Palin's fictitious role in the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords and a dozen other people in a Tucson parking lot. Seriously: Was [Hodgkinson's] attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin's political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They're right. Though there's no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right. Read the whole thing here. Since its original publication, the Times has graciously seen fit to correct itself thus: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established. Where to begin? For starters, only rankly opportunistic insta-commentary by hardcore Democratic partisans—including Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, who wrote "Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin" within hours of the Giffords shooting—drew a connection between Sarah Palin's innocuous fund-raising graphic and the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner. Indeed, it turned out that the madman was not a devotee of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sarah Palin, Fox News, or other right-wing media. Instead, he consumed a diet heavy on what Jesse Walker calls "New Age paranoia." While the Times sees a "direct" "incitement" between one image from Palin and Loughner, whose online videos and history with law enforcement clearly suggested a fully deranged, psychotic personality, the Paper of Record studiously avoids pointing to Hodgkinson's public allegiance to Bernie Sanders and his violent language toward Donald Trump and the Republican Party (he joined a group that wants to "terminate" the latter). The result is similar to blaming John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas to a virulent climate of "right-wing hate," despite Lee Harvey Oswald's commitments to Cuba, the Soviet Union, and communism. To be fair, right-wingers are pounding the table in the wake of yesterday's shooting, going so far to shout that "Rachel Maddow Has Blood on Her Hands" for calling Trump a Russian agent. Not to be outdone, Fox News' Eric Bolling called for liberals to censor themselves in the name of saving lives: How many innocent people have to die before we realize that words do matter? Crazy people act on the crazy things they hear from politicians and celebrities. Think before you utter those blind, hateful words next time, liberals. Because there are crazy people out there taking your metaphors literally. All of the above assumes that contemporary political speech is both somehow more virulent than ever and responsible for any actual physical violence that happens. In reality, there are no grounds for either belief. In a country where political violence is vanishingly rare, gun violence has declined precipitously despite wider circulation of guns, and mass shootings betray no clear pattern of increase, it's ridiculous to blame words for increases in violence. As important, Bernie Sanders' and other progressives' often-ince[...]



Why Did a Conservative Judge Uphold an Assault Weapons Ban?

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 06:00:00 -0400

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit dealt gun rights advocates a bitter defeat. In Kolbe v. Hogan, it upheld a Maryland law that bans "assault weapons" and detachable large-capacity magazines, holding that the Second Amendment offers no impediment to such prohibitory legislation. Among the judges who joined the 10–4 decision was J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who during the George W. Bush administration was rumored to be on the president's shortlist of Supreme Court candidates.

What led a respected conservative judge to uphold a sweeping gun control law? In addition to joining the majority opinion, Wilkinson filed a separate concurrence in which he explained his thinking. The matter boiled down to the core principle of judicial deference, he wrote: "It is altogether fair to argue that the assault weapons here should be less regulated, but that is for the people of Maryland (and the Virginias and the Carolinas) to decide."

In Wilkinson's view, if the federal courts get in the business of invalidating democratically enacted gun control measures, the end result will be to "empower the judiciary and leave Congress, the Executive, state legislatures, and everyone else on the sidelines." As far as he is concerned, the federal courts "are not impaneled to add indefinitely to the growing list of subjects on which the states of our Union and the citizens of our country no longer have any meaningful say."

It was the classic case for judicial deference: If you don't like what your lawmakers have done, take your complaint to the ballot box, not to the courthouse. For decades, this was a dominant view among legal conservatives. As recently as 20 years ago, Wilkinson's deferential stance would have placed him squarely within the mainstream of conservative legal thought.

But the times are changing. Judicial deference is no longer quite as popular among legal conservatives as it once was, and this particular case helps to illustrate why. After all, doesn't the Second Amendment itself suggest that there are some subjects on which democratic majorities should not have any meaningful say? Doesn't the Constitution place certain rights beyond the reach of lawmakers, and isn't it sometimes the job of federal courts to enforce those constitutional limits and strike down overreaching legislation, even when doing so means acting in an anti-democratic fashion?

As a principled advocate of judicial deference, Wilkinson effectively answers no to such queries. The big question going forward is how many legal conservatives are still willing to take his side.




GOP Lawmakers Attacked in Shooting at Virginia Baseball Practice. Update: Shooter Identified

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 09:04:00 -0400

Update: Law enforcement has identified the shooter James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, according to The Washington Post and other media outlets. On Twitter, Post reporter Greg Miller notes that Hodgkinson is "an avid letter writer to the local paper in Belleville, many of them critical of GOP economic policy" and that the alleged shooter's social media "amounts to extended screed against Trump." Update: In a statement this morning, President Trump said that the shooter has died from injuries sustained during the firefight. "Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime. And the assailant has now died from his injuries," the president said. Trump's full statement is online here. A shooter opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing baseball in Alexandria, Virginia, this morning. Among those reportedly hit during the attack was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and at least one congressional aide. A lengthy shootout with Capitol Police ensued, and Alexandria police say they have the shooter in custody, but have not released further details. All of the victims are reportedly in stable condition. Witnesses, including Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ken.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.), described a grisly scene to reporters this morning. "It was a killing field," Paul told CNN. Scalise reportedly dragged himself off the field after being shot in the hip. Republican lawmakers were practicing for the annual bipartisan congressional baseball game at a location they have been practicing at for several years. The attack happened during batting practice. Flake said the shooter "had a rifle of some kind. It was obviously a large gauge rifle" and described the attack as lasting for roughly 10 minutes. Flake estimated that more than 50 shots were fired. Flake also said he assumed that the GOP lawmakers were purposely targeted. "It looks like only one shooter. You gotta assume he knew what he was doing," Flake told CNN. No official statement as to the shooter's motivation has been released. Witnesses have said that at least one member of the security detail was wounded in the attack. "Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill Police," Paul said on CNN this morning. "It would have been a massacre without them." Reason's Meredith Bragg was nearby and took the following photos of the crime scene. This story is developing.[...]



Brickbat: Well, Shoot

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) In California, Tulelake High School Principal Dean Teig resigned following reports he shot at students with a BB gun at an off-campus celebration for seniors. Some students drenched Teig with water. He left the event and changed his clothes and returned with a BB gun. A police investigation later found no evidence Teig actually tried to shoot anyone.




Colgate University's 'Active Shooter' Situation Was Actually Just a Black Kid with a Glue Gun

Fri, 12 May 2017 16:07:00 -0400

(image) Colgate University officials are in trouble after wrongfully placing the campus under lockdown in response to a student wielding a very serious weapon: a glue gun.

It was a sticky situation.

The student, a person of color, was carrying a glue gun because he had to finish a project for an art class, but someone felt threatened by it and reported him to campus security. Soon after, administrators placed the campus on lockdown—for four hours—and sent a text alert to students warning them that an "active shooter" situation was in progress, according to Heat Street.

That was obviously a mistake. Now security directory Bill Ferguson is on leave while the school investigates whether the mistake was a result of racial bias. Some students think the connection is obvious:

"We spent all night on lockdown fearing for our lives because a young black man was doing an art project," another student wrote on Twitter. "This is racism—this is Colgate."

And Tolu Emokpae, another black student at Colgate, told the New York Daily News that the incident "shows me that I really cannot simply live."

Angel Trazo, a senior at Colgate who does not want to be "complicit regarding the events of last night and today," writes that the incident was "an example of the criminalization of black bodies."

"This is an example of the racist and prejudiced biases that exist at our institution," she wrote.

Is it? Colgate really screwed up here, and it's proper to investigate how this could have happened. Racism is certainly a possible explanation.

But let's not forget that schools are notoriously paranoid about guns. Elementary schools use absurd "zero tolerance" discipline rules to punish anyone caught with a weapon, or a lookalike weapon, or indeed anyone who brings a weapon onto school property, or anything that vaguely resembles a weapon, even accidentally. And colleges and universities are no better: administrators support "gun free zones," even though it seems unlikely that a deranged madman intent on shooting up campus would be thwarted by an unenforced and unmonitored no guns policy.

So it's possible there was more than one kind of irrational, discriminatory fear in play here.




Brickbat: Rumble on the Promenade

Mon, 08 May 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Police in Atlantic City confiscated 62 toy guns for being too realistic. Cops say the guns looked just like real guns except for the orange tips on the ends of the barrels.




Brickbat: Dirty Pictures

Thu, 04 May 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) A photo of the Big Lake High School trap shooting team will appear in the yearbook after all. Officials at the Minnesota school had banned a photo of the team holding its guns because it violated a district policy forbidding the depiction of firearms in the yearbook. After local media picked up the story, thte school system changed the policy to create a specific exemption for the team and its competition firearms.




Drunk Man Assaults R2D2-Style Security Robot and Gets Arrested

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:15:00 -0400

(image) While on patrol in the parking lot of its manufacturer, a K5 security robot was assaulted by Jason Sylvain. Sylvain, who was apparently drunk, pushed over the 300-pound R2D2-style robot made by the Knightscope company. Alerted by the robot, two Knightscope employees detained Sylvain until the local police showed up. The K5 robots operate autonomously and provide 360 degree video of the areas they patrol. The robots are equipped with two way audio that allows intercom conversations between the security operations center and a person near the robot. In addition, the robots can broadcast pre-recorded and live audio messages in the areas where they are operating. They also monitor environmental conditions, keep track of license plates, and detect wireless activity. The company promises that the robots will soon offer a gun detection feature.

Going beyond mere gun detection, the Russian FEDOR humanoid robot can now shoot guns. As Futurism reports: FEDOR — short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research — is a humanoid robot developed by Android Technics and the Advanced Research Fund in Russia. "Final" does sound a bit ominous. In any case, the FEDOR bot can drive a car, use various tools (including keys), screw in lightbulbs, and even do pushups. It has now added the ability to hold and fire two pistols at the same time to its skill set.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted, "Robot FEDOR showed the ability to shoot from both hands. Fine motor skills and decision-making algorithms are still being improved." Rogozin further explained, "Shooting exercises is a method of teaching the robot to set priorities and make instant decisions. We are creating AI, not Terminator." Very reassuring.

Enabling mall security robots to protect themselves by, say, administering a mild electric shock to someone Sylvain is OK, but arming them lethal weapons is, well, premature. On the other hand, I am against banning the development of warbots. See FEDOR in action below.

src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XQjIxN2yXno" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" frameborder="0" height="340">




Guns, Privacy, and Freedom Benefit From New Tech Tools

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:01:00 -0400

As it turns out, if you want to be a successful subversive, you probably shouldn't take on the moniker "Dr. Death" as you publicly tout your establishment-challenging ways. That's what Daniel Crowninshield did with regard to the unfinished firearm receivers he sold, to be completed on computer numerically controlled (CNC) mills in his North Sacramento, California, machine shop. Theoretically, customers operated the mills themselves, making the finished firearms legal. But an undercover agent insisted that shop employees did the honors, and Crowninshield got three and a half years in prison. What's remarkable about this story isn't just Crowninshield's excessive enthusiasm in marketing his services, however. More important is what this story illustrates about the unenforceable nature of laws that people find oppressive—and the growing vulnerability of such restrictions. Strictly speaking, Crowninshield's act of defiance was old-school; while he apparently used computer-controlled machines, there's no reason trained machinists couldn't have cranked out those receivers using traditional tools and their own skills—except, that is, for the (not so, as it turned out) plausible deniability that they were being operated by untrained customers. There was enough demand for such services that there was sometimes a line outside Crowninshield's shop, according to an undercover agent. AR-15 receivers invisible to government scrutiny, "in the hundreds at a minimum," were supposedly cranked out at that one North Sacramento operation. But enthusiasts actually can and do personally operate Cody Wilson's push-button Ghost Gunner CNC mills—which Wired described as "absurdly easy to use." Again, there's enough demand for such services that hundreds of the high-tech machines have been sold, putting the manufacture of finished firearm receivers within reach of people who don't have machinists' skills. And there's no way of knowing how many finished receivers have been quietly knocked out on the devices after they're delivered. Which was the whole reason Wilson developed the Ghost Gunner, after demonstrating that a working, if simple, pistol could be created on a 3D printer. Of course, this isn't just about things that go bang. Several years ago, Wilson teamed up with fellow crypto-anarchist Amir Taaki to develop DarkWallet, a Bitcoin wallet intended to add an extra layer of anonymity to the virtual currency so that financial transactions could more effectively evade official scrutiny. Development of DarkWallet briefly stalled as Taaki disappeared for a while on a lower-tech mission to shoot at ISIS troops on behalf of the Rojava enclave in northern Syria. But with Taaki back (though under investigation by British authorities over his Syrian adventure), the software is now available in beta form. "I believe in the hacker ethic," Taaki said about not just DarkWallet, but his overall philosophy. "Empower the small guy, privacy and anonymity, mistrust authority, promote decentralized alternatives, freedom of information," he says. "These are good principles. The individual against power." For good reason, Wilson and Taaki play central roles in Adam Bhala Lough's The New Radical, a documentary about activists who push the boundaries of technology that empowers individuals against the state. The film received a mixed reception at the Sundance film festival, the Los Angeles Times noted in January—not because of its quality, but because comfortably liberal attendees who like to think of themselves as the good guys realized they were among the targets of anti-authoritarians who look "to create fundamental political change by pushing for one or more of the following: an eradication of intellectual-property laws, radical free speech, fierce encryption to protect that speech, anonymous money (basically, digital currency not controll[...]



Trump Took a Break from Fearmongering to Approve Good Gun Rights Bill

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 12:30:00 -0500

President Donald Trump signed a measure yesterday striking down a gun control regulation that compromised the rights of a small group of people on the basis of being classified by the Social Security Administration as having a mental illness. The bill has been widely misinterpreted and misunderstood, possibly deliberately so. Brian Doherty in early February noted how media and gun control advocates presented this bill as something that would put weapons in the hands of severely mentally ill people. That's not what the initial regulation did at all, and Trump signing this measure doesn't actually give extremely mentally ill people the federal stamp of approval to go stockpile weapons. This regulation, organized via executive action under President Barack Obama, used lists of people on Social Security who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses and also have others handling their finances as a blanket mechanism to potentially deny them gun purchases. Such a system turns concepts of due process and the right to self-defense on their heads. Those who would have gotten caught up in this list—an estimated 75,000-80,000 of them—would have to fight the federal government to prove that they were not a danger and should be allowed to retain their gun rights. This is the reverse of how it should work. The government is supposed to prove that a particular person's mental illness is a disqualifying factor, not just use inclusion on some government list as shorthand. Thus, this rule was opposed not just by the National Rifle Association, but by more than a dozen groups that represent the interests of people with disabilities and mental health issues. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also opposed it. They all understood this wasn't really a fight about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerously mentally ill; it was about using bureaucratic tools and data to pre-emptively deny people their rights and then making them fight with the government to prove they should have these rights restored. Yet not two weeks after the due process problems of these gun restrictions were explained, the New York Times editorial board completely ignored the background and acted like this effort to rescind the rule was a conspiracy between the Republicans and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The headline, "Congress Says, Let the Mentally Ill Buy Guns," should be perceived at this point as a deliberate choice to mislead the reader. At no point at the editorial does it even reference the due process concerns or acknowledge that the ACLU and NRA (and several groups with no connection to gun ownership controversies) are all on the same side here. Democrats who voted with the GOP are dismissed on the basis of being "up for re-election next year." If these were any other issue other than gun ownership, have no doubt that the brilliant minds of the Times editorial crew would fully grasp the due process concerns. If the feds used such a list to try to deprive people of other types of property, the Times would certainly see the constitutional implications here. But it's guns, and when guns are involved some folks would prefer to ignore not just the Second Amendment, but the Fourth as well. That's what brought us all the awful "No Fly, No Buy" movement, where Democratic leaders attempted to deny people's right to own guns on the basis of their inclusion on the government's extremely secretive terror watch lists and "no fly" lists. The ACLU, who has been fighting the government over the no-fly lists, also opposed using such a system to deny guns because of the lack of due process. Trump, interestingly enough, also declared support during the campaign for using terror watch lists to deny gun rights, so it's relevant that he signed on here to preserve due process rights over fearmongering about violence. He [...]



Feminism Needs Firearms, Say 'Armed and Fabulous' Women of CPAC

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:52:00 -0500

(image) Lawyer Kristi McMains was getting into her car after work when the stranger tackled her. "I fought like hell," McMains says. "I was doing all that I could, and I still couldn't get him off of me. .. That's why I grabbed my gun."

McMains was one of five women speaking on a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel Friday titled "Armed and Fabulous: The New Normal." Joining her were gun advocate and writer Antonia Okafor, Kimberly Corban of the National Rifle Association (NRA), Ms. Wheelchair USA 2013 Ashlee Lundvall, and Townhall.com's Katie Pavlich, as moderator. Together they extolled the virtues of female firearm ownership as a means for self-protection and slammed liberal feminists who object to their pro-gun stance.

Okafor, who twice cast ballots for Barack Obama before voting Trump in the last election, told the crowd at CPAC that "real female empowerment" must include firearms and the protection of Second Amendment rights.

Education and empowerment are "the crux of the feminist movement, right?" asked Corbin. "Well, we want women to be educated and empowered" about firearms, and yet "we're being shamed for it."

McMains also mentioned another kind of shaming: that she experienced after her assault. "People shamed me after my attack—well, you were wearing heels. You looked like a girl!" The experience left her sympathetic to why women are reluctant to come forward when they experience violence.

Talking about violence against women, McMains sounded much like her liberal counterparts. But where their strategy to stop this violence relies on more government, McMains—and her co-panelists—emphasized personal responsibility, urging women to take self-protection into their own hands by learning to use a firearm properly, and keeping it near.

Violence "can happen anywhere, anytime," said McMains when asked to explain why she supports concealed carry. "I should be able to save my own life anywhere, anytime."




Brickbat: Too Much Information

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 04:00:00 -0500

(image) The California Department of Justice gave a Southern California Public Radio reporter the personal information of 3,424 firearms instructors, including their dates of birth and driver's license numbers. The information was supposed to be redacted when the department responded to an open records request from the reporter. The department discovered the error two months later.




Trump’s Chicago Crime Slams: Political Posturing, Federal Overreach, or Legit Assistance?

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:00:00 -0500

There's plenty of chin-scratching today about President Donald Trump's tweet last night, "If Chicago doesn't fix the horrible 'carnage' going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!" The feds are already involved in Chicago's crime-fighting efforts. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives have agents there attempting to track and fight illegal arms trafficking in the city. And more recently, the Department of Justice has released a massive report detailing unconstitutional behavior and civil rights violations by the City of Chicago's police department. But of course, that's not what Trump is talking about. Trump has made it abundantly clear that whatever is causing Chicago's crime problems, it has nothing to do with police abuse or violent police behavior. He instead sees a "dangerous anti-police atmosphere" in America and is promising to stop it. There's also an element of Trump's thin-skinned nature coming to the surface here. Sure, Trump has been running as a "law and order" candidate all along and has a page devoted to law enforcement on the White House site. But on Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel used a ribbon-cutting to attack Trump's obsession with crowd sizes. Clearly Trump's tweet was a response. From the Chicago Sun Times: "You didn't get elected to debate the crowd size at your inaugural....You got elected to make sure that people have a job, that the economy continues to grow, people have security as it relates to their kids' education. It wasn't about your crowd size. It was about their lives and their jobs," the mayor said after cutting the ribbon at a domestic violence shelter in Uptown. Emanuel advised Trump to do what he did while working as a political operative for former President Bill Clinton and as former President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff. "The most important thing you can do is create a relationship between the desk in the Oval Office and the issues at the kitchen table," Emanuel said. "And I don't think in the kitchen tables of America — and I definitely can tell you on Saturday at the parade — people were not talking about the crowd size on Friday. They were talking about jobs, education, health care, security." But Emanuel himself was responding defensively to Trump invoking Chicago as a hotbed of crime and violence. There's a political spitting match going on here, which helps explain why we don't really know what Trump means when he talks about sending in the feds. And Chicago isn't even necessarily opposed. They certainly want federal money. The city's finances are a disaster area within a state that is itself a financial disaster area. An infusion of federal cash would pay for more police officers (to satisfy the public) and more "training," which tends to be the urban left's idea of the source of police abuse problems. It's just like public education, where whenever anything goes wrong, the problem is not enough money and training. (See the Department of Justice's plan to fix Baltimore's policing problems.) The rest of us who aren't posturing politicians who have to live in these environments should be concerned that each side is beating the same drum over and over again. Emanuel wants to blame the problem on access to guns, despite Chicago's infamously restrictive regulations. Trump wants to blame it on "anti-police" attitudes, despite the city's deeply entrenched and widely understood abusive and secretive behavior by its law enforcement officers. He's in favor of "stop and frisk" methods that violate citizens' Fourth Amendment rights to be free of unwarranted searches. Neither seem all that interested in these exchanges in exploring how the city's failure to hold bad po[...]



The Surprising Truth About Gun Silencers

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 00:01:00 -0500

In The Godfather, a Mafioso prepping young Michael Corleone to assassinate some rivals gives him a pistol for the job. After firing a bullet into the wall, Michael complains, "Ow! My ears!" His friend says, "Yeah, I left it noisy. That way, it scares any pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders away." The Corleones would have had little interest in a bill allowing gun owners to obtain silencers without the federal permits required since 1934. Some people like the deafening boom of a gunshot. Most shooters don't, and the National Rifle Association is pressing for enactment of the Hearing Protection Act, which also has the endorsement of Donald Trump Jr., an avid trophy hunter. The proposal horrifies gun control advocates, who see it as a favor to homicidal maniacs. The Violence Policy Center in Washington argues that silencers pose a grave danger to public safety because they "enable mass shooters and other murderers to kill a greater number of victims more efficiently." Some perspective is in order. Right now, getting a federal permit requires a $200 fee, an extensive background check and a wait of several months. Possession of a silencer without a permit is a felony that carries a 10-year prison sentence. Under the proposed change, silencers would be treated like ordinary guns. Criminals would be ineligible, since they can't pass the required federal background check for purchases. Only law-abiding adults would have legal access. The industry prefers the term "suppressor" because the devices don't eliminate the noise; they merely diminish it. The American Suppressor Association attests, "On average, suppressors reduce the noise of a gunshot by 20-35 decibels, roughly the same sound reduction as earplugs or earmuffs." A shot from a 9 mm pistol equipped with a silencer is about as loud as a thunderclap. Recreational shooters and hunters would like to have silencers because they don't want to damage their hearing but dislike using ear protection. If the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been around in the 1930s, gun rights lawyer Stephen Halbrook quipped to The Washington Post, it probably would have mandated their use. Silencers also reduce the recoil and improve the accuracy of guns. For the average gun owner, there is no downside. There are collateral benefits, too. In rural and unincorporated areas where shooting is allowed, they minimize the disturbance to neighbors and wildlife. It's not hard to imagine how they could be deployed for bad purposes. Yet there are some 900,000 registered silencers in this country, and they are rarely used in crimes. Chicago has a lot of bloodshed, including 762 homicides and more than 3,500 shootings last year, but silencers figure in little or any of it. Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, told me, "We seldom recover silencers. Sometimes you may get a gun with a makeshift silencer, but even that is rare." A report last year by the VPC cites a handful of shootings in which silencers were used. But the paucity of examples confirms that they are not of great interest to criminals. An earlier study by Paul A. Clark published in the Western Criminology Review found only two federal court cases involving the use of a silencer in a murder between 1995 and 2005. He also unearthed eight cases in which "a silencer was actively used during commission of a crime but not used to physically injure anyone." That works out to one serious silencer-related crime per year, in a country that in 2005 had 16,740 homicides and 417,000 robberies. Supporters of the status quo say this merely proves the effectiveness of strict regulation. But improvised versions can be fashioned out of flashlights, oil filters or metal con[...]



Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) Wants to Repeal Gun-Free School Zones Act

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 23:10:00 -0500

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has relaunched the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus, as I reported last month. Today he announces the re-introduction of an old Ron Paul bill to further the Caucus' goals, this one to repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 (as amended after aspects of the original bill were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court under the Commerce Clause in U.S. v. Lopez. The usual handwaving about how the guns affected by law must have moved in or just "affected" interstate commerce was added in 1996.).

(image)

This Massie bill, H.R. 34, is being called the "Safe Students Act."

From a press release draft emailed from his office today:

"Gun-free school zones are ineffective. They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments," said Massie. "Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals."

The Safe Students Act has garnered the support of three major gun organizations: National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association...

Cosponsors include: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX).

Gun free zones are clearly not going to prevent anyone with the plan or intent of committing violent mayhem with a gun, and if we assume any rationality on the part of such a would-be spree killer, one can assume on the margin the promise of a zone where the law-abiding have legally been disarmed increases the likelihood of attracting such a killer.

It's conceivable that not having a gun around might prevent some sudden act of momentary anger from turning tragic in some imagined case. But as Jacob Sullum wrote here in 2015, armed self-defense in public against armed killers can and does happen, though thankfully the conditions under which it might ever need to happen are still vanishingly rare.