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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Why We're Joining the NRA
Knowing that ball-and-chain and I are crazy right wingers, you may be surprised to hear that we haven't already been card-carrying members of the NRA for many years. We haven't been. Like any huge lobbying group, the NRA takes a lot of specific positions, some of which we've always disagreed with, and while we're generally for handgun ownership, we thought we disagreed with the NRA on enough issues to wish them well but stay out. The main issue of disagreement has been handgun registration. I've never had a big problem with it. I figure if we have to register cars with the government, it makes sense to register guns. I always thought my ideal compromise would be a state that registers firearms but allows any mentally healthy gun owner who has no criminal record and who completes the relevant training to have a concealed-carry permit if he applies for one.

Most recently, ball-and-chain has become increasingly suspicious that there are people in the government who either through incompetence or well-meaning naiveté or blind ideology would confiscate legally-owned firearms. Then today the news proved her right.

This article in the New York Times (registration required) is about New Orleans residents whose property was relatively unharmed and who have refused to leave. The most terrifying part was a throw away line in the ninth paragraph.
To reduce the risk of violent confrontation, the police began confiscating firearms on Thursday, even those legally owned.
ball-and-chain and I almost lost it when we read this. "Reduce the risk of violent confrontation"? How do firearms owned by good citizens increase that risk? I assert that the firearms owned by Treppenwitz and Og decrease the risk of violent confrontation. Why in the world would New Orleans disarm law-abiding citizens? That will simply make them unable to defend themselves from a violent confrontation.

When pro-gun advocates have argued that registration is simply a tool to enable disarmament at some future date, I've always thought that this was the ravings of paranoid ideologues. They were right. The time I would most be counting on my handgun is after a major disaster, when police services are stretched very thin or entirely unavailable. That's when they decide to disarm law-abiding citizens?! Hell no! After a major earthquake if Sheila Kuehl decides California is better off if I'm unarmed, I'm not going to cooperate.

That's all it took to push us over the edge. We're members.
You know who would be interested to read this post, don't you?
Send it his way...
Also, check out the Gun Owners of America.
While I don't agree with many of the NRA platforms, I concur 100% with you that it was patently illegal/a violation of the constitutional right to bear arms for the government to try to disarm citizens at the very time when they most need to be able to protect themselves (meaning when law and order can no longer be enforced by the normal framework of an organized society).

However, I honestly don't feel this means we should abandon registration of firearms.

The right to keep and bear arms should be a potentially burdensome a citizen as car ownership... no more no less.

By this I mean that if (G-d forbid)your daughter is run over by a Red Chevy Blazer with the first two digits of the license plate being 'CZ' in a hit-and-run accident, you and the society in which you live can expect the police to check out all the owners of Red Chevy Blazers starting with License # CZ in a fairly wide area and look for signs of an accident. So too, I think that every gun manufactured should be test fired before being sent to the gun dealers and the forensic imagery from the expended round should be available to law enforcement agencies nationwide. Likewise, replacement barrels should be as carefully controlled and documented as the original handgun, (something that is not done at present).

Guns, like cars, are only weapons when used irresponsibly or illegally. It should be as easy to buy a gun as a car... but it should also be as easy to trace a gun to it's owner as a car (for the very same reasons).
Just my two cents.
Congratulations! I'm planning to join one day.
I've always felt the risks of keeping a gun in the house far outweigh the benefits. I'll spare you the stories, since you've heard them all I'm sure....
According to the guys from Freakonomics, a swimming pool in your backyard is 100x more likely to kill a child than a handgun in the home. And that's adjusted for, you know, the number of each owned by people, and stuff.
Torontopearl: Yes. I'll try to remember. You could email it to him too by clicking on the envelope on the bottom of the post.

Og: Thanks. I'll check it out. I've always known there were smaller pro-gun groups than the NRA, and often wondered if any matched my values and deserved my support more. Can you tell me anything about how the NRA and Gunowners of America differ? I am also very curious about Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership just 'cause I get the perverse sense that they really annoy liberal Jews. (I know that's immature and that that's not a good reason to support a group but I'm surrounded here. Can't a guy irk the majority just to irk the majority?)

Treppenwitz: I always value your two cents. I completely support any measures that facilitates the arrest and prosecution of those who use guns to commit crimes. I have no problem with the "ballistic fingerprinting" you suggest. In fact, I read somewhere that Mr. Glock (the president of the Austrian company of the same name) supports such a plan. I support registration in theory and agree with the analogy to motor vehicles (and made the analogy myself in the post) but I'm very worried about its use in practice. I guess I now oppose any registration scheme that could be used by a future government to confiscate guns. I suppose I would want judicial oversight so that for the police to find out who owns a particular gun, they would need to show a judge that a matching round was found at a crime scene. The judge would then access the database and give them the registration information to just that firearm. That way, if the police one day just wanted to go to all gunowners in a certain neighborhood to disarm them, they would not have access to that information. How does that sound?

There is a point at which the analogy to motor vehicles breaks. If in a time of emergency, the government forbade use of cars or even confiscated them, I would feel very inconvenienced but I would not feel violated. The roads aren't mine. There is no right to drive or to own a car. On the other hand, if the government disarmed me, I would be deprived of a basic Constitutional right. I'm glad we agree about this, since many do not read the second amendment as protecting individual's rights to keep arms, but rather the right of States to raise militias – an interpretation I reject.

Irina: It's wonderful watching a young woman blossom into a right-winger! Your invitation to a meal at our house anytime you're in LA stands.

Miry: I hope you're feeling better. I'm being purposefully vague about my and ball-and-chain's decisions about the specifics of how we keep our family safe (partially because though I am mostly anonymous, a couple of people who know me read this and would be appalled by those details). It is much easier to gunproof your kids than to kidproof your guns. My two older kids know the kids' rules of gun safety and will recite them to you on request. If you see a gun (1) stop (2) don't touch (3) leave the area (4) tell an adult. I haven't heard of any stories in which people are accidentally injured in homes in which (1) guns are kept locked up and (2) kids are taught about gun safety as soon as they are able to learn. If you have, I should definitely hear them. I suppose it's conceivable that a man who usually locks his gun in a safe on one day forgets the safe door open and his toddler finds it, but I've just never heard it happening. The accidents I've heard usually involve multiple violations of gun safety and common sense, for example guns left unlocked in homes with small kids.

Having said that, I'm certainly not trying to talk you into anything for your home. Each family is different.

Ralphie: A guy we both know in our synagogue also recommended that book. I gotta read it.
Doctor Bean: DONE!!
Go to Kim Du Toit for a good explanation of why the GOA is different. Some of the issues espoused by the NRA that are disturbing are handled better by the GOA. Now, I'mm a member of both, so I say, yeah, join both.
Torontopearl: Thanks.

Og: Thanks. I did. Good stuff.

Mirty: I found this chart of statistics on child deaths on the GOA website. Take a look. Obviously 1 is too many, but the question is, are they all preventable by the meticulous application of multiple redundant safety rules? The engineer in me thinks yes.
Beyond that chart is a simple lesson: If you dont kid proof your guns by securing them, and gun proof your kids by educating them, and take all other reasonable precautions,1: you're a moron, and 2: bad shit happens.
Og: I don't know how many more or fewer firearm there are out there than swimming pools, but the chart suggests that it's much riskier to leave your pool unfenced and not teach your kids to swim.
I think I'm just going to get a cannon. But just in case the kids get a hold of it, I won't have it aimed toward the pool.
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