My (slightly more than) 2 cents on gun control.
1) Assault Rifle bans are to reducing gun violence and to the left, what Abstinence only education is to teen pregnancy and the right. Both are heavily divisive topics, that are culturally programmed to be divisive. Neither leads to any real tangible difference in the issue it is trying to address, and to criticize it is to draw intense personal attacks from the side that supports it. This is a very emotional topic, and it is designed and spun to be as divisive as possible, because, the real solution, the one that will work, is the one that deals with the root causes of violence and teen pregnancy. What are the causes? Economic disparity, social injustice, drug abuse and lack of available treatment without risking criminal prosecution and societal persecution, lack of education, etc. etc. These are all key core values we already share. These are pretty non controversial items that you can often get folks to agree across the aisle on. If we take care of the root causes of violence, we not only reduce Gun Violence, but we reduce suicides, we reduce domestic violence, we reduce drug dependancy, we improve economic opportunity, and raise the overall education and skill level of our citizens and workforce. We put more people to work, that were on the system, because we know that most people do not want to be on the dole. We provide social justice, economic justice and we make America safer, and we do it without the divisive gun control battle that either won't be won in the end, or winning it will be a Pyrrhic Victory, that will create deadlock and distrust and prevent the other parts of the puzzle from coming together. Are we trying to reduce violence or win a victory over "those gun control people"?
2) It doesn't help either forward the debate, or build the party to either pretend that either side of the debate is morally or intellectually superior to the other, or that this is a right left wing issue. In fact, as the issue is going to be resolved without our input this year, we would be better served building the party than debating the issue. It does more harm to the bigger picture to be divided and argue. I am not saying let's not address the problem, but instead, let's see the problem as an opportunity for the JP to set ourselves apart. End the internal gun control argument, and focus on solutions that we can build consensus around. People are sick of the petty bickering (and yes, in the scheme of things, from either side, assault rifle bans are petty) but want to work together to find solutions. EVERY party out there seems to be focused on the gun control debate. Moneyball politics says we either play their game by their rules on their field, or we find a way to change the game. Come up with a plan that will solve the violence issue, and do it without an assault rifle ban, and I am pretty sure you will find that folks will be drawn to it. If we stay above the fray on divisive issues, we are in a unique position to help people see past petty differences and remember that, right or left, we are ALL under the thumb of the corporatocracy. If we are still playing left/right politics, we're playing the wrong game. Justice isn't a left or right issue. My own Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul worked across the aisle, and left the party vitriol at home, and look what they got accomplished. The convinced congress to audit the FED, and found Trillions (actual numbers still unknown) in secret bailouts. A right left coalition may be folly, but we need to refrain from right baiting or antagonizing folks with different beliefs than ours. Justice is Tolerant. and 3) the assault rifle ban is wrong. It is based on emotional thinking, not rational numbers. It is based on false assumptions about which guns kill more people, who pulls the trigger on the category of gun deaths that kill the most people, the effectiveness in preventing mass murder, and the logical argument that the way to deal with an activity that we find unpleasant, and we don't see as a necessity is to ban people from doing it. As was proven during the Bush years, folks act irrationally when the government gets them reacting emotionally to fear based stimuli. Remember Freedom Fries? Look how the corporate media is framing this, it is framed with the same intensity as the war against Saddam. It is designed to keep us fighting amongst ourselves and running amok and scared in order to keep us from looking behind the curtain, and seeing the real criminals, the War Criminals in the white house, and the criminals in congress and wall street and the fed with briefcases and bailouts. The corporate criminals that get appointed to regulatory agencies to gut their ability to protect our safety. Meanwhile, what ARE the numbers for people killed in the US by assault rifle? What are the numbers of people killed by other guns? What are the numbers of people that are killed by their own hand, and what is the number of people that our president is killing with airstrikes and drone attacks? (or to the 170+ kids in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen not count? The real numbers are shocking, and dismaying. Gun Violence is actually LOWER now than it was throughout the 70's 80's 90's. By nearly half. It is lower now than it was through most of the last assault rifle ban. The type of gun that kills the most people is pistols, followed by shotguns, and then rifles trail in a distant 3rd and includes assault rifles. The type of gun that kills the most people is the gun used to commit suicide. More people commit suicide with guns than all the homicides combined regardless of cause. More people kill themselves than all the gun deaths combined. About half of suicides are gun related. For every kid that was killed at the tragedy in sandyhook, over 1,000 people kill themselves, 500 of them with a gun, and the vast majority are pistols. In fact, for each person murdered by a rifle in America including assault rifles, hunting rifles and target rifles combined, there were 100 homicides and several hundred suicides that were killed with another sort of gun. If we are going to try to solve gun violence by a ban, we need to ban ALL guns, because rifles are just a bucket of sand on the beach, and assault rifles are just a few shells in the bucket.
Assault rifle bans do not stop mass shootings. Columbine: occurred during the last gun ban. All weapons were purchased legally. No assault weapons there. Virginia tech: The largest school shooting in recent years, was perpetrated by a guy with 2 pistols, one of them a dinky .22. He killed or wounded like 50 people. Sandyhook: The gunman had a couple of pistols and a shotgun with him, and had access to several rifles. He was able to wander the school shooting folks for 15-20 minutes before the police showed up. Even with the pistols and shotgun he would have had plenty of time to wreak havoc. However, with a better screening process the VT shooting may have been avoided if there was a better screening process, and Newtown Shooter and the Columbine shooters may not have been in the mental crisis that drove them to act as they did if they had been given access to mental health services. Let's look at Australia... When their gun ban went into effect, the suicide rate went up. True, the gun suicides dropped, but the overall rate went up for a couple years, and it is still close to the US in suicides. In both cases, access to mental health services could prevent many times the needless deaths that the gun ban could. And finally, if the criterion for banning something is that it kills people, and is unnecessary, then we need to ban private cars. They kill far more people, both directly, and indirectly through the pollution they cause, and the wars that are fought to fuel them. Or a partial ban, just ban sports cars and big suv's, and ban any car that can go faster than the speed limit. Speed is the biggest factor in pollution, and both in getting into an accident, and how likely it is to be fatal. There is no need for anyone to drive, let alone speed. That is the logical argument that is being made, and we need to insure that laws we pass provide equal protection, and that no category is given preferential treatment because it might cause us to have to give up a convenience too...So let's get off the 'gun control' kick, and back onto the 'solving issues' roll. We can set ourselves apart, but it is not going to be through a bunch of stale tired rhetoric.
I do believe there is room for tougher background checks, which could be instantaneous, and for state controls, such as mandatory training to legally carry a firearm in public, so long as it doesn't become a privacy issue. I also think that we need to strengthen and enforce existing gun laws, so that if you use a gun in the commission of a crime you suffer some severe consequences such as hard time doing hard labor, loss of gun owning, and voting, and forfeiture of property. I think that if you own a gun and it is used in a crime, you should be subject to negligence or accomplice charges where you have to prove you kept your gun in a reasonable safe manner or face consequences. We need to temper the stick with carrot. We need to insure that the economic disparity in the country is dealt with, so that everybody has the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilled life, and earn a living wage. We need to build a platform of solutions, and not let one issue derail us, as gun control will if we aren't careful.~Ben Eastwood, Vermont SPP
2. When you reduce your arguments to personal attacks, no matter how inflammatory the other person may be, you've lost the argument. Rise above it. Illigitimi non carbonundrum. Never let the bastards grind you down. This board has gotten divisive recently, lets try to lead by example, and promote peace and mutual respect on the boards instead of reducing the debate to a polemic flame war. Respectfully, Ben Eastwood, VT SPP
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