Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Gun Control Group Takes Aim at Redskins Sport Shooting Event -- 10/10/2006

I suspect that Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder won't be cancelling the upcoming "Redskins Sporting Clays Challenge"despite the dismay expressed by the District of Columbia chapter of the Million Mom March. See Meghan Mulhern's piece about this controversy at: Gun Control Group Takes Aim at Redskins Sport Shooting Event -- 10/10/2006

Ladd Everitt is the president of the D.C. Million Mom March.

"Repealing our gun laws would lead to more homicides, more accidental deaths by firearms, more suicides, basically more gun violence across the board by all causes. That is why we are opposing this event," said Everitt.

Mr. Everitt assumes a causal relationship between "gun laws" and homicides: the implication here is that "gun laws" prevent (or reduce the incidence of) homicides (think of the correlation between traffic laws and the incidence of vehicular manslaughter -- any connection?). Means, motive, and opportunity: "gun laws" haven't affected means, and can't be expected to have an impact (one way or the other) on motive or opportunity.

DC "gun laws" (D.C. Code 2001 ed. secs. 22-4501 et seq. and D.C. Code 2001 ed. secs. 7-2501.01 et seq.) are among the most restrictive in the nation. These "gun laws" haven't had the intended effect on the District of Columbia "body count" (up-to-date Metropolitan Police Department statistics available here). The U.S. Congress and DC Government have tried the gun control approach, and that hasn't produced the expected / promised results (a safer District of Columbia).

The "we need more vigorous gun control" argument is a emotion-driven side-show that has distracted the public consciousness from the underlying reasons behind the District's crime statistics: poverty, drug abuse, "nonmarital births", education, and so on. Let's try focusing attention on the causes of crime and get ahead of this problem instead of sitting around fretting about the results.

The people who are committing crimes in the District of Columbia that involve firearms are already violating numerous statutes (including the "gun laws"). Should we have even tougher "drug laws"? Could we have even tougher "drug laws"? Would any of that help? Cut down on drug crime...that'll cut down on crimes that involve firearms.

Would there be more accidental deaths as a result of realigning the "gun laws" of the District of Columbia to better conform with the rest of the United States? Perhaps; any time you put a device (such as an automobile or a firearm) that can cause death and injury in the hands of the general public, bad things will happen. Education and training will help reduce the incidence of bad things; I'll assert (without proof) that legislation will have a negligible impact. Legislation can't be expected to reduce the incidence of negligent discharge (you can't legislate against stupidity any more than you can legislate for morality), so if you have additional firearms and ammunition in the hands of the uneducated / untrained, you'll have an increase in accidental deaths.

Suicides aren't caused by guns; they may be facilitated by guns, but they can't possibly be caused by guns. For this reason, liberalization of the DC "gun laws" can't be expected to cause an increase in the rate of suicide in the District of Columbia. Having said that, don't be surprised if the proportion of suicides effected by handguns to go up in the face of liberalized "gun laws", but don't expect the overall numbers to go up. There are a lot of factors that spur someone to "check out of the program", but the availability of handguns isn't one of them.

And finally, I come to "...basically more gun violence across the board by all causes". This is the "kitchen sink" part of the argument. Liberalizing the laws of the District of Columbia to permit law-abiding citizens (who aren't part of the crime problem today, and aren't likely to be part of the crime problem in the future) to keep and bear handguns and other firearms can't be expected to increase the incidence of "gun violence across the board by all causes". This argument would have you believe that an otherwise law-abiding citizen is more likely to cause a crime simply by the act of owning a gun. That just doesn't make sense.

I urge the members of the District of Columbia chapter of the Million Mom March to invest time in the DC Government (reform the tax code, significantly reduce "overhead", and attract industry back to the District to provide needed jobs), fix the DC school system, get involved with the youth of the District of Columbia, and establish and maintain an effective Neighborhood Watch program. This kind of activism will have a much longer and broader impact than a demonstration at any sporting event (though it might not generate the same kind of headlines).

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Second Annual "FIrearms Law & The Second Amendment Symposium"

I went to a great Second Amendment symposium today at George Mason University Law School in Arlington. I'm fascinated by the U.S. Constitution, and always look forward to opportunities to learn more. The speakers were great, and it was an interesting crowd with plenty of thoughful questions. I'd didn't do a head count, but I'd guess there were about 150 people attending the event. I'm looking forward to next year's symposium....