By Steve Croyle
TOPIC: Gun regulations
Let’s close the gun show
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms estimates more than 3 million firearms change hands each year in undocumented, private sales. Most states, like Ohio, have no laws requiring registration. Yes, if you buy a weapon from a federally licensed dealer they will conduct a background check and register the initial purchase, but that’s it.
In Ohio, you don’t need a state permit to purchase a firearm. There is no registration system, not even a voluntary one. The state has no assault weapon regulations. Concealed carry is legal with 8 hours of training. In Ohio, the state regulations preempt any local ordinances. In other words, if the City of Columbus wanted to register all handguns kept in city limits, the City of Columbus would be in violation of state law.
Legally speaking you do not need a license to sell firearms in Ohio. Federal law requires you to obtain a federal license to sell firearms if you will be buying and selling firearms to obtain a livelihood. If you can prove that your interest in buying and selling firearms is purely a recreational pursuit, you are exempt from the federal regulations. This is know as the gun show loophole, and this is how millions of firearms are bought and sold each year. This is how thousands of Americans are able to compile massive arsenals. It’s also how the vast majority of firearms end up in the hands of common criminals who would otherwise find it impossible to obtain a firearm.
But it’s not just gun shows. In many states, like Ohio, you can sell a gun at a yard sale. You can trade an AR-15 and a case of ammo to some random stranger for a moped, if you’re so inclined and the only portion of that transaction that will be documented is the transfer of title for the moped. Think about that for a minute.
Our government is more concerned with keeping track of mopeds than it is with keeping track of assault rifles.
While that initial purchase of a brand, spanking new firearm is recorded, and the ATF has access to the name and address of that first owner, there are no laws requiring gun owners to document their firearms transactions. It doesn’t matter if the person buying them is working for a Chicago-based gang, or a serial killer in waiting, there’s no regulatory burden placed on the sellers. Proxy purchases are common in jurisdictions where gun control laws are strict. It’s easy for a criminal in New York or Chicago to take a ride out to the country in a neighboring state with virtually no gun laws, and amass a small arsenal.
Every time we have a mass shooting in the US, the gun debate begins anew. Gun advocates will argue that gun laws only make it difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns. They will also argue that proposed gun laws wouldn’t have prevented the shooting du jour. Almost every pro-gun argument concludes with the sentiment that you’ll never prevent all shootings. Then the gun advocates will mention the levels of gun violence in New York and Chicago. They might also cite one of the exceedingly rare mass shootings in another country like Norway as an example of the futility of firearms regulations.
That’s all well and good, but you’d have to be delusional to deny that we have a serious gun problem here in the US. The proliferation of assault weapons, which are designed to function with high capacity magazines, and are more easily modified to fire in a fully automatic mode is one of the major problems. Gun advocates will claim that assault weapons are just regular firearms with “scary cosmetics”. That’s actually a load of crap. While there are plenty of low end weapons that are just designed to look frightening, the infamous AR15 and its variants are carefully engineered to be more effective at killing people. This is why the Department of Defense and all of NATO, for that matter, pay a premium for those weapons. If it was purely cosmetic, they’d buy regular hunting rifles. Everything about the AR-15 is engineered to be a people killer. It fires a round through a specifically measured barrel that ensures that the round will mushroom, and tumble through flesh when it hits its target. The purpose is to ensure that every human you hit will be taken out of service. People who survive a gunshot wound from an AR15 rarely make a full recovery.
But assault weapons aren’t the only problem. We still have this gray market of private sales and trades. Children in gangs can easily acquire weapons in private transactions. Gun manufacturers and the NRA love the way guns matriculate into the hands of criminals. When bad guys have guns, it’s a lot easier to convince the good guys to arm themselves, and once you do that, you keep enticing the good guys to upgrade to the latest model. Then they send the old guns into that private sale pipeline where the guns can be accessed by the bad guys who make the world such a scary place.
It’s another vicious cycle, one that is very profitable for organizations that keep a lot of politicians in their back pocket.
Some will argue that we don’t have a gun problem in the US. They will argue that we have a mental health crisis. They might also assert that we have a cultural problem with violence in general, but that’s a smokescreen. We have a gun problem.
When a conservative estimate has 3.5 millions guns changing hands off the books each year, you have no means to control who has a gun. Moreover, ammunition is sold in bulk with no questions asked.
Numerous studies, including those conducted by the World Health Organization, reveal a gun problem. Now, somebody will argue that guns don’t kill people. This is technically true, but the studies reveal that when you provide people with unfettered access to guns, they’re a lot more effective at killing other people.
Murder is the second leading cause of death among Americans in the 15-24 age group. They are 49 times more likely to be the victim of a gun related murder than people in the same peer group in countries of similar wealth. In the 25-34 demographic, that rate is still 32 times greater for Americans. For all Americans regardless of demographics, we are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than our peers in other developed countries.
In the US it seems obvious that we’ve made a choice to live by the gun, but we’re also dying by it, and that’s got to stop. The Second Amendment doesn’t preclude regulations. In fact, the term “well-regulated” is right there in the verbiage. It’s time to take a step back and reevaluate our relationship with guns. No, we’re never going to eliminate all gun violence, but if we can reduce it by 30%, we’ll save lives, and maybe then we can start changing our culture.
QUICK TAKE I
Bullies need love too
State Senator Sandra Williams wants to codify bullying, opening the door to criminal charges if offenses are repeated there are several problems here. The first is defining the term “bullying”. Are we talking about relentless social intimidation, or is it your garden variety boundary probing?
Going too far in legislating this issue could eliminate the natural ritual of establishing a social order. It isn’t always pretty, but learning how to confront people who make you uncomfortable, whether they’re a true-to-form bully, or just a domineering personality, is an essential social skill.
We need to make sure we’re not sanitizing social development, because anti-bullying legislation isn’t going to protect you from Ned in Sales, when he tries to blame you for losing the McGreely account. Standing up for yourself is a fundamental life skill.
As for legitimate bullies, one needs to tread lightly. It’s easy to vilify kids who make other kids miserable, but more often than not, a bully is simply projecting. Rather than looking to criminalize bullying, we might want to make sure that the bully isn’t a victim of some sort of abuse at home. Bullying is often a cry for help. It’s a defense mechanism. By singling out somebody weaker, the bully can project a fearsome image, thus keeping formidable challengers at bay, but there’s a always a reason for this behavior. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of hurting so bad inside, the only thing that makes you feel better is seeing somebody else feeling worse.
We can’t trust the criminal justice system with something so delicate. Rather than opening the door to criminal charges being filed, perhaps we need legislation that addresses bullying as a mental health crisis. To be fair, Williams does outline a process that includes counseling , but the devil is in the details. Does that counseling include an assessment of the parental relationship, or is it that superficial counseling most guidance counselors are infamous for?
QUICK TAKE II
Hey local media, whose side are you on?
Topic: Health care and local media coverage
With the Republican Party lining up to take another shot at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, a group of nearly 200 people staged a protest in front of Rob Portman’s Columbus office last Tuesday. Their concern is the fact that the GOP hasn’t established any sort of replacement for the ACA.
While it’s true that the ACA is inherently flawed, there is no question that the pros outweigh the cons. The exchanges have made it possible for individuals to acquire better rates of health plans. That’s not to say these plans are exactly “affordable”, but for millions of Americans with health concerns this is a necessity. Unfortunately, the ACA doesn’t provide enough incentive to coax more healthy people into the exchanges.
Without healthy people paying for healthcare benefits they never use, the insurance companies cannot maintain an acceptable profit margin, so they leave the exchanges.
Repealing the ACA is not a viable option. It must be repaired or replaced, and that’s what this protest was about. Rob Portman keeps waffling on this issue, which means this protest was important.
So where was the local media? We can get programming interruptions when a car flips over on the interstate, but there’s no coverage when people protest an elected official’s inaction on a critical issue?