Wednesday, December 2, 2015

from my cold dead hands


Multiple shooters with long range rifles shot up the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, a facility that serves people with developmental disabilities. We don't know how many casualties. The suspects are still at large.

Listen. Gun control is not one of my "pet topics." It does not incite in me the same fiery rage that other issues, such as gay rights, do. But this shit is starting to piss me off.

I am not saying you, personally, should not be able to own a gun (or, I don't know, maybe I am--- are you bat-shit crazy with a vendetta???) I will, however, argue Constitutional Law and the wording of the Second Amendment with you ALL DAY E'ERY DAY. My favorite (and by "favorite" I mean NOT MY FAVORITE) is how pro-gun people conveniently omit the first part of the amendment which says "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." I'm just a lawyer who once specialized in Constitutional Law, so what do I know, but to me, the right of Joe Psycho Six Pack to amass an arsenal of grenade launchers and machine guns in his basement is not implied.

ANYWAY. Whatever. You want to "protect" your family (even though overwhelming evidence demonstrates that having a gun in your home actually significantly increases risk of injury or death,) or shoot Bambi for sport? Fine. To each their own. You can have a gun or even a few. (I feel like NRA Oprah: "You get a gun! You get a gun! EVERYBODY GETS A GUN!") I just don't think it's unreasonable for you to have to jump through a few hoops to get one. I understand that this makes you squeamish and I'm not saying your distrust of the government is totally unfounded. But I think you can rest assured that the NRA and its right-wing pawns in Congress will always have plenty of bargaining power to protect your "rights," as such. Further, if ever it actually becomes necessary to obtain guns to form a well-regulated militia to ensure a free state and/or overthrow the federal government, I'm envisioning some sort of Cormac McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic scene with Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington and Charlize Theron dressed in dusty rags and feasting on human flesh and I don't think Section 3.14159265359 of the Federal Rules and Regulations is going to get in the way of that.

THIS is what makes me very, very angry:

1) People posting shit about how more people die from prescription drugs and car crashes every year than from gun deaths. I'm sorry but that argument is stupid. Prescription drugs kill more people than terrorists. Are you saying we shouldn't fight terrorism? Further, no one in their right mind would say you should be able to walk into WalMart and get a bottle of OxyContin on Aisle 3, or drive a half-ton hunk of careening metal on public streets without providing some sort of assurance that you can do so without being a menace to society. Do regulations mean no one will ever illegally obtain prescription medications or dangerously drive a car without a license? No! Do regulations mean no one will ever die of prescription drug overdoses or drunk driving or car crashes? Of course not! But they will sure as hell help.

I am sorry (not sorry) but anyone who understands why my deaf, blind, 97 year old grandmother is no longer allowed to operated a motor vehicle should understand the same reasoning when it comes to guns. You should be required to show that you're not (historically) violent (aside from being bent on Bambi). You should be required to show that you're not (historically) insane. You should be required to instill safety measures so that your husband/wife/child or friendly neighborhood burglar doesn't accidentally (or on purpose) kill you or themselves or anyone else! (E.g., safes (the name isn't an accident), "smart guns," etc.) Perhaps most importantly, you should be required to show that you know how to use said deadly weapon, and that you are unlikely to accidentally shoot yourself or someone else in the head or the tit (I'm rather fond of both). Just... stop being fucking crazy, people. (And I mean that in the common vernacular of, "your views are asinine and completely unsupported by fact, logic, and reason." Not that you are actually mentally unstable. But in either case, may I recommend against gun ownership until you sort that shit out?)

I am not saying that tighter gun control would completely eradicate mass shootings like Sandy Hook, Santa Barbara, Aurora, Virginia Tech, West Nickel Mine, Umpqua, Columbine.. (The list goes on. Click here for a timeline of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S., if, you know, you're really wanting to get some holiday cheer goin' on.) I'm sure there will always be people who will find a way. But if it prevents just one more, isn't it worth it?

2) This stupid law and others like it that make it easier to carry a concealed weapon (in general and on school campuses in particular). In other words, I could carry a concealed weapon. Would you trust me with a loaded gun in an emergency response situation around your children, your sister, your mother? BECAUSE YOU SHOULDN'T. I don't know WHAT the fuck I'm doing and by the way I do not respond all that well under pressure so it is much more likely that I would accidentally shoot myself in the toe or, you know, MURDER SOMEONE than save any lives, Ben Carson-like delusions of grandeur notwithstanding.

Would easier legal access to concealed weapons help prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook? Honestly, I highly doubt it. But alright, assume that, on occasion, when some psycho with a gun decides to shoot up an elementary school or a movie theater, there just happens to be a well-trained and steel-nerved hero with a concealed weapon on the premises and he or she has the luck and cat-like speed and reflexes to kill or incapacitate the killer and prevent or reduce senseless killings. That's great. Really it is.

Here's my counter-argument. Have you ever been to a Raiders game? How well do you think that would work out if beneath their starter jackets, drunk and angry fans had guns in their pockets? I don't mean to discriminate against the Raiders (actually, as a Niners fan, I do.) But okay. Take the Eagles. They'd just shoot their quarterback. Really, take any large gathering of humans. I just don't think adding fire power of unknown pedigree to the situation is the answer. And, back to my original point - would you trust these Jim-Bobs and Joey-Janes with a gun in a crisis around your kids? I don't. I mean, I'm sure there are some Seal Team Six motherfuckers that would be immensely useful in a gun fight. But with over 12 million concealed carry permits nationwide, there are certainly more than enough Elmer Fudds and Yosemite Sams to tip the cost-benefit analysis.

Some people point to the statistic that while concealed-carry permits have skyrocketed over the past 8 years, gun deaths have declined (Might I point out that they are still quadruple that of most developed nations). I find this to be a misleading argument. It is like saying that, over the past 8 years, there have been more McDonalds, but childhood obesity is decreasing (both true, by the way, but again, Americans are still the fat kids by a long shot), therefore, more McDonalds = less childhood obesity. In any event, consider this: Of the 722 deaths and 544 cases involving concealed weapons in the same time period, only 16 cases were ruled to be in self-defense.

That is all. I am done editing myself for fear of getting someone's panties in a twist. Shit's about to get twisted!

PS I don't have a deaf, blind, 97-year-old grandma, I was just making a point.

For your continued reading pleasure:

> The NRA's own Gun Safety Rules

> Guns in the Home and Risk of a Violent Death in the Home: Findings from a National Study, by Linda Dahlberg, Robin Ikeda and Marcie-jo Kresnow, American Journal of Epidemiology.

> Study: Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk. CBS News.

> Guns deaths in children: Statistics show firearms endanger kids despite NRA claims: by Evan DeFillipis and Devin Hughes. Slate. "The United States accounts for nearly 75 percent of all children murdered in the developed world. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations.

> Gun deaths involving children are devastating. The NRA has no idea what to say about them, by Nathan J. Robinson of the Washington Post.

Again, if you trust yourself and your family and your precautions with a gun in the house, well that is your prerogative. But that doesn't mean I have to trust you (or Trigger Happy Tim) with a loaded gun near me and my loved ones - in a crowded place, near my children inside a classroom, or near my husband, a professor, at the front of one. And you most definitely should not trust me with yours. Someone is likely to lose an ear.

> How I Got Licensed to Carry a Concealed Gun in 32 States by Barely Trying: I was clueless, hung over, and totally worthless with a firearm. Four hours later, I was officially qualified to pack heat, Tim Murphy, Mother Jones

> The Concealed Carry Fantasy, by the Editorial Board of the New York Times

> Concealed Carry's Body Count, by the Editorial Board of the New York Times

> 10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down by Dave Gilson, Mother Jones

> Gun Control: What We Can Learn From Other Advanced Countries by John Donahue, Newsweek

> Bang Bang Sanity, Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station (I am really digging this guy lately)

> As a Navy Veteran, I Know How America Should Implement Gun Control by Shawn VanDiver on HuffPost (originally on The Daily Beast).

> Meanwhile, in California. Gotta love my Downtown Jerry Brown. In wake of school shootings, Gov. Jerry Brown bands concealed guns on California campuses, by Patrick McGreevy, LA Times.

And this, a tangential piece about the over-militarization of US Law Enforcement. The Serial Swatter by Jason Fagone, New York Times.


  1. Yes, yes, and yes!! Beautifully said! My teen daughter is writing a paper for school on the topic of gun control, so I can't wait to show her this post! Excellent points!

  2. Nice piece, but you might want to look up what "well regulated" means in the vernacular of the late 18th century, when the second amendment was written. It means "well equipped". :)

    1. Thanks. Actually, according to the Supreme Court in DC v Heller (whose holding I vehemently disagree with but it is the supreme law of the land, after all ;)) said that per the vernacular, "well-regulated" means "the imposition of proper discipline and training," which sounds to me like a great place to start!

      In any event, even without the qualifying clause, no individual rights granted by the Constitution (Bill of Rights) are without limitation. They are subject to a balancing act of the rights of the individual vs. legitimate government interest, e.g., the general welfare of its citizens.