When It Comes To America’s Guns, The Las Vegas Strip Shooting Will Change Nothing

The confusion experienced by foreign journalists and news media when dealing with the complex firearms’ debate in the United States is highlighted in this misleading claim from The Journal:

In the wake of Vegas the NRA is backing a call for a curb on assault weapons

The powerful gun lobby organisation has made what is, for it, something of a seismic step-down.

In fact the conservative National Rifle Association has made no such move. Not least because there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes an “assault rifle” (though any automatic or semi-automatic weapon purposefully designed for military service would fit the description). What the leadership of the NRA has done is issue a deeply disingenuous statement calling for the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to review the legality of so-called “bump fire stocks”, introducing additional federal regulations if required. It was the use of these devices which allowed the deranged gunman, Stephen Paddock, to turn one or more semi-automatic rifles into technically still legal quasi-automatic weapons during the dreadful massacre in Las Vegas on the night of October 1st.

While many solutions for gun violence in the US have been suggested over the last thirty years, the simplest one, an additional ban on the sale or resale of semi-automatic weapons (including gas- or recoil-operated and double-action triggers), will likely never see the light of day. Instead the country will spend more time tinkering around the edges of the problem. Meanwhile the all-powerful lobbyists of the NRA will continue to hold Washington hostage while a small gun-owning minority, less than 22% of the country’s total adult population, will continue to impose their obsession and paranoia on the 78% non-gun owning majority.

(It is worth noting that the Las Vegas mass murderer, Stephen Paddock, was among the 3% of affluent adult Americans who own 50% of all firearms in the country. A sobering statistic.)

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11 comments

  1. Nothing was done after Sandy Hook. Nothing will be done. I have seen so many of these now that I’ve become almost numb to them, or I’m just relieved when it’s not children again.

    1. My sister was in Los Vegas just after the shooting, staying in a hotel beside the massacre site. Have to say, we were all worried about her being there. She and her fiance hardly left the hotel they were staying in. I dunno what panic we would have been in if she had arrived in the city just two days earlier.

  2. Gun ownership in America is a constitutionally guaranteed right (2nd Amendment), similar to free speech (1st Amendment) and the right from unreasonable search and seizure (4th Amendment), and equal treatment (14th Amendment). Sort of like free water here at home, but better articulated. The 22% figure pertains largely to registered guns, older surveys often indicate over 50% (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/04/a-minority-of-americans-own-guns-but-just-how-many-is-unclear/). The number of people claiming to own guns has been in a steady decline, however, with the (perceived) continually increasing threat of criminalisation and confiscation particularly during and after the President Clinton era, large numbers of (presumably gun-owning) survey recipients have become unlikely to respond or truthfully answer the polls. It is definitely not on par with the vast number of sales.

    Americans have to either come to terms with their issues in the manner Israel has, by providing effective armed security to schools and major events, or by attempting to reduce instances of mass-slaughter by amending their constitution to limit the type of weapons persons may own along with a large-scale confiscation similar to Australia (which still has compliance issues to this day). With a vast repository of illegal weapons just south of the border and in the country, I doubt that the latter will have any effectiveness until some decades have passed. Gun violence in our own country and others that have very restrictive laws, does not give me much hope for that solution preventing the worst in modern times. I think the use of dedicated armed security details is warranted in any case. It is something that should be required in the face of mounting terrorist attacks, of both, foreign and local origin. Inconvenient, disconcerting, worrisome, and undermining an already fragile sense of personal safety? For sure, but non-the-less an unfortunate necessity as things currently stand.

    Technically, the Constitutional right in America may not be infringed upon and any restrictions, no matter how much reason they may bear, are, when strictly interpreting the Amendment (both in word and past-practice – which is the actual legal test in America), unconstitutional (regardless of politically infused interpretations – difficult to contend stare-decisis that has been in effect for over 150 years). Just apply some of the states’ restrictions to free speech and you will see what I mean. One of the reasons their Supreme Court has been extremely reluctant to hear 2nd Amendment cases. I am sure they do not want to have to protect the possession of howitzers, machine guns, and explosives (which people used to privately own without regulation up to less than a 100 years ago). If you look at the original intent of the Amendment, to be able to rapidly raise a militia (no major standing army at the time) to protect the country (presumably against a British invasion from Canada), and to throw off the yoke of a repressive government (in light of the preceding revolution), the lack of restriction makes sense in a strange sort of way. Changing the Amendment is the job of their Congress, and aside from them ever making a decision (which was already direly need on this subject after World War II, perhaps even World War I), a major problem is, if you change this right, how will the others (Free Speech, Equal Treatment, Protection from Search and Seizure) fare? The legal models used to curtail gun rights have already been applied to attempt to or actually curtail others (abortion laws, equal rights in different states as they pertain to gay marriages, for example – usually by nonsensical literal interpretations, introducing costs such as insurance, or co-pays, and insistence on states’ rights over the Constitution). Will public speech soon require a license with fees paid?

    Regardless of what their media or press may report, most Americans like their guns (yes, they are crazy indeed), and apparently the newer generations liking them more than the previous. The three percent figure is the ungodly wealthy, who, of course, can afford their vast collections of implements of death. Most gun owners I know in the States have 3-5. Before the definition of an Assault Rifle was tampered with to match politics, it was a compact (yeah early LNRs, FN’s, and the M14 really failed there, but the AK did not), select fire (Semi-Automatic, Fully Automatic – newer ones Burst) rifle with a bullet size mid-range between a high-power rifle cartridge and pistol ammunition (part of the actual military specifications in their development). It was not considered an assault rifle if it could not be fired fully automatic (that would make it extremely ineffective during an assault, now would it).

    1. Ah yes but here is a thing. Some historians argue that the 2nd Amendment was introduced not just with British or Native American threats in mind but also out of concern for the potential threat of rebellious slaves. The right to bear arms was a necessary measure for a minority population in those regions where they were dwarfed by a majority, unarmed slave population.

      So it is not just a matter of militias or (alleged) continuity with English Common Law.

      Furthermore look at how differently the amendment was interpreted up to the last few decades.

      It was a conservative SCOTUS which gave the gun-nuts constitutional free rein. It is not so much a bad constitutional article as bad judges setting bad precedents.

      1. I don’t know where those historians got their history from. According to Henry Louis Gates ( a famous professor on this very subject) in the 1860’s, the height of American Slavery, there were only two states in which slaves outnumbered the free population (Mississippi at 55% and South Carolina at 57% – http://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492 – great article, love the man!). At the time of the signing of the constitution most numbers indicate 2.5 million inhabitants (colonists) in the thirteen founding states (with approximately 500,000 slaves). The first census in 1790 (16 states) indicated almost 4 million (with some 700,000 slaves). This does not include any of the other territories. Slaves in 1790 were believed to be in the 1 million range for the entirety of what is now the country. All in all, free persons seem to roughly outnumber slaves 4:1 in that time period. The influence of slavery on this constitutional amendment is, at least in my opinion, questionable based on those numbers. Add to that, that similar to gun possession today, the majority of slaves were owned by the richest people in the country, yesterday’s 1 percent. Sort of how today the majority of indentured workers in the United States (mostly illegal immigrants in household service without salary) are held by the elite of Silicon Valley. My, how little progress.

        The amendment is clear in language, (“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”), and has not until the last few decades ever been questioned as its applicability to individual weapons possession (purely evaluating the amendment on meaning in context of standard English grammar, it simply prohibits restrictions on arms possession by the people in order to secure the state by being able to form a militia with armed people). This has nothing to do with conservative SCOTUS judges, it is the language of the amendment itself that makes it difficult to contend with when you want to apply sensible restrictions. That is what is so crazy. They desperately need to change it.

  3. I was asked in America, where I spent some time in graduate school in the 1980s, if I had trouble “dodging the bullets in Ireland.” There was some surprise when I said that I’d never heard a shot fired in my life until coming to live in (a university town in) in America. In the first 18 months I heard gunfire 3 times. One “domestic” shooting a block away. One shoot out between police and an armed robber (like a scene from a copy film with men in blue kneeling behind a black and white car) and I forget what the 3rd was. Of course, I knew even before that that I was in a different world. The police were conspicuously armed and the survivalist porn in the bookstores (magazine shops) was beyond lurid. The first magazine I rifled through glorified the American “tunnel rats” who went underground after the vietcong and came back with their ears on necklaces (special offers on reproduction copies of the knives used).

    What America and the UK have in common and what sets them apart is an attitude of impunity. On my first day in town as a student a local newspaper published a vox pop on the subject of Poland, then in turmoil.

    I’m down on all them commie countries, I think we should just nuke ’em.

    was one view that caught my attention, undoubtedly from someone who couldn’t have found Poland on a map.

    It’s impossible to exaggerate about America, both the goodness and the badness of it tend to extremes. Matt Taibbi’s cover story on Trump in the Rolling Stone nails the “this who we are” every bit as coruscatingly as any critical visitor might, and speaks to a degree of self-awareness that makes it impossible to just write America off. It’s most trenchant critics have always been American (in Taibbi’s case half-Irish, half-Filipino)

    It’s tempting to want to see the NRA shot down, as in Wayne LaPierre and fellow travelers actually assassinated. It would be counterproductive of course, and make martyrs of them, putting fuel on the fire.

    Our best response is to leave them to it and to attract their brightest and best to the EU, while America destroys itself like the USSR with unaffordable military expenditure. The insanity survives and prospers to a large extent as a by product of America’s economic success, which is founded to a significant extent on it’s being a place that world’s brightest and best have aspired to move to. More than half of all graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and medicine in the US have been awarded to foreigners for decades. They used to want to stay on and found business and get rich. Increasingly they are going back to India, China and wherever else they came from.

    We should put out a welcome mat.

    1. What drove me nuts in America (and still does when I am over there) is that as soon as things go well for them, they find a way to shoot themselves in the arse (I do feel for and truly appreciate those that have to live there that are indeed sane – after 30 some years I am still perplexed that all of this is going on, when most seem to be quite reasonable people). Be it with a war, not fixing problems that are obviously going to backfire on them, or by trying to do it “their way” and not simply adopting a very well established, working solution proven to solve an issue developed at another country or place. Other crazy shyte (aside from the Trump/Clinton choice – WTF??) is the hapless lack of education (along with the narcissism of not “needing to know,” because they already do – they went to college), the liberal interchanging of of words and meanings or redefining terms that have long-standing meaning there and in the rest of the world, to suit a momentary cause, fad, or agenda, everything being superficial commitments, fads, or momentary causes and agendas, the unspeakable money (and drug) addiction and corruption, and their forever intent to “evangelise” the world in the American way of life. Add to that how many of them spoil their kids to an unbelievable level, and the belief that a law will fix anything in a place where people traditionally believe the law only applies to other folks. Just like you said, they have great comments about concepts and places they know nothing of or even what or where they are. Somehow they always manage to start a war over one of those things or in one of those places though.

  4. Sandy Hook was a hoax where nobody died. It was faked by the Obama regime with the collusion of the Conneticut State government. This Vegas event is another hoax which did not happen as the authorities say it did. There were multiple gunmen and Stephen Paddock was the first to die. In short, the wannabee gungrabbers are going to keep shooting up innocent Americans until they can generate sufficient political force to attempt to overcome the Second Amendment(and thus give aid and comfort to the foreign enemies of the American Republic). Molon Labe.

    There’s a PDFs on the Internet; No one died at Sandy Hook.

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