Some Reflections On The Recent Events In Newton CT

December 17th, 2012
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This blog is obviously primarily about science, science reporting, skepticism and related topics.  However, being a resident of the southeastern portion of Connecticut, it would be impossible to continue on without mentioning the tragic shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown.   Connecticut is a small state to begin with, and Newtown, as it happens is only about twenty minutes drive from my home.  I’ve been to and passed through Newtown many times and I know several people who live in the town.

I did not know any of the victims, but in the past few days I have come to discover just how close I am to this tragedy.  The manager of my congressional campaign has worked for the state as a child advocate.   During a divorce and custody dispute, he was appointed to represent the interests of a young girl.  As is often the case, he became well acquainted with her and her family.  She was one of the victims who was killed on Friday.   My former nextdoor neighbors, who are also good friends of my parents, have a granddaughter in kindergarden at the school where the shooting occurred.  As it turns out, she was absent the day it happened, but no doubt the trauma of losing friends will be difficult for her and the family to deal with.  I have other acquaintances who have children who attend the school or who have lost friends or neighbors.  At my place of work, which, amongst other things, sells flowers, a number of orders were placed for sympathy arrangements for the families of the dead.

While there have been other shootings and tragic events, and indeed, human tragedies happen every day, nothing of this scope has hit quite so close to home and affected so many in my life before.

Of course, there is really no way to respond to such an event that will ever do much to change things.  None the less, some of the responses in the wake of the tragic events have been extremely disheartening.

It is altogether appropriate that after such a tragic event, he circumstances will be investigated and various measures will be proposed and considered to prevent this from reoccurring.   However, investigations take time and so does considering and drafting the legislation that might help reduce the likelihood of this tragedy.   Right now, the most important consideration should be addressing the pain of those who have lost loved ones, honoring the memory of the dead and rebuilding the shattered lives of so many in the community.

Unfortunately, predictably, the first response of many has been to seize this as an opertunity for political gain.  For gun-control advocates, this is an excellent chance to gain some media attention and exploit the shock and grief of a nation for publicity.   Others, of course, have seized upon this to call for greater provisions for concealed-carry laws, arguing that the only way to deter this is to allow citizens to defend themselves when attacks occur.  Some have argued to arm all teachers with handguns, others have said we need greater monitoring of community threats or improved mental health care.  A variety of media whores, such as Michael Moore, have patted themselves on the back for predicting this kind of tragedy with such smugness it’s amazing they manage to keep a straight face.

I say shame on all of them.   I am purposely not taking a position on these issues, because I find that to be in poor taste.  All of the proposals and sides should be considered, and there is certainly nothing wrong with having some debates about whether gun control is effective, whether arming the public will actually make a difference and whether changes in policy are warranted.   However, the faces of the children who died on that terrible day should not be placed on placards or protest signs until they have at least been buried for a few days.  If nothing else, it should be noted that the information that is being used to justify many of these political points is not even confirmed.   We’ve been told that the shooter, Adam Lanza, acted alone, used his mother’s firearms and had a history of mental and emotional problems.  However, those are not confirmed facts, they are just the available information the media has been providing.

If only out of basic human descency, those who seek to advance their political agenda should really wait until at least the media circus has died down and the grass has begun to grow on the graves of the dead before latching onto this event.

On a more positive note, I’ve been heartened to see that the press has handled this incident about as well as can be expected.   There are many reporters, satellite trucks and TV cameras in the area.  That is a given, and is the result of a perfectly reasonable desire of the world and the country to be informed about this tragedy.  However, they have managed to avoid hounding the families of the victims (at least for the most part) and only interviewing those who came forward looking to speak.   Most (but not all) media reports have been reasonably well presented.  Although speculation about the things like the number of victims was presented, it was generally provided with explicit disclaimers that the information was not fully confirmed.  It has, for the most part, been accurate.  The worst piece of inaccurate information thus far has been the brief miss-identification of the shooter as Ryan Lanza, the brother of Adam Lanza.  This appears to be based on an ID that police found on the shooter.

That said, the press has not been perfect either.  There has been quite a bit of banter and speculation that the shooter was autistic.  This has not been confirmed, and could be used to imply that autistic persons are prone to violence, which is simply not the case.

I had mixed feelings about the visit of President Obama.  On one hand, it is appropriate for the leader of a country to offer condolences and show that the sense of loss is national and worthy of his time.  However, a presidential visit can easily provoke an even larger media circus and politicize the event further.   Thankfully, and to his credit, the president made only a brief visit and did not use it as an opertunity to make stump speeches or advance an agenda.  His actions were not overtly political and were very tactful.

The Connecticut State Police, Medical Examiner and the local city governments also deserve to be noted for their professional handling of the situation.   Police have provided all the information they can, while being as thorough as possible and assuring it is accurate.   Local towns have been quick to offer their school buildings for the use of Newtown students displaced and there has been no bickering over things like compensation.

Finally, there is one thing that I find especially unsettling about the process of grieving and consoling, as it exists in American society.  Without exception, the centers where the community has gathered for support and mourning have been religious institutions, churches or synagogs, and the support and reassurances given are, almost always, based on the presumption that those lost are in a better place or that their death was part of some greater plan by a benevolent god.

Of course, those who believe should be given every opertunity to mourn their losses in the traditions of their faith, and the validity of those beliefs should not be questioned, at least not at a time like this.  Religion certainly does offer comfort and a way of dealing with loss to many, and ministers, priests and rabbis can bring great comfort to those experiencing loss.  Those who believe that their loved ones live on in the afterlife have every right to that opinion and, if it allows them to move forward with their lives, then nobody should take that away from them.

However, it is worth considering that not everyone believes in such things, and for those of us who do not, hearing a constant bombardment of messages of how the dead are in a better place rings especially empty and does not help and only serves to alienate them from a community which bases their mourning on such beliefs.   When I have experienced loss, I have found it especially painful to be told, repeatedly, by well meaning persons that “they are in a better place” or “you will see them again.”   I believed this was not true and it only drove home how tragic the situation was.  Moreover, it set me apart from the others and made me want to yell back at them “NO, THEY ARE NOT,” but, of course, I bit my lip and pretended to agree with them.

I therefore suggest that, when consoling those experiencing loss, unless you are well aware of their beliefs or are responding to their religious statements, it is better to simply use a neutral, secular statement of condolences.   Simply saying “he will be missed,” or “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “If there is anything I can do to help you through this hard time” is a prefectly acceptable way of offering support to someone, regardless of their beliefs and without presuming to impose your religion on them without knowledge of their own feelings.

Furthermore, it should really become more acceptable to offer memorial gatherings and support to those who have lost without invoking religion in every case.  The lack of non-religious support for loss can make it extremely difficult on those who do not share those beleifs.

Worst of  all, stigmatizing and outright hatred of those who reject religion seems to know no bounds.  Even in times of loss and pain, simply aknowledging that you are a non-believer may well result in a cold shoulder and a back-handed insult.


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This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 7:12 pm and is filed under Culture, Events, media, Misc, personal, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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75 Responses to “Some Reflections On The Recent Events In Newton CT”

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  1. 51
    atheistmorons Says:

    dv82xl – we laugh at you, idiot


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  2. 52
    Shafe Says:

    Wait. If that’s what’s-his-face the crazy idiot, then the dude’s been institutionalized. He’s got a court record of being crazy and violent. He should be treated like felons and other people of diminished capacity and his access to guns should surely be restricted.

            DV82XL said:

    re: bulwark argument

    I think it was unfortunate that so much effort was spent mired in the minutiae of the applicability of that function of the 2nd amendment, because it is far more abstract and subject to hand-waving than the role of guns in crime and self-defense, and because it exposed the fact that I have never really had to prepare arguments for it before. Most people in my neck of the woods take it for granted. I will suppose that your admonition to “hone my arguments” was constructive criticism, as it does ring somewhat true. I’d like to be able to argue better off-the-cuff, but I don’t have the benefit of your Jesuit education.

    When it comes to policy decisions in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass murder, I fall on my original assertion, that Sandy Hook is a statistical outlier of a crime, and rational gun-rights legislation should not give it undue weight. Sandy Hook is a great tragedy, but more important are thousands of rapists, robbers, burglars, and murderers that will be repelled or shot thanks to the gun rights we have now.


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  3. 53
    DV82XL Says:

    When it comes to policy decisions in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass murder, I fall on my original assertion, that Sandy Hook is a statistical outlier of a crime, and rational gun-rights legislation should not give it undue weight.

    The same could be said for the two events up here that brought forth our gun laws, yet here we are. All I am saying is don’t think it wiil be a fight that can be won without clear arguments and a williness to give a bit of ground.


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  4. 54
    Shafe Says:

    Fair enough.


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  5. 55
    Anon Says:

            Shafe said:

    The idea of mandatory voting is so absurd that I dismissed and forgot it as soon as I read it above. I’m with BMS. While you may be able to force people into the voting booth, you cannot force them to be educated on the issues or candidates. They will likely be absolutely clueless about most of what’s on the ballot. For presidential, and possibly Senate and House elections, (maybe governor and mayor, too) they may be familiar with which candidate is more charismatic or handsome, or which one promises them more stuff, but they will have no idea about the candidates for judges, school boards, county commissioners, comptrollers, railroad commissioners, etc. etc. etc. And those local elections have far more impact on the day-to-day lives of the people. Those local politics also form the “grass roots” from which national issues emerge.

    Political parties exist, though you really shouldn’t be electing judges (they’re meant to be above politics) and I’d also suggest that the others would better appointed.

            Shafe said:

    Those citizens who care enough to find out who is on their school board and who their city councilman is are already showing up to vote. The more uninformed and ambivalent cretins you cram into the voting booths, the more you dilute the vote of those of us who care enough to make the effort uncoerced.

    So you just want to decide things and not have others who might vote against you voting?

    But if you’re a candidate for a political position it is your job to tell people why they vote for you, not theirs to find out what your positions are.

            DV82XL said:

    Australia has mandatory voting and has had for some time without falling apart, however it is my understanding that some form of null option can be selected on the ballot there.

    No official way to do it, but incorrectly filled out (or blank) ballot papers don’t get counted.


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  6. 56
    PsihoKekec Says:

    Minor reminder guys, pistols and assault rifles use magazines not clips. You use clips to load Mauser or Mosin.

    Anyway, anybody noticed that these school massacres are happening with increasing frequency? Such rampages did happen through history but not so often as they do now. My theory is that it is because kids are increasingly narcisoid and self absorbed. It’s so important to be famous these days and with sociopathic media guaranteeing them their 15 (and more) minutes of fame, guys that would either become suicide statistic or continue their average existance like the rest of us, decide to go on a rampage.


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  7. 57
    Anon Says:

            PsihoKekec said:

    Anyway, anybody noticed that these school massacres are happening with increasing frequency?

    No, what evidence do you have for that?

            PsihoKekec said:

    Such rampages did happen through history but not so often as they do now. My theory is that it is because kids are increasingly narcisoid and self absorbed. It’s so important to be famous these days and with sociopathic media guaranteeing them their 15 (and more) minutes of fame, guys that would either become suicide statistic or continue their average existance like the rest of us, decide to go on a rampage.

    You’re trying to explain something without first proving that it needs explaining.


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  8. 58
    Stewart Peterson Says:

    Over 50 comments and I don’t know why this hasn’t been brought up, but it might be useful to define some terms for newcomers to the assault weapons ban debate. Maybe everyone here already knows this; maybe it’ll be useful. Here goes:

    In 1944, the Wehrmacht had a problem. Well, a number of problems, of course, but one of the most prominent was that the three most common small arms in their inventory didn’t quite fit battlefield conditions. The Gewehr 98, a long rifle, was designed in 1898 and was obsolete – while accurate and high-powered, it was a manual (bolt-action) weapon, designed for Napoleonic tactics in which long-range, accurate fire was important and rate of fire much less so. In urban warfare – at Stalingrad, for instance – most contact is at fairly close range and volume of fire is much more important than pinpoint accuracy. The Walther pistol was semi-automatic, meaning that a mechanism automatically reloaded the weapon after every shot, and could provide that volume of fire at close range, but without a stock, it’s very difficult to use accurately at medium range. Their machine guns, the MG34 and MG42, fired full-powered rifle cartridges at very high rates (10-20 rounds per second) but were heavy, crew-served weapons, wore out their parts quickly, and were unreliable compared to the Gewehr 98. German small units were heavily equipped with machine guns, and in battles with the Americans, who had semi-automatic rifles, would inflict serious casualties until their automatic weapons jammed or ran out of ammunition – and then would find themselves outnumbered, not in personnel terms, but in terms of personnel with weapons that could be fired. Typically, the Germans would then lose. So what to do?

    In order to come closer to their goal of issuing an automatic weapon to every soldier, they made some design compromises. First, to make it lighter, so that an individual soldier could carry it, they had to reduce the structural and thermal loads on the weapon’s components. This was done by reducing the amount of propellant to nearly the amount used in a pistol – and therefore chamber pressure, and therefore muzzle velocity, and therefore range – but the result was still acceptable at the ranges at which German soldiers were actually fighting, so it was viewed as an acceptable compromise. Second, to make it usable against individual targets and not just in close-quarters combat, a selector switch was added, so that the weapon could either fire one round when the trigger was pulled or a continuous stream of them. Third, the complicated belt-feed mechanism that allows a machine gun to fire hundreds of rounds at a stretch – and also requires another soldier to operate – was deleted and replaced with a smaller container known as a magazine.

    This was the first “assault rifle”: a weapon that isn’t a rifle, isn’t a pistol, and isn’t a machine gun, but fires a large volume of relatively small, low-speed bullets at mediocre accuracy, without requiring elaborate logistics. It does, however, require more technical aptitude to use and maintain than a bolt-action rifle – the basic machine gun mechanism had to be retained in order to allow the assault rifle to fire on full automatic.

    Future developments took this further. The US military’s assault rifle, the M16, used .22 caliber pistol ammo – which works, as such, in that it kills people, and heavier calibers and higher velocities are not necessary in an assault weapon, which trades off accuracy and range for rate of fire. The Uzi is another example: a fully-automatic pistol. Obviously, there aren’t many civilian applications for such a weapon, optimized for a specific combat scenario, and they were banned in most countries fairly quickly. American gun enthusiasts wanted to buy the M16, though, so the manufacturer converted it to semi-automatic (fully-automatic weapons being illegal for your average individual in the US) by removing the selector switch and essentially locking it into the semi-automatic position. The result was the AR-15, used by the Newtown shooter.

    From an engineering perspective, and particularly from a military perspective, the AR-15 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a design. The M16 is well-known for being dangerously unreliable, and uses very small caliber pistol ammunition, yet the AR-15 removes its only advantage, namely automatic fire. The AR-15 is an expensive, unreliable, scary-looking, shoulder-fired, .22 pistol. It is therefore a favorite of people who want to show off but don’t know anything about guns; you would literally be better off with a WWII battle rifle. You can’t hunt with an AR-15; a .22 would just make a bear angry. It can’t be concealed, so it’s no good for self-defense. Even if it could be concealed, it isn’t mechanically reliable enough to count on in an emergency.

    Cue, then, TV talking heads saying things like “high-powered assault weapon” and “AR-15 combat rifle.” Sure sounds impressive if you don’t know what any of the words mean!

    The calls for an “assault weapons ban” ignore one very important point: assault weapons, in any sense that the military (who actually uses them), defines the term, are already illegal in the US – selective fire with an automatic option is part of the definition, and you can’t legally sell a weapon with that feature! Look at the wording of the actual proposals, and they center on banning weapons that look scary, but have no operational advantages. Better to keep them legal, and use them as red flags – anyone who would buy one is probably off-kilter and should be monitored.

    People outside the US sometimes wonder why Americans buy guns at all. I think it’s a philosophical thing: a gun is a statement to the effect that the owner doesn’t need the police, or anyone else for that matter, to physically protect them – they’re a symbol of self-reliance. This, more than any practical desire to shoot something, motivates gun owners. Guns are equalizers: physical strength doesn’t matter when guns are involved, so a 5’1″, 110-pound woman with a gun can speak fearlessly to a 6’8″ guy who can bench-press his car. Much of the US gun-control debate is best viewed as a proxy for the underlying culture war between people who fight back when attacked and people who do their best to fit the role of a sympathetic victim. The latter group are largely what used to be called petit-bourgeois in temperament, never have had to fight for anything, and believe that the most important thing one can be is polite. The result is the sort of debate that arises when society has no real problems: if it were a reaction to an actual problem, it would be widely perceived as being gradually resolved as the problem is gradually resolved. Yet we observe a debate in which the cries of how terrible things are getting become louder and angrier as the actual problem gets smaller.

    This may remind you a bit of the nuclear power debate. As it is over there, so it is here: both sides have to understand, if they’re going to get anywhere, that rational, evidence-based, reality-based, public policy analysis does not address what is motivating people to debate and therefore does not contribute to ending the debate. Debates are between people; therefore, they are personal: driven by perceptions, which can be quite independent of reality. In a group, people act on their perceptions according to their values in an attempt to get what they want. This is called “politics,” and what is philosophically, logically, correct doesn’t affect the outcome of any personal dispute. The petty, un-intellectual, interpersonal power balance resolves disputes or keeps them going. Want to better people’s lives? Learn how to play it.


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  9. 59
    George Carty Says:

            Stewart Peterson said:

    In 1944, the Wehrmacht had a problem. Well, a number of problems, of course, but one of the most prominent was that the three most common small arms in their inventory didn’t quite fit battlefield conditions. The Gewehr 98, a long rifle, was designed in 1898 and was obsolete – while accurate and high-powered, it was a manual (bolt-action) weapon, designed for Napoleonic tactics in which long-range, accurate fire was important and rate of fire much less so. In urban warfare – at Stalingrad, for instance – most contact is at fairly close range and volume of fire is much more important than pinpoint accuracy. The Walther pistol was semi-automatic, meaning that a mechanism automatically reloaded the weapon after every shot, and could provide that volume of fire at close range, but without a stock, it’s very difficult to use accurately at medium range. Their machine guns, the MG34 and MG42, fired full-powered rifle cartridges at very high rates (10-20 rounds per second) but were heavy, crew-served weapons, wore out their parts quickly, and were unreliable compared to the Gewehr 98. German small units were heavily equipped with machine guns, and in battles with the Americans, who had semi-automatic rifles, would inflict serious casualties until their automatic weapons jammed or ran out of ammunition – and then would find themselves outnumbered, not in personnel terms, but in terms of personnel with weapons that could be fired. Typically, the Germans would then lose. So what to do?

    Are you forgetting about sub-machine guns, such as the German MP40 and the American Tommy gun? Those were what really put full-auto power in the hands of the ordinary infantryman and really did fire pistol-caliber bullets. Assault rifles are a compromise between sub-machine guns and semi-automatic rifles, to have both full-auto capability without excessive recoil (which is why full-sized rifle cartridges are not used) while still having longer range than a sub-machine gun.


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  10. 60
    AKA the A Says:

            Stewart Peterson said:

    The AR-15 is an expensive, unreliable, scary-looking, shoulder-fired, .22 pistol. It is therefore a favorite of people who want to show off but don’t know anything about guns; you would literally be better off with a WWII battle rifle. You can’t hunt with an AR-15; a .22 would just make a bear angry. It can’t be concealed, so it’s no good for self-defense. Even if it could be concealed, it isn’t mechanically reliable enough to count on in an emergency.

    Expensive – sure, unreliable – that has been proven, scary looking – whats so scary about a piece of aluminium and steel? But whatever, I find clowns scary looking…, a .22 pistol – oh come on, if you tried to fire a .223 rem. round out of something looking like a pistol, you’d dislocate your wrist…

    Just like the infamous AK-47 (and it’s more modern descendants) it’s just a rifle, that’s been made a bit smaller…
    On top of that, the M-16 came from the AR-15, not the other way around, the same goes for the ammunition it uses, the .223 Remington cartridge was made for hunting, the 5.56 NATO was derived from it (and btw is almost the same)…

    Obviously the 2kJ of muzzle energy is not optimal for “1 shot – 1 kill” on the big game animals, but for anything man-sized (and smaller), it will do fine…


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  11. 61
    George Carty Says:

            Shafe said:

    The idea of mandatory voting is so absurd that I dismissed and forgot it as soon as I read it above. I’m with BMS. While you may be able to force people into the voting booth, you cannot force them to be educated on the issues or candidates. They will likely be absolutely clueless about most of what’s on the ballot. For presidential, and possibly Senate and House elections, (maybe governor and mayor, too) they may be familiar with which candidate is more charismatic or handsome, or which one promises them more stuff, but they will have no idea about the candidates for judges, school boards, county commissioners, comptrollers, railroad commissioners, etc. etc. etc. And those local elections have far more impact on the day-to-day lives of the people. Those local politics also form the “grass roots” from which national issues emerge.

    Wouldn’t it be better to only have direct elections for major offices (mayors, city councilmen, state assemblymen and senators, governors, federal representatives and senators) with each city and county having a local electoral college responsible for electing all candidates for minor offices?


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  12. 62
    DV82XL Says:

            Stewart Peterson said:

    This may remind you a bit of the nuclear power debate. As it is over there, so it is here: both sides have to understand, if they’re going to get anywhere, that rational, evidence-based, reality-based, public policy analysis does not address what is motivating people to debate and therefore does not contribute to ending the debate. Debates are between people; therefore, they are personal: driven by perceptions, which can be quite independent of reality. In a group, people act on their perceptions according to their values in an attempt to get what they want. This is called “politics,” and what is philosophically, logically, correct doesn’t affect the outcome of any personal dispute. The petty, un-intellectual, interpersonal power balance resolves disputes or keeps them going. Want to better people’s lives? Learn how to play it.

    I don’t think anyone is going to argue that this anything except politics, and you are right that it is very much like the nuclear power debate. Like the latter it will not be moved by the doctrinaire supporters of one side convincing the doctrinaire supporters of the other to switch allegiance, but instead by garnering the support of those convictions have not yet jelled, and it is here with this group, that the appearance of logic and reason will have its greatest impact. Unfortunately arguments founded on raw emotion also will sway opinion with those as well this is where there is the potential for trouble.

    Canadian gun laws were enacted due to pressures driven more by emotion than logic and they have not been a success in my opinion mostly because much of the legislation is unworkable. It overreached in several areas, it has been a financial burden to administer and is being slowly dismantled by the current government with only token resistance from the opposition parties. In the end it became an expense and annoyance for those for whom firearms are a legitimate tool but did little to increase public safety. In fact given the porosity of the U.S.-Canadian border, one can argue that the authorities may well know less about the circulation and ownership of firearms than they did before the registry.

    I believe that there should be some regulations in this area. Steve hit the nail on the head with his call for tiered licencing of owners for example, and this path should be given serious consideration by all sides. After all we live with this system in many other domains, and it seems to work rather well. But calls for blanket prohibition are short-sighted, and have never worked as intended regardless, and often created a larger problem than the one it is trying to solve.


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  13. 63
    BMS Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Nevertheless I presented this and the referendum as better ways of encouraging democracy i.e., “that form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.” if that is indeed your objective.

    Well, I can’t speak for Canada, but the United States is not and never was intended to be a “democracy.” We’re a Republic and a Representative Democracy. That is very different from what you are describing.

    An armed population prepared to resist government by force if they don’t agree with it strikes me more as a call for anarchy – “a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority”. The point here being that again, the logic of some of the arguments being tabled on the pro-firearms side lack good foundations.

    I’m sure that you’re far too intelligent to believe that this is a serious argument against gun control. Sure, maybe a few fringe groups might ramble on about this type of stuff to make themselves feel tough, but you can’t seriously believe that the majority of gun owners believe that they’re going to fight, much less take over, the government.

    It’s well past time for you to stop beating this dead horse. This was never a consideration from the beginning. Even as the Second Amendment to the US Constitution was being ratified and adopted (1791), the Whiskey Rebellion was already underway. Within three years, the ability of the right to bear arms to support an armed insurrection against the government was tested, and it failed the test, fortunately with very little bloodshed.

    Instead, resistance against the government proceeded in the usual way that has persisted for over two centuries: by dodging the law instead of directly fighting it with a gun.

            George Carty said:

    Wouldn’t it be better to only have direct elections for major offices (mayors, city councilmen, state assemblymen and senators, governors, federal representatives and senators) with each city and county having a local electoral college responsible for electing all candidates for minor offices?

    Where I live, the local elected officials (e.g., the county’s Board of Supervisors) doesn’t elect, but appoint, the members of the School Board. Thus, the process of getting on the School Board is more like a job application, which focuses on one’s qualifications, than an election, which hinges on one’s popularity.

    Sadly, this system has been on the decline in the past several decades, as populist sentimentality has made an elected School Board seem like a more “democratic” option. Nevertheless, looking at the local school systems in the area and how well they are run, it appears that the appointed School Boards seem to be doing a better job of running the schools by providing better classes and more options for their students than the more “democratic” alternative.


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  14. 64
    DV82XL Says:

            BMS said:

    It’s well past time for you to stop beating this dead horse.

    I think if you read my posts on this matter you will see that I was largely playing the Devil’s advocate to illustrate the point that this topic’s arguments are generally weak as they are usually presented. We happened to use this aspect, but it could have been any of the common arguments pro or con that would have served. The point I am trying to make is that it would be better if everyone stopped and examined the topic of firearm control from a fresh perspective rather than rely on the threadbare arguments that have been used in the past.

    Bad gun control laws are not the answer, as we have seen up here, and inaction may become impossible, if not pushed by this tragedy, then perhaps the next. I’m only saying that knee-jerk positions may not serve ether side in this matter.


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  15. 65
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I’m getting very very close to closing this topic for further discussion, which I almost never do.


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  16. 66
    BMS Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I think if you read my posts on this matter you will see that I was largely playing the Devil’s advocate to illustrate the point that this topic’s arguments are generally weak as they are usually presented.

    Oh, I understand and I believe you. However, I missed the comments about “black helicopters” that you were trying to play Devil’s advocate against, hence my confusion.

    Now if you want a fairly sensible reexamination of gun control in the US, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision on this matter, you might want to check out Chuck Schumer’s recent op-ed in The Washington Post.


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  17. 67
    Shafe Says:

            Anon said:

    Political parties exist, though you really shouldn’t be electing judges (they’re meant to be above politics) and I’d also suggest that the others would better appointed.

    The realities of local politics do not fit your preferences. Of course, I know my own jurisdiction best, so I will use it as an example. In Texas, judges and JP’s are elected and those races make up the majority of the ballot. In the City of Houston, TX, the city government is a no-party system. You may know that a candidate is more liberal or conservative than the other, but you may well have two candidates in a general election that would both identify as Democrats. Other localities have other peculiarities that don’t fit the national model. Those are the realities, and if people aren’t interested enough to be a part of it, they probably don’t have much to offer the process.

    So you just want to decide things and not have others who might vote against you voting?

    That’s possibly the most banal argument I’ve read from you. How did you jump to that conclusion? If everyone else standing in line at the polling station were there to cast a vote for gun bans, Keynesian economics, single-payer health care, and prayer in school, I could live with that as long as they believed in those issues and were voting because they cared enough to be a part of the process. What I would not want is a bunch of people playing eeny-meeny-miny-moe because they’re required to cast a ballot. I would not want that even if they ended up voting for all my candidates.

    But if you’re a candidate for a political position it is your job to tell people why they vote for you, not theirs to find out what your positions are.

    It is a citizen’s right to vote based on what a candidate tells them, what a super-PAC tells them, an examination of the candidates record, or by which side he parts his hair. I suspect that the sort of people who wouldn’t vote on their own but are forced to anyway will only vote based on the shallowest of reasons, and I fail to see how that would improve the democratic process.

            George Carty said:

    Wouldn’t it be better to only have direct elections for major offices (mayors, city councilmen, state assemblymen and senators, governors, federal representatives and senators) with each city and county having a local electoral college responsible for electing all candidates for minor offices?

    I would, in theory, be in favor of selecting judges based on the reasoned consideration of elected officials, as is the case with federal judges, rather than based on party line voting, as is the reality. I’m not up on the history of why we select judges through popular elections in Texas, but I suspect that it had to do with bench appointments being subject to corruption and cronyism (as is the case with federal judges.)


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  18. 68
    DV82XL Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    I’m getting very very close to closing this topic for further discussion, which I almost never do.

    That being the case I will stand on what I have written and post no more on this topic.


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  19. 69
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Not to try to silence people, but I started off saying that it was not the time for a political debate and then I stupidly stated my opinion on that…. and look what I did. Exactly what I don’t want. So… my fault


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  20. 70
    Andy Says:

    Dr. Buzzo, I am a faithful reader, but rarely comment.

    Even though I am a firm believer in God, and a better place built for us than this swamp of tears…I COULD NOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE about comforting the grieving. Nobody wants to hear, “They’re in a better place,” or “He’s with Jesus now.”

    Nope! It does not help the mourner one bit (and trust me, I’ve had a lot of experience with grieving folks).

    In my experience, the only thing that one who is grieving over a loss even can half appreciate is a simple, “I’m so sorry. I’ve been there, and I KNOW that you will miss him/her very much. I wish I could do something to make it all better. Let me know if I can.”


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  21. 71
    PsihoKekec Says:

            Anon said:

    No, what evidence do you have for that?

    You can look up on the internet listings of these attacks, even Wikipedia has one and you can see the increasing frequency.

            Stewart Peterson said:

    The US military’s assault rifle, the M16, used .22 caliber pistol ammo

    223 is not a pistol but a rifle round. .22 LR has a 16 mm pistol casing, while 223 has 45 mm rifle casing, which means there is a lot more energy behind the .223 round.


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  22. 72
    Craig Schumacher Says:

    I like the idea of Doc’s tiered gun licensing system. I proposed making gun licenses about as difficult to get as a pilot’s license, but Doc’s idea is much more thoroughly thought out.


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  23. 73
    dustydog Says:

    Pimps willing to enslave girls and sell their bodies won’t shy away from selling illegal guns. Drug dealers shipping millions of pounds of illegal drugs have the shipping capacity to bring illegal guns and ammo into the US. US customers would prefer quality Chinese or Mexican made guns, but they’d probably try guns made in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia.

    If you could magically remove every single gun in the US, everyone who wanted a gun would have one again in a year.

    A danger scale for guns makes as much sense as a danger scale for boys you don’t want your hot teenage daughter to sleep with. If you let your hot daughter stay out all night, no amount of regulations on the boys she can bring home to meet Dad matter.


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  24. 74
    ten red Says:

    What are your thoughts on Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, crisis actors at the Boston bombing, and now this guy Wolfgang Halbig talking about how Newtown/Sandy Hook has a lot of unanswered questions


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  25. 75
    drbuzz0 Says:

            ten red said:

    What are your thoughts on Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth,

    There are a lot of engineers and architects in the world. It’s a large enough group that you will find some cranks or attention whores in it.

            ten red said:

    crisis actors at the Boston bombing,

    If our government were to pull off a false-flagged attack, I would hope they would at least make it… you know… impressive enough to really scare people? A pot full of gunpowder pulled off by a couple amateurs? Yeah… not the kind of thing that is likely to make anyone support invading countries or imposing marshall law.

            ten red said:

    and now this guy Wolfgang Halbig talking about how Newtown/Sandy Hook has a lot of unanswered questions

    Unanswered questions? What? It was a sudden, tragic and shocking event. I don’t doubt that there was confusion about the incident. To add to that, most of those involved are not friendly to being grilled on every detail.


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