I'm just saying. So let's not be scared, Representative. Whatever. He thinks we should get used to folks openly carrying pistols. I suppose he thinks we should also just get used to all those people being shot to death, too. Logic isn't involved in the gun rights extremists' arguments.Between 2001 and 2010, Arizona has had 9,117 gun deaths—a rate of 15.48 deaths per 100,000 over that time span. The national average over the same time was 10.33 per 100,000. In 2010 alone, Arizona's gun death rate was 14.57, compared to the national rate of 10.26.The thing is, 2010 was a bounce-back year for gun-related deaths: the 931 deaths reported that year reversed the trend of decline that we had experienced since the high of 982 gun deaths in '06, dropping to a low of 856 deaths in '09.2010 was also the year that Arizona began to allow permit-less concealed carry—an interesting coincidence.We won't know more about the possible relationship between Arizona's gun deaths and the CCW law until mid-2013, when the CDC will release 2011's statistics. Maybe it's an aberration—but then again, maybe not. 'Til then, just some food for thought.
Where was I? Oh yes. One "gun guy" packing heat suggested that it would be awful if he was charged with a crime for wandering onto school property with his loaded gun if his little boy runs into a school playground to slide. Question. Why do people need to carry guns when they go out for walks with their kids? I'm just saying. Most people don't feel the need nor do they carry guns in public. It's only about 2% of eligible Americans who have their permits. And they are so victimized when people don't really want them to carry their guns in public places. For how are we to know the difference between a law abiding person with a gun openly holstered and a criminal with a gun in a holster? But that seems to be of no concern to these folks. They love their guns no matter where they are. So do people who want to do others harm. They love guns, too. And they have managed to kill about 11,000 or so of their fellow Americans in gun homicides on average for the past many years.
Assault weapons? Oh those. They are just your ordinary hunting gun, right? No. They are not nor should they be. There was a bit of a testy exchange with a retired FBI agent who testified in support of the assault weapons ban and the legislator mentioned above. Said legislator took issue with the agent saying he didn't know people who hunted with AR-15s. Mr. Legislator says everyone hunts with them. They don't but if he says so it must be true. He says it with so much authority that he doesn't expect to be questioned. You can read about today's testimony here. From the article:
I could write much more but I'm still processing the whole scene of the hearings and my drive home to Duluth in snowy and black ice road conditions. Also, I'm leaving town tomorrow so I need to keep this brief. I will just end with my observations of the many gun rights advocates I encountered or listened to in the past few days. Here they are:Assault weapons are "weapons of war" no private citizens should own and should be banned, former Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan told a Legislative committee on Wednesday."They should not be legally in the hands of any citizen," said Dolan, testifying before a House committee in favor of a bill that would ban the popular rifles known as assault weapons.He was countered by the NRA, gun-owners and gun-rights activists, who said the powerful weapons, plus high-capacity ammunition clips, are needed for self defense and for shooting competitions.Chris Rager of the NRA told the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee that "semiautomatic firearms," including the popular AR-15, are used for shooting sports, hunting and self defense. He said those who term the weapons "assault weapons" are "gun grabbers."The committee has now heard seven hours of testimony over two days, and plans to resume at 10 a.m. Thursday in Room 10 of the State Office Building. A second hearing Thursday will be held at 6 p.m.The committee is only hearing comments on bills this week, not taking votes. So far it has hard bills to require universal background checks, to allow mental health inquiries when people seek permits and Wednesday's bill to ban manufacturing and possession of assault weapons.The bill would allow those who own the weapons to keep them, but would force them to register. The term "assault weapon" is defined not by the make and model but by characteristics such as the pistol grip, telescoping stock, and a non-burning shroud surrounding the barrel. Certain semi-automatic pistols that have some of these features would be included in the ban.The committee, again overflowing with activists on both sides -- with the gun-owners-rights side in the great majority -- heard from John Egelhof, an NRA member, former FBI agent, concealed weapons permit holder and the first FBI agent on the scene of the 2005 Red Lake High School massacre."The only real use for these tools ... is to kill our fellow citizens," Egelhof told the committee. He said the bill is needed to protect the public and police officers from further mayhem.The NRA and opponents of the bill said they need the weapons for self-defense and suggested that they may be constitutionally protected -- an issue that would have to be decided in court. Joe Olson of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance said the bill creates "deferred confiscation" of assault weapons by taking a person's weapon after he or she dies.An opponent of the bill, Rob Doar of Cedar, appearing at the Capitol with a gun strapped to his belt, held up two rifles to show the difficulty of telling an "assault weapon" from a regular deer rifle, when they may be functionally the same weapon.Asked why he carried a gun into the Capitol, he said, "I carry a handgun most places I go. The Capitol isn't any different."
- One of them was tweeting at me during the hearing. I suppose he was sitting behind me and thought he was being cute and clever. He was not. He was being a jerk and intended to bully and intimidate. Not appreciated. Rude. He started in on a woman new to the scene and involved with the One Million Moms For Gun Control. Tacky and unnecessary. Also insulting.
- Intimidation seems to be the m.o. of this group. As I was sitting in the hall waiting for my ticket to get into the hearing, I heard some of the guys talking out loud about my group, knowing that I would have to hear it. Tacky and unnecessary. Rude.
- At points in the hearing, the gun rights folks applauded and had to be told to be quiet by the Chair of the committee. It's not necessarily bad to applaud but everyone was told not to do this and the Republican legislator, mentioned above, had to remind the group that it made them look bad to do this. Do you think?
- Most of them were men. They are passionate about their issue and don't seem to abide a different point of view. One of the testifiers today said that the assault weapons ban, and I think those who support it, were un American. Really?
- One man brought two rifles to show that assault rifles are no different from ordinary hunting rifles. Except that they are. They do look different. Yes, yes, we understand that there are "cosmetic features" that can be added and are often and usually found on assault type rifles. But these features are exactly what makes these guns so effective for mass shooters to use. A barrel shroud is meant to keep the shooter's hand from getting too hot while shooting all of those bullets from high capacity magazines. That's all. Except that is what makes it good to use in a mass shooting. If the shooter's hand doesn't get too hot, then he can just keep shooting people. A pistol grip, held up by one of the speakers today, is just to hold on to the barrel better if your hand is small or something. He admitted that it makes shooting more efficient. Except that making the shooting more efficient is just what a mass shooter wants to be- more efficient at shooting lots of people.
- Their claim that universal background checks will lead to registration is false. That is not in the background check bill.
- Their claim that the term assault weapon is made up by those on my side is false. Read about it here. Facts matter.
- The "gun guys" get on the case of media and people like me for using the word ammunition clip rather than magazine. Today several speakers opposed to the assault weapons ban used the word clip. Oh well. I guess it's O.K. for them but not for us.
- After the hearing, one many wanted to know why there were so many gun deaths in Democratic areas- like large cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, etc. With no proof that shootings mostly happen in Democratic areas, he made that assertion. Let's see now. Big cities often have more crime and thus more shootings. Many of these big cities just happen to be in "blue" states. "Red" states actually have more gun deaths per 100,000 than "blue" states. Maybe that's why more Democrats support reasonable gun laws- more of them are being shot!!?? Facts don't seem to matter to some of these guys.
There's much more but for now, I need to say that there wasn't much agreement that we can actually support common sense gun laws without infringing on the second amendment or confiscating guns-at least not from the gun rights side. We can and we must. There is nothing unconstitutional about regulating guns and who can own and buy them. The public lobby has spoken. The support for reasonable gun laws is high. Those in the room today did not represent the majority of NRA members and gun owners who have said they understand that their gun rights will not be infringed if we pass laws to prevent even just a few of the senseless shootings. For that is what this is about in the end. If we can't do something sensible to save the lives of fellow Americans and most especially our children, who are we as a country? This is about saving lives. This is not about gun rights extremists out shouting and out organizing gun violence prevention activists. This isn't about winning and inflicting insults and intimidation. This is about doing what's right and what's moral.