Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Guns and Ammo

So, the CDC is effectively banned from studying gun violence. (Note the headline in this essay actually contradicts the point made in the essay in which it demonstrates that for all intents and purposes the CDC is banned from studying gun violence.)
I'll get back to the CDC in a moment.
Now typically I'm not as concerned with any sort of long guns as handguns are what most people die from in gun-related deaths. And most of those deaths are suicides. An outright ban on handgun sales would drastically reduce the suicide rate and do quite a job on many homicides.
But of late we've gotten tired of trying a handgun ban. So the new hotness is an assault rifle ban.
Assault rifles kill many fewer people than handguns. In fact "long" guns overall kill very few people. But they are implicated when someone kills a whole lot of people at one time. And those kinds of murders get the most media attention. Sort of how airplane disasters get much more attention than car crashes, even though vastly more people die in automobile accidents.
Back to the matter at hand:
So. Banning assault rifles. What's the problem there? Here's a typical pro-gun infographic. It's reasonably accurate.

The problem is that (as the NRA likes to point out) the main difference between an "assault-rifle" and a "hunting-rifle" is that the assault rifle is black. The definition of an "assault rifle" over a "hunting" or "sporting" rifle is typically that the assault rifle has pistol grips, telescoping or folding stock, and (sometimes) a bayonet lug.
Yeah, that's a weird one. When was the last time you actually saw a bayonet on a rifle of any sort?
Anyway, functionally the two "kinds" of weapon are virtually identical (unless you desperately want a bayonet lug so you can run out stabbing... something.) One type of gun doesn't fire quicker or more accurately or more powerfully or whatever.
Now for a quick caveat about the picture above:
This is a Ruger Mini-14 with its magazine attached. Also, note, it has a flash suppressor. Actually, if the infographic above had used a picture with the magazine their point would have been better illustrated.
So on the face of it one would have to question any sort of so-called "assault rifle" ban. I mean, assault rifles are no different from any other kind of rifle. Yeah, they tend to be involved in more mass shootings but when you try to define what an assault rifle is you end up with very slippery definitions.
For instance New York State has banned sale of assault rifles. Their definition of what constitutes an assault rifle includes a rifle that has a pistol grip.

So gun manufacturers have come up with some weird-looking Frankengun AR15 variants which scootch around having a pistol grip on their guns.
Resulting in weapons that look substantially like the AR-15's they basically are.

So again, what is up with this? Why assault rifles? [Note that for our purposes fully automatic weapons basically do not exist. Civilians just don't have them. Something like three people have been murdered in the US with full-auto weapons in the last 100 years. So although all the weapons discussed here are "automatics", they are only semi-automatic, not full-auto.]

So the NRA is right about this one? The prejudice is against "black" guns? Maybe...

But wait. What if we take it from the other angle? Instead of looking at these weapons from a rational position by rational people, we should perhaps look at the crazies. Why are mass murderers choosing these guns?

Well remember that first thing about how the CDC isn't allowed to study gun violence? That's kinda a big deal. The "military-style" weapon might aesthetically attract the sort of person who wants to go on a killing spree, murdering children and the like. It may very well be that the "cool" factor, the extension of your hoo-ha that is an assault rifle, is in fact something that inspires mass murderers.

Mass murderers don't exactly have the reputation for being capital human beings. And their delusions of grandeur, their need for revenge, their insecurities about their sexuality and gender, might indeed be sated by a nice AR15 variant.

How would they get that idea though?
Oh. Right.

The CDC isn't allowed to study it but it may very well be that the asses who become mass murderers are turned on by something about the modern assault rifle (even if it is only a semiautomatic). What causes mass murderers to pick up an AR15? Maybe it really is the color. Maybe we need to insist that all rifles with polymer coatings be painted pink with Hello Kitty stickers on them.

But we don't know. Because we're not allowed to study anything which might, even inadvertently, lead to any sort of gun control.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Petty Vendettas Against Perceived Slights

So, seriously? The whole purpose of Bernie's "revolution" is really just about settling some petty vendettas against political enemies?

Like for real, he wants to squander his political power to nix Sherrod Brown as a VP choice?
There’s also the issue of payback. Campaign aides say that whatever else happens, Sanders wants former Congressman Barney Frank and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy out of their spots as co-chairs of the convention rules committee. It’s become a priority fight for him.
Really? Is that what this is all about? Bernie Sanders' ego? It's time to grow up and not betray the ideals you once espoused. BernieBros, the white male privilege of the Sanders campaign? It comes from the very top.