In the wake of Stephen Paddock’s horrific Las Vegas mass murder rampage there is an understandable impulse to want to do something — anything — to prevent other such tragedies. Exactly what to do is a very different, complicated, and politically polarized matter. It usually boils down to highly contentious points of view, regarding legalities and efficacies of legislated limitations on Second Amendment rights.
As Daniel Henninger observed in his Oct. 5 Wall Street Journal op-ed column "Gun Control After Las Vegas" observes, gun control has become a proxy for a partisan and social divide on the broad, bedrock issue of security. "Progressives embrace the benign, while conservatives fear the malign. Liberals say give peace a chance. Conservatives say, Annie get your gun."
Speaking of impulses, it seems that media pundits and partisan "experts" are often all too quick in offering knee-jerk assessments and solutions. At risk of blatant exposure as one of them, I have accepted an invitation to participate as a panelist for a Pennsylvania NPR-associated "Smart Talk" radio show later this week to discuss gun violence as a "health problem."
I seemingly earned that expert distinction, thanks to an online Forbes column I posted way back in February 2013 titled "Why The Centers For Disease Control Should Not Receive Gun Research Funding."
Now that I’m officially qualified, I’ll go ahead and tell you what I really think.
First, like many or most of my fellow NRA deplorables, I’m in favor of restricting sales of automatic rapid-fire rifles on the open market. I also don’t want to have bona fide nut jobs owning or using lethal weapons. By far the greatest real threat in this regard, is having to share highways with drunks and other dangerous morons.
Is the answer here to ban motor vehicles? Or since large trucks appear to be the latest murder du jour weapons for terrorists, should we maybe just ban those exceeding a particular size?
Let’s charitably acknowledge that outrage aroused by tragic actions by demented and evil psychopaths knows no political divide. What really separates us, is whether or not we advocate solutions predicated upon additional government regulations premised upon naïve reasoning, promoted by partisan opportunists, and purchased at the expense of cherished personal freedoms.
Consider the senseless Clinton-era ban on "assault" rifles such as the popular civilian-market AR-15 for example. Anti-gun politicos, lobbyists and media acolytes ignorantly or disingenuously conflated this semiautomatic-only rifle (one trigger pull-one "bang") with automatic rapid-fire capabilities of the M-16 version originally issued to military forces.
The cosmetic political "feel good" results were functionally meaningless.
Just as I endorse restrictions on civilian purchases of automatic rapid-fire weapons, I also strongly favor banning "bump stocks" and other aftermarket accessories used to circumvent existing restrictions. Any outright modification to convert a semiautomatic firearm into an automatic mode is already a federal felony punishable by 19 years in prison. Mass murderer Stephen Paddock shouldn’t have had legal access to any such devices.
Automatic weapons have been heavily regulated since the 1930s, and it has been a federal crime since 1986 to obtain a new one outside stringently regulated conditions. They can only be transferred by authorized dealers to purchasers who undergo lengthy FBI background checks and with notifications of local law enforcement agencies.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton's claim that a silencer ban would have saved lives in Las Vegas is farcical. As NRA spokesman Dana Loesch appropriately pointed out, "Suppressors only reduce the sound [of gunfire] by a few decibels, still the same decibel level as a jack hammer."
That wouldn’t be enough to protect the eardrum in my remaining good ear from being rattled at my regular shooting range by a near-by rapid-fire Rambo who is practicing for a zombie apocalypse.
And no, I certainly don’t trust government agenda-beholden scientific organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to influence my personal defense options. Congress cut back CDC’s medically-premised gun violence research budget in 1996 for a very good reason. Virtually all of the scores of their studies conducted since 1985 had reached conclusions favoring stricter gun controls.
CDCs anti-gun bias should have come as no surprise. Ever since 1979, the official goal of its parent agency, the U.S. Public Health Service, had been " . . . to reduce the number of handguns in private ownership," starting with a 25 percent reduction by the turn of that century. This explicitly contradicts a virtual congressional stipulation that none of CDC’s federal financing can be used to advocate or promote gun control policies — exactly what CDC was doing.
Rather than addressing much more fundamental mental illness and social issues, CDC has been subverted to serve as but another political science instrument to exploit emotions surrounding tragic events in order to upend constitutional rights guaranteed by our forefathers. We are crazy to let them get away with it.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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