Saturday, September 5, 2015

Who's Buying These Things? One Guess


As reported by Ars Technica:
Business is skyrocketing higher than ever due to the discussion on prohibition," Chris Byars, the CEO of the Ion Productions Team based in Troy, Michigan, told Ars by e-mail. "I’m a huge supporter of personal freedom and personal responsibility. Own whatever you like, unless you use it in a manner that is harmful to another or other’s property. We’ve received a large amount of support from police, fire, our customers, and interested parties regarding keeping them legal."

Byars added that the company has sold 350 units at $900 each, including shipping, in recent weeks. That's in addition to the $150,000 the company raised on IndieGoGo.

The Ion product, known as the XM42, can shoot fire over 25 feet and has more than 35 seconds of burn time per tank of fuel. With a full tank of fuel, it weighs just 10 pounds...

Shockingly, there are no current federal regulations on the possession, manufacture, sale, or use of flamethrowers.

"These devices are not regulated as they do not qualify as firearms under the National Firearms Act," Corey Ray, a spokesman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, told Ars by e-mail.
At the state level, California requires a permit while Maryland outright bans them—Ars is not aware of any other state-level regulation. The Inhumane Weapons Convention, which the United States signed in 1981, forbids "incendiary weapons," including flamethrowers. However, this document is only an agreement between nation-states and their militaries, and it did not foresee individual possession...

Refusal Based on Religious Convictions

For TS and Kurt, who had such difficulty understanding my post about Kim Davis

What About that 3-Day Rule?

"The gunmen who committed the callous attacks in Charleston, Chattanooga and Lafayette should not have been able to acquire firearms," said Jim Johnson, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of police organizations that includes the Major Cities Chiefs Association. "Yet, reports indicate that the three alleged perpetrators were able to buy guns either through federally licensed gun dealers or through an online website listing firearms for sale, demonstrating the need to both strengthen and expand background checks."
It makes three recommendations.
  1. Background checks should be expanded to cover both purchases from federally licensed firearms dealers and private sellers. Currently, only sales from licensed dealers are included in the background check requirement.
  2. As proposed by the Shooting Sports Foundation, states and federal agencies should share all disqualifying information to the background check system.
  3. Gun sellers shouldn't sell a gun until the transaction is cleared by the background system, even if it takes more than the currently permitted three days.
"Last year, the FBI reported more than 2,500 guns were sold to people who should have been barred, but sales proceeded nevertheless," said Johnson, the Baltimore County (Md.) Police chief. "As the Charleston shooting rampage painfully shows, there are some cases where more time to investigate before a firearm is transferred would mean more lives saved."

The Big Shift in How 2016 Republican Candidates Talk About Their Personal Guns

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The Trace

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is whatever gun-policy advocate you need him to be. On Sunday, in the aftermath of the Lafayette movie-theater shooting by John Houser, a 59-year-old man with a history of violence and instability, Jindal took to the talk shows to position himself as strict on gun access. “Here in Louisiana, we actually passed tougher laws a couple of years ago, so that, for example, if Houser had been involuntarily committed here in Louisiana, that information would automatically — we would have reported that to the national background check system,” Jindal said on Face the Nation, adding that “every state should strengthen their laws.” He didn’t mention that his administration had gutted Louisiana’s already abysmally low mental health funding, how the state continued to top most of the nation in gun deaths, or how Houser could have avoided a Louisiana background check altogether by buying his guns from a private seller or gun show.

Here’s a prediction: Calling for valuable but limited expansion of information that’s available for background checks on (some) gun purchases is likely the high watermark for action that Jindal and fellow conservatives will brook in the aftermath of the latest fatal shooting spree. The clues are in the way they talked about guns, and especially their personal firearms, leading up to this summer’s outbreak of high-profile shootings.

Guns on Campus - Not a Good Idea

College students respond to laws that would allow guns on campus. Spoiler alert: They don’t like it. At all. (via Brave New Films)

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Kim Davis, The Kentucky Clerk Who Refused to Marry Gays

Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Ky.


Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who has defied court rulings by denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, has vaulted suddenly from being one of the state’s thousands of little-known local officials to being a national symbol.
Since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in June that legalized same-sexmarriage, Ms. Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to any couples, gay or straight. She has sued on the grounds that granting licenses to same-sex couples would violate her Christian beliefs.

Sacramento Community College Shooting - 1 Dead, 2 Wounded


California law enforcement officers searched for a gunman early Friday after one man was killed and two others wounded in a parking lot near a Sacramento community college campus, officials said.
The suspect fled the scene after the shooting near a baseball field Thursday afternoon, and was not found in a sweep of the campus and surrounding neighborhood, Sacrament police Sgt. Doug Morse said.
One victim was declared dead at the scene, and another was hospitalized and expected to survive. The third victim was only grazed by the bullet and was being questioned by investigators, authorities said.
The shooting started as a verbal dispute between the group of men, one of whom pulled out a gun and fired, said Dustin Poore of Los Rios police, who patrol Sacramento City College.
"A preliminary investigation revealed that a physical altercation between two groups of subjects, further escalated when a knife and gun were produced by the involved parties. It is believed that the victim of the fatal shooting was involved in the altercation," police said in a news release late Thursday. "The involvement of gang activity is not being ruled out."

Study: Gun Control Leads to Fewer Suicides


State laws that restrict access to guns could reduce the rate of firearm-related suicide, according to new research.

Researchers examined suicide rates in Connecticut and Missouri, two states that changed their permit-to-purchase handgun laws in recent decades. Connecticut passed a law in 1995 that requires people to apply for a permit with local law enforcement and take eight hours of gun safety training before they can buy a firearm. In 2007 in Missouri, the state repealed a 1921 law that required people to apply with the local police to buy a gun.

The rate of gun-related suicide in Connecticut in the 10 years after its law passed was 15 percent lower than what researchers predict it would have been had the law not been passed. The researchers made this prediction based on the suicide rate between 1995 and 2005 in Rhode Island and North Dakota, which have similar demographics as Connecticut and which also had similar suicide rates as Connecticut in the years before its law (1981-1994).

In contrast, the gun-related suicide rate in Missouri was 16 percent higher from 2007 to 2011 than researchers predict it would have been based on the rates in the comparable states of North Carolina and Nebraska.

Kids and Guns in Alabama, GA News Weather

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Murder Rates Rising


The rise was covered last month by USA Today, and recent reporting by the New York Times revealed more data behind the trend. The Times analyzed homicide figures for various large cities that have seen more murders so far this year than at the same point in 2014.

Milwaukee has seen murders jump 76%, from 59 at this point last year to 104 today. Other cities also saw big increases over the same period: 60% in St. Louis; 56% in Baltimore.
What explains the reversal? Criminologists and police departments are not quite sure.
One explanation is that people are starting to trust police less. That has led them to settle disputes themselves—often violently—and also led police to back off on aggressive tactics like New York’s stop-and-frisk, which the city’s new mayor has been toning down.
Another explanation is the proliferation of guns. Milwaukee’s police chief, speaking to USA Today, partially blamed his city’s murders on “absurdly weak” gun laws.

MythBusters Test ‘The Gun’ from the Breaking Bad Series Finale

Hawaii police to destroy $575,000 in surplus guns to keep them ‘off the streets’

Guns dot com

After buying new sidearms for its officers, the Honolulu Police Department is moving to destroy its surplus pistols, some new, over the protests of gun rights groups.

HPD recently entered into a deal to purchase 2,000 new Glock 17s for $818,000 to phase out their existing inventory of Smith and Wesson and Sig Sauer pistols.

Valued at over a half million dollars if resold, the surplus guns will instead be destroyed at the decision of city officials.

“Mayor Caldwell and the Honolulu Police Department agreed that they would not allow the guns to be sold to the general public and end up on the streets of Honolulu,” says the department in a statement. “The same goes for selling individual gun parts that could have been used to assemble a gun.”

The 2,300 surplus guns in question are mostly S&W Model 5906 9mm semi-autos, including some 200 unissued guns still new in their boxes, as reported by Hawaii News Now. The guns, acquired in the 1990s, could have been sold for $250 each or as parts for a lower amount.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This is the best paragraph I've ever read on gun control and mass shootings


Maybe something will change; maybe this time we will manage to act. But it's difficult to be anything but pessimistic, and when I think about why that is, my mind goes back again to Virginia Tech and 2007, when the New Yorker's Adam Gopnik wrote what is, to me, the single most powerful paragraph I have read on the subject.
The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling — dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief — is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened — specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people — and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia's governor, Tim Kaine, said, "People who want to ... make it their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them. ... At this point, what it's about is comforting family members ... and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere."
Many things have been written and will continue to be written on America's gun ownership rate (the highest in the world), its gun violence (the worst in the developed world), and the political and social forces that keep this from changing.

What Gopnik captured was not just the horrific costs of gun violence or the frustrating politics of gun control, but the special sort of anguish that we inflict on ourselves in the United States by forbidding any meaningful conversation around the tragedies that unfold over and over again.

There is an unwritten American rule that the aftermath of a mass shooting is the wrong time to talk about gun control. Even Obama's comments on the subject in June, while urgent and even angry, carefully avoided mentioning gun control directly. As Gopnik wrote, this logic would be recognized as absurd if applied to anything else: "the aftermath of a terrorist attack is the wrong time to talk about security, the aftermath of a death from lung cancer is the wrong time to talk about smoking and the tobacco industry, and the aftermath of a car crash is the wrong time to talk about seat belts."

Gopnik ended his piece with a call to ban handguns — a political nonstarter in 2007 and, in 2015, something that would be unimaginable to even discuss. That fact itself, that his concluding line has become more politically unthinkable rather than less, seems to drive home his point: that mass shootings will continue in America, and that Americans will refuse to seriously debate whether our culture of gun ownership is worth the costs. 

"There is no reason that any private citizen in a democracy should own a handgun," he wrote. "At some point, that simple truth will register. Until it does, phones will ring for dead children, and parents will be told not to ask why."

Monday, August 31, 2015

Australian Suicides are Down


However, the paper's findings about suicide were statistically significant — and astounding. Buying back 3,500 guns correlated with a 74 percent drop in firearm suicides. Non-gun suicides didn't increase to make up the decline.

There is good reason why gun restrictions would prevent suicides. As Matthews explains in great depth, suicide is often an impulsive choice, one often not repeated after a first attempt. Guns are specifically designed to kill people effectively, which makes suicide attempts with guns likelier to succeed than (for example) attempts with razors or pills. Limiting access to guns makes each attempt more likely to fail, thus making it more likely that people will survive and not attempt to harm themselves again.

Bottom line: Australia's gun buyback saved lives, probably by reducing homicides and almost certainly by reducing suicides. Again, Australian lessons might not necessarily apply to the US, given the many cultural and political differences between the two countries. But in thinking about gun violence and how to limit it, this seems like a worthwhile data point. If you're looking for lessons about gun control, this is a pretty important one.

Cars and Guns

Intential Fatal Shootings

Graph depicting Breakdown of Intentional, Fatal Shootings

Politics that work

Description: This pie chart shows the distribution of intentional shooting deaths between suicides, murders of acquaintances, murders of strangers, murders of family members and justifiable homicides such as self defense, defense of others, defense of property and the prevention of the commission of a felony. The division of murders based on the relationship between the shooter and the victim is extrapolated from the incidents recorded in the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports for which the relationship between the offender and the victim was known. The data comes from 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Discussion: Of the approximately 30,000 intentional firearm killings each year, over 70% are suicides. Suicide rates are much higher in states with high levels of gun ownership than in states with low levels of gun ownership. Numerous studies have found that the ready availability of guns dramatically increases both the number of suicide attempts that are carried through and the fatality of such attempts.

Almost 29% of intentional, fatal shootings are murders. Murders of strangers are relatively rate, constituting only 8% of all intentional, fatal shootings. Slightly over half of murders take place between acquaintances, neighbors or friends. The remaining 4% take place between family members.

Less than 1% of fatal, intentional, shootings are defensive or otherwise justifiable legally. Note that justifiable homicide standards differ by state and that a number of these killings would be classified as murders if they occurred in other states.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

‘Gun family’ head gets 18 years for trafficking weapons into New York

Man gets 18 years for trafficking guns into New York

Quick (upper right) was head of a six person “gun family”

Guns dot com

A Brooklyn judge handed down sentencing Thursday in the case of a man who sold 151 guns brought from Georgia to an undercover New York cop on a street corner.
According to a release from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Michael Quick, who maintained addresses in both New York and Georgia, made 13 trips in an eight month period between September 2013 and April 2014, shuttling guns, some stolen, northward.
This garnered Quick a conviction following a plea bargain earlier this month to one count of first-degree criminal sale of a firearm and one count of first-degree criminal possession of a weapon, to which Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun sentenced the man to 18 years in state prison and five years of post-release supervision.
As noted by Chun’s office, Quick was the nexus of an enterprise that focused on acquiring guns in Georgia from multiple sources then transporting them to Brooklyn where, in each instance, the lots were sold to the undercover buyer on the corner of Foster Avenue and East 96th Street in the working-class Canarsie residential neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Arrested in April 2014, Quick and his wife along with four associates, all relatives, were booked on a 558-count indictment on a mix of firearms and conspiracy charges.