Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gun Stances

In the wake of the assassination attempt on Rep Giffords that turned into a mass shooting, it is only natural that we're all reminded of the repeatedly forgotten issue of gun control.

"Is there a good reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun?" - Sam Stein

There have been repeated mentions that Giffords herself is a gun owner and "strong supporter of the Second Amendment".  At least one news reporter has made remarks claiming that Rep Giffords ironically supported the right of the shooter to buy the very gun with which she was shot.  Take from it what you will, but that doesn't seem to be the exact case.  The gun used was a Glock 19 semi-automatic with an extended clip.

Here's a line item from the list of principles Rep Giffords indicated regarding gun control:

"Ban the sale or transfer of semi-automatic guns, except those used for hunting."

Does anyone really think that pistol is hunting gear?  If not, you can't honestly claim Giffords supported the availability of that specific weapon just because she is a "strong supporter of the Second Amendment".  While she has supported the right to own guns and owns one herself, she is on record for opposing specific guns, including semi-automatics.

Of course, we shouldn't necessarily base our policy on Rep Giffords' stance just because she was shot.  And even if the shooter had not been able to get a semi-automatic, he might still have shot Rep Giffords.  But we should be aware that if semi-automatic guns had been banned according to her stated stance -- or even if extended magazines such as the one that allowed him to load so many bullets at once were still illegal -- it would have made it significantly harder for the shooter to kill and injure as many people as he did without having to reload.  After all, it was when his first magazine ran out of bullets and he tried to reload with a second magazine that he was tackled and disarmed.


  1. I'll end with a quote from Soviet freedom fighter Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

    "And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: what would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests -- as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city -- people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, polkers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur - what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!"

  2. Something might be seriously wrong with the blog software - it seems to have lost a two-page comment that took me an hour to write, which I posted before the Solzhenitsyn quote... (I had to split it in two due to comment size limit.)

  3. Alex, there's a big difference between gun regulations and gun bans. Gun bans are what they've got over in the U.K., and they're not terribly effective there. I'm not in favor of gun bans. However, there really is no reasonable need for a private citizen to have an extended clip. A regulation barring the sale (or even ownership) of extended clips would not in any way interfere with the legitimate use of guns. I'm in favor of barring the sale of items for which violent crime is the only plausible non-military use. That doesn't apply to rifles. It doesn't even fully apply to most handguns. But it does apply to extended clips.