Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Oregon Mass Shooting: Another Thurber Brigade Sidestep

Did you know that the NRA was founded by a handful of Northern Civil War veterans who wanted to make sure their fellow Yankees could shoot as well as their Southern counterparts?

Believe it.  In fact, their stated purpose was “Firearms Safety Education, Marksmanship Training, Shooting for Recreation.” 

I bring this up because every time a madman kills a large number of people in the United States, the gun nuts—excuse me—enthusiasts, rush to the airwaves to stress how it’s every citizen’s 2nd Amendment right to carry a gun. 

But it’s not.

The 2nd Amendment got added to our Bill of Rights because many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves and they feared that the Federal Government would disarm the state militias.  Those state militias were an important tool used by slavers to quell slave rebellions and hunt down runaway slaves. If you took away the guns of the militia, well, as Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained  asks, "Why don't the slaves just rise up and kill the whites?"

Yeah, the slavers feared that.

Individual gun ownership was not really a concern of the founders. I think this is largely because they believed the country was a wild frontier and so it went without saying that people would own guns. Of course, in colonial days running around with guns (open carry) was frowned upon by just about everyone unless absolutely necessary, but that’s a different story.

The NRA changed its tune in the 1970s and grasped the 2nd Amendment as its own useful tool for controlling populations.  Populations of people who wanted to have more strict control on guns. 

It hasn’t really worked.  When I say that, I mean it hasn’t changed peoples’ minds. Most people still want more regulations of firearms. Things like background checks, etc.

The NRA has been very good at impressing congress though. Although the regular populaton supports more gun regulations and there is always a large public outcry after the latest mass killing event, congress refuses to do anything.

To further pound home the reason why congress SHOULD do something, let’s compare the number of deaths caused by firearms versus congress’ big PR fear target—terrorism:
So just in case congress and the president decide to really do something about gun violence, here’s my 2¢ or actually, two ideas that would help.

• Universal background checks.  Admittedly, this is a small step and would only reduce gun deaths a bit, but we have to start someplace. It would need to be a bit more thorough then the current method, and get all the states to buy in by reporting all information that would be useful. Information such as time spent in a mental institution. Right now, that is barely reported and seldom reported if it was voluntary.

• Require liability insurance for all guns. That’s right, just like those other killer machines, cars, we need to require gun owners to be willing to pay to protect us from wrongful use of their weapon. 

This would be a big boon for the insurance companies of course, but the reason this would work is because sooner or later those same companies would have to start paying out massive amounts of money for violent acts. And they’d hate that.

So once insurance companies begin to get really angry about having to pay out all that money, it means they’d also begin to put the hammer down on congress and get them to do even more gun control regulation. Once insurance companies begin lobbying as extensively for gun control as the NRA currently does to stop it, well, I think we might get something done.
So there are solutions out there for America’s penchant to have a mass shooting just about every two weeks. We just need to get Big Money behind the initiatives to actually have those solutions happen.
This picture has nothing to do with the issue of this blog. It's just that I've been to Oregon quite a few times and believe it's a beautiful state.  So although there is no way to forget that horrible incident in Roseburg, OR, I thought I'd leave you a more picturesque image of the state (that's Mt. Hood).

**The Thurber Brigade apologizes for yet again veering off the road of the War Between Men and Women and assures everyone that it will return to the straight and narrow soon. Maybe. 


  1. Interesting. I have heard of siccing your insurance company on the other guy's insurance company (and siccing your credit card company on someone you need a refund from) but I have not thought of siccing entire industries on the government for populist measures. Nice.

    And I didn't know that about the origins of the second amendment, except I did know that slave owners did fear slave revolts (and did like to make poor whites feel superior to blacks and in competition with them to keep them from working together).

    I've heard the gun safety courses required for a permit are pretty good. And that it really is true that gun crime goes down in places where people might be carrying. But that having a gun in your own house, although it makes it more likely you will be able to protect yourself, that is more than compensated for by your being more likely to suffer from an accident.

    Back to the insurance thing. I'm kind of opposed to mandatory insurance and think there should be alternatives. Self insurance? No insurance needed if guns are never intended to be shot? I mean, if you have an old gun on display in a case and don't own any bullets, should you have to pay insurance on it? In fact, maybe the insurance should be on the bullets--and included in the price of bullets (though this would work only for bullets bought after a law was passed, and there would be a run on bullets before then).

    And could we get something similar to uninsured motorists insurance?

    And what would the insurance cover? Hospital bills and funeral costs and bullet-hole repair in buildings, I guess. Pain and suffering, too?

    Very interesting. Thanks for another sidestep!

  2. Hi Debbie, thanks for commenting. Actually, a study has found that the hypothesis that increased gun ownership cuts down on gun crimes was not true: To quote: Firearm homicide was 2.8 times more common in states with the most guns versus states with the least.

    As for liability insurance, I'm sure there could be exceptions for museums, etc. that just display firearms. As for coverage, I would hope that liability would cover all expenses, similar to car liability (which covers medical as well as property costs).

    I don't think you could insure bullets since they are expendable (it would be like insuring gasoline). I do think they should be more tightly regulated though.