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There are 12 comments on SPH Dean’s Forum Takes on Guns in America

  1. Why does those who push for stricter controls or oppose guns ignore the lack of criminal prosecution by district attorneys and judges?

    Existing penalties plea bargained away.

    Criminals with guns in many instances don’t have the book thrown at them. Back on the street after a short detention (slap on the hand justice)!

    News organizations ever so silent!

    Gun control is not crime control. Pass mandatory criminal control!

    If found using a firearm unlawfully….

    No reduced bail, no plea bargains, no reduced sentences, no early release from prison, and minimum state sentencing laws for crimes committed with a firearm.

    1. I guess I’m not surprised– but more than a little disappointed– that the School of Public Health at Boston University held a Dean’s Seminar on “Guns in America” and it only discussed one point of view, that of accelerating “gun control” in America, and its only two participants are staunch advocates of gun control.

      As Jim Smith points out the data presented on gun deaths, and reported here at BU Today, is incomplete and deceptive. As are the comments about the effectiveness of “gun control” measures in Massachusetts. The states and cities with the highest rates of homicide, and of homicide by means of firearms, are those with the strictest “gun control” laws and are largely controlled by Democrats. Check it out.

      I am offended by the obsequious statements that white-on-black racism is among the primary cause of gun violence and the “reason” that the type of “gun control” sought by progressives hasn’t occurred: In today’s politically correct environment, particularly on college and university campuses, this lie is eagerly seized upon, repeated, and used as a means of misdirecting the gullible. Consider that Jim Crow laws were enacted by Democrats after the Civil War to prevent only one thing: the equal rights of emancipated blacks, particularly their desire to protect themselves against night riders and the KKK who refused to obey the law. The Republican party was the party of Lincoln; the Democratic party was the party of the KKK, Jim Crow, and voter suppression. The right to vote and the right to own firearms are two of the most prized rights afforded Americans; together they set our country apart from socialist and communist societies, and from dictatorships. These were the rights (among others) denied blacks citizens by generations of Democratic states and localities, most notably in the Southeast and deep South.

      The race/gun death narrative only runs one way– blacks killed by whites — when the far greater number of black deaths are blacks killed by blacks, and the number of whites killed by blacks far exceeds both the number and rate of blacks killed by whites. Reporting accurately, and placing the blame on the true culprit — an entitlement society created by Democrats beginning in the Johnson administration to “keep blacks in their place” by keeping them without incentive for education, employment, and self-reliance– is not consistent with the narrative necessary to divert attention from the progressive agenda.

  2. Re: “You would not require a criminal background check for all gun sales”

    Currently, there are only 2 ways to legally sell a gun in the US to a private citizen. One is a private sale between individuals (typically like between family and friends) or by a gun dealer licensed with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the federal BATF. Only individuals with an FFL can run a background check through the government NICS database of prohibited persons. Private citizens cannot. Note that a person can purchase a firearm online, but the physical transfer of the firearm still must go through an FFL at the seller and an FFL local to the buyer. So if you want to improve the process, you should encourage the federal government to do 2 things:

    1) Allow any small gun dealer to get an FFL without having a storefront. Currently, thanks to the Clinton administration’s effort to reduce the supply of guns, you can’t get an FFL if you want to sell guns only at gun shows (Google BATFE form 5310 FFL application and look at question 18a). As a result someone that wants to sell guns but can’t afford the inventory costs, zoning challenges and overhead of a storefront has to sell illegally or discretely at the edge of the law as a “private individual” and hence can’t run a background check. Rather than throwing these “kitchen table” sellers out of the system like Clinton did hoping they would go away, they should allow them to get an FFL and subject them to BATF rules, audits and oversight like they were before the Clinton administration let political anti-gun ideology get in the way.

    2) Give anyone free, public, anonymous online access to the NICS database. I don’t understand why a federal database of people prohibited from owning firearms can’t be available in the public domain like federal databases for sex offenders. Unlike the sex offender database, the NICS system is really a go/no go process and no useful information has to be displayed to facilitate phishing expeditions for identity theft other than what was already known by the user making the query. It’s certainly no more revealing than the FAA’s pilot and mechanic license query system, which provides more detailed information on presumably law-abiding citizens. Once this system is implemented, you then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain documented proof that says you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. This would effectively close the so-called private sale loophole and still preserve the anonymity of the parties involved the same way the current background check system does now. If a private sale firearm shows up at a crime scene, the BATF follows their current procedure of using the serial number of the firearm to contact the manufacturer and ultimately the last FFL that sold the firearm to a private citizen to obtain that citizen’s name and address from the ATF form 4473 the FFL is required to keep on file. That citizen is then contacted and produces the piece of paper from the NICS background check that identifies the second private citizen who is then contacted, and so forth.

    The real benefit of this proposal is how it can help identify the illusive killer with questionable behavior patterns or mental health issues that is causing so many problems. As it stands now there is no easy, fast, non-bureaucratic method for someone to determine if a suspicious person (client, neighbor, employee, student, etc) is a potential threat to society. If someone thinks an individual could be a threat, a query to a public NICS database would at least tell him or her in a few seconds if the individual could obtain a firearm. Then, armed with that information the appropriate authorities could be notified and they could decide if it was erroneous information or whether to investigate further. As it stands now, if you tell authorities you know a suspicious person they will probably ignore you, but if you tell them you know such a person and by the way according to the NICS database he can buy a firearm, they will probably be more inclined to investigate rather than risk embarrassment later if the worst happens. The same would be true if you see a suspicious acquaintance with a firearm when the NICS query says he’s prohibited from having one. It would also help provide piece of mind and a method for victims of violent crimes to ensure their assailants either on parole or still at large have not been excluded from the database because of some bureaucratic foul-up.

    Other specific public safety issues where it would be useful are:

     allow potential victims to vet known stalkers or acquaintances under a restraining order
     allow gun clubs to vet potential members
     allow shooting ranges to vet suspicious customers
     allow mental health workers to vet troubled individuals like the Aurora Colorado theater killer
     allow resource officers and school officials to vet suspicious students like the Arapahoe High School killer in Colorado
     allow the family of the mentally troubled Lafayette, LA killer to verify he couldn’t purchase a firearm
     allow police officers to vet anyone they contact – (note the routine background checks performed by police often do not include information about firearms because they don’t directly access the NICS database)

    1. “allow police officers to vet anyone they contact”

      They already do: it’s called Racial Profiling. Then all too often they shoot to kill, followed by “I feared for my safety” or “I thought s/he had a gun.”

      This, like other suggestions here, places far too much emphasis on monitoring individual people instead of lethal weapons. They do little or nothing to reduce the ready availability of guns to the general public.

      1. Re: “Then all too often they shoot to kill, followed by…”

        There are about 12 million arrests per year according to the FBI and the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates there were about 599 homicides by police officers in 2011. This works out to about 1 out of every 20000 arrests resulting in a fatality which is a rate that hardly qualifies as a common occurrence.

        Re: “This, like other suggestions here, places far too much emphasis on monitoring individual people instead of lethal weapons”

        As it should. The “lethal weapons” don’t kill anyone by themselves without “individual people” pulling the trigger. As I said in another post, criminals will always have guns if they want them – If worst comes to worst they will be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market.

  3. Re: “In the three years since the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook …nearly 90,000 Americans have been killed by guns.”

    According to the CDC, in 2013 there were 33636 deaths from firearms and most were suicides while 11208 were homicides. If someone wants to kill themselves it’s a matter of individual choice where the person can pick the time, place and method and an argument can also be made (contrary to existing laws) that an individual’s life belongs to them exclusively and not you, the State or anyone else. Homicides are a different story. 11208 people murdered by firearms in the US works out to about 31 people per day. These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 319 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 28,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 28,000 people. To me, 1 in 28,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. It is also estimated there are 70 million gun owners in the US which means on any given day 69,999,969 gun owners didn’t kill anyone yet because the news media magnifies these relatively isolated and infrequent events to the level of an epidemic, the anti-gun folks answer is to take the guns away from people who harmed no one. The number of firearm homicides will never be zero. So given the fact that deranged individuals and murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race and we currently live in a free society, what number would ever satisfy you to the point you would say “we don’t need any more restrictions on the private ownership of firearms”?

  4. Re: “the latest talk…blamed the failure to pass tougher laws on a powerful gun industry lobby, endemic racism, and a lack of public pressure”

    The problem with all of the legislation proposed to expand background checks at both the federal and state level is that the devil is in the details. As an example consider the background check legislation (SB649) that failed to pass the US Senate in 2013. The title of the bill was word doctored to be innocuous but what was being proposed as part of the background check process was a litany of vague, abstruse and onerous restrictions on friends and family members that could trip them up and subject them to intimidation and entrapment by overzealous and unscrupulous authorities who are aligned with an anti-gun agenda. In addition, the hastily written Toomey amendment was worded in such a way that existing gun laws that currently protect gun owners (like a prohibiting a registry) could be circumvented by the President simply having the BATF report to DHS instead of the Attorney General.

    If the totality of what is really desired is universal background checks, the answer is simple and easy – give anyone free, anonymous, public access to the federal NICS background check database of persons prohibited from owning firearms and then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain a piece of paper that documents you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. There is no reason to get the government involved any further in the process unless you have other goals in mind like a federal registry of all firearms.

  5. Re: ‘effective gun-violence prevention is “entirely attainable”’

    The problem you have is that in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminals in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons. This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone and the gun is often their tool of choice. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Criminals will always have guns if they want them. If worst comes to worst they will be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market.

  6. Mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin..

    Deceptive Transformation: The Truth of Soviet Influence in America and Gun Control..
    The idea of using mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin, and the social sciences, or the studying of human behavior has its roots in early twentieth century Russia when Ivan Pavlov developed his
    “classical conditioning” theories. In fact, Pavlov was disturbed that Vladimir Lenin would use these conditioning methods against the people in order to get them to accept communism. Since that time the social sciences have been used as a means of maintaining control over populations and getting them to accept their own down fall. This is happening today in the United States as our universities and public schools have long ago adopted educational techniques based on the social sciences and classical conditioning methods. Subjects like White Privilege and Multiculturalism are used to demoralize our population, create a guilt consciousness and silence usinto accepting a new agenda based on the idea that we have been unfair, and our lifestyles are oppressive, and offensive to others. This agenda dates back to the early twentieth century; however, it saw some of its most major advances in the mid 1900’s after the U.N. was created in 1945. While many people today view the Democrat Party as being made mostly of communists or socialists; the sad truth is that the Republican Party is just as responsible for what we are seeing in education and culture in the United States today.

    Mental health is the avenue to gun control..
    It was used to confiscate guns in Eastern Europe prior to WWII..

    American Psychiatric Asso: Half of Americans are mentally ill..
    After crafting by politicians and Media all will be crazy except for them..

    300 million prescriptions for psychiatric drugs were written in 2009 alone..
    Your children on medication for ADHD?
    Single woman with children diagnosed with depression?

    Be careful what you ask for…….

  7. “Gun control advocates hoped that the Sandy Hook tragedy would lead Congress to pass stricter gun control legislation”

    Fortunately, looks like that plan still isn’t working ….

  8. More sanctimonious posturing in the Fantasy Island echo chamber. What the busybodying Left can’t achieve through the normal political legislative process, it moves through the healthcare system. Murder is not and will never be a problem of public health but of criminal justice. And the idea of preventing it is intrinsically totalitarian: any human right can be criminally misused, so they’ll just take them away one at a time… “for the children.”

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