Gun control

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An example of a regulated firearm.
Guns don't kill people. I kill people...with guns.
—Jon Lajoie[1]

Gun control is a phrase with several meanings.


[edit] Controlling your weapon

Gun control, in enthusiast and hunting terms, refers to making sure you hit only your intended target when discharging a firearm and preventing unintended discharges. Some people seem incapable of this, but "oops, sorry, I thought you were a quail" seems to get most of them off the hook.[2] Some people are just not good enough and disciplined enough to use guns,[3] while others clearly are.[4]

[edit] Controlling other people's weapons

Gun control, in legal terms, refers to limiting access, "carrying rights," or use of firearms by the general public.

Access limitations consist of completely banning the sale or possession of some types of firearms (like sawn-off shotguns, bazookas, and .50's on the foredeck of your yacht), and also regulating who is permitted to obtain firearms in general — for instance, preventing convicted felons from owning firearms, but oddly enough, not suspected terrorists.[5]

"Carrying rights," when regulated, limit how and where firearms may be carried on the person (or even in a vehicle) — whether in full view or "concealed." In some jurisdictions there may be restrictions requiring that firearms carried in vehicles not be in the passenger compartment.

Regulating the use of firearms often consists of preventing their discharge in densely populated regions, such as in cities and towns.

[edit] Political football

Guy = American. Penguin = The entire world looking in.
It shouldn’t be really a surprise to people.
—David Hemenway on the US having "more gun deaths than any other developed country in the world."[6]

Gun control is a highly politicized issue in the United States, for many cultural and historical reasons that no one completely understands. It is often a moot topic in other civilized nations.[7]

The first attempts at federal gun control legislation occurred during the 1930s. During that time unscrupulous weapons salesmen sold military-grade machine guns intended for use in World War I (especially the Thompson Submachine Gun[8]) to criminals; the result was that gangsters and bank robbers were often better armed than many police forces (who may have only had side arms, or a rifle or shotgun at best) and could pretty much rob banks with impunity. Tommy Guns were also marketed to police[9] during the 1920s.

Indeed, every major shooting in the US is usually followed by a round of both gun control advocates and gun nuts wailing that said incident would never have happened if only we had strict gun control laws or everyone packed heat Wild West-style, respectively. A meta-analysis on gun control research conducted by the National Research Council found efficacy for certain types of police intervention in reducing gun crime but also found that the literature was mixed and ambiguous on whether right-to-carry laws increased or decreased crime either way.[10] In addition, gun nuts will inevitably cite the "research" of serial cherry-picker, data fabricator, and sock puppeteer John Lott.[11] Some may also use the equally fraudulent arguments of Lott's source, the criminologist Gary Kleck.[12]

Since both the creation of new gun control laws, and opposition to gun control laws, can be used to garner votes for politicians, the gun laws in the U.S. are a morass of often-contradictory rules, with either gaping loopholes or severe penalties for a misstep. The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, for example, created an entirely new legal category of firearms — "assault weapons" — identified not by their lethality but by a list of scary-looking cosmetic features.[13] Silencers are even more strictly controlled than the guns they can be attached to. Guns that have had their firing mechanism removed are legal, but "imitation guns" are completely forbidden. Firearms dealers must be licensed, and all sales through such a dealer are subject to a criminal background check; but online purchases and person-to-person transactions (in many red states) are technically exempt[14] from background checks. This requirement generally does not apply to sales that are merely arranged online but for which an exchange is made in person, subject to a complex set of rules as to the states of residency for the seller and buyer. Individual states often supplement the federal laws with their own maze of legal dos-and-don'ts.

[edit] Research findings

Studies on firearms and ammunition bans have been inconsistent: certain studies indicated decreases in violence associated with bans, and others indicated increases. Several studies found that the number of banned guns retrieved after a crime declined when bans were enacted, but these studies did not assess violent consequences. Studies of the 1976 Washington, D.C. handgun ban yielded inconsistent results. Bans often include "grandfather" provisions, allowing ownership of an item if it is acquired before the ban, complicating an assessment of causality. Finally, evidence indicated that sales of firearms to be banned might increase in the period before implementation of the bans (e.g., the AWB).[15]

A recent study noticed a correlation (not causation) that suggested that white racists are more likely to own guns and oppose gun control laws, which is not to suggest that white gun owners tend to be more racist.[16] The FBI has also identified a dangerous spike in "Active Shooter Events" — even as overall gun violence has managed to level off during the same time period.[17]

[edit] 3D printing

The spread of consumer-level additive manufacturing (a.k.a. "3D printing") in recent years has fed into the debate. As soon as knowledge of the technology became known, people pondered its use in gunmaking. One or two groups have made guns this way. For research purposes, of course. Early models were fragile and primitive — even the creators did not bill them as effective firearms.[18] A great deal of press coverage ranging in tone from blasé to terrified ensued, the result of a combination of desperation for headlines, devoting excessive attention to "new" technology that doesn't come close to the hype and ignorance of how easy it already is to make any given item (zip guns[wp] for instance) the "old fashioned" way.

In fact, some of the first examples of "3D printed" guns were actually just 3D printed upper receivers (the part of a rifle legally regarded as the "gun," since it bears the weapon's serial number) which were then completed with off-the-shelf parts. This is rather like 3D printing an engine block and claiming you've built an entire car.

Designers and makers of 3D printed guns have released a variety of new designs since the appearance of the first one (described above), expanding greatly on the functionality of the original, and 3D printed guns represented, for a period of a few months, a political football unto themselves. See 3D printing for additional information and links.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. I Kill People (And statistically proven.)
  2. See the Wikipedia article on Dick Cheney hunting incident.
  3. YouTube - Shotgun Kicks Nuts
  4. YouTube - Fastest reloader
  5. Bloomberg 'Terror Gap' Argument Shot Down By Pro-Gun GOP Senators, Huffington Post
  6. U.S. Has More Guns – And Gun Deaths – Than Any Other Country, Study Finds, ABC News
  7. The Economist sums it up quite well.
  8. More commonly, the "Tommy Gun"
  9. Ad for Thompson "Anti-Bandit" gun
  10. Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts, FactCheck
  11. Tim Lambert of Deltoid has been following the adventures of John Lott for years: See his debunking of More Guns, Less Crime and blog category for Lott.
  12. The Contradictions of the Kleck Study
  13. Indeed, it only covered certain semi-automatic firearms and didn't ban a single fully-automatic weapon; laws regulating "machine guns" were already in effect at the time, and were stricter than the new assault weapon law.
  14. In the case of online sales, unless purchaser holds a Federal Firearms License, or the gun was made before 1898, guns purchased online need to be sent to a gun dealer, who is required to perform a background check before releasing the firearm to the purchaser.
  15. First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws, CDC
  16. Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions, PLOS ONE
  17. Active Shooter Events from 2000 to 2012, FBI
  18. What happened to the mythical undetectable plastic gun? and Unimpressive 3D Printed Zip Gun Drives Internet Insane
  19. The Democracy Index and Israel would like to have a word with you.
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