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John Hopkins
John Hopkins
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Obama’s Dr. Ridgeway Report Defective — But NRA Likes It

4 comments

It is reminiscent of 1994 and the “seven dwarves”; when the CEO”s of the largest tobacco companies walked into Congress, swore under oath to tell the truth and then proceeded to testify that cigarettes were not dangerous and nicotine was not addictive.

Were this performance not so sad, it would have been hysterical to watch seven guys with college degrees tell whopper lies without even cracking a smile. I have heard the testimony and read the internal documents and with some authority I had concluded that the tobacco industry was the most dastardly in the world…

It is 2013 and the CEO’s of the gun industry cause me to rethink how I feel about the tobacco industry.

What did gun executives and their lawyers have to say, based on newly discovered testimony they have given:

  • An executive at Taurus International said his company did not try to determine if their guns were involved in gun trafficking on the black market, “I don’t even know what a gun traffickers,” he said.
  • The executives claimed to have no knowledge whether their guns were used in crimes and denied that a single person buying large numbers of guns at one time should be considered a “danger sign”.
  • Charles Brown’s company, MKS Supply, is the sole distributor of an inexpensive brand of gun that frequently turned up in criminal investigations. He said he saw no reason to examine which of the company’s dealers sold the most guns involved in crimes.
  • Ugo Beretta of Beretta USA, testified it was only common sense his company would have a policy of requiring their dealers to inquire into the reason for single buyers purchasing large numbers of guns at one time. His lawyer had to tell him that the company had no such policy.
  • Repeatedly company officials and their lawyers echoed the theme that they are not law enforcement and have no responsibility for how their products are ultimately used. One actually had the temerity to use the tired explanation that “guns don’t hurt people, people with guns hurt people”.

In fairness to gun manufacturers, even the Obama Administration is unintentionally helping the NRA through Greg Ridgeway, the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice who issued a 2013 report that says we should all throw our hands up and give in to the National Rifle Association; because there is little that can be done to control guns and affect deaths. Let’s take a careful look at this poorly reasoned report:

Gun Buybacks: Ridgeway says they are ineffective. Read more, though, and he admits that buybacks can affect mass murders and buyback programs initiated on the heels of aggressive registration and licensing programs, as done in Australia in 1997, can, in fact, have an effect on lowering gun murders.

Large Capacity Magazine Restrictions (20, 30, 50 rounds): These magazines were used in nearly 25% of all crimes in 1993. In 1994, there was a federal ban issued on large capacity magazines. Between 1994 and 2004, the use of these magazines declined to 10%. After the ban was allowed to expire in 2004, the percentage doubled by 2010. Clearly the ban had an impact.

Ammunition logs: The purchase of ammunition goes essentially unchecked. A process in Sacramento of monitoring sales to determine illegal purchasers reaped the arrest of around 84 people per year and over 150 illegal firearms seized. If ten cities passed the same law, we might get as many as 800 criminals and 1500 illegal guns off the street.

Universal Background Checks: Requiring all firearms to be registered and all transfers of firearms to be recorded would have an impact on illegal guns ultimately used in crimes and murders. The problem is these regulations would need to be enacted on a national level to avoid the current problem of buying guns in states with lenient gun laws to transport across state lines into states with more stringent gun laws. The other portion that could be impacted represents 33% of guns used in crimes and that is by elimination of gun shows/flea market sales and unrecorded private seller transfers.

Assault Weapon Ban: Even though statistics show that assault weapon ammunition bans had an effect on the purchase, Dr. Ridgeway seems to conclude that an assault weapons ban would have little effect on crime in which they are used; unless coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective. So, that’s easy, right? Assault weapons should be easy to ban since they have no legitimate use except to kill people, right? Wrong; the NRA says they hunt with them and enjoy target practice with automatic weapons.

If you look at the combined improvement in terms of live people rather than dead people as opposed to what Dr. Ridgeway seems to slough off as ineffective, one must wonder whether Dr. Ridgeway has a comfy job waiting with the National Rifle Association.

It does seem clear that the gun manufacturers have adopted many of the techniques used by the tobacco industry in justifying their enormous profits at the cost of dead people killed by their products.

Let’s pretend we actually are living in an enlightened society that really wants to preserve human life(?).

4 Comments

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  1. SLicemaster19 says:
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    Most of your arguments are incorrect, but the big one you left out is that even though there are more guns in society than at any time in our history (estimated at over 310 million), the gun homicide rate is actually near its all time low, and is down nearly 50% since 1993 (non-fatal gun violence rates are down over 70%). So evidently guns DO NOT cause more violence, according to these numbers from the FBI.

    The two biggest lies you tell I will speak of, the rest will just have to languish due to my lack of interest in your silly invalid arguments.

    First, FBI and DoJ sources say that less than 1% (0.8% actually) of guns used in homicides are from a gun show. Not just a private sale at a gun show, but from ANYONE at a gun show. And since it is perfectly legal in many states to privately sell a firearm with no records, it is impossible to tell how many of them are involved. But the most recent survey of felons by the federal government showed that well over 85% of the guns were from black market purchases (I doubt you will ever be able to stop those, let alone get background checks), from theft or from friends or family members (it is already a felony to transfer a firearm to a prohibited person, which include felons).

    While you whine about mass murders (which are certainly tragic occurrences), you lose sight of the fact that in 2012 these accounted for 88 people, out of over 11,000 who died from homicide. Maybe a solution that impacts the greater majority of cases would be a good idea?

    Combine that with the facts that less than 2% of gun homicides are committed with a modern sporting rifle (the REAL name for what you call assault rifles), and the fact that law enforcement sources routinely tell us up to 80% of gun violence involves gangs, drug dealers or other criminal elements.

    So there really is NO argument to suggest that further restricting the law abiding citizen from owning a firearm is going to provide any meaningful decrease in gun homicides.

    Unfortunately (and fortunately) we live in a free society, where people can make choices for themselves. Some will make GOOD decisions, some will make BAD decisions. There is no way to legislate intelligence or good decision making skills.

    But the SMART money to halt the largest part of gun violence is to attack the REAL root of the problem, our increasing dis-disillusioned urban youths that represent a huge majority of both perpetrators and victims. Vigorously enforce existing laws, crush the gangs that control nearly every metro area, weed out the violent drug dealers that crush the spirits of our youth. While none of these have ANYTHING to do with guns, it would have a HUGE impact on gun violence.

  2. Seven says:
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    This article completely ignores the positive side to gun ownership.

    One of the first rules of journalism is that there’s always another side to the story (granted, the second rule is that sometimes the other side of the story is that there isn’t one, but it’s second and not first for a reason).

    For all the responsibility you urge gun manufacturers and law-abiding gun owners to exercise, you’re not setting so great an example yourself.

  3. John Hopkins says:
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    Seven: Thank you for your comment. I am not a journalist and would never claim such a skilled title. This was and was intended to be opinion. Nothing more.

  4. John Hopkins says:
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    SLicemaster: Thank you for your comments.

    My comments were really limited to an analysis of the numbers included in the report from Dr. Ridgeway. They were not my numbers.

    I am certain that those those killed by guns and those injured by guns would be thrilled to know that their chances of living or not being injured are actually improving if they could have waited to be shot.

    I have never said that guns cause violence. Violence is a natural evolution of emotion in humans. Guns simply provide a more fatal conclusion sometimes than does debate.

    Again, these are not my figures. They are Dr. Ridegway’s and were they my figures, I would have cited them from the National Association of Sheriff’s.

    I would never “whine” about something so tragic as an occurrence that takes children away from mothers, brothers away from sisters and fathers away from their children. In addition, our definitions of “mass murder” may differ. In my world, a drive-by shooting killing multiple people is a mass murder — it does not require the nut job to invade a school to characterize it as such.

    Actually, I said nothing about restricting the gun ownership of “law abiding citizens”. If 80% of gun violence “involves gangs, drug dealers or other criminal elements”, should we try to restrict their ability to obtain guns or should we simply throw our hands up and take the easy route by declaring there is nothing that can be done?

    Although I think it is impossible to legislate morality; I think you are incorrect about good judgment. I believe you can force people into good judgment for the betterment of the majority.

    Have you ever lived in an urban area? I have and your comments illustrate a naivete usually classic to those raised and living in suburbia. The urban areas of our country are filled with people who simply want a chance; people who are basically honest; and people who want to improve themselves and their neighborhoods. The minority are the gang bangers and the hoodlums.

    Lastly, you could not be more wrong. Disillusionment, a lack of good jobs, an absence of hope all have a great deal to do with guns; because those are the very things that drive violence and the single, most effective extension of a violent spirit is — a gun.