Saturday, November 11, 2017

Guns - The "Totally Impossible Dilemma?"

The "Gun Law Debate" Has
 Become a National Hobby
Mountains of NRA "think tank" cash has
 edged the question into a great spot right
 next to the meaning of life, the nature of god,
 drugs, teenagers, gerrymandering, abortion and taxes.

MeanMesa finds the endless public discussions concerning gun laws to be fascinating. Although it may be somewhat simplistic to refer to "two sides" in the debate, at a certain point the mind numbing repetition inevitably replaces the prospect for any possible discourse with a suffocating litany of talking points.

Maybe Judge Roy Moore can lead us in the GOP
 "thoughts and prayers." Sessions is busy.  
While it is not unfair to characterize the problem as a "multiple constraint environment," the logical conundrum does not arise from such "constraints." The contradictions must be relentlessly obscured if the gun manufactures' lobbyists are to deliver the hypnotic public perception of the nightmare as one which is inherently, permanently and Constitutionally unsolvable.

Every possible solution seems to immediately attract an "impossible" contradiction. Unhappily, these "contradictions" are no simple case of "whose ox will be gored." Every one of them is the product of  cynical expert analysis in the depths of gun lobbyists' think tanks, and every one of them quite unabashedly, specifically relies only on the whimsy of carefully engineered equivalents of "urban legends."

It is these "urban legends" which become so tiring under the gun lobby's unending references. We can pick a few examples of these "urban legends" to explain this point.

Popular Anti-Gun Law Urban Legends

1. We must be well armed to defeat the US government should it become tyrannical.
2. A good guy with a gun will stop gun violence perpetrated by "bad guys."
3. The 2nd Amendment guarantees to every American the absolute right to own an arsenal of guns and to carry a fully loaded automatic rifle to the donut shop.
4. Absolutely any gun law would leave my home and family in danger.
5. Gun laws -- of any type -- are against the Constitution's Bill of Rights and represent a "slippery slope" toward gun confiscation.

Along with the "urban legends" are the -- now, dismally road weary -- NRA talking points. These very predictably surface from the "usual suspects" following each mass killing. We are painfully familiar with two particular talking points which are not included in the "urban legends" section.

Popular Post Mass Killings 
[2nd Amendment/NRA Talking Points]

1. It's simply too soon to be having any discussions of gun policy this soon following the shooting.

2. "Thoughts and prayers" should be dispatched immediately to the dead, wounded and families. [TRUTH-O-METER* NRA Talking Points After Las Vegas/POLITIFACT]

3. Congress is stuck because there is no possible gun policy which would stop all the mass killings. [Senator Ted Cruz took advantage of the fact that the New York terror attack was performed by a rented truck to "point out" that there was no gun legislation which could prevent all terror murders. NRA "campaign contributions" are higher than ever.  We Asked GOP Senators What Congress Can Do To Prevent Mass Shootings/HUFFPOST]

4. Guns had very little to do with this massacre. It was clearly the result of mental illness.
The Constitutional Gun Scam -
 NRA Conveniently Distorts
 The Meaning of the 2nd Amendment
The NRA has spent millions to repeat the
 distortion enough times to convince Americans.

The actual wording of the 2nd Amendment has been "debated" for just about the entire time since the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution. The "implemented meaning" of the Amendment has been carefully distorted by both pro-gun law and anti-gun law voices. [How the NRA Re-Wrote the 2nd Amendment/POLITICO]

However, The Supremes have, actually, "weighed in" on the question in the 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller decision. While plenty of Americans might have wished that the ruling would have been more direct for resolving all sorts of "additional questions," it was what it was. The Supremes are like that. 

It's worth the time to take a look at a summary description of the Heller ruling. [The following NOLO article is a useful albeit abbreviated view. There is plenty of additional discussion on your GOOGLE.]

What did the Supreme Court say
 about your right to have a gun in 
District of Columbia v. Heller?
Updated March 22, 2016

Gun Possession Rights Under Heller

In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on gun control, ruling that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for personal, lawful use. Yet despite the Court's clear ruling that one may keep a ready-to-use handgun at home for self-defense, Heller allows for certain restrictions on gun possession.

What Heller Says

The 2008 Heller case involved a challenge to the District of Columbia's ban on handguns. For the first time in nearly 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as it relates to gun control laws.

The Second Amendment provides, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

For many years, scholars and anti-gun proponents had argued that the Second Amendment provides a right to own guns only in connection with service in a militia, and that this right should not extend to private individuals. The Heller Court rejected that line of argument. It held that the Second Amendment creates an individual right to possess a gun for self-defense, at least in the home.

(Two years later, in McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), the Court held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies against state governments. And after that, in Caetano v. Massachusetts, 577 U.S. ___ (2016), the Court decided that the Second Amendment applies to stun guns.)How Heller Affects Gun Control Laws

The gun control law at issue in the Heller case was a nearly across-the-board ban in the District of Columbia that also required people to keep any lawfully owned firearms “unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device” in most situations. It was considered to be the strictest gun control law in the nation.

Although the Heller decision adopted the broader, individual-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Court made it clear that the right to possess a gun continues to have a number of significant qualifications or restrictions. The Court indicated that the Second Amendment continues to allow for limits on guns like the following:
  • Not allowing everyone to possess a gun. The right can be withheld from felons and the mentally ill, for example.
  • Not allowing guns to be carried everywhere. Laws forbidding people from carrying firearms in "sensitive" places, such as schools and government buildings, remain valid.
  • Certain restrictions on the sale of guns. Laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of firearms continue to be allowed.
  • Banning certain types of guns. The Second Amendment does not protect guns that are not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns. (The Court endorsed the "the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of 'dangerous and unusual weapons.'")
  • Outlawing concealed weapons. Laws prohibiting concealed weapons probably remain valid.

So, What Can Be Done?
A "Solution" Might Be Closer Than You Think
We just need another reason to hate insurance companies, right?

MeanMesa has posted about this before -- basically, following each one of the heavily publicized, weekly or daily, mass gun killing in the country. [MeanMesa Takes a Quick Shot at the NRA/MEANMESA_Dec_2012]

Following one of the more recent mass executions in Las Vegas, a seldom considered additional part of the problem came to light. There were not only plenty of corpses after the smoke cleared, there were also literally hundred of wounded sitting in local hospitals. While all of this is tragic, the exact point here is both painful and unavoidable.

With the chaotic state of health insurance current choking the nation, hundreds of these wounded citizens are, although no doubt concerned with plenty of other issues, terrified about going bankrupt from the hospital expenses.

The shooter is dead. Although he was apparently fairly well off, his personal assets would not even leave a skid mark on the doors of these ICUs. Sure, some of the wounded have insurance, but -- count on it -- lots of them don't. When they finally get out of the hospital -- if they get out of the hospital -- they will be broke, bankrupted by hospital expenses. The hospitals will recover some of this money, but that recovery will almost certainly be from various types of government compensation.

That means, sooner or later, we will all be paying for it, one way or the other.

This can be solved. Guns need to be insured. Anyone who 1. owns a gun, and 2. intends to exercise his unquestioned [Heller] Constitutional right to carry his gun around outside his house, should have a liability insurance policy in place to cover any damages he inflicts on anyone he shoots accidentally or criminally.

Resolving whether the shooting was an "accidental" or "criminal" matter is well within the capacity of the judicial system. And, yes. Law enforcement should be able to confiscate an un-insured weapon when it is encountered in public -- whether this follows a shooting or not. If the law says that a weapon must have liability insurance, it must have liability insurance.

Constitutionally, this would not prevent anyone from having as many weapons as they wanted. Just head for the gun store or the unregulated gun show, buy what you want and then head home to call your insurance company to insure it. If you never plan to take the gun outside your house, your liability exposure is reduced to almost zero, and you won't ever need to show a highway trooper your gun's insurance card.

Also, happily, this arrangement can not be twisted into "big government coming for your guns." Dealings between you and your insurance carrier will be traditionally quiet -- until you publicly shoot someone or even brandish your weapon and threaten to shoot someone. Had the Las Vegas maniac carried this kind of liability insurance, the wounded victims currently racking up bills in ICU units could simply forward them to his insurance carrier.

Of course, the added benefit for this plan would be the cost of this insurance. Insurance companies are already devilishly clever with their actuarial calculations concerning, for example, your exposure to insured liability as you drive your car. They look at your record, ask you questions and size up your car before they quote you a price. Naturally, they are attempting to determine the likely size and cost of an "insured incident" before they price your policy.

If they are pricing a liability policy for your gun, MeanMesa is sure that they would have all sorts of questions. Regardless of the answers you might provide to them, the "likely size and cost" will, most likely, make that insurance policy rather pricey. The nut job in Las Vegas would have racked up millions of dollars in insured claims, and he would probably not have even looked particularly "risky" on a application for insurance.

But he had dozens of weapons. Further, he very clearly did not plan to use them exclusively within his home. To be legal as he sat in his "sniping station" atop the hotel, he would have required dozens of insurance policies. Had he not be so insured, his guns could have been confiscated after hotel security had called the Las Vegas police.

Think about it. Republicans love their campaign donations from insurance corporations, and a law like this one would be a massive "gift" to their donors..

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