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Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark is the public information officer for a law enforcement agency in the southwest. He is also a photographer and contributor to POLICE Magazine.
Patrol

Out of Control on Gun Control

When it comes to the Second Amendment, my tastes run toward the parochial: I don't want people messing with it.

January 24, 2013  |  by - Also by this author

Photo via Emily Stanchfield/Flickr.
Photo via Emily Stanchfield/Flickr.

A former associate recently e-mailed me and chastised me for not being more vocal on the firearms front. Somebody hasn't been paying attention to my recent blogs, "The Aurora Tragedy and Off-Duty Carry" and "A Whole Village to Raise…One Madman to Destroy."

Suffice to say I own firearms and when it comes to the Second Amendment, my tastes run toward the parochial: I don't want people messing with it.

But being a professional observer of constitutional rights and a Second Amendment adherent does not preclude me from being concerned with the growing prevalence of firearm-related mass killings. Certainly, I am all ears when even those within our ballistic fraternity look at some of their gun-toting brethren askance. Such internal scrutiny and introspection affords me more comfort than worry.

I wish I could say as much for some of our more vociferous gun critics. Through a tsunami of memes, commercials, and commentaries, society's more lithic bent have declared open season on gun owners with calls for their deaths; one extended the call to all right-wingers: "Conservative extermination is the only solution. Sooner or later, it will have to be done. The time for talk is over." (In the absence of firearms, the jawbone of an ass would doubtlessly prove their weapon of choice, and readily available through their brethren). Abetting their cause, the New York Journal published a map of gun-permit holders in two New York counties. Gawker abetted the cause one further, publishing a complete 446-Page List of "All the Assholes Who Own Guns in New York City."

Is it just me, or are things getting hot in here?

As farcical as some of the inanity gets, there have been a few things that have popped up on the radar that I have glad to see and heartened to hear. Among them, a few salient truths.

High on the list and shared on my Facebook page was the following video of Doctor Suzanna Gratia Hupp's testimony wherein she chronicles her heart-breaking story of surviving the Luby's shooting in Texas and where she finds true culpability.

Then there's the appreciated candor of Jim Penman, a district attorney. Assessing the propensity for San Bernardino's less law-abiding demographic to perforate their fellow man—2012 saw the bankrupt municipality experience damn near triple the number of murders of the year before—Penman told citizens to lock their doors and load their guns as local law enforcement was being downsized. (Wonder how many hand-wringers failed to see any correlative value here...but I digress).

For his candor, Penman was met with cries for his resignation; failing that, his termination. Hundreds of years ago, Chamfort said, "In France, we threaten the man who rings the alarm bell and leave in peace the man who starts the fire." In America, it would appear that we do much the same today.

Perhaps nothing has received as much attention the past two weeks as the NRA's "Are the President's children more precious than yours?" commercial wherein the organization pointedly asked why America's children shouldn't have the benefit of the same kind of armed guardianship afforded the commander-in-chief's daughters. Obama's Dog Pound, a.k.a., our news media, tried to get our ear and the NRA's in a manner popularized by Mike Tyson, all the while alleging that it was the commercial that was hitting below the belt and unfair.

Come again? Between the pernicious paternalism of Obama's administration and its pronounced overriding concern—the safety of our country's children—isn't the question a legitimate one? This is especially true since it was an attack on America's children that provided the traction for his agenda and since the underlying sentiment of the administration's proposed gun legislation implicitly answers the question: Yes.

The silver lining in the media's spin is that it affords us an opportunity to contemplate the question of what is fair and what is just.

A common, if not wholly realized, precept of justice is that it is preferable that 100 guilty men should walk free lest a single innocent man be found guilty, the underlying principle being that you shouldn't effect a wrong to do a right. Such philosophy is part and parcel of our judicial system and the bedrock of "forbidden fruit" case law and the like.

Which makes one wonder what kind of philosophy is being exercised when Second Amendment naysayers condemn the whole of gun-owning Americans for the transgressions of people who by and large are not even gun owners but have appropriated the weapons? And in any event, a relative few?

And that relative few has become even smaller with time. Since the expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, murder rates have fallen from 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2003 to 4.7 per 100,000 people. by 2011. The number of those murdered by any type of rifle: 2.65 per 100,000.

Pertinent statistics aside and on a more personal note, I have long had cause to consider incidents involving semi-automatic rifles, if not before the time a fellow deputy and myself were ambushed by a man with an AK47 then certainly since. I have cogitated on the matter at length, indeed longer than Mark Twain did over the meaning of some arcane passage he took to task. I have looked at it up, down, and sideways. And still I cannot decide: Do I damn the alcohol that emboldened the suspect to open fire? Or, bless the booze that marred his aim?

As far as his weapon of choice, I recriminate its existence no more than I do that of a lawnmower, a tool that, in its unmolested state, poses no more or less of a threat.

I will grant that in an ideal world there wouldn't be a need for semi-automatic rifles. However, our world is hardly ideal—our hard-earned insight into human nature is why we lock our doors and windows, after all—and hence a greater need for pragmatic practices than asinine legislation. Unfortunately, we Americans get too little of the former and too much of the latter.

Part of me is not surprised. In his apply titled "The Suicide of Democracy," H.L. Mencken noted that, "It is the natural and bounden duty of democracy, we are told, to take care of its customers in all situations, at all times, and everywhere." He was referencing America, a land which he also referred to as a Commonwealth of Morons. As much as I would like to say he was harsh in both appraisals, I can't help but note that our country's protectors have in recent weeks been salivating over the prospect of protecting their constituents from themselves with greater zeal than they displayed towards our Border Patrol agents or our embassies.

There is hope. There is a middle ground that sees that there just might conceivably be less draconian means than the carpet bombing of gunowners to address the problem.

This constituency is less interested in usurping our rights and in addressing the problem. It recognizes that the mass shooting phenomenon is the result of a confluence of many disparate factors, any one of which is fair game for correlative value, few of which leave quite the forensic footprint as a .45 round.

The liberals' conclusions might be more forgivable if it wasn't reflective of their clear bias. One wonders why they fail to apply their "cause and effect" logic where the nexus is more evident and the responsibility to entities more tangible, such as the death of a border patrol agent by a firearm placed in his killer's hands by the U.S. government.

Otherwise, it is not only fair game to note the role firearms have played a role in tragedies, but to fixate on them, as well. In doing so, they are following their government's lead in spinning that Klieg light where they will and leaving everything else in darkness.

To my mind, any attempt to address this phenomenon would obligate soul-searching from both ends of the spectrum and the kind of dialogue between them that John Stuart Mill would have approved of—one that was candid and conducted with an eye toward seeing things from the other's perspective. Such dialogue would ask hard questions of both sides.

Questions such as:

• What can be done to get school attacks scotched in their formative stages? (In most instances, perpetrators of such attacks articulated their intentions to others who failed to act on the information.)

• What low-cost measures can be adopted to help dissuade or mitigate such attacks? (This would include my suggestion that active/off-duty/retired law enforcement personnel be allowed on school grounds as their schedules permit, a suggestion that may soon be realized in the form of similar proposals that have since been made.

• How can school classrooms be designed or retrofitted with greater security enhancements? (Might large sliding doors located on opposite sides of a classroom accommodate a mass exodus of students? What manner of electronic monitoring and remote access can be installed? Are security vestibules rendered bullet-proof?)

• Do I really want to bond with my emotionally and mentally compromised loved one through firearm usage? (Might I suggest this may be no less dangerous than availing some hellbent soul a "shopping list" of available firearms such that printed by the newspaper?)

• How many of these attacks have taken place in "right to carry" states? (My bet: Damn few, if any.)

• What practical effect would the limiting of magazine capacity have in active shooter incidents? (I would have both sides review Dr. Gratia Hupp's 's testimony.)

• If psychologists and other doctors are correct that there is a growing number of autistic children, has there been a corresponding increase in those afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome? (Short of a Philip K. Dick-inspired solution, is there anyway to identify the potential for violence among such souls? And is the distancing of A.S. support groups from the Adam Landa case of constructive benefit for anyone in the equation?)

• What manner of security measures need to be taken to ensure that the mentally ill are identified and availed adequate medical treatment? (For decades we have dropped the ball in dealing with the psychologically disenfranchised. Might it be that instead of a call to disarm, what we're witnessing is a clarion call to address our country's mental health crises?)

• How can society better mitigate the potential for some to become desensitized to violence or programmed to act on it?

• What can be done to prevent them from accessing forearms?

The solutions are found in the answers to these hard questions. But unfortunately, Our culture is addicted to the notion of a quick fix.

In much the same way that Confederate troops would send sham deserters to the northern side to foster beliefs favorable to their own cause, our federal government is today using ideological filigree to take advantage of the gullible who would hang their hopes on some panacea, while at the same time taking the liberty to encroach on our own. The upside is that they serve as a reminder of Ben Franklin's wisdom that those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. The downside is that they are usurping our freedom, as well, in their slow but sure adumbration of our Second Amendment rights.

In New York, little in the way of temperate wisdom was applied in the drafting of a new maximum capacity law, one that was implemented with such zeal and haste that, as initially drafted, New York police officers were not exempted thereby rendering them both outgunned and outlawed.

But just as it was looking like cops might be obligated to march suspects off to jail at needle-point, someone decided to address at least that part of the problem, an overture I would characterize it as "putting lipstick on a pig" were it not for certain porcine pejoratives that long ago attached themselves to our profession. Nonetheless, the legislated outrage remains otherwise intact, leaving civilians and retired cops screwed and serving as an unnecessary reminder of the kind of short-sightedness our esteemed legislatures enjoy a monopoly in.

Short-sightedness is something I know about.

The afternoon I was leaving for Shot Show, I heard our dogs barking in the back yard. Suddenly, the barking was eclipsed by a high-pitched "YIPE-YIPE-YIPE!!!" that scared the hell out of me. Not knowing if one of them had gone Cujo on the other, or a neighbor's dog had fallen victim to one of their two-pronged attacks. I sprinted through the back door like George Brett out of a dugout—complete with a Howard Dean scream—and alighted from the porch.

That was when I was attacked by the edge of a firepit.

No spike strip has ever been better deployed or more effective in curtailing its target's progress. I went sprawling in the yard, stifling my own "YIPE-YIPE-YIPE!!!" as well as a few heartfelt expletives and never even identified the source of the canine trauma (when I did open my eyes all I saw were my two none-the-worse-for-wear dogs regarding me with 'WTF...?" expressions).

To be candid, if I'd seen some other poor bastard do the crash and burn on videotape, I'd have probably busted my ass laughing. As it was, I'd only busted my ass.

As in the case of our elected officials, the episode served as a redundant reminder. For in addition to performing a cost-friendly alternative to dermabrasion and electrolysis it reminded me that, while I was generally capable of handling crisis situations wherein I was not emotionally vested, I am still capable of allowing my less reasoned emotions to get the better of me. That sometimes it is preferable to have cooler, less emotionally wrought minds address pressing situations. Because when passions are aroused, judgments are impaired.

Our government leaders would be well advised to remember as much as I hate to think that those most out of control should be in control of our welfare. For if their intentions come to pass, my suspicions are that their actions being taken may save some lives but will cost many others.

And here I will close as I have to make a plane for D.C.…

I am scheduled to testify in support of legislation banning firepits.

Tags: Second Amendment, Gun Rights Advocacy, Gun Control Advocacy, Assault Weapons Ban, Barack Obama, Campus Safety


Comments (26)

Displaying 1 - 26 of 26

Raymond @ 1/24/2013 10:42 AM

I really enjoyed reading this article. I think it was very thorough, and well thought out, and written with great care and experience. Experience is the well known teacher of most things in life, and reason mixed with experience would seem to be the most prudent way of legislating gun laws. Opinions are formed through education and experience as well, and frankly, the opinions are as varied as there are stars in the sky. There are many points here I agree with, some I don't, but thats what freedom of speech allows for. I was a teacher for ten years in a high school, and have to say, that there were many students that I did worry about, and at times did lie awake wondering, 'what if?' Even though I would never condone having fire arms in the drawers or holsters of teachers, there is one idea that I have never heard. 'Locking the classroom doors, before and after class. Tighter security. A security guard for every couple of hundred students. Surely there must be a way of preventing this without armed teachers. I would have quit my job before they would arm me. But that's just my 'opinion'. Thanks, Dean, for some things to think about, I always appreciate someone from the armed side of the equation 'thinking' about it, rather than hysterically paranoid rantings of a government who is on the verge of seizing every gun in America.

brian @ 1/24/2013 10:55 AM

England - which has tougher gun laws than the US - has a murder rate about 1/4th of the US. This doesn't 'prove' anything but it sure is suggestive. Both sides can - as you do - cherry pick their facts, anecdotes, and quotes. But, bottom line, killers can't kill without weapons. The better the weapons at their disposal the better they can kill.

This argument isn't about the 2nd amendment. With the help of the NRA, interestingly enough, the first gun control laws were passed and deemed constitutional decades ago. Every sane person agrees that the average citizen shouldn't own a fully armed Apache helicopter or M1 tank. The debate isn't about IF we should have gun control but HOW MUCH. In light of recent events, the argument that we don't currently have enough has credibility.

Btw, your shot at liberals is uncalled for. I am a social liberal. I'm also a former army captain and bronze star recipient who saw combat in Iraq. My "bias" doesn't cloud my logic - it seems more as if your biases cloud yours. There's lots of evidence that suggests that stricter gun control laws might bring down our murder rate after time. I'm personally tired of innocent kids getting gunned down and am willing to try something different.

Laurin Dykstra @ 1/24/2013 12:42 PM

Excellent editorial. I agree with you completely that fire pits are a hazard to society. I also believe that we are looking at a problem that hasn't a happy ending for quite a few people. If we look at the problem as the weaker trying to equalize the field or in the case of the world picture- neutralize the threat, we have already found our answer. Giving up our "edge" would only allow those with strength to bend our constitution in any direction seen fit- with no threat from the citizens of the nation. We can no more give up our "edge" than we could completely disarm our nation of nuclear warheads. Many of us would love to think we are civilized enough to get past this. I have faith in humanity, but I am a realist, and there are just to many people with hatred and anger and no morals or conscience. To put my faith in ALL humanity would be very foolish, more than that, I wouldn't be doing a responsible job of protecting my family. I am afraid that until there is a better way to even the playing field when it comes to physical threats, we are going to be at a stalemate, much the same as it appears we are with the nuclear threat. I know some didn't understand what it means that we can't legislate morality, simply, we can't get rid of the evil in our world with a pen. We could pass a hundred laws all aimed at putting people away for violence, but in that same minute our families would still be at risk of someone new breaking the law. (In my opinion that is.)

Bob@Az. @ 1/24/2013 6:32 PM

Brian: You may want to take a deeper look at Englands murder rate. We here already have well over 2000 gun control laws on the books but for some odd reason the bad guys don't abide by them. I appreciate your service to our Country and your "homecoming" was much nicer then mine but you should know what happens when you disarm the peoples of a country.

Gus Fisher @ 1/24/2013 11:21 PM

Excellent article! People can make all the "reasoned" arguments they want about the need to ban high capacity mags and "assault" weapons. But, somehow, the hell-bent of our society just won't get the memo...

oldcop @ 1/25/2013 11:40 AM

Anyone who is really interested in curbing violence without taking rights away from the law abiding citizen needs to take a serious look at Swiss gun laws. They still have a standing malitia and encourage gun ownership yet have one of the lowest murder rates in the world. Notice I didnt say gun murder rates like a certain brit I refuse to use his name.

Rob @ 1/25/2013 11:47 AM

A very good article and you're very right in that there is no "quick" fix. (1) Back when I entered grade school in the late 60s, little boys many times spent recess time running around playing cops and robbers or military games and no one, including school administrators seemed to care. Today, a little girl gets in all manner of trouble for bring a Hello Kitty bubble "gun" to school. Maybe those games were healthy and gave little boys a chance to vent. There have always been problems children, but guns were just as available then as today. (2) In terms of "liberals," if the liberals weren't behind every gun ban plot, then I wouldn't blame them for such. I would like at least one renouned liberal to explain why every tyranny in the 20th Century first banned private possession of firearms. And don't throw me the argument that it can happen here... The Russian news agency, Pravda, a couple of weeks ago ran an editorial that was posted on Drudge urging us Americans not to give up our Second Amendment rights. (3) 19th Century militia members were required to provide a military grade musket, accessories, and ammo. The AR15 is nothing more than the technological evolution of the smooth bore musket, which because of its black powder and lead projectile, was pretty deadly if hit. (4) If England was the model for a society with a low gun crime rate because personally owned firearms are virtually banned, then why has England found recently it needed to arm some of its local law enforcement officers? And since England does not share a contiguous border with the U.S, they can't blame the availablility of firearms in our country for making their cops having to strap on an extra two pounds each day.

Jane @ 1/25/2013 12:24 PM

The argument that England still has gun deaths is irrelevant: they still had far fewer homicides involving guns. Let's not forget that part of the reason bad guys continue to have access to guns, in any country, is because good guys seem incapable of being responsible about securing them. I'm constantly going on burglary calls where guns and ammunition have been taken - one guy lost 30 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammo. Personally, I think there should be a crime applied to people who have lost firearms through their own negligence. I don't believe that putting more police in schools in the solution either. We all know that budgets can't be justified unless activity is recorded (e.g., "stats") so what is an officer to do while waiting for the next mass casualty event to strike? Why, look for other transgressions, of course. Thus furthering government intrusion into people's lives. What I'm pretty sure of is this: the NRA is not responsibly representing gun owners with it's all or nothing approach (I think they are clearly in the bag for the gun manufacturers). If we as guns owners continue to refuse to become part of the dialog we are going to find ourselves having to live with laws that are made up by people who know nothing about the subject. Can you honestly say that there aren't weapons and weapon components that have no place outside a theater of war?

tedb @ 1/25/2013 12:58 PM

Dean,

Bermuda recently had a double homicide in braod daylight in the middle of downtown Hamilton, just blocks from Parliament and the police station. They had 5 firearms murders last year, all in a 21 square mile island that has very strict gun control laws. Wonder how that's working out for them? Maybe we can arrest and try Adam Landa for violating the existing CT and federal gun control laws...OOPS, can't do that, he's dead! Well then, we can always pass more unenforceable laws to feel good about ourselves. They'll have about as much effect on the criminals as Bermuda's laws do on theirs.

Chuck @ 1/25/2013 3:42 PM

Funny how all those that want to limit the common citizen from owning firearms, extended magazines, ammunition etc... are politicians (monarchs), military and those with affiliations to other countries. You hear all the same old arguments from them, that no one needs certain weapons "outside the theatre of war" how these other countries don't have the same amount of gun violence as we here in America. So your answer; we need to take the rights of all of us that do follow the rules while mitigating the rights of those poor abused criminals in prison. It is too hard for them, they need televisions, they need cuddles, they need special food. Those of us that are not crimianls are shoved aside and it is our rights that are taken away while the bleeding heart liberals make it more comfortable for the criminal element. Here is a suggestion for the liberals and politicians, you want to stop gun violence, make the punishment fit the crime. You use a gun in a crime then you get the appropriate punishment, shoot someone and the hand you use to pull the trigger gets cut off. You kill someone then you die, you don't get to sit in a prison being fed and clothed, get to go to school and read or write books and watch your favorite tv show. And the states and law abiding citizenry don't pay for your medical treatment, care and bording, housing or anything else. You really want to stop gun violence, do something that will stop it. if you are not willing to take such drastic actions to stop gun violencem, then you are a freaking liar and you really don't want to stop gun violence, you simply don't like guns and as with most demigods out there if you don't like it then no one can. If someone doesn't agree with you then they are nazi storm trooper, traiters. Stop the bull$#!* and be honest, if the punishment fit the crime there would be a whole lot less of it, you know it, I know it, we all know it. There is no such thing as punishment, so what is the reason to stop?

David Cook @ 1/25/2013 4:07 PM

We have a constitution which is the foundation of our country. If we destroy the right to keep and bare arms you can bet that we will eventually lose the rest of our rights. I'm a retired Peace Officer and veteran who has spent my entire life protecting our rights. Lately I have seen our country going down the toilet. We are to far in debt that we will never be able to straighten out, we are selling arms to our enimies like Egypt, people on the East coust can't get FEMA aid and are freezing to death while we send aid to other countries. Don't mess with the constitution, period.

Retcopper @ 1/25/2013 6:57 PM

The authors of the 2nd Amendment had faith that this country would forge ahead into the future. They knew the future would bring new developments and technology. (Remember Ben Franklin, inventor & man of great ideas) Rocks and clubs developed into spears, knives and bows & arrows. They knew the guns of their day would improve with time. The 2nd Amend. was written for all time. It was musket vs musket in the fight for freedom & against tyranny in those times. Today its the AK vs the AR. If this is where we are now with technology the "AR's" and whatever follows them, will still apply to the 2nd Amend. The simplist among us are very out of touch with the importance & the intent of our founders. Hunting and target shooting
occurred then, as it should today, but defending and protecting was the purpose.

Retcopper @ 1/25/2013 8:36 PM

Comparing countries such as England to the U.S.A. is like an apple to an orange. With approx. 310 million plus in the U.S. vs approx. 61 million in England, one might expect a slight difference in crime stats involving guns. Canada has fewer people than does California (37 mill. in Ca.) Neither of these countries has the right to gun ownership as part of it's Constitution. For some strange reason there are still crimes involving guns in those and other countries were guns are banned. Common among all countries is we are all populated by human beings, We humans are the most amazing of God's creations. Among our ranks are the best most caring & compassionate. There are also those who exersize their free will in negative ways. Mankind also has those who are evil, & who care nothing about others. As long as man has existed, criminals & the worst of our kind have committed their bad deeds. The sad reality is, that will never change. Laws are tools to use against these types. We can use laws to disuade the good from becoming bad, but laws only go so far. Banning drugs only works for those who care, those who don't, still partake. If banning certain acts kept everyone on the straight and lawful side, who could argue. Even in countries where guns supposedly aren't, people are still hurt or killed with guns used by bad people. There are believed to be over 300 million guns in the U.S. yet very few are EVER used in a crime. There used to be a saying among Cops, "10% percent of the people commit 90% of the crime". I believe that is still true today. We've been out there, how often do run into the same crooks? ALOT! I believe that only a few guns are being used to commit most crimes. Have we truely come to a time when by mere virtue of owning a gun we have presumedly switched over to the evil side? I'm still the good guy, and the guns I've carried most of my life will not turn me bad. I know the same is true for more than 99% of gun owners

Retcopper @ 1/25/2013 11:05 PM

Guilty till proven innocent. Police Ofcrs. have felt this way for years.
Top story in bold type "POLICE GUN DOWN PEDESTRIAN" 2 pgs of this story feature the grieving wife, the neighbors saying Bob was a great guy, his 8th grade graduation photo, how the cops yelled at him for no reason. You get the picture. At the end of the article it mentions the bullet holes in windshield of the police unit and a HANDGUN was found next to the "SUSPECT". Other crime reports use terms like ALLEGEDLY when refering to suspects actions. Never for cops. Peace Ofcrs. have delt with these inflamatory headlines for years. Its not right, but it goes on each day. Our system of presuming one innocent until proven guilty, really only applies if you are not the Police. UNTIL NOW. Well lawful gun owners, join with us. The media,(most), apparently 51% of our our voting populous and a majority of our fine, hard working politicians are on a roll & will miss no opportunity to vilify you every chance they get, all because of your gun. Stand by to be called a racist, a freak maybe even a baby killer. You are presumed to be a bad guy, looking for a place to carry out your evil act. The influence the media & many politicians have on "sheeple" is amazing and frightening. The majority of gun owners are safe, responsible & lawful. They have done nothing to deserve this. Comply with the laws go to an FFL pay the fees, go through a background check wait 10 days, you did it all correct. You safely enjoy you gun at the range, clean it & lock it in your safe. Years later some psychotic freaks of nature commit unspeakable acts, and your name & addr. and a photo of your home ends up on the internet. A newspaper decides to treat lawful gun owners like convicted sexual preators. The paper endangers lives, and the gun owner is the still the bad guy. Yes Mr. Prez its time for that CHANGE!

Retcopper @ 1/26/2013 12:02 AM

We have all seen & heard O.I.S. stories. 3 officers fire 26 rnds at the suspect striking him 11 times. We of course know how the media would probably handle that. They would likely question why they shot the poor deranged alcohol charged, armed guy soooo many times. Cops on the other hand know its a dangerous job, its not like in the movies where the bad guy always goes down in a single shot. Most good cops wouldn't want to be too judgemental if they weren't there, but would want to examine the known facts and turn it into a training excersize. Why did the officers miss 15 times? Were they not in a good position?, was the suspect on the move?, or were their shooting skills sub par? If your not on the SWAT team chances are you don't shoot as much as you should. If you are still on the job and your dept. has a big ammo budget, you can go to the dept. range and practice. If your dept. has budget like most these days, or your retired or a civilian gun owner, its more of a challenge. The number of ranges in my area are fewer than yrs ago. Have you tried to find any ammo lately? Good luck. If you live in Ca. Your elected Nannies have big plans for gun owners. Out of the kindness of their hearts they may allow you to keep some of your guns, but ammo?? Check out what bills are coming our way. They tell us to be safe, but don't practice. These folks think hunters need about 10 rnds total 5 for practice 5 for a season of hunting. In Ca. target shooting isn't seen as a real activity or sport. The thought that anyone would need more than a couple hundred rnds is crazy. 500 -1000 rnds to most of us is a decent & fun day of practice, but the nannies are convinced you are preparing for a war. No matter where you live, stay informed, many of those uninformed people with the power of the pen, don't really have our best interest in their mind. Its gun (& ammo) control not criminal control. Stay safe

Retcopper @ 1/26/2013 12:55 AM

Background investigations, remember those? Physical, Psych., Polygraph, drug test, to name a few. Very detailed and involved. Few enjoy them but it would be hard to imagine a law enforcement career without that process being completed. Officers are tasked with great authority and responsibilty, so it makes sense.
Who else has great authority and responsibility? Politicians? Our elected officials and their appointees. Ever consider who does their background investigations? I thought about that as I have recently listened to them discuss background checks for gun buyers. I by the way have no problem with a reasonable background check, as long as it is conducted by L.E. and is for L.E. on a need to know basis. I also believe that privacy should be complete, absolute and not go outside L.E. That New York stuff should never happen again.
To answer the above question, it appears NO ONE! No background check for most positions. I can't find any info on this, except no checks conducted. Now if anyone has info to the contrary, it would be a hugh relief, but it appears its up to the media, competing candidates and whoever ?? to check into the backgrounds of these folks. Is that just a little shocking? Depending on their position, they have information on almost anyone and anything you might imagine. Our nations secrets, info dealing with national security. Does fox watching the hen house sound about right. The potential for a disaster is frightening. As history has showed we have had a few questionable, integrity lacking characters in various positions. Sounds like the people need to seek some answers and some change should be required. I would think that the minimum check needed for a Congressional candidate, the President, V.P. Cabinet posts, Supreme Court and all state level Legislators, Gov. and Lt Gov. should be at least what a police officer candidate goes through. Did everyone know this but me? WOW!

Retcopper @ 1/26/2013 1:39 AM

Fast and Furious, Gee nothing stinks here!

Giving F-16's to Egypt / Muslim Brotherhood Really? Who did that guy's background check?

I'm sure thats not nearly as dangerous as adult U.S.citizens, with clean backgrounds target shooting on the weekends and staying safer at home.

Jim A @ 1/27/2013 1:03 PM

I agree with your article. And I strongly disagree with one of your readers that your shot at the liberals is cheap. It is right on. Conservative has become a dirty word. It is popular to be liberal, although for the life of me I cannot figure out why. In their minds, "I'm ok and you're ok", everything goes and that is all right. God is out and legalized marijuana is now no big deal. What are they thinking?!

But this is about rights. Not privilege. RIGHTS. You have the right to speak freely under the constitution and I do not attempt to take those rights away. If you are not willing to give up that right, do no attempt to take my second amendment rights away. Time does not change the constitutional right.

And I have never seen a gun or high-capacity magazine go on a murderous rampage. I blame people. Simple. If crime was treated as a serious issue, then we would not be having these problems. We do not go after Ford or GM if someone deliberately drives a car into a crowd. We blame the PERSON! I think we should stop trying to pass laws for gun control. It does not work. Outlaws will have them when legal citizens cannot. We should demand good, solid, logical people control - or make the violators suffer the sure and strong legal consequences.

john mulrine @ 1/30/2013 7:18 AM

excellent article but re gun laws"england",is only a part of uk,scotland,wales ,northern ireland, all form uk, but srangely enough when the hand gun ban ,was brought in after the Dunblane school shootings, this ban did not apply to northern ireland ,and even to this day ,very few of the populus know about this fact, also Uk as a whole is quite a violent place ,major cities have lots of knife crimes and murders, as it is quite easy to stab some one and walk away, also UK purports to be a member of European "community", where hand guns are not banned, this was a knee jerk reaction by politicians who themselves are surrounded by armed protection officers!!!!!! you cannot legislate for any one who for whatever reason decides to go on a rampage with a gun ,car machete or who is suicidal..

RickN @ 1/31/2013 10:47 AM

One possible contributing cause of mass murder incidents that needs to be brought up and looked at is the media coverage and "15-minutes of fame" it brings. For some reason, no one wants to bring this up. Most of these mass murder incidents are perpetrated by loners without friends. Since they are down on themselves, they come up with the idea of going out in a media frenzy so they will be remembered and leave their mark on the world. I don't know how to prevent their names from being public, but there should be a way to get the media to tone it down.

As another note, criminal homicide is illegal already and still doesn't seem to stop murder. Additional gun laws will most likely have no real effect except to make criminals out of law abiding gun owners.

Daniel @ 1/31/2013 11:30 AM

The moment the president and others began talking about restricting certain firearms, the market went crazy. Even if gun control would work over time, how long will it take before the millions of new assault weapons and high capacity magazines disapear from the legal collections now in possession. And don't even go there if you think police officers are going to go knocking on doors to collect them. I'm not a Republican or Democrat, I am a logical thinking person who supports the constitution and all of it's amendments. If everyone doesn't see the civil war looming on the horizon, you had better wake up. Oh yeah, when that happens, I have everything needed to support the constitution.

Jim VG @ 1/31/2013 11:35 AM

Brian- If you don't agree with the "shots" at liberals, let your buddies know to back off. It is the liberals whose knee-jerk reactions to take the Constructional Rights of all citizens in order to realize their own version of a safe society who are the problem. I thank you for your service and your bravery, however remember there are a great number of us who have also served and sacrificed in order for the general population to be free. I did not spend 24 years in the Military, both active and reserve and 30 years as a LEO in the civilian world to have the rights protected by the Constitution to be taken away by self serving politicians. The problem is not a hardware problem but rather a human problem. Rather than controlling the hardware, other solutions need to be addressed. There are already over 20,000 gun laws on the books throughout the US. Enforcing those would solve most if not all the problems. As had been said repeatedly, criminals and wingnuts will not obey the law, only the law abiding citizens will. In the end it is them who will be the ultimate losers in this deal.

Lenny I @ 1/31/2013 1:46 PM

Tht had to be the best, most eloquent, precise piece on the matter that I've read so far.
I want to frame it :-)

Anthony Manzella @ 1/31/2013 4:49 PM

Great article, Dean. As far as I can tell, you covered every aspect of the issue and in a very articulate way. In my opinion, though, it almost always comes down to what Wayne LaPierre and others have said: "A bad man with a gun can be stopped only by a good man (or woman) with a gun."

Jeff @ 2/1/2013 2:59 PM

I would first like to say that I enjoyed the article immensely. And I would like to thank the author for his hard work. I've taken a great deal of time to read and understand the above comments. I am very thankful that I have colleagues whose views are based on common sense and not knee-jerk reaction. Semi automatic handguns shotguns and rifles were accessible for most of the 20th century. Yet this problem become epidemic in the last two decades. Don't we have to sit back and actually look what has changed in that period of time. Retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman has written a number of books that reveals the true cause of this violence. It's not the access to a particular firearm. It Is the mindset of the person handling. Our entertainment industry strives to feed our young people more violence through TV movies and video games every day. And we dare not challenge the entertainment industry they say it's their first amendment rights. But they have no problem attempting to infringe upon my Second Amendment rights. I am a small town chief of police. There is a lot of things I'm unfamiliar with. I do not believe this is one of them. I truly feel in my heart if our Second Amendment rights are infringed upon all of our freedoms are in jeopardy. The truth be known in any one of these incidents there is a number of firearms that could've caused the same amount of carnage. Such as a shotgun with buckshot. The reason these weapons were used more than likely because of media hype. I would also like to see the media never show the suspects picture, never mention the suspect's name. Only referred to them as the criminal cowardly are. Yet they continue to feed the beast, the sick and sad who only want their 15 minutes of fame. I have no intention of ever giving up my guns as a policeman or citizen.

Bobby Kearan @ 9/24/2013 10:35 AM

Yeah, claiming a balanced and thoughtful approach and proceeding to slam 'liberals' is not very convincing.
Just a note, there are a lot more conservatives shouting about killing all liberals or deporting liberals than there are liberals suggesting the same about conservatives. Liberals, as a general rule, don't tend to be big on killing anyone.
As far as "Rights" go, the commenter who said "Conservative has become a dirty word. It is popular to be liberal, although for the life of me I cannot figure out why. In their minds, "I'm ok and you're ok", everything goes and that is all right. God is out and legalized marijuana is now no big deal. What are they thinking?!"
Is a prime example of the Con-job conservatives pull - "You can't make laws to control guns, but I'll pass laws to make you have to follow my religion and you can't smoke that plant, you can't marry that person, you can't do THAT no matter how good it feels, even in the privacy of your own home."

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