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A plan for gun control in the land of guns

The long-term plan: I recently came across a web page with an article titled “A cure for mass shootings doesn't exist.” What a cop-out, I have to say. So I finally dug up some thoughts on the issue that have crossed my mind for years and put them in writing.

True, there are people dying on a daily basis from many other things besides mass shootings—car crashes, drugs, etc.—one of these days southern California is going to get hit by a major earthquake, and one of these days another hurricane is going to cause death and destruction somewhere along the southern coast. But what, of course, makes gun violence (like terrorism) especially detrimental to society is the fact it is no accident.

I see two aspects to the present state of gun violence, one is human nature, and the other must be cultural—something about present society that spurs certain vulnerable people to commit such acts.

My own grandfather used to carry a shotgun to school and store it in his locker to go rabbit hunting after school. No one thought a thing of it. So how did we get from there to absolute insanity, with schools slowly being turned into maximum security facilities?

As for the cultural connection, it must have something to do with all of the ways we have to communicate with one another these days. Anyone with homicidal thoughts can now find and/or learn about others with like thoughts, not to mention witnessing their actions, with only a few mouse clicks or thumb taps (So I’m not such a freak, after all. I guess I will just become like so and so, and commit my own mass shooting). Add that to an endless amount of violence-depicting fictional media that has otherwise accumulated, and . . . And there really isn’t anything that can be done about this aspect without throwing free speech, free press, and history in general out the window—a trade-off that could ultimately prove much worse than the mass shootings. Of course, there are a couple more obvious differences between that time (circa 1918) and the present, and that is a much greater population with ever larger schools. Revised 5-30-22

As for the human nature aspect, humanity now has—for the first time—the ability to take control of its evolution, and do so without implementing any sort of Draconian liberty-crushing measures. No amount of chanting to the gods, draconian laws, or piling more guns on top of guns is ever going to stop gun violence, terrorism, or war. But if the genetic factors that bring out the worst of our nature can be found and eradicated from the entire human population, it most certainly could not hurt the situation.

So the long-term plan is, cure the cause of the illness instead of trying to treat all of the symptoms with snake oil and Peptobismo.

End note: Some advice for the young: I have heard talk of raising the age to buy guns. I would strongly advise not letting any such laws go into effect under any circumstance. If there is anything I have learned, it is that most any institution, such as a government, school, or corporation will squash your freedom and privacy--one item after another--simply because they can and you (the people or students) let them get away with it. I would point out that many mass shootings, such as the recent Los Vegas shooting, were not carried out by teenagers; and most so called “adults” that I have known in my lifetime have no more actual maturity than the average ten-year old. Just look at Congress, for example.

The short term plan: As for the short term, I do have a suggestion, but it’s an expensive one. But first, a look at the present arguments from both sides of the gun debate:

The pro-gun people argue that many an unarmed group has been oppressed, and some literally exterminated, for lack of the ability to fight back. And the thing is, they’re right. They also argue that any ban on assault rifles would infringe on 2nd amendment rights. They argue that if someone wants to kill a lot of people, they will likely find another method. And they also argue that rapid fire weapons are a necessity because the government has so much fire power, these days. But I’m not so sure the arguments make so much sense when the group is busy exterminating each other.

The anti-gun people argue that the Constitution was written when 3 musket balls a minute was considered rapid fire, as opposed to about 90 RPM for a modern-day semi-automatic AR-15 (if the person’s trigger finger holds out), or hundreds of RPM with a bumpstock, therefore some common sense laws are a no-brainer regarding weapons that create a one-man army. And just because there might be other methods of mass murder does not mean we should simply throw up our hands and give up.

My suggestion:

Step1: Construct a series of fortified bunkers in which to store many thousands of guns. The guns would be transferred via a fully automated conveyor system to private booths, where the owner of a particular gun could fire the weapon.

Step2: If there is one thing that the worst of all of these mass shootings have in common, it is the detachable magazine. So congress decides to outlaw so-called high-capacity magazines. . . . Big deal, I have to say. So a shooter can only shoot 15 bullets instead of 30 (or whatever) before they can pop in another magazine in mere seconds and resume? Is that really supposed to make a dent in gun deaths in the USA? So the next step is to outlaw the transportation or ownership of any gun that utilizes a detachable magazine—outside of one of the secure facilities. For any new purchases of such firearms, the gun would be transported directly from the manufacturer to the facility under tight security and in disassembled form. 

Step 3: A different panel of ten non-military, non-government individuals will be elected by the gun owners to operate each facility, and to each hold a unique code, which would release all of the weapons from the facility to their respective owners, but only in combination with at least seven of the other codes. In other words, only by the authorization of eight individuals could the guns be released.

The general idea is to secure the guns, yet create a means of making them available should the elected panel deem it necessary. Hence, the government would still have reason to “fear” the public, while the gun owners could shoot their weapons all they wanted, just not take them home unless released by the mutual cooperation of the elected panel.

So who would pay for the construction of the bunkers/shooting ranges? I think the NRA would make an excellant candidate. The gun owners would then sustain the facilities’ operation with membership fees.

A couple web pages I sourced for this article:
how long does it take to reload a 17th century musket? | Yahoo Answers
How many rounds does a semi-automatic rifle fire per minute? - Quora

9/09/18: I have been taking a closer look at the historical data regarding mass shootings, and it only confirms my initial observation regarding automatic weapons: No question about it, the vast majority of the mass shootings in the US were, indeed, carried out using semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and/or pistols with detachable magazines.

Another observation: While neither mass shootings or school shootings are a phenomena that did not exist before 1965, 1965 seems to mark the beginning of the purely sociopathic mass shooting, with victims chosen at random.

Searching for an environmental cause, one item keeps popping up again and again, and that is the growing use of anti-depressants—and Valium. Not only has the use of antidepressants increased greatly since they were first introduced in the middle of the last century, the antidepressants themselves have become more powerful. But the picture is incomplete: If you search for an in-depth study regarding anti-depressants, you won’t find much, and what you will find is conflicting. And some pertain to other gene pools, (i.e., outside the US). I somehow doubt that I am the only one who finds it more than a little ironic, not to mention repugnant, that the US government, which has played the communist super-nanny for nearly a century against the common pot smoker, has largely decided to sit on its hands regarding a class of substances that likely really do cause extreme violence and mayhem.

So if you would like to see a chart comparing the use of antidepressants with the incidence of mass shootings, don’t bother looking; you probably won’t find anything. But here is something to consider: The US had one mass shooting in 1965. The US population was 194.3 million. The US population in 2017 was 325.7 million, an increase by a factor of about 1.7, yet the US had 18 more mass shootings than 1965.

So while many may benefit from antidepressants and various modern sedatives, they are clearly part of the equation in regards to many mass shootings. Well, I am as powerless as the next guy; all I can do is offer suggestions: Either discontinue the medications (like Congress is going to stamp out an 80 billion/year industry even if the people wanted them to), or what I have already suggested—lock up the most dangerous weapons and invest in the science of finding possible genetic causes for such behavioral abnormalities as chronic depression and homicidal thoughts, and eliminating the sequences from the human population.

Recommended further reading: Psychiatric Drugs and Mass Shootings

Well, for what it's worth, I sent the following letter to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown on the 7th of August 2019. For anyone agreeing with anything in the following, I would recommend making your voice be heard (loud and clear). Call me a pessimist if you like, but I can to tell you what affect the proposals that are currently on the table are probably going to have on gun violence in the United States: very little, with profound incursions on other constitutional rights.

Dear Senator,

While it is hard to pin down the main reason (if one exists) as to why the incidence of mass shootings has increased over the last 50 years or so, I do believe there is a main reason why they happen. While all of us no doubt have a dark side that may be brought about by mental illness, bullying, drugs, or uncontrollable tempers etc., I think it is obvious that some members of the human race are simply bad people with violent tendencies. With that in mind . . .

As I am writing this, Ohio Governor Dewine is giving a speech introducing proposals designed to tackle the problem of gun violence. While some of his proposals might have some effect, I have little doubt that his plans to ensnare possible shooters will also ensnare many innocent individuals, perhaps only guilty of a bad joke or a school-yard scuffle, inflicting a scar on their integrity that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Back in February of 2018, I posted a web page containing a couple ideas regarding gun violence and mass shootings ( Essentially, idea one deals with correcting possible genetic factors responsible for chronic violent behavior. That, of course, is not going to solve anything in the short term. Idea two is the primary reason for this letter, and constitutes a proposal for locking up all guns that employ detachable magazines into highly secure repositories/shooting ranges. An act of Congress would be needed to implement the creation of the repositories, after which, control of the repositories/any release of the firearms to their respective owners would be turned over to a locally elected panel (then hope for the best).

While the creation of such repositories might, indeed, keep the most dangerous firearms out of the hands of the next mass shooter, there is an aspect of the plan that goes beyond merely locking up the guns: To the violent individual who lacks empathy for others (or certain others) and dreams of carrying out violent acts, could our society provide a better place to validate his thoughts, I have to ask; a place that has elevated and glorified weapons designed purely for killing many people to a nearly toy-like status? Is that the backwards, extreme, misanthropic, troglodyte society that the United States aspires to be?

By locking up these most dangerous weapons, it would say to these individuals, your point of view is not valid; Society, as a whole, while believing in being prepared to battle tyranny, does not glorify gun violence and weapons designed for mass killings. In that respect, it may reduce overall gun violence and mass shootings from two angles. The only way to know for sure is to try it.

Now, I am not nave: I am aware that Congress is a giant spineless jellyfish that caves to the gun lobby like a . . . well, spineless jellyfish. But such a plan has no hope unless someone in a position of authority has the fortitude to bring it into the discussion. So I ask you to copy this letter and present to each and every member of Congress (easier for you than it is for me).

I think such a plan offers good compromise between gun ownership and gun control, and hopefully will eliminate the erosion of other equally important constitutional rights such as freedom of speech, to name just one.

11/14/19: I addressed my letter to Sherrod Brown “personal” and asked for confirmation of some sort that he had, indeed, read it personally. At present, I have not received a thing from Sherrod Brown, so I don’t know for sure what became of my letter. In the mean time, the only thing I have heard from him (in the media) is a call for stronger background checks. And this comes after a recent shooting in Ohio where the shooter simply purchased the assault rifle from an acquaintance. Well, that seems to be the general pattern, doesn’t it (just say we’re going to do something and let things blow over until the next incident.)

7/27/20: I just want to clarify that I did not send the letter to Sharrod Brown with the idea that Congress should simply pass a law requiring all semi-automatic weapons be locked up. The idea was that the US people's elected representatives might actually, in some manner, bring the secure-repository idea to their constituent's attention, so the people can decide if it is a good idea, or not. rev 7/30/20

5/26/22, Welcome to the Yosemite Sam States of America:
So when it comes down to it, the Democrats and democratic administrations have accomplished very little over the last 60 years or so in improving conditions in the United States: Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act, Carter tackled the oil problem and the inflation problem, and Obama also tackled the oil problem. After the big crash in 2008, the Dodd-Frank Act managed to reverse some of the deregulatory foolishness that helped cause it. And the Democrats claim they could do more if it wasn’t for Republicans blocking their way, but—god help us—most everything else they have tried to do has been based on their own brand of foolishness, and nothing has changed there recently.

Republicans, on the other hand have not done jack squat over the last 60 years to improve conditions in the United States. They have only fed the rich and indebted everyone else many times over by, among many other things, furiously trying to unravel the restrained-capitalist/limited socialist system that evolved after the great depression and WWII. It truly boggles the mind why people have continued to vote for them for so long and shoot themselves in the foot; only now, in the hell hold that their masters have created, it is kids who are the ones literally getting shot and killed.

Appendix 5-31-22: Figure I better correct this before anyone calls me out on it: There is one thing that a republican president did to improve conditions in the US, and that was the creation of the EPA by Richard Nixon. However, it's authority was later weakened by the Reagan administration.

But before anyone starts raving about Donald Trump: Yes, there were a few things Donald Trump stood for, in principle, that I agreed with, but by in large, he was just more of the same, only worse, and still is.

Filmmaker Michael Moore thinks everyone should forget about third political parties and get behind the Democrats. I reluctantly have to agree that the two-party system makes the most democratic sense. What we need, though, are candidates that, while aligning themselves with the Republican or Democratic parties, swear by the overall principles of the Reform Party, which, of course, has a platform based on common sense as the underlying theme. And obviously, the well of common sense has largely run dry in Congress and many a lower governmental body. Of course, then everyone needs to vote for those candidates, and those candidates need to practice what they preach.

Back on Feb 23rd, of 2018, I created this web page back to suggest a compromise between weapons-of-mass-destruction enthusiasts and everyone else. Since then I have only heard one person running for any public office who has taken any of my proposals to heart. All I can say to those politicians who claim to want the assault rifles off the street and full background checks is, could you be any more spineless?

7/04/22, Since the mass shooting in Uvalde Texas, I have heard a lot of the usual, often incredibly stupid, rhetoric that follows such events regarding what should be done, but I have not heard a single politician address the issue from the standpoint of the fundamental social causes behind it. Anymore, it seems, it is only the symptoms anyone wants to discuss, rather than pondering any causes. I did discover via an Internet search that the government actually commissioned a study of the phenomenon back in late 2019. The study, carried out jointly by the CDC and the NIH could have a report out by this fall according to this web article that also explains how Congress has been blocking such a study for many years: Now the government is funding gun violence research, but it’s years behind.

Great, but in the meantime, I guess its up to some unqualified guy with an Internet blog, such as myself, to try and figure out what has caused the situation. So, I did find a few web pages, including a Wikipedia page, that offer some possible causes (commonly referred to as contributing factors) for the increase in mass shootings, but most of what I have found seems over-simplified, to me. Over time, I have arrived at the opinion that it might be best to put contributing factors into three different categories: Those that have always existed, those that are more recent, and factors that have increase the severity. With that in mind, here is the list that I arrived at:

Factors that have always existed

1 Loss of a parent, or being raised by a single parent. While there may be little doubt that it is a significant contributing factor with inner city violence in general by black youth, there also appears to be a connection between it and mass shootings.

2 Individuals genetically predisposed with a particular violent disposition/uncontrollable temper.

3 Mental illness or a traumatic brain injury or drug abuse or the unwitting ingestion of toxins in conjunction with a violent disposition.

4 Bullying, persecution and ostracism.

More recent factors, which have increased the frequency and rate of mass shootings:

1 The shift from a rural agrarian society to an urban society, resulting in fewer responsibilities for young men.

2 Television, and with it the potential for a great number of people to be exposed on a daily basis to images of person-to-person violence, much of it involving guns, causing a skewed sense of reality in some vulnerable individuals (the most vulnerable age group being very young-to-teenage males), where such violence represents normal everyday human behavior.

3 Theoretical yet probable: The conflict between scientific knowledge, which has completely dispelled the earth-centric views of the past, and human nature or instinct; specifically the deeply seated yearning that has evolved in the human species to imagine supernatural forces or beings controlling their destiny.

4 Non-traditional forms of treatment for mental illness (anti-depressants), some of which can lead to violent outbursts, especially when the medication is stopped abruptly.

5 Mass shootings themselves, each of which only adds to the “database” of person-to-person violence, thus contributing to the monkey-see monkey-do aspect of mass shootings in the long term as well as immediately following such an incident through media coverage.

6 Theoretical yet to some degree probable: The glorification by a segment of society of weapons not just designed to kill people, but many people.

7 The expansion of multi-media and the Internet, thus increasing the potential for daily exposure to depictions of person-to-person violence, information on all past mass shootings, and interactive depictions of person-to-person violence.

Factors that have increased the severity and death count of mass shootings:

1 The prevalence and ease of acquiring weapons with detachable magazines, especially assault weapons.

2 The use of such weapons to carry out mass shootings, thus inspiring would-be mass shooters to use those types of weapons.

Now, as far as stopping these events is concerned, it is my opinion that only a multi-pronged approach that takes all of the above factors—no single one being more important than another—into consideration would be the most effective way to go, with these limitations in mind: All guns are not going to go away, history cannot be swept under the rug, scientific fact cannot be swept under the rug, and multimedia is not going away anytime soon either.

One of these days I am going to expand on this page and offer some of my own suggestions on each of the contributing factors just covered, for anyone who might be paying attention.

5/04/23: So here is another idea that has never, to my knowledge, been proposed before (proposal #3): It expands on a web page I penned back in 2012, and I would recommend reading it, as well, to gain a better understanding of where I am “coming from.” I propose a program to get inner city kids, priority going to the most likely to eventually get into trouble by statistic, out of the city and into a completely different environment, for a short while anyway. The environment I have in mind is wilderness, somewhat isolated from other people. I think the program should have three steps: The first would involve the child at say, age 8, staying with one parent or guardian (at any given moment), at a small cabin in a wilderness area for a period of one month. The cabin should be along the shore of a lake and separated from other human habitation by at least a mile or so, and only be accessible by boat. Step 2, at age 11, the child would stay at the cabin, preferably the same location, with one parent for one month. Step 3, the teenager, at age 14, after staying at the cabin, or a similar one, with a parent for one week, would stay at the cabin by themselves for three more weeks. The program should be completely voluntary (on the part of the parents). Revised 7-05-23

No, this does not include extreme hardship or survival skills (no scrounging for snails or chasing snakes out of your sleeping bag). This is not a TV show—there would be no electronic devices whatsoever except for one or two cell phones (not iphones) that dial one number for emergencies—that’s it. The cabins would be primitive but cozy, with a loft on one end for storage, and one for sleeping on the other. Wood stove with a good stack of wood chunks to be chopped for firewood. Basic accommodations otherwise.

Here is my thinking: Currently, the idea is to give the kids various things to do to keep them out of trouble in the first place. And whatever activity that may be, it always involves more adults and more kids. Clearly it is not working, so I’m just suggesting a bit of the opposite.

There are a lot of details to work out, of course: The kids, and possibly the parents, would need some training first, including how to avoid conflict with potentially dangerous animals, which would probably have its good points (keep the kids from wandering too far from the cabin). Another complication I can foresee is if there are especially dangerous animals in the area, such as grizzly bears, the animals would need to be tracked at all times.

Of course, the first step is to try it as an experiment. I think, to confirm any positive social effect, though, the first run would have to done on a fairly large scale, involving many kids.

Appendix 7-05-23: I initially suggested a stay of two weeks for step 1, but changed it to one month. My gut feeling was that two weeks simply was not long enough for a kid to get well-acclimated to the situation, make friends with the kid across the way etc., especially if they are negative about the program, coming in). And I figure the better acclimated they can become during step 1, the smoother things are going to go during steps 2&3. The challenge with such long stays would, of course, be ensuring someone can accompany them. I'm thinking perhaps the responsibility could be divided up between parents and grandparents when at all possible.

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2-23-18, last rev = 7-05-23
2018-23 Dave Conklin