Let’s chill out on assault weapons

Since the horrific mass murder of young children in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been a lot of talk about the “need” for an assault weapons ban to replace the 1994 ban that expired in 2004. With this in mind, we need to chill out and examine the statistics, both for cause of death generally and murder specifically.

Note: These crime numbers do not match. The Census Bureau, CDC and FBI all have slightly different numbers. Nonetheless, they are close and they are from reliable sources.

First, let’s look at all causes of death in 2009:

  • Heart disease: 599,413

  • Cancer: 567,628

  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 137,353

  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,842

  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 118,021

  • Alzheimer’s disease: 79,003

  • Diabetes: 68,705

  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,692

  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,935

  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 36,909

Murder is way down the list. According to the FBI, there were 15,241 murders in 2009, down dramatically from the high numbers in the early 1990’s. From 1991 to 1994 the number of murders looked like this:

  • 1991 – 24,703

  • 1992 – 23,760

  • 1993 – 24,526

  • 1994 – 23,326

Now let’s take a look at the “Murder Victims–Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death” spreadsheet compiled by the Census Bureau. Of the 9,203 murders by firearms in 2009 handguns were used in 6,503 of those murders while rifles were used in 352 murders. Even if we assume that all of the “unspecified” weapons are rifles (which would be silly) that still accounts for 2,276 murders by rifles in a nation of well over 300 million people.

As Reason.com points out, rifles of any kind were used in only 3 percent of all murders and Connecticut already has a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” That is an invented term, by the way. True military weapons – fully automatic weapons – have been severely restricted for generations.

No, we do not have a compelling national crisis that requires swift action by Congress to again restrict “scary looking guns” like was done in 1994. It is always a bad idea to make laws based on isolated incidents that do not reflect the vast majority of gun owners. We do not need to further restrict the rights of law-abiding Americans to own guns in a responsible manner. Republicans should not cave on this – though some probably will.

Time to leave Syria, Bashir Assad.

Bashir Assad was clearly spooked by the Arab Spring and what happened to Moammar Gaddafi, but he’s only made the people under his boot hate him even more by waging war against his own people, slaughtering many civilians including women and children.

His fall is inevitable now, and he better hope he can escape the country before the rebels get their hands on him. His death won’t be painless or quick if that happens.

If he’s smart, he’ll negotiate a hasty exit before his government falls. Better to be tried before a human rights tribunal than tortured to death by the rebels.

A more pressing need than banning soda

In an article in today’s paper about a woman who murdered a man by pushing him in front of a subway train in New York City, an interesting fact:

There are no barriers separating the trains from the people on the city’s subway platforms

Seems like that would be an easy problem to fix. It is obviously a more pressing need than making sure people don’t drink too much soda. How about it, Mayor Doomberg?

107-2 basketball win illustrates need for "mercy rule"

If the 107-2 win by the Bloomington South girls’ basketball team that made national headlines illustrates anything, it is that the ISHAA needs a “mercy rule” once the score gets out of control. The actions of the coach, though, are much harder to judge.

In the weeks following the South/Arlington game, the difficulties Arlington had were explored, especially how the school had been losing students after being put under new management. The game against South was not an anomaly for this school, which has been blown out by ridiculous margins earlier in the year.

It’s easy to judge the coach after the fact, but the fact that the game was scheduled at all put him in a difficult position. The talent difference between the two teams meant that this game was never going to be close. I mean no disrespect to Arlington by saying this, but there is a reason certain schools do not play each other.

Once South started running up the score – probably not intentionally, but by playing normally – it was a difficult decision. If you intentionally put the brakes on, would you be seen as “mocking” an inferior team? Is it even ethical to allow another team to score points or to take intentionally bad shots or turn the ball over?

So the answer is to change the rules for games like this one. One way to do this is to speed up the game: Once the margin reaches a certain point, the clock keeps running even during time outs and dead balls. Another possibility is to declare the leading team automatically wins when the score passes a certain margin – perhaps fifty points.

This serves a dual purpose: It makes the margin of loss less humiliating and it is simply more efficient. This game was over well before the time ran out, and served only as a waste of time for the players, fans and coaches.

Politicizing a tragedy vs. finding solutions

And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. — Jeremiah 32:35

I said on Facebook and Tumblr last week that I do not think it is fair to demonize people who are advocating gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting as “politicizing” the tragedy. I disagree with more gun control and I find it counterproductive. However, I do not think that all of those who are advocating for gun control are doing so with bad motives. Many of them simply want to prevent this from happening again and are offering a solution. Those of us who disagree with that solution should not personally attack them.

I would draw a thick black line between those offering public policy solutions and those who exploit tragedy to score points against their political enemies. Lets’ not forget how Leftists rushed to blame Sarah Palin after a madman trued to murder Gabby Giffords. Let’s also not forget the Leftist political hacks who rushed to falsely blame a Tea Party activist for a mass shooting at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises this past summer, murdering his reputation and exposing him to harassment and a flood of death threats. This type of behavior is despicable and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

But when tragedy strikes, it is natural for people to look for ways to prevent it from happening again or at least make it less likely or mitigate the damage of a future tragedy. We saw it after both Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, wondering what policies could be implemented to make storms like these less destructive. There is no reason that discussion should not take place in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. It should take place in a way that is respectful to the victims, but it should not be silenced altogether.

This brings me to what should be an obvious inconsistency in our reaction to 20 children being murdered by a madman – the fact that many of us do not bat an eye at the wholesale slaughter of innocent babies in their mother’s wombs every single day. On average, we murder over 3,200 babies every day in America. This is not meant to minimize the very real pain or the evil that took place on December 14, but in terms of magnitude of killing we are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

When we murder 1.2 million babies a year, and when we have murdered over 50 million since laws against abortion were thrown out by the wicked Roe v. Wade decision, are we really surprised that we have so little respect for human life in our culture? When our children grow up thinking that murdering your own child is “reproductive choice” are we surprised they do not cherish life? Our consciences have been so seared by the bloodshed we allow to take place daily that we need to loudly and vigorously damn the evil men who would coldly gun down school children just so we can feel like we are human beings and not monsters.

If we want a culture that respects life, the answer is not disarming our population or getting rid of movies and video games where the “killing” is special effects or pixels on a computer screen where no one is actually hurt. No, we need to face our wickedness as a nation that has murdered several times more people than the Nazis did in the Holocaust – and we need to repent of this terrible evil.

Merry Christmas 2012

Today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While many church services focus on the glorious birth of Christ with heavenly host singing, it is also important to recognize how much of a sacrifice it was for Jesus to come to earth to be our Redeemer. We often think of the crucifixion as Christ’s main sacrifice, but his entire life was a sacrifice for us.

Isaiah 53:2-3

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Many paintings of Jesus depict Him as a glorious, good looking man. But the prophesy of Him in Isaiah indicates that He was just the opposite. Born in a manger rather than a palace, Jesus humbled Himself to be with the lowly rather than the rich and powerful. Born as a baby, Jesus humbled Himself by being completely dependent on his mother and father for everything aspect of His life: food, shelter and clothing. Think that the Creator of the universe was completely helpless.

Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. Yet he entered this world with no power whatsoever, in the body of a newborn baby. Jesus was completely dependent on Mary and Joseph for food, shelter and basic care. Like all newborns, Jesus could not walk or even crawl. Imagine, the Creator of the universe being carried around because He has no mobility! Jesus was willing to lower Himself not only to take on a frail human body, but to have the most vulnerable and frail body of all: a newborn child. How many of us, if we were omnipotent, would be willing to make that sacrifice for the people we created?

Most importantly, why did He do this? Jesus came to earth, endured the humiliation of helplessness, endured the humiliation of being of low social status, and endured the suffering of the cross for our sins. All of us have sinned against God, and no one has the ability to repay that debt and make ourselves right with Him. So God Himself comes to earth and suffers, and is eventually executed for the sins we committed against Him. What a merciful and loving God our Father is, to sacrifice Himself to free us from the bondage of sin and death.

Reality on gun control

Connecticut has an “assault weapons” ban similar to the federal ban that expired in 2004. It didn’t prevent this atrocity.

The “assault weapons” ban, if written like the one in 1994, will outlaw scary looking guns, but the “assault weapons” will still be legal if they are modified.

They are not “weapons of war.” True military hardware has been banned for generations. It has been illegal to own fully automatic weapons since, I think, 1934.

Finally, the number of people killed by rifles is low in comparison to the number of people killed by other means, including handguns. This is a solution looking for a problem.

Compromise or capitulation on gun laws?

So there is talk that we may see “compromise” on gun laws. Any further restriction on the right to own guns is not a compromise. It is a capitulation. We would be moving in the direction that the gun-grabbers want while we get absolutely nothing in return. How is that a compromise? Hint: It isn’t a compromise! We need to rethink this entire notion of “compromise” if this is what we mean by it.