Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New York passes a law against spray guns, with tougher health care standards

New York has just passed a gun and mental health bill that seems to make a lot of sense to me.  New York is a liberal state, dominated by a huge city, of course, so it is the place most likely to be for limiting the kinds of weapons that are legal.

Apparently, the new gun laws include outlawing assault weapons, broadening the definition of assault weapons, banning semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines “and one military-style feature" (whatever that means), banning any gun magazine that can hold over 7 rounds, requiring background checks of gun buyers and ammunition buyers, automated alerts to law enforcement of high-volume purchases, background checks for “most private gun sales”, and a statewide gun-registration data base.  (I would hope there will eventually be a nationwide gun-registration data base)

To me, these laws do not violate an individual’s second amendment rights.  I believe in the second amendment, but I do not believe that the second amendment authorizes the citizenry to be armed with military weapons of mass killing.  Guns – yes - bazookas, tanks, grenades, flame throwers, anti-aircraft weapons, and spray guns – no.

I used to be opposed to most gun control. The two main arguments that used to be persuasive to me about gun control were:  first, outlawing spray guns will have no effect on what weapons the criminals will use, and second, individuals need spray guns to protect them against a tyrannical government.

These arguments no longer are persuasive to me.

First, concerning the inability of laws to keep spray guns out of the hands of the criminals.  So, what?  If only criminals have spray guns, they clearly identify themselves by their weapons and should be guaranteed a minimum of 25 years to life just for the fact of possessing such weapons, especially if used in the commission of a crime.  The best way to clear the streets of hardened criminals is to clearly identify them by their behavior, and if using a spray gun becomes a definition of criminal behavior, that becomes sufficient evidence for extreme incarceration, regardless of the rest of the charges and evidence of the crime involved.  The "Three Strikes" laws tried to get the hard core criminals off the streets; spray gun laws could do that very thing. Plus, citizens that think they stand a chance with their spray guns against practiced criminals with their spray guns are living in a fantasy world of macho bravado reinforced by watching movies where smart and tough good guys mow down dozens of dumb and incompetent bad guys.

Second, concerning needing spray guns to protect yourself against a tyrannical government out to get you.  This seems to me to be paranoia more than anything else.   There is a very strange, very paranoid strand of thought amongst the right wing extremes that the U.S. government is evil and tyrannical and that individuals need to arm themselves to the teeth to defend themselves.  First, the government isn't evil or tyrannical in America, even if they do some things that some individuals don't like. What is the fear? that Obama's jack booted military are going to come pounding on your door at 2 AM and force you to sign up for a government sanctioned health care insurance plan?  And besides, if the government of the United States actually decides to come after you, your only defense is to be the government of Russia or Germany, and even they eventually were conquered. A spray gun isn't going to help.

I say the most likely scenarios for law abiding citizens with spray guns are that civilians will hesitate for just a moment before pulling the trigger (and be  shot out of self defense by the bad guy looking at the barrel of a spray gun), or civilians will act irrationally and impulsively in a fit of rage and use the spray guns against loved ones, friends, neighbors, people they hate, and strangers that send them off, i.e. the citizens become the bad guys just long enough to destroy others and themselves.

Just as importantly, New York also is instituting new laws regarding mental illness and guns, including requiring mental health professionals to report those they believe to be a dangerous to mental health officials, expanding “Kendra’s Law” empowering judges to order mentally ill patients to seek outpatient treatment (too bad they didn’t go the next step and allow judges to order violently mentally ill patients to be institutionalized for inpatient treatment).

The weapons industry will object, of course, because apparently sales are their only objectives in life.  Sad lives, indeed, it seems to me.

The mental health professionals will object out of fear of losing clients who would fear being turned in for violent proclivities.

These laws won’t stop all the crazy people from getting spray guns and massacring children and other innocents.  So what?  These laws will reduce the ease and likelihood of these pathetic events happening.  These laws can  improve the situation.