Weapons for peace

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I live in Texas where the very idea of gun laws cause heartburn. We like our guns. My father collected them and my co-workers discuss their firearms in the break room. In the novel x0 my telepathic hero Lola has a gun in her purse and has to consider whether her new powers will render her unable to use it. Guns show up in my next two novels as well.

In spite of the disposition of my home state, and the behaviors of my fictional characters, I am an advocate of reasonable gun regulations.

According to the blog of the Houston Chronicle a state gun law scorecard was released yesterday (Dec. 9) which showed that in the last year 21 states have created or expanded gun laws while 25 other states, including Texas, get F’s for failing to provide the most basic safety restrictions.

This didn’t surprise me, but it prompted me to learn more. Thanks to a website called Texas Gun Laws I found out that in Texas

  • There is no waiting period for purchasing a firearm
  • There is no state registration of guns
  • If you have a concealed handgun license you may carry as many hidden revolvers as you like
  • You can get a CHL now with four hours of instruction and a proficiency exam at a shooting range
  • You can keep a gun loaded and within reach in your car, and a school campus cannot prohibit you from doing so.
  • You may carry a gun while drinking but not while legally drunk
  • Machine guns, suppressors and other assault weapons are perfectly legal
  • There is no limit to the number of rounds the magazine for your gun may hold.
  • Background checks are required by federal law and Texas leads the nation in running them. No check is needed for sales between private citizens or at gun shows
  • Texas averages about ten major gun shows a month
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That’s a lot of firepower out there folks, in a lot of inexperienced hands. Additional changes have been proposed to allow concealed weapons to be carried into a bar and into places of worship, and to allow weapons to be holstered so that they are visible.

Accidents happen. Stupid things get done. Tempers flare, people show off, children get curious. Is this sort of world we really want? Not me. I like my heritage and my freedom, but I also like my peace of mind. The idea of a whole lot of barely trained people strutting around with assault weapons does not make me feel safer.

How does one fight the sort of paranoid movement that wants the most dangerous of guns readily available? Luckily there are other kinds of weapons in this world and other ways to fight.



4 thoughts on “Weapons for peace

  1. That’s a lot of firepower out there folks, in a lot of inexperienced hands.

    And firearm related deaths and injuries have been decreasing for decades — all the while firearm ownership has increased, the number of CHLs has increased and laws have been made less restrictive.
    On the other hand, Chicago one of the most restrictive cities for firearm laws in one of the most restrictive states for firearms has a higher firearm related homicide rate than Fort Worth. Perhaps isn’t it the number of firearms but those who are using them to commit crimes. According the Texas Department of Public Safety; Concealed Handgun License holders have some of the more law abiding citizens in the state. They’ve tracked convictions since the beginning of the license and at no time have CHL holder been more than 0.5% of those convictions — and that was the first several years after the license started and people were found carrying where they weren’t allowed (and why the law has changed to allow more places). Now the conviction rate is around 0.2%

    and into places of worship,

    Your information is out of date. In 2010/2011 legislative session this was changed so any church wanting to prohibit concealed carry had to post an appropriate 30.06 sign; just like any other building. And have you noticed how few shootings Texas has had at churches?

    The idea of a whole lot of barely trained people strutting around with assault weapons does not make me feel safer.

    And yet those barely trained people are also the ones you see on the road with you, the ones cooking in their own homes, owning enough chemicals to poison half a city or blow up a building.
    The people carrying ‘assault weapons’ are the same ones watching your kids at school, cooking your meals at restaurants, repairing your car, prescribing medicine or filling that order at the pharmacy. The same people you are concerned about are also the people aren’t the problem. The F.B.I. estimates 50% of all homicides and 85% of all violent crime is committed or related to drug and gang activity.

    So….restrict the law abiding from owning or carrying firearms and you’ll probably get more crime. Several studies have shown firearms to be used defensively several hundred thousand times a year.

    Luckily there are other kinds of weapons in this world and other ways to fight.

    But few as effective, cost or time efficient. Learning unarmed combat requires years of training to be effective and even then a slight, short person has little chance against a larger opponent. That is why every form of unarmed combat has weight classes.

    Firearm are the most effective means of self defense available.

  2. Thanks for your comments. My quarrel is not with the right to carry hand guns for self defense, or with the rights to have weapons for hunting or to collect them. I agree that many law abiding citizens do all of the above, including my own family, friends and co-workers. My issue is that Texas does not require a waiting period to purchase a gun, which is an excellent idea in cases of anger and depression. It does not require background checks at gun shows, and there are a lot of gun shows. Finally, it does not put automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the same category as other weapons of great destruction. Seriously, we both know that citizens do not need assault rifles for protection, and their current unlimited availability here in Texas makes me nervous. I also think four hours of training to carry a gun in public is pretty light.

    We regulate everything from driving to fishing and while I dislike regulations as much as the next Texan, I recognize their limited necessity for society to function well and I think it is time for my state to acknowledge that guns are dangerous enough to warrant basic controls. Such controls won’t affect my or your right to a hand gun, but they should keep my neighbor from stashing AK-47’s in his house and frankly I am all for that.

    Thanks for the update on guns in churches and thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  3. Sherrie,

    Do you think that the state should be able to require you to attend a 4 hour training class before going to church? Or being licensed before you speak to your friends or blog?

    Those are rights protected by the Constitution; just like the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Perhaps even more so since those other rights do not include the words “shall not be infringed”.

    Let’s examine your ideas–

    Waiting period — well I and many other people own a firearm already; so how does it make sense to have a waiting period for us?
    And is there any evidence that the cooling off period for new owners actually works? Didn’t work for the school shootings in Virginia Tech; that mass murderer purchased his firearms in advance, in accordance with the 1 gun a month law.

    Depression – wouldn’t we be better off by addressing the mental health system instead? While firearms are the primary weapon used in suicide; repeated studies have shown there is a substitution effect, people will just pick another method. Frankly we really don’t need them driving into embankments endangering others or trying “suicide by cop”.

    It does not require background checks at gun shows

    Background checks sound great in theory but work lousy in practice. There are approximately 285,000,000 firearms in the country; do you know who owns them? So how are we going to know if one was or was not done during a sale. Of course, that misses the obvious and current trend of “straw purchases” where a criminal simply pays or asks a family member or friend with a clean background to buy a firearm for them. The Obama administration isn’t doing much better than the Bush Administration; few of these crimes are ever prosecuted. So without a national registry of firearms; background checks would be ineffective.

    Click to access nij-gun-policy-memo.pdf

    . Finally, it does not put automatic and semi-automatic weapons in the same category as other weapons of great destruction.

    Such as fuel oil and fertilizer used in the Oklahoma City Bombing or box cutters used on 9/11?

    The rate of fire really doesn’t make as big of a difference as most novices think. Fully automatic fire is very difficult to control, to aim accurately. That is why the military uses it as ‘suppressing fire’ — having people keep their heads down and most of their shooting is done a single shot at a time. Nor would it impact homicides that often — mass murders are a small part of the total number (although they get the most publicity) and rifles are a very, very small subset of homicides (around 400 for all types) with ‘assault weapons’ including in that total.

    I think it is time for my state to acknowledge that guns are dangerous enough to warrant basic controls

    Such controls as making murder illegal? Or how about driving without a license? Or entering the country illegally.

    We already have basic controls on firearms — laws against armed robbery, homicide, etc. Doesn’t stop people from breaking those laws. Nor would additional laws seem to make any difference. This is from the Centers for Disease Control’s “First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws ”

    During 2000–2002, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (the Task Force), an independent nonfederal task force, conducted a systematic review of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of firearms laws in preventing violence, including violent crimes, suicide, and unintentional injury. <The following laws were evaluated: bans on specified firearms or ammunition, restrictions on firearm acquisition, waiting periods for firearm acquisition, firearm registration and licensing of firearm owners, “shall issue” concealed weapon carry laws, child access prevention laws, zero tolerance laws for firearms in schools, and combinations of firearms laws. The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes. (Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.) This report briefly describes how the reviews were conducted, summarizes the Task Force findings, and provides information regarding needs for future research.

    We’ve seen this in real life also. Washington D.C. –despite or because of it’s draconian laws– was the murder capital of the country for years. The Heller decision overturned most of those laws and the homicide rate has gone down. Chicago — how many people are murdered each year there — despite needing a permit to purchase a firearm, no concealed or Open Carry, and until recently, no registered firearms in the city.

    Seriously, we both know that citizens do not need assault rifles for protection,

    Tell that to the merchants of Koreatown in L.A. during the Rodney King Riots. Or how about the victims of “flash mob violence” breaking out all over the country. Or the home invasions victims….if ‘assault rifles” aren’t needed for protection, then why does the police use them for that purpose, the army?

    An AR-15 or Ak-47 is a light recoiling firearm that makes it suitable for those who are slightly built or have infirmities to use easily. It’s longer length means it is generally more accurate then a pistol.

    I notice you say you are in Texas as I am. I would like to extend an offer to take you to the range and let you experience several different firearms; including an AR-15, if you have not already. I’m in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

    If you are in a different area; it is possible I could find someone willing to take you to the range also.

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