Thursday, April 19, 2007

Schumer Nails Gonzo

Close to the end of AG Gonzalez's testimony....

Schumer summarized Gonzale’s testimony, saying that he had failed the three criteria or tests by which his testimony was expected to be judged today by the committee…

Gonzo responded that the allegations to which he was being subjected required proof, and the onus of proof (against Gonzo) lay with the committer---i.e. innocent until proven guilty—fair enough one might think…BUT…)
Schumer responds that the hearing is not a court of law (something Gonzalez should know of course—my interjection) and that it is about why the USAs were fired…the onus (says Schumer) is on Gonzalez to provide clear justifications for their firings —professional performance— for which he has failed to provide any clear evidence, and especially when the evidence (evaluations and prosecution records) contradict Gonzos public justifications for firing them.

No response from Gonzo.

NRA: Never Responsible for Actions?

Was there really anything remarkable about the Virginia Tech shootings other than the death toll?

Deadliest Mass Shootings (10 or more dead) in Western Democracies
26 Apr 2002 Erfurt, Germany16 + 1 Legal guns, pistol club member
27 Sep 2001Zug, Switzerland 14 + 1 Legal guns, licensed pistol owner
29 Jul 1999Atlanta, GA, USA 12 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
20 Apr 1999 Littleton, CO, USA 13 + 2 Not legal guns
28 Apr 1996 Port Arthur, Australia 35 Not legal guns
13 Mar 1996 Dunblane, Scotland 17 + 1 Legal guns, pistol club member
16 Oct 1991 Killeen, TX, USA 23 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
13 Nov 1990 Aramoana, New Zealand 13 + 1 Legal guns, licensed gun owner
18 Jun 1990 Jacksonville, FL, USA 9 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
06 Dec 1989 Montreal, Canada 14 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
19 Aug 1987 Hungerford, England 16 + 1 Legal guns, pistol club member
20 Aug 1986 Edmond, OK, USA 14 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
18 Jul 1984 San Ysidro, CA, USA 21 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
01 Aug 1966 Austin, TX, USA 16 + 1 Legal guns, no licence required
Philip Alpers, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Judging from these statistics ‘Guns don’t massacre people; people who legally own guns do’ (usually).

Now it is perfectly possible to buy a gun sane and then become mentally unbalanced later and go on a rampage, so there’s no preventing that whilst guns are legally available.
In the case of Virginia Tech, the shooter was apparently demonstrably mentally unbalanced and a recorded risk according to police records which, had a background check been run and professional competency applied there ought not to have been a gun sale. That wouldn’t necessarily have prevented Cho-Seung–Hui from mass murder, but it would have made things more difficult.

Last I checked their website, the NRA is waiting “for all the facts” before making any comment. How very ‘responsible’ of them. The most salient fact at the moment is that Seung –Hui was able to buy a gun without a background check that could have revealed he was a risk. The legislation allowing him to do that was the result of lobbying efforts by the NRA who are of course headquartered in Virginia.

Whilst the NRA remains silent for the moment, the apologists (who never apologize) have already come out with guns blazing (pun intended).

A favorite argument is that if guns were allowed on campus the students could have fought back. So if all students carried guns any argument or even the sense of a threat could be settled with a shooting. Brilliant! It was the easy availability of guns that allowed Seung-Hui to begin killing.

People who kill either themselves or others with guns are gun-owners (legal or illegal), DUH! It is the purpose of a gun to facilitate killing.

The self-defense argument doesn’t wash either. At least as many people get killed when defending themselves with guns as those who don’t and as often as not bystanders get wounded and killed too.

Most gun-owners don’t intend to kill but they must certainly entertain the possibility that they will use their gun—why own one otherwise? And those citizens who do decide for whatever reason, to kill, use guns to do so more than any other means. Why? Because they are effective and easily available, more so in some states such as Virginia, then others.

I can’t see any practical way to eliminate private gun-ownership completely in the interests of general public safety given the huge numbers of guns already in circulation. But the constant lobbying by the NRA to make guns as easily available as possible guarantees that their illegal use is more prevalent than needs be and that many of the deaths that result are in part the NRA’s responsibility.