American Elephants


The Do Something Urge v. The Complications of Reality. by The Elephant's Child

In the saga of the prevention of the next mass shooting, there are many stories. One comes from the failed state of California. California authorities are empowered to seize weapons — owned by convicted felons and people with mental illness.  Unfortunately staff shortages and funding cuts have left a backlog of more than 19,700 people to disarm, according to a law enforcement official.

Those 19,700 convicted felons and people with mental illness (assuming that there is real reason to identify them as dangerous) typically acquired the firearms legally, before they were convicted of a felony or diagnosed with mental illness. There are many felonies that do not involve threatening anyone with firearms, nor indicate any difference between those who have no problem pointing guns at innocent people and those who do not. Sounds pretty inexact. Nevertheless, those 19,700 people have roughly 39,000 weapons.

Each year, the state investigates and seizes the guns of about 2.000 people on the Armed Prohibited Persons list, but each year about 3,000 names are added to the list. The bureau does not have the funding to keep up.

Testimony and theater. Anti-gun activists summoned dead children.  Law enforcement officials displayed weapons, retired legislators complained that they were intimidated by gun-rights advocates. Victims of gun crimes somberly recounted their stories. Proposals for a 5¢ tax on every bullet purchased. Legislation drafted to require ammunition buyers to provide a thumbprint and ID for background checks. A suggestion that cities and counties be able to enact their own, tougher gun laws. A proposal that gun owners be licensed and insured like motorists drew some opposition.”There is a big question of whether you can license a constitutional right.” Well, so there is.

In the saga of the prevention of the next mass shooting, there are many stories. Unfortunately the record of past mass shooters is one of unknown people with unrecognized problems borrowing or stealing weapons and carefully planning in secret to commit a dreadful act. There really isn’t anything much that government can do to prevent these dreadful one-off, Black Swan events which have actually been growing less frequent. Britain and Australia engaged in complete gun-banning, confiscation of all firearms, strong laws to prevent violence, and crime has increased drastically, violence increased. home invasions increased. The record is quite clear. But a dreadful event happened and everyone wants to do something.



No Common Sense, But Plenty of Paranoia. by The Elephant's Child
December 31, 2012, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Law, National Security, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

When there is a horrendous incident, such as the terrible shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT., the do-something disease strikes with devastating effect. A boy, described as odd, or disturbed?— did anyone describe him as disturbed or only in retrospect? — shot his mother in the face and proceeding to the elementary school, shot teachers and many  little children and then himself. Devastating.

The immediate assumption is that we must do something to prevent a repetition, any repetition anywhere, any time. But going back over other shootings, the perpetrators were not singled out, no one recognized their delusions or their danger. None cold have been prevented by any of the new laws being proposed. If we are unable to recognize mental illness in any of these people prior to their act, new laws about not selling guns to the mentally disturbed are not going to help. None of them purchased their guns at gun dealers. We have tried a ban on “assault weapons” to little effect because the banners have no understanding of what an assault weapon is. So you end up with all sorts of incidents like this one, that Reason headlined this way:

Boy, Not Making Bombs, Arrested for Having Things Cops Think Could Blow Up (And For Drawings That Spooked a Teacher).”

When a 16-year-old New Jersey boy doodled in his notebook on Tuesday, December 18, he probably didn’t expect to be arrested by the end of the day. However, when school officials saw the sketches, which they state appeared to be of weapons, and the boy “demonstrated behavior that caused them to be concerned,” the police were called. ( The drawing was apparently of a glove spouting flames).

The school is a magnet school with programs focusing on engineering and environmental science and specializing in hands-on learning.

A subsequent search of the boy’s home led to his arrest because they found several electronic parts and chemicals. He was charged with the possession of an explosive device and put in juvenile detention. His mother said her son had “a passion for collecting old stuff, taking it apart and rebuilding thing.”

No threats to anyone, no bomb, no making a bomb, no using a bomb, no detonating a bomb. Only a drawing of a flaming glove. No indication that there was any danger to anyone or any school property. Hope the kid got out of the Juvenile Detention facility in time for Christmas.




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