Setting the Record Straight

June 27, 2008

The Guns for Self-Defense Myth

Filed under: news,policy,politics — straightrecord @ 10:47 am
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Good Luck On That

News item: Man stabs to death at least five officers inside Shanghai police station. Chinese police are well-armed. If they were unable to defend themselves with their handguns, what chance does anyone else have.  

         Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rests much of the 5-4 majority opinion of the court in D.C. v Heller on the alleged right of one’s self-defense. Supposedly, if one has a gun, one can protect oneself against attackers, intruders and all sorts of evil-doers.
          A check of blogs and pro-gun Web sites leading up to and including the court’s decision showed this is not an issue for the weak at heart.
         Our take on the D.C. v Heller gun-control issue before the court attracted the ire of so many gun nuts, we were drawn into reading their comments and blogs and checking out their Web sites.
          We were struck by two factors–how borderline illiterate so many of the gun-nut bloggers are (not just on this issue, but others as well) and how many expressed macho boasts, such as “you’ll have to pry my gun from my dead, cold hands,” aping the John Wayne-type boast of the late National Rifle Association figurehead, Charlton Heston.
         If anyone were ever in favor of gun control, knowing such people are out there with guns in their hands is justification enough.
          But since our mantra is to be informed, we checked out to the best we could what is known about the success of gun possession in fending off various criminals.
          The evidence is sparse, and what there is of that is old, but it puts the lie to the claim that personal possession of a gun is an effective defense.
          Although one would presume that a person who uses a gun successfully to repel an intruder or an attacker would then report the incident to the police, if for no other reason than to seek to put the perpetrator in jail.
          A cursory search turned up no research, not even U.S. Justice Department tracts based on voluminous federal, state and local crime reports, that compares the claims of self-defense with police reports of such claims.
          What we are left with is old research, much of it based on telephone interviews in which respondents merely state their experience, with no followup or comparison with other records to determine if the claims fit a pattern.
          The most credible of that research (federal studies of statistics and peer-reviewed journal work) suggest there is no self-defense value to keeping a gun at home.
          The best comparison was reported back in 1986 by the New England Journal of Medicine, which compared police information with stated claims in one Washington county. Of 743 firearm-related deaths over a six-year period (70.5 percent involved handguns), 398 occurred in the home where the firearm was kept, but only seven people were killed in self-defense, and only two of those killed were shot during attempted entry. Nine were accidental (the gun-owner or someone else in the home was the victim). Researchers concluded a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill someone other than an intruder, i.e., a member of the household or friends.
         Indeed, there have been incidents where a gun has been used successfully in self-defense, but those cases are rare, and most of those involved a perpetrator who was not armed.
         Justice Department surveys from the mid-1990s show that just over a third of American households contain a gun, but three-quarters of those claim they have one for self-protection.
          Another chant of gun nuts is that if guns are taken away from them, only criminals will have guns. Federal statistics show that 340,000 crimes each year involve the theft of firearms, two-thirds of them during household burglaries. It appears it is legitimate gun owners who are supplying the criminals with guns.

(from www.straightrecord.com)

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June 23, 2008

The Time Has Come

 

 Guns and Flying Pigs                
 

The time has come, the walrus said,
To talk of many things:                   
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings                   
And why the sea is boiling hot,       
And whether pigs have wings.

 Columbine, Virginia Tech, Helsinki, Omaha, Kirkwood, Louisiana Tech, Portsmouth, Los Angeles, Lane Bryant, DeKalb — Next?

          The incidents go on and on and what is the National Rifle Asso-ciation’s response? “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” That is a non-sequitur response, as it was intended to be–deflect the question you do not want to answer and turn it to something else. Who ever said guns kill people by themselves?

          The matter that needs to be addressed is the easy access to guns by people who will do stupid things with them, causing far more destruction and death than with any weapon that does not rely on an explosive force.

          These are weapons of destruction, just as deadly as smoking tobacco, and much more efficient and quick about it. It is far more irresponsible to allow firearms to be widely and easily available than to allow cigarettes to be available, yet even the laws that exist to govern guns are far less strict than those applied to tobacco.
          The only tobacco restrictions are decades of “just don’t advertise them on TV” to today’s restrictions on where you smoke, not at all on whether you can smoke at all. Despite all the evidence that smoking tobacco is a lethal cancer-causing addictive, tobacco companies still push them, and change their corporate names so you can no longer identify the perpetrators. The NRA never offers comments about any of these massacres because it pretends that guns are not associated with them, that the events have nothing to do with guns.

          Well, we need to talk about this subject, instead of talking about whether pigs have wings and pretending the world is the reverse of what it is and citing only part of the Second Amendment and pretending it says other than what it says.
          If we do not, there will continue to be Columbines and Virginia Techs and Helsinkis and Omahas and on and on. The why is not the issue for the common weal, it is the how that counts. There will continue to be the pretense that possession of guns is worthwhile because some people can use them to protect their property–the NRA never misses a chance to note those times that such use is successful in one out of the thousand times they are kept for that purpose. It blithely ignores the other 999 cases in which the possession of a gun leads to tragedy befalling the possessor.

          Here are some possible actions that can be taken at the federal level, the only level where any restrictions can be an effective check, beginning with the smallest and building to the ultimate.
          Go ahead and institute those mental-condition checks. One might also include everyone seeking “fame” in today’s society of sycophants.
          Otherwise, do something useful, beginning with what the NRA will label the camel’s nose under the tent, and let us hope it is at least that, and if they don’t work, let’s put the whole camel in the tent:

Ban sales of firearms to anyone under 21, just as selling cigarettes is restricted.
Hold a firearm possessor liable for any damages caused by an under-age person using that firearm.
Ban personal concealment of firearm while not in one’s home.
Require all firearms in personal possession to be kept locked up.
Ban all but supervised and licensed possession of handguns.
Expand the ban to all firearms. 
Ban all handguns.
Ban the private possession of all firearms.
Restrict the possession of firearms by law enforcers.
Restrict even the use of firearms by law enforcers.
Ban all firearms not kept by state militias (National Guard), just to be in compliance with the Second Amendment.   
Choose!!!
 

 

The sun was shining on the sea,  

Shining with all its might.               

He did his very best to make         

The billows smooth and bright.     

And this was odd, because it was

 The middle of the night.                   
 
So said Tweedledum to Tweedledee 
Alice Through the Looking Glass 
(from www.straightrecord.com
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June 22, 2008

StraightRecord Schoolmarm Lessons: Part V

!!STOP!!

     Referring to “war on terror.” It is the “war on terrorism.” Terror can include acrophobia, a fear of heights, or any other fear people may have. “Terrorism” refers to an act designed to instill terror.

              –0– 

     Calling the president “Commander in Chief” unless you mean “of the military.” Collectively, members of the public are the president’s com-mander in chief, not the other way around.
     “The president shall be commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.”

 

Lay? Shrunk? You’re Not Communicating

     We get positively schoolmarmish in this site about grammar. We do that because clear communication becomes difficult when the speaker is careless with the language. Sometimes it is best to stay on the correct usage, whether it is popular or not.

     It used to be that to adopt a low profile was to “lie low.” Nowadays, you often hear it as “lay low,” which the dictionary defines as the “informal” version of “lie low.” The movie “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids” did not do proper grammar any good. What was wrong with “shrank” as the past tense? Well, some dictionaries are accepting “shrunk.” (Thank goodness we have not gone–yet–to, “He drunk his drank,” “He thunk his thoughts.” “They grinded their coffee.”)                                                                     —Veritas

 

Change? Or?

     To Candidates: Stop running against Washington, D.C. This is a childish tactic, aimed at childish-thinking people. The presidency, vice presidency and all members of Congress are people sent to Washington by people at home. The American public always gets what it deserves. If you send fools to Washington, you deserve to have fools representing you.
     As for the presidency, the reality is, Washington defines the president, the president does not define Washington, no matter who he is. Presidents are elected to head only one of the three equal branches of government.
     In one of the weird quirks of American politics, presidents seeking their second terms strangely run against Washington. Senators who have made a career of being senators run against Washington. How ridiculous can you get?
     Let us hope that some day pandering to a largely ignorant U.S. electorate becomes self-destructive.

 

Who Are The Parties?

     You can tell how far right a member of the Republican Party is by whether he or she refers to the opposing group as the Demo-crat Party instead of its proper name, Democratic Party. Both words are adjectives; the proper names are consistent.
     This reference is more than 40 years old, going back to the days of the John Birch Society when people looked under their beds at night to make sure no commies were lurking.
     If you really think you have to make a distinction between a philosophy and a party’s name, why not just say “capital d” for the party and “lower case d” for the system of government.
     You’d sound far less silly.

 

Fly the Constitution

     Most political conservatives, who generally like to display their patriotism on their sleeves, or on their lapels, cannot stand the American Civil Liberties Union.
     Yet there probably is no more patriotic group in America than the ACLU. Its sole purpose has been since its creation to guarantee Americans have the protection of the
Bill of Rights , the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which in turn is the basis for our democracy since its inception. How much more patriotic can you be.
     Perhaps if those political conservatives showed more respect for the one of the world’s greatest documents, the American Constitution, than they do the U.S. flag, which is only a symbol–a powerful one, but still just a symbol–the solution to our political conflict might be found. Not!!!

(from www.straightrecord.com)

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June 18, 2008

StraightRecord Schoolmarm Lessons: Part IV

Filed under: life,news — straightrecord @ 10:42 am
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Still More Things Your Grammar Shoulda Told Ya

     The fatal heart attack suffered by NBC interviewer Tim Russert brought a spate of an error one would hope Russert learned in some sort of journalism class, or whatever passes for it for TV types.
     Not just a few news reports said “Tim Russert died suddenly,” meaning he suffered a heart attack in his office and died on the spot.
     One of the first things a would-be reporter learns in Journalism 101 is that everyone dies suddenly. It’s a fact of life, er, death. The heart stops beating, bingo. Usually, what is meant is that the victim died unexpectedly, which, of course, Russert did.

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Physics of Compliments 

      If you tell a person he or she is the “wind beneath my wings,” you have offered an insult.
     Any pilot can tell you the wind that provides lift, what a plane needs, is created by a vacuum created by an air foil flowing over the curved wing, not under it. The wind beneath the wing provides drag, just the opposite of lift.

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Verbing Nouns
     It probably occurred earlier, but way back when John F. Kennedy was president, he made popular the word “finalize.” Since then, there has been an explosion of people making verbs out of nouns, apparently as a way to speed up their oral speech, helped along to a great extent by lazy newscasters.
     Some of these verbed nouns are pretty bad.
     Take “reference,” for example. It is not a verb, but a noun as in a type of book or a citation. “Refer to” is even shorter.
     “Impact” is a lousy verb that mostly means to press closely or fill up and should be avoided by all but dentists. Instead, say “have an impact on.”
     And yes, we intended the irony of making a verb out of the word “verb.”

     So, don’t verb nouns at people!

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STOP!

     Saying literally when you mean virtually.

     Saying “period of time.” What else would a period be, but time, if it is not a reference to a punctuation mark.

     Saying “going forward.” If you mean “later,” “after this,” “in the future,” or something else, why not use those veteran phrases, and they are shorter.

     Saying “less” when you mean “fewer.” Tell your grocer to change that sign over the checkout lane. Less refers to quantity, fewer to a number, as in checkout lane with a proper sign: “9 items or fewer.”

     Saying between when you mean among. The “tween” in “between” means two, either individually or collectively. If there are more than three, the proper word is “among.”

     Saying “loan” when you mean “lend.” “Loan” is a noun, “lend” a verb, as in something given to you when a person is in the act of “lending” it to you.

     Using “like” when you mean “as.
     “Like” is used to compare one noun or pronoun with another. If you use “like” instead of “as,” such as in “you are writing or speaking like you are uneducated,” you sound uneducated.
     “I feel like I’ve seen this before” should be “I feel as though I’ve seen this before.”
     Back when there was an appreciation of good grammar, a cigarette company was criticized for an ad that blared “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.” Teachers complained, the company demurred and came out with an ad poking fun at its earlier goof.

     And if you can, please stop saying “nucular” instead of “nuclear.” Just because George Bush says it that way does not mean that only intellectual midgets mispronounce the word. So do many people with much more than half a brain, so the habit of saying “nucular” must be akin to having a physical tic.

(from www.straightrecord.com)

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