January 27, 2013

Gun rights as facade to disconnect the social safety net

Milwaukee sheriff urges residents to get gun training, says simply calling 911 and waiting not best option | Appleton Post-Crescent | postcrescent.com

I suggested in December that part of this gun control discussion was about the kind of community we want in this country.  For many on the right, they seem to be saying, "we are not going to pay for security or other programs that benefit us all.  If you want to be safe, buy a gun."

Turns out, at least one sheriff is suggesting that exact thing.

30 comments:

steves said...

He doesn't have any control over what money he gets. I think his suggestion is reasonable. Don't get me wrong. No one should be forced to own a gun, but the reality is that in some places, the police are far away. Add to this the fact, according to several SC cases, the police have no duty to protect us.

When I lived in the UP, we were a distance outside of time and police and fire could take upwards of a half hour to get to us. I also disagree that this is encouraging vigilantism.

Streak said...

But that isn't what this is about, Steve. It is one thing if you choose to live away from community. But this is about living in a community where we pay taxes and expect to live in a secure (relatively) place. As my wife said quite well the other day, we are glad that we don't live in the old West, and prefer to live in a modern world where we have public services.

I am not necessarily blaming this guy. YOu are right, he doesn't control his budget. But this is the small government bullshit we are getting from the right. Or, more accurately, this is what you get when you gut taxes--no public services. And that is exactly what the Republican party wants.

Tony said...

There has been this same kind of saber-rattling right close to our home, too. Spartanburg, SC County Sheriff Chuck Wright thumbed his nose at anything that may emerge from the executive office.

He also said, in response to a violent rape that an armed citizenry is the only answer to this kind of violence.

"Sheriff Chuck Wright opened his news conference by saying, "Our form of justice is not making it."

He said, "Carry a concealed weapon. That'll fix it."

And this coming from the Sheriff of a city with crime rates per capita as high as LA.

steves said...

I don't know what it is like in Wisconsin, but in most states, the Sheriff provides law enforcement to people that live outside of cites or in tows too small to have a police department. I assumed (maybe incorrectly) that he was speaking to people living away from Milwaukee and the suburbs.

I know a lot of cops, both personally and professionally, and I have yet to meet one that didn't think people should be willing to defend themselves and their family. They also carry concealed everywhere, even when on vacation. They know that they can't be everywhere and also know that much of the time, they get there after the the crime has been committed.

Streak said...

I think you are ignoring the point, Steve. And I think you are missing how much you and other gun rights people are losing people like me and Tony.

Smitty said...

It is one thing to say "you should defend your home and family." Yes, I should. Nobody disagrees, I bet, with an admonishment to defend our homes and families. But it is another thing to trash 9-1-1 as a failure...when that failure is self-fulfilled. *Especially* in huge cities.

9-1-1 is a failure inasmuch as we have 1) mentally ill people without access to insurance, help, or care; 2) widespread poverty; 3) funding cuts and no tax increases in and for local units of government; 4) etc etc...you get the point. what has happened is that the services that prevent crime or pay for protection have been slashed to the point where it is impossible to for 9-1-1 in certain areas to be meaningful.

The math is simple: 1) Cut taxes! 2) Mnicipal governments have to cut police and fire. 3) 9-1-1 is a FAILURE!! GIT SOME GUNS!!

BUT: this guy's answer is "take matters into your own hands, buy a gun.."

Not "wow, let's see what we've done to funding for local units of goverment. Let's address why mental health coverage and care is a distant 2nd to physical health, which we do a shit job of covering as it is."

Telling people to buy guns is lazy. It ignores the problems created by the political decisions to pander to anti-tax sentiment and "shrinking government." It absolves people from seeking sane solutions to public services...and is a dog whistle statement for "shoot the 'other' before they take your stuff."

Streak said...

That is exactly right, Smitty. The Republican model is exactly that--cut taxes to the bone, claim you are doing it for economic growth, then shrug your shoulders when people want services and claim poverty. They are doing it at the national level and clearly at certain state levels. Here in Oklahoma, they have cut taxes, are thinking about getting rid of the income tax, yet now are saying that we can't afford funding for the arts.

More troubling when it is core services, and even more troubling when their response is, "get a gun."

Tony said...

I find it amazing that one of the first things to be cut is the arts, and then later the first complaint is the lack of culture. Cognitive dissonance to be sure.

leighton said...

It absolves people from seeking sane solutions to public services...and is a dog whistle statement for "shoot the 'other' before they take your stuff."

Dog whistle is right. Remember when the NRA's response to the Matthew Shepard beating or the hate crimes against Sikhs was that the victims could have protected themselves if he had had concealed-carry permits? Me neither.

steves said...

C'mon. Dog whistle for shoot the others before they take your stuff? You are better than that. With the exception of one state, it is illegal to use lethal force to defend property. Can you point me to one legitimate source that advocates shooting people that are taking your stuff or possible efforts by the NRA to have the law changed to allow people to do this?

I don't see a problem with telling people the way it is. I don't know if this Sheriff has argued for cutting services, but telling people to take some safety measure in light of budget cuts is not mutually exclusive from having improvements in services.

Streak said...

Once again, and sorry to say it, but Steve you are missing the point. And if you seriously don't think that the NRA and conservatives are trying to outsource security and tell people they are on their own, then I would submit you are watching this debate purely within some gun rights bubble.

leighton said...

Okay, so add "kill you and" into the middle of Smitty's sentence. Plenty of states have stand your ground laws or castle doctrines.

I'm not so interested in bagging on this one sheriff, but there does seem to be a systematic push at the federal, (most) state and local levels toward defunding social services and outsourcing things onto individual people that would be best left to professionals. And while we're talking about social issues, I'm pretty sure it's not a coincidence that the remedy for Newtown-style massacres of white people is for everyone to carry guns, but when minorities have wanted to assert similar rights, even organizations like the NRA have favored gun control.

The debate over gun control has never just been about guns. The better we understand the related issues (economics, immigration and mental illness to name a few), the better chance we have to figure out what to do.

leighton said...

Two other related issues that I (personally) find more relevant than access to guns are the War On (people who use) Drugs and our dysfunctional for-profit prison system, which lead to gun-related idiocy and tragedy like this. At the risk of going off on a tangent, the economic lifeblood of gangs is trafficking in illegal substances.

steves said...

The NRA has a history of compromising and even supporting some gun control measures, though I question the claim that the NRA supported it because of racist concerns. On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that the NRA supported black efforts to defend themselves against the KKK.

You do bring up a good point. The reasoning behind the change in concealed weapons in the early to mid 20th century was racially motivated. In Michigan it was the trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet, who used a gun to defend himself from a white mob trying to force him out of his home. This prompted the legislature to change the gun laws to a more discretionary system that resulted in a system that restricted gun to people that had money and were politically connected in some way.

Streak, please stop telling me I don't get the point. I do. I just don't think there is any evidence to support it. You take two unrelated events, the NRA supporting civilian gun ownership and the GOP cutting spending, and somehow made the leap that these are connected. Show me where the NRA has called for decreased spending in police departments. Heck, police and fire (and the military) are usually the only things things the GOP doesn't want to cut.

I agree that the debate about gun control should focus on other issues. Personally, I think the debate should be focused on crime control and improving basic services. I think you are correct in that the war on (some) drugs has resulted in a lot of death and violence.

Streak said...

I would be glad to be reasonable on this topic. I really would. I don't think you are when it comes to the NRA, unfortunately. On everything else, we agree more than we disagree, though you tend to think that more guns will somehow solve something.

The NRA's stance, btw, now is that any legislation is ridiculous because "criminals will always get the guns or avoid the law." Not sure why we restrict anything if that is the justification--no reason to limit shoulder mounted rockets or tanks for that matter. Criminals will always be able to get what they want. I saw today that the NRA opposes even mandatory checks because we aren't prosecuting enough people under the existing law. Never mind, of course, that the same NRA has pushed for weakening enforcement of existing laws at every possible level. On that point, you are still missing the point.

But more broadly, if you really don't think that the same constituency and lobby force is behind the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation that is behind the "more guns" then you are deluded. In fact, in many Republican dominated states, police and fire are under attack. Or, as in the case here, the funding is cut so dramatically that communities have to choose between basic social services and police cars. This is the same process. The fact that I don't have a quote from LaPierre arguing for this is not proof that I am wrong.

The NRA has become almost cartoonish on this. Reminds me of the Far Side with the horse hospital. Didn't matter what the ailment, the treatment was just to shoot them. Doesn't matter what the issue is with crime, mental illness, school shootings, etc., the NRA's response is "more guns."

Streak said...

A list of LaPierre's statements. I love some of the stuff about Clinton.

steves said...

It doesn't prove you are right. Again, you are making some general conclusions based upon the fact that some gun owners also believe in cutting funding. I can understand that the GOP takes this position, but I would also argue that the GOP is pro-gun only around election time. A lot of gun control legislation has garnered the support of Republicans. The last AWB was supported by a higher percentage of Republicans in the Senate than Democrats.

Anyway, I have never argued that guns were always the solution. I believe I have consistently said they are a tool of last resort when your life is in imminent danger. I have also never said that something as vague as "more guns" will solve problems.

Streak said...

Ok. Fine. But every time you defend the NRA as if they are reasonable, you make it harder to take you seriously on this issue. Because their approach in every situation--certainly under Obama is to defund regulation, claim that criminals will get their guns anyway, and propose that more guns will be the answer.

steves said...

Defund regulation? What do they want to defund?

Streak said...

Well, here is one example. Cue the dismissal of either the source or the premise now.

steves said...

I think Mother Jones is a decent source. Why would anyone ever want to defund the BATFE? Between arming Mexican drug cartels, losing twice as money guns then all other federal law enforcement agencies combined, and this, I think it is money well spent.

;)

Streak said...

So which is it, Steve? Have the gun rights people defunded and understaffed the ATF? You seem to think that is a good idea, yet it is also part of making sure that federal gun laws are hard to enforce. So when the NRA says we need to enforce existing law before making new ones, they are lying through their crazy teeth.

I get it. Government agencies are often poorly run and make mistakes. As to private agencies, btw. But the proper response is to make it work better, not just try to destroy it. Unless, of course, your goal is to make sure that federal laws can't be enforced.

Of course, the NRA has played a huge role in not only undercutting the ATF politically, but demonizing it among their membership. But when I pointed that out, I was told that was 20 years ago and didn't matter.

steves said...

IMO, they should go back to being a revenue collection bureau and the funding that had been directed to them could be given to the FBI. I think they have more integrity and do a better job.

steves said...

...or they should issue everyone over the age of 6 an assault rifle or a bazooka.

I am kidding here.

Streak said...

Perhaps the ATF is not the best choice. But they were created to do more than just collect revenue. And you are kidding yourself if you think Republicans will allow the FBI access to the kinds of things needed to police gun sales. That is my entire point.

And this is not just unique to guns. Republicans have done that for consumer safety, or financial regulation. I don't really respect it as tactic, I must say. Especially, as here, when it becomes self-prophetic. "I hate government, so will do what I can to make it not work well, and then point at it and say, "see how bad government is?""

steves said...

ATF was created to collect revenue and has expanded over the years into law enforcement. I just don't see the need to have a specialized, separate branch of law enforcement that deals with firearms and explosives. It would seem to be more cost effective to have the FBI do this, but I will admit that is outside my area of expertise.

I have no idea how much a registration/ background check system would cost. I know that Canada eventually gave up on trying to register guns in their country because the costs became too high.

Streak said...

Perhaps that is true that the ATF is not the right agency. But you haven't answered the other part of this. Clearly the NRA has made enforcement of existing law harder. How do you support that?

Second, so a total gun registry might be unworkable. How about just allowing us to track gun sales and keep an eye on gun dealers?

steves said...

I have an FFL and can tell you that the BATFE does watch dealers very closely.

What does the NRA do to make law enforcement harder? If you are talking about registration, I think gun owners are uncomfortable with that because of confiscation concerns. I know that confiscation doesn't have to occur just because of registration, but that is what has happened elsewhere.

Streak said...

The NRA has helped underfund and disempower the ATF. We can talk all we want about whether or not that is the agency who should be doing it, but it is the agency who is supposed to be doing it now, but they have their hands tied. Not a cabinet level agency, but thanks to Republicans, its director requires Senate confirmation, and guess what, no director since 2007 or so. That is part of what bugs me the most about the NRA and other conservatives who bash government all the while trying very hard to make government not work.

Streak said...

Oh, and just saw on Twitter that NPR is reporting (getting back to our original story) that the 911 response time in this community is actually around 2 minutes for violent crimes. That isn't bad.