We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Training To Carry A Gun. No Stinkin’ Brains, Either.

This week the ‘show me’ state, a.k.a. Missouri, found itself embroiled in a major debate over gun violence because a bill known as SB 656 was sitting on Governor Jay Nixon’s desk awaiting his signature.  What the bill got was a veto, and while this immediately provoked calls for an attempted override, right now thanks to the Moms Missouri chapter, efforts by Gun-nut Nation to introduce ‘Constitutional carry’ into Missouri may be dead.

moms           Not that the NRA won’t try to explain Governor Nixon’s behavior as just another example of how out-of-state money (read: Bloomberg) surged into Missouri to help defeat what otherwise would have been a sensible effort to give the state’s citizens a little help in defending themselves against terrorism and crime. In fact, the NRA immediately issued a statement after Nixon’s veto, stating that “if events in Orlando and San Bernardino have taught us anything it’s that the need for self-protection can occur anywhere at any time.”

But the Governor’s refusal to sign the bill had nothing to do with making a pro or con judgement about the right to self-defense.  The real issue in this instance had to do with whether or not people who want to go around armed can prove that they possess even the slightest ability to defend themselves or others with a gun.

There’s a Youtube character named Yankee Marshal who shoots his mouth off about various gun issues and he’s an entertaining sort of fellow if you like to be entertained on a third or fourth-grade level, and he’s put out a video in which he claims that training to use a gun is a waste of time: “I think that most people with common sense and average intelligence can figure out how to safely operate a firearm.”  And he then goes on to say that if you want to carry a gun, you should also be able to exercise that ‘right’ without getting any training at all.

Which brings us back to the 2008 Heller decision that defined the 2nd Amendment – clearly and explicitly – as a Constitutional ‘right’ to keep a loaded handgun in the home for personal defense.  Not in the street, not in a holster or fanny pak as you walk around – in the privacy of your home. And what Heller unleashed was a torrent of nonsense from Gun-nut Nation, Yankee Marshal to Donald Trump, that everyone also has the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun.

Now the good news is that the judiciary hasn’t seen it that way.  We have the Peruta decision in California which upheld the ‘right’ not of the gun owner but of the county government to decide whether or not someone who owned a gun could also carry it outside his home. And back in 2014 the Supreme Court with Antonin Scalia alive and still well refused to review a New Jersey decision which basically said the same thing.

But those decisions haven’t stopped a growing movement known as ‘Constitutional carry’ which basically says that anyone who is qualified to own a gun is, ipso facto, entitled to carry it around not just within their home, but any place they damn well please.  There are now 10 states that do not require any special licensing to carry a gun outside the home, and Missouri would have been the 11th had Jay Nixon not shown some common sense and political backbone by vetoing the bill.

I would love to see whether idiots like Yankee Marshal or Donald Trump, for that matter, could actually pull a gun out of their pants and hit the broad side of a barn. The Police Foundation estimates that half the active law enforcement officers can’t do it, but why should we impose gun training requirements on civilians that we don’t even require for cops?

OK Moms.  You know what you have to do. Won a big one in Missouri but make sure it sticks.

 

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The Virus Is Spreading And I’m Not Talking About Ebola

Last month the Missouri legislature passed a new gun law that was essentially a rewrite of a bill vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon.  Missouri has been in the forefront of easing restrictions on gun ownership and this law continues that trend.  In 2007 a decades-old law that required state residents to apply for police permits to purchase handguns was overturned, and the result was an immediate spike in gun homicides.  The new law drops the minimum age for concealed-carry from 21 to 19, allows teachers to bring concealed weapons into schools, and prohibits towns, counties or other local jurisdictions from promulgating gun laws that conflict in any way with state statutes.

According to the law’s sponsor, Republican Senator Will Kraus, the law was designed to protect the rights of gun owners who had “earned” concealed-carry privileges by dint of voting or military service.  Could this guy have a statement that dumb on the floor of the State Senate?  Obviously he did, and he went on to say that a concealed-carry license also gives state residents the right to carry a weapon openly, again because they had “earned’ this right by dint of registering to vote.

docs versus glocks                If the Missouri State Legislature wants to make it easier for state residents to pretend they can keep everyone safe by walking around with a gun, I really don’t care.  Despite the continued mouthings of John Lott and other NRA sycophants, there is simply no credible evidence which proves that legal gun ownership reduces crime.  The good news about concealed-carry is that most people who have a CCW permit actually don’t bother to walk around with a gun, and while CCW on the one hand doesn’t lead to less crime, it also doesn’t seem to spark any great increase in crime on the other.

But what I am concerned about is another part of the law which makes Missouri the second state to gag physicians who try to ask patients about their ownership of guns.  Here’s what the law says: “No health care professional shall be required by law to inquire whether a patient owns or has access to a firearm.”  It then goes on to prohibit physicians from noting gun ownership in a patient  records or disclosing the identity of a gun owner to “any government entity” unless the physician is ordered to disclose such information via court order, blah, blah, blah. The final clause of this section of the law contains the usual bromide about how gun ownership can be discussed if, in the physician’s professional judgement, the patient’s access to a gun might be of medical concern.  But make no mistake about it: Missouri, like Florida, has now instituted a gag order against physicians talking to patients about guns.

What really concerns me about this attack on physicians is not the fact that it has taken place.  Frankly, once those two idiots on the 11th Federal Circuit upheld the Florida law, I assumed that it would be replicated in state after state.  The bigger problem is that I learned about Missouri closing down physician inquiry from reading the text of the Missouri law itself.  When the Florida law was first passed, the Brady Campaign, the American Academy of Pediatrics and a host of other medical groups not only went immediately to court, but kept up a steady drumbeat about the issue and even now are asking that the 11th Circuit’s bizarre decision be overturned.  In the case of Missouri, nobody seems to have noticed that the gag-MD virus has spread.

The real reason that the gunnies want to push physicians out of the discussion about gun violence is not because physicians are opposed to guns.  It’s because the NRA and its allies want to disconnect gun ownership from violence to make their products more acceptable, more enjoyable, more normal for every dad and mom.  After all, we agree that violence is abnormal but guns don’t pose any threat at all.  Isn’t that right, doc?

 

The ‘Show Me’ State Won’t Show Anyone Anything With Its New Gun Law

Nobody really knows how Missouri got the nickname the “show me state,” but what we do know is that under a new gun law passed last week, Missouri residents will be able to walk around openly showing their guns.  And what we further know is that this law drops the CCW age requirement from 21 to 19 and allows local school districts to grant CCW privileges to teachers whose job will be to protect everyone else in the school from all those bad guys carrying guns.

The intent of this new law obviously is to make Missourians more safe because lowering the CCW age to 19 will qualify more people to walk around armed and letting teachers bring concealed weapons into schools will also protect the children and other teachers when a bad guy with a gun comes into the school.  In other words, the new law supports a favorite theory of the NRA which can be summed up as “more guns equals less guns.”  Oops, what we mean is more guns carried around by the “good guys” means less guns carried around by the “bad guys.”

The last time Missouri made it easier for its citizens to arm themselves was in 2007 when the Legislature abolished a law which required that people wishing to buy handguns first had to go to the police department and get a permit-to-purchase (PTP,) in order to take possession of the gun.  To show you how successful this measure was in helping good-guy Missourians use guns to protect themselves from bad-guy Missourians, the gun homicide rate over the next three years jumped by almost 25%, even though the non-gun homicide rate remained about the same.

pink gun                Of all 50 states, only Louisiana currently has a higher gun homicide rate than Missouri, and while the overall violent crime rate in Missouri has declined by about 20% between 2007 and 2012, the homicide rate has remained remarkably stable and remarkably high, a testament no doubt to the Legislature’s uncanny ability to understand how making it easier for everyone to acquire handguns would lead to a safer and more secure place to live.  Having seen the positive impact of easier handgun access on gun homicide rates, the Legislature in its wisdom now believes that it will move the gospel of ‘good guys with guns protecting us from bad guys with guns’ into the schools.

But what are the facts about the utility of using guns to protect kids (and teachers) in schools?  Actually, the number of homicides that take place in schools each year has shown the same gradual decline over the last twenty years that has characterized violent crime rates in the United States as a whole.  From 1994 to 2013, violent crime dropped roughly 50%, with most of the decline taking place prior to 2004.  As for school homicides, according to a Justice Department study, they have dropped by about the same amount over the period 1992 to 2010, and serious victimizations, including robberies and assaults, have declined by as much as two-thirds.

Most of this decline in school criminality seems to have been the result of increased attention paid to people entering school buildings and increased surveillance within the buildings.  By 2011, nearly 90% of all public schools had some kind of security measures to monitor access and the same percentage reported requiring visitor sign-ins.  On the other hand, less than one-third of all schools had armed security patrolling on a full-time or part-time basis.  And while I don’t have specific numbers on school security in Missouri, I can tell you that the last school shooting in the ‘show me’ state occurred in 1993.

Do you think there was any connection between the passage of the new Missouri gun law and the racial strife in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown?  It’s as good a theory as any about what really motivated legislators to let guns into schools, because there sure isn’t any violence problem in Missouri schools that this law will solve.