Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Real Problems with the Proposed Gun Control Legislation Items

(one bad number corrected below,  2-6-13,  red text color)

I have a real problem with the proposed (so-called) “assault” weapons ban on two counts:  

(1) We tried it before for 10 years,  without any effect on the statistics.  It didn’t work then,  why do it again?

(2) Calling semi-automatic weapons “assault” weapons is a convenient political lie for those with a disarmament agenda,  because it calls up visions of military machine guns.  

This vision is simply wrong:  an AR-15 may look like its machine-gun military M-16 cousin,  but it has operational and use characteristics identical to an ordinary deer rifle.  It is a semi-automatic weapon,  meaning “one trigger-pull,  one bullet”,  not many bullets.  

“Semi-automatic” merely means loading the next bullet is automatic,  you don’t have to work a bolt or lever.  No army in the world today would bring an AR-15 to combat,  they would be completely wiped out by an opposition armed with real machine guns.  

Banning certain guns just because they look like machine guns is the analog to banning certain kinds of cars just because they look “sexy”.  There can be no beneficial effect,  in either case.  

Clip Size Limits?

I have a problem with limits on clip size,  because it is so easy to change clips.  In a crowded room like the Connecticut school,  you can shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger,  without aiming,  and still hit people.  

That’s about 3 or 4 trigger-pulls per second (call it 3.5).  It takes about 2 seconds to change clips,  if you are well-practiced.  

At that rate,  a 10-round clip empties in about 2.9 seconds,  for a total fire-reload cycle time of 4.9 seconds.  In the typical 5-minute minimum police response time,  you can cycle through about  61.2 clips,  and about 612 shots,  maximum possible.  

A larger 30-round clip empties in about 8.6 seconds,  for about 10.6 total seconds fire-reload.  In the same 5 minutes,  one cycles through 28.3 clips,  for 849 shots,  maximum.  849 is only 39% more than 612!  

It’s not enough of a difference to significantly affect the death toll,  as other circumstances in the scenario (such as the actual population of the room,  or a gun jam) will act to limit total shots fired in any one room.  And,  it takes time to find another room.

In a less crowded situation like a shopping mall,  or out on the street,  every shot fired from a semi-automatic weapon must be properly aimed to hit anything,  quite unlike the machine gun.  It takes someone very well-practiced a minimum of 2 seconds to aim between trigger pulls.

A 10-round clip at 2 seconds per shot empties in 20 seconds,  plus 2 to change clips,  for a total 22 second cycle.  In the same 5 minutes,  one can cycle through 13.6 (was incorrect at 16.6) clips for 136 shots.  

A 30 round clip at 2 seconds per shot empties in 60 seconds,  plus 2 to change clips,  for a total 62 second cycle.  In 5 minutes that’s 4.8 clips and 145 shots.  

145 is only 6.6% larger than 136,  which is almost no difference at all!  

The Real Problems Have Nothing to do with the Hardware

I hope you noticed that the real driver here is response time!  Typical towns have a 5 to 10 minute response time,  some as long as 30 minutes.  Rural areas can take even longer.  That’s a lot of shots in any scenario,  and no politician can legislate a solution to that.  

One of the questions we face is why do politicians love doing ineffective things like “assault” weapons bans or clip size limits?  They typically insist on doing useless things like that,  instead of doing something with real effect,  such as fixing background check loopholes or properly defending declared gun-free zones.

Politicians like to do things that are very public,  but without significant real effect,  simply because they like to have something reliably “favorable” to point at,  for the next election.  Doing something of real effect could affect their record negatively,  if it doesn't work right.  

A Regulatory Change That Could Help

The only regulation or lawmaking item that make sense to me is stopping the quite-evident leaks in the background check process,  but I still oppose any federal database associated with it,  as both a Second Amendment abridgement objection,  and a Fourth Amendment unreasonable-search objection.  

We need something that triggers a deeper check,  when the seller is uncomfortable with his impression of “how-right-in-the-head” is the buyer.  That alone would have denied or delayed Gabby Gifford’s shooter.  

Such a deeper check should look at ongoing treatment for mental problems,  not just a court decision of insanity.  It cannot plug the leak entirely,  because such folks would then go to the black market,  so there will always be a problem.

Something That Does Make Sense

The only other thing that makes sense is,  that if you're going to have a gun-free zone,  then you must defend it.  Otherwise it is a publicly-advertised defenseless concentrated targetthe very thing wackos,  criminals,  and terrorists are looking for.

We had a very successful model for this in the American "Old West",  a model with nearly a century of demonstrated success.  Towns became gun-free zones,  which stopped a lot of dueling in the streets,  and a lot of drunken gunplay in saloons.  But there are three facets to that modeltwo of which are always forgotten todayWithout all three,  it does not work.

Facet 1no guns within the zone (city limits in the Old West).  

Facet 2:  you check your guns with the town peace officer, and come on in - no access restriction (plus,  your guns are safe,  and immediately available to you as you leave).  

Facet 3:  the gun free zone is protected by armed peace officers on a very short response timeabout 60 seconds.   That's because towns in the Old West were under two modern city blocks in dimension,  so that an armed deputy at a dogtrot was always less than 60 seconds away.

Now,  that model worked just fine.  But you need all three facets to make it work.  In today's larger communities,  you need peace officers on patrol or on station,  widely dispersed,  so that one is never more than 60 seconds away.  Most response times today are 5-10 minutes,  some over 30 minutes.  That's unacceptable,  and,  not amenable to a legislative solution. 

And you note I said "peace officers".  Those armed protectors do really need full peace officer training,  because they will be handling all sorts of cries for help,  not just defense against armed attack.  

That's why arming teachers (with concealed-carry training only) in a school won't work.  Besides,  you don't want their guns inside the actual classrooms,  right there with the kids.  

Having armed campus cops very close by,  with real peace officer certificates,  will work.  And,  it would have worked in Connecticut! 


It makes no sense at all not to do what worked so well before:  properly defending gun free zones.   

It also makes no sense to do things that can’t,  or won’t,  or didn’t work:  most of the things proposed today,  upgraded background check excluded.  

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