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Some Ground Rules for the Debate on Gun Regulation

I am only interested in one thing, and that is in finding the best solution to the problem. The problem with extremists and fanatics is that they only care about pushing their cause, not about solving the larger issue at hand.

I don't own guns and I don't mind if people do, within reason of course. And that’s the problem our society is struggling with right now — what is reasonable around gun regulation.                

Step 1 is easy. Define the problem. I offer this up for starters: “What do we do as a society to reduce the likelihood of another tragedy like Sandy Hook, without excessively infringing on the individual?” It really does come down to how to balance the good of the many vs. the good of the individual.           

Step 2 is research and that’s a problem. Research takes time, effort and resources. Few are willing to take these steps, but they will still seek to offer up their uninformed opinions anyways. I have said before that I don’t believe in the adage “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” I take a different view: “Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion.” Sure, everyone can give an opinion, but it’s obvious that an uninformed opinion does not carry the same weight as an informed one.

I, for one, am going to leave the question of whether or not we, as a society, should regulate gun availability and ownership to those who have actually done the research necessary to make informed decisions around the issue. But I would like to offer up some suggestions for the rest of us while we are seeking to rationally discuss this complex issue.

What I won’t do is allow myself to be derailed from intelligent debate and discussion by extremists, fanatics and the uninformed. There are those few, a tiny few, who will always live on the extremes, ie. “No one should have guns” and “Everyone should have whatever guns they want”. The vast majority of rational people will see these two positions as extremes and not waste time discussing them. So let’s agree to start the national debate by taking those two extreme positions right off the table. Let’s not waste another moment on them.

I am only interested in one thing and that is in finding the best solution to the problem. The problem with extremists and fanatics is that they only care about pushing their cause, not about solving the larger issue at hand. They come into the discussion from the point of view of protecting their position, not in coming to a greater understanding of the issue. In my book, that makes their input null and void.

As I look over articles in Patch about guns, I very quickly get overwhelmed by the sheer number of comments on these articles. Unlike the typical half dozen to a dozen comments most articles seem to receive, the comments on articles about guns are numbered in the multiple hundreds. And as I read through them, I find a great deal of these comments offer nothing valuable to the discussion. They are obviously extreme viewpoints that just waste a reasonable person’s time sorting through them to get to the reasonable comments.

Of course, that is often the goal — to derail reasonable discussion by falling into the trap of trying to speak reason to unreasonable viewpoints. So in an effort to avoid giving these few individuals more time and energy than they are worth, I offer up these suggestions to keep in mind while discussing any controversial topic and certainly that of gun regulation.

Don’t respond to extremist’s posts or comments. Ignore them completely.
Why give credence to these posts by replying to them? Why treat them as rational by trying to explain why they don’t make sense in the real world? These people take something that is merely “possible” and turn it into the “probable.” These are the conspiracy theorists. These are the people who make the mistake of “because it is possible for something to happen, it will happen.” This was one of my favorite Patch posts around this concept: “Let’s take gun control to it’s logical conclusion which is the complete disarmament of the citizenry. When this happens, what do we have? We have totalitarianism because when only the government has weapons, then the government has all the power." That is not the logical conclusion, it’s only one conclusion. And it’s probably the most unlikely conclusion too. It is simply paranoid and unbalanced to be focused on ending up in a place where the "the government has all the power."

Discuss the issue in terms of gun regulation, not gun control.
Lose the term “gun control” and use the less inflammatory phrase “gun regulation.” Any reasonable, rational person I’ve ever heard discuss this issue has never advocated abolishing a citizen’s ability to own a gun. I’m willing to bet that the term “gun control” was tossed out there as a means to rile up the less informed members of our society and start this whole “they’re trying to take away our right to bear arms” nonsense.

Don’t respond to “They want to take away ALL our guns.”
As soon as someone tosses this one out there, just walk away.

Don’t respond to arguments about the 2nd Amendment.
Let’s stop letting this one derail real discussion on controlling violence in our society. The answer is not going to be found in a discussion about what the 2nd Amendment really means to say. It will be found in looking at what is real in our society today, and then figuring out what makes the most sense from there.

Don’t get lost in definitions that are obvious to the majority.
This is just another tactic to derail an otherwise rational discussion. I found this absurdity in one series of comments on Patch: “You say that these were 'military weapons.' What does this mean? What is the difference between your 'military weapons' and your non military weapons?" Whoever this was, please stop wasting our time. Obviously, the writer meant guns that "spray" a slew of bullets in a moment, it means guns that are designed to be VERY efficient in killing masses of people — as in those used in the military.  This person’s statement shows no interest in solving the problem, merely in muddying the waters.

Ignore what comes out of organizations that have a vested interest in the status quo.
Gun manufacturers, gun vendors and the NRA have a lot of money to lose if tighter gun regulations become a fact. Organizations like these are not interested in the public good, they are interested in their pocketbooks. They are obviously biased and have no place in an open, reasonable and impartial discussion on what is best for our society. These organizations are going say whatever they need to say to stay alive.
We just had the experience of our political parties out-and-out lying — altering reality and history in order to push their agendas. We should certainly learn from that and know that these organizations are going to do the exact same thing to survive.

Don’t let the discussion be only about guns.
It’s a certainty that the issue of the growing violence of the Newtown/Columbine type has more that just one dimension to its cause. To get stuck in an argument over whether or not gun regulation is part of the solution to mass killings in our society shows a complete lack of understanding of the complexity of the issue. To solve this problem, we've got to look at ALL the aspects — gun regulation, mental health policies, parenting, and the glorification of guns and killing in the media and the gaming industry.

Ed Froem January 11, 2013 at 11:32 PM
Yes Hawkeye, more people are beaten to death with blunt instruments every year than are shot to death, al least according to the FBI. You are still not entitled to your own facts.
Ed Froem January 11, 2013 at 11:34 PM
TZ, it was Hawkeye, the noted anti gun expert who made the driving analogy.
Ed Froem January 12, 2013 at 12:27 AM
Former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell said on MSNBC Friday, "The good thing about Newtown is, it was so horrific that I think it galvanized Americans to a point where the intensity on our side is going to match the intensity on their side. " Well there you have it, straight from the horses mouth. Like the democrats say, never let a tragedy go to waste.
Ed Froem January 12, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Hmm, I noticed there a several cities there with very few gun laws with the same homicide rate as NY. guess there's no correlation. Averaged over the us, cities still have twice the homicide rate as the rest of the country. But for the left, correlation and causation don't count, so long as you feel good about it
wantfrieswiththat January 13, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Justice Scalia, who did afirm this, wrote one year later that he wants to keep weapons out of critical places, such as schools....So who am I to argue with law.
wantfrieswiththat January 13, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Well actually they regulate cars...more stringent drunk driving laws, mand. insurance, police check points, lower DUI blood alcohol levels, a license to drive a car, a certain age to drive a car, so on and so on....Lowering of the BA level, checkpints, and the harsh penalties as reduced drunk driving deaths by half in a decade. Check the gov. database.
wantfrieswiththat January 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM
see what George wrote a couple of posts down..
carlo January 14, 2013 at 05:08 AM
Many of the guns used by criminals were purchased legally, in places with lax laws, before being sold on the streets illegally. Look up straw purchasers. People with clean records who buy guns to be sold illegally. If a gun is traced to them they simply say it was stolen.
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Some have asked what anti-psychotic medication Adam Lanza was taking... and while we don’t know yet and may never know, there seems to be a direct link between these mental health drugs and acts of violence especially by young people... Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public. Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded. Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event. Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac. Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft. Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days. Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others. A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school. Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded.. A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another. Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others. TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates. Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat. James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers. Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times. Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister. Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications. Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants. Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled. Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself. Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002. Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil…”)
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002, (Gareth’s father could not accept his son’s death and killed himself.) Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage. Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet. Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill. Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms. A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased. Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine. Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system. Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide. Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone. Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his New York high school. Missing from list… 3 of 4 known to have taken these same meds…. What drugs was Jared Lee Loughner on, age 21…… killed 6 people and injuring 14 others in Tuscon, Az What drugs was James Eagan Holmes on, age 24….. killed 12 people and injuring 59 others in Aurora Colorado What drugs was Jacob Tyler Roberts on, age 22, killed 2 injured 1, Clackamas Or What drugs was Adam Peter Lanza on, age 20, Killed 26 and wounded 2 in Newtown Ct Roberts is the only one that I haven’t heard about being on drugs of some kind.
cheryl January 14, 2013 at 01:36 PM
If those stats are true you should send them to the state legislature today.
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 01:44 PM
As you can see from the above list.... and as I've stated numerous times we have to deal with the mental health issues 1st and foremost!! Maybe ban psychyatrists!! Or, hold them accountable for not "locking up" these broken individuals... As I've stated numerous times, we need to have 100% background checks for all firearm sales... Mental Illness needs to be reported to the NICS data base just like ciminal convictions. We need to eliminate access of firearms to mentally unstable individuals and hold the people that do allow these individuals access to firearms accountable for the crimes committed by them.
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 03:45 PM
I agree, limiting access to firearms is critical. My guns are locked in a safe, if anyone were to use any of my guns in the commision of a crime, then I should be held liable for their use, for not properly securing them... Most responsible gun owners do limit the access of their firearms. But then again, I'm suggesting we strengthen or simply start enforcing existing laws that deal with individual responsibilty. It's much like these psychiatrists that are treating the symtpom, not the cause... The parents of these children bear far more responsibilty (to society, if not legally) in recognizing that their child is the "assault weapon" in all of these instances and we as a society need to be protected against them...
Tim Smith January 14, 2013 at 06:23 PM
I have contacted: Representative, Melissa Ziobron Senator, Art Linares Congressman, Joe Courtney Senator Richard Blumenthal I tried Senator Chris Murphy, but there is no contact info available for him.... so much for being accessable to the people...
Tim Smith January 15, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Got home from work today and there was a nice message on the answering machine from my State Senator Art Linares, very nice touch and I must say, I'm impressed ...
Tim Smith January 15, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Hawkeye, Thanks, there's no contact info there, either...
Tim Smith January 15, 2013 at 03:17 PM
I fear that it's too late to stop or even slow the amount of gun restrictions that are coming... Correlation without causation is most of the gun control argument and a common distortion in crime analysis, particularly when broad sociological theories are applied to criminal motivation. That suicidal thoughts are a known side effect for some users of many of the drugs listed here is certainly more significant than the number who had access to 30-round magazines, and many of the above incidents never make the national news as local tragedies buttress that.
Tim Smith January 15, 2013 at 03:18 PM
It's readily admitted that methamphetamine and crack cocaine trigger organic brain changes, through microstrokes and other effects, that make many users far more violent and paranoid (to the point they're in need of straitjacket/secure psychiatric ward care). It hasn't been coincidental the drug dealers and drug users have helped set new standards for violence (like the 50,000 murdered in the Mexican drug cartel wars in the past few years or the crack wars in NYC, LA and Miami in the 1980's, not to mention Chicago) Blaming illegal drugs, including ones that make people more passive and detached, has always been easy while blaming legal ones with clear causation from alcohol on forward is far less common and kept quiet. Overprescription is a cheaper/faster solution than any other treatment, take a pill and stop being difficult. When some classrooms have as many as 30% of the students prescribed Ritalin (or some other drug) for symptoms of boredom, you know it's drifting into a management tool rather than a therapeutic tool.
Tim Smith January 15, 2013 at 03:19 PM
"Better living through chemistry" is far more profitable for the major pharmaceutical companies (who are vastly greater donors to Congress and each Administration (both side of the aisle) than the firearms and ammunition manufacturers), easier to process from an insurance and Medicare standpoint for the system, as well as a major advertiser for television networks, news magazines, and the web (spending an average of $10-16k in marketing per physician) as well as funding or directly publishing many of the "independent" research journals (since 1958.) It's not surprising, when you think about it, how this important factor in the mass shootings is studiously avoided or gets minimal commentary when brought up.
Serene Skeptic January 15, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Tim Smith: Chris@chrismurphy.com
Serene Skeptic January 15, 2013 at 04:10 PM
And thank you Hawkeye for expressing your very reasonable viewpoints.
Tim Smith January 15, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Thank you!
cheryl January 15, 2013 at 07:37 PM
This is NOT about gun control. This is about the 2nd amendment and our consitution. BHO used this tragedy ( Newtown, CT) to promote his agenda to gain more power & control thru legislation due to Newtown. He is exploiting, manipulating, abusing this tragedy plain & simple. Now he intends to use our children as he did with the healthcare bill standing behind him so everyone can see how "guns" affect the "safety" of our children. Bull Crap- gun violence is down. This is a clear case of "the ends justify the means" Cloward & Piven Strategy. He doesn't care who he exploites,, how it is done, or when he does it. Just that the outcome is what he wants and that is "gun control". This gives the gov more power. As each law, regulation, tax is passed WE the people lose. We lose our money, our freedom, our liberties. This NEW gun control measures whatever they will be only limits LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. Does nothing to protect your kids, your property, nor your freedom. Everyone gets caught up in the EMOTIONAL without looking at the facts. Its time we educate ourselves what the 2nd amendment is all about. Its not about hunting as some would want you to believe, its about arming citizens ( the milita -the people) against tyranny. When you have a more powerful executive branch,( as we know all 3 branches of gov are supposed to be equal) and you destroy the constitution, inch by inch. WHATS LEFT? A tyrannical government. One who dictates, violates, and abuses their subjects. ALL DAY LONG.
wantfrieswiththat January 17, 2013 at 11:44 PM
I completely understand. When President Reagan proposed an assault weapon ban which was found constitutional by Justice Scalia, I felt the loss of my liberties. When George H. Bush raised taxes, I felt more of my liberties and money had vanished. When George W. Bush enacted the Patriot Act which allows the government to hold indefintely anyone they think is a terrorist or the unlimited warrantless phone taps and internet spying I felt even more of my liberties, money, and freedom disappear.
cheryl January 18, 2013 at 02:02 PM
The huge loss of soverignty, was in 1992 when George H.W. Bush America in Brazil who signed on to the UN Agenda 21 which at that time was a soft treaty without teeth. Although groundwork had been laid, it took a Bill Clinton to actually introduce something so invasive to our nation and get by with it without the public becoming aware. President Clinton appointed his "President’s Council on Sustainable Development" and he literally gave away the rights and freedoms the framers of the Constitution had provided. Thats what all these controls, regualtions, laws, healthcare, energy, resouces, finances, bank, education, is all about. Here you go- read and educate yourself- http://www.newswithviews.com/Morrison/joyce36.htm Its amazing how some people just won't educate themselves for reasons of unknown origin. They are so dug into the ideology that they can't wont, refuse to any fact related information.
cheryl January 18, 2013 at 02:15 PM
This is much bigger than anyone thinks. Its not these media issues at all. It's huge, its total dishonesty, manipulation, misdirection, tremendeous public relations influencing the masses in certain directions by division. The average person has no idea because they are not informed and don't want to be. They take their perceived America for granted not realizing that it has changed, as the world has changed. They have no idea what PPP means, they have no idea that our constitution is being destroyed, they have no idea that congress is becoming irrelevant, they have no idea how gov is growing or what it means to them to have a 16 tillion $$ debt, why are our allies changing, why would the US want to change ditators in other countries, - WHY ARE THESE THINGS HAPPENEING? If they were informed and well read they would see things differently. They choose to stay in their homes, work, attend activities and be totally uninterested what is being done around them. They believe in the rederic, not the facts. Time to dive into the realization and connect those dots and EDUCATE - they don't even know that European countries are asking for the gold back and what that means to them? Uninformed voters-that's scary to think that they voted for their demise.
Ed Froem January 19, 2013 at 01:13 PM
Gun control advocates don't even have correlation on their side.

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