Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cultures and violence

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  • Tom Semmens, in reply to BenWilson,

    "...I think the Australian experience would be the one to look to..."

    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty..." ".... Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." - Patrick Henry"

    in other words, the second amendment wasn't just dreamed up in isolation, something the Supreme Court would doubtless bear in mind should any Australian style federal ban be put in place. Also, in the United States gun regulations in general are very much a matter of States rights and are jealously guarded. There is no way the Federal US government could "legislate for that".

    The Australian experience is therefore of precisely zero relevance to the United States.

    The only way a gun ban of any sort could be imposed by the US Federal government is by amending the constitution by repealing the second amendment, probably by getting three-fourths of the state legislatures approval.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2198 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The only way a gun ban of any sort could be imposed by the US Federal government is by amending the constitution by repealing the second amendment, probably by getting three-fourths of the state legislatures approval.

    What about that assault weapons ban Bush repealed, then? Not saying it was perfect, but clearly bans on some types of weapons have been federally possible. And there are a bunch of legislative options (bans on semi-automatics, magazine capacity, rate of fire, more uniform licensing procedures from state to state) which do not constitute a "gun ban" and would probably have a significant effect on gun violence rates.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I do note that per capita, our three familicides puts us above the US, as well, as measured by wikipedia consensus.

    Which is sorta what I was reaching for. Here's the revised paragraph.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Here’s Truth’s report on the Waikino school shooting. Check out the intro:

    All the perfumes of Arabia will not cleanse the blood-stained hands of John Higgins, who, in a frenzy, of uncontrollable passion, appeared with dramatic suddenness at the Waikino school and shot two children dead. Dropping the schoolmaster with a bullet through the neck Higgins then fired at the panic stricken children rushing pell-mell from the schoolroom. The sensation shook Waikino to its foundations and for an hour an episode, reminiscent of our worst bushranging days, was staged. Shutin the schoolhouse, with two dead children and a wounded schoolmaster lying oh the floor, Higgins blazed away at the armed police and townspeople gathered outside. Then the tempest of his maniacal anger quickly subsiding he passed quietly into the hands of the law,i n whose grip he remains awaiting the day when a jury of his countrymen shall estimate the enormity of his crime.

    The opening line adapts Macbeth.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Assault weapon bans have only been challenged so far in state courts; From what I can read legal thinking in America seems to be that an assault weapon ban should it come to the SCOTUS would be reviewed only in terms of the second amendment with little regard to state rulings. Now, from what I have read it is on the balance of probability that the SCOTUS would uphold an assault weapon ban but, paradoxically, the more assault weapons there are in circulation the less likely a ban would succeed in the supreme court, since the test seems to be how common they are (the less common, the more likely to be banned). Anyway, it seems to me that given how conservative the US Supreme Court is at the moment going to it for a judgement would be very risky, since a ruling in favour of assault weapons could open a Pandora's box of currently questionable weaponry to the general public.

    That is why I think the only real chance of change is amending the constitution, a huge but not impossible task.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2198 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I realise others in this thread can actually answer this question, so I don’t intend it to be rhetorical: What more could have been done from a mental health angle?

    My theory is:

    1. There are valid reasons to own and have guns. Not to the extent which they tend to have them in the states, but we want to restrict access to guns to suit what people need them for - hunting, farming, recreation etc. This is a balancing act between community control and individual freedoms.

    2. There is nothing good about a person suffering from a mental illness going crazy and attacking or hurting other people, regardless of whether they use guns, knives, bombs etc. There's no balance here, we want to eliminate this problem from our society entirely.

    Obviously both strategies need to be approached, but if you successfully target #1, you're still going to have gun deaths in this area - maybe less, but still. If you successfully target #2, you'll have none - not only no gun deaths, but also deaths by other methods.

    I don't know what more could have been done to help this young man and prevent this happening - I don't know any details about his treatment etc. But any time that a person sets out to kill dozens of young children and they were identified and being treated, we have to define that as a failure of the mental health system, even if fixing that failure might be really hard. Safety of the patient and safety of others in their family and community has got to be a top priority of that system.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The Australian experience is therefore of precisely zero relevance to the United States.

    Hardly precise. It answers the question of "how" to introduce gun control. It can and has been done, it wasn't even hard. Whether US governments of various levels have the actual will to do it is the only question. The means is very simple, it's just like any other kind of law enforcement.

    Anyway, premature. You'd have to get this sort of measure past Congress, Senate and the Supreme Court. It might even take a constitutional amendment.

    It's not premature to talk about how. It's vital to making laws, to know whether they can be enforced. The Australian example shows that they can. It's not hypothetical about whether a ridiculously over-armed citizenry can have their gun levels reduced. It's a known fact that they can.

    How it could happen politically in the USA is actually the secondary question. Probably on a state by state basis, the way they do everything. Or they could actually change the constitution. That is actually within their power.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    And those of us who contribute fees to SKY can vouch that the Preppers are true up to the eyeballs nutters.

    Why do they play such tripe down here? The time filling programs must be cheap and getting cheaper given the tide of recruiting new sky watchers is slowing.

    And cage fighting? In societies name, why? Is the sector of society that thinks this is quality sport your only revenue for pay per view that will improve your profit line?

    Give me some more pleasant sport ot watch huh Mr Sky?

    (Declaration: NZ Representative Rifle Shooter. By definition, a "fit and proper person")

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1583 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    If you successfully target #2, you'll have none - not only no gun deaths, but also deaths by other methods.

    I am absolutely in favour of better mental health treatment in the US, but the main problem with gun violence in the US is not mass killings, as horrific as they are. It's the people dying by ones and twos and threes, by accident and by design, by their own hand or another's, because a gun is at hand at the moment a child crawls into the back of a closet or someone contemplating suicide decides to go through with it or someone tells their abusive partner they're leaving. I would take a significant wager that mentally ill people in the US are far more likely to kill themselves with a gun than use it to kill someone else.

    The US needs to address the lack of mental health treatment for a significant portion of the population, but the "because" is not "because otherwise they'll go crazy and kill someone", it's "because they are not well", the same as with any health problem. If you want to stop mass shootings, you have to take away access to the tools that make them easy to commit. It's easy to look at this horror and say "only someone not sane would do that". But most murders are committed by people who are quite sane. That's the scary bit.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss, in reply to BenWilson,

    Ben, I disagree that Australia and the USA can be seen as equivalent in this area. They are just not the same and gun culture is not only an aspect of the Ameerical self, but in the constitution which might as well be the Bible so reified is it. Yes legislation can work, but it will work differently in different environments.

    In terms of drafting, the law that bans assault weapons, assuming one was passed (whether it be state or federal) needs to be crafted so as to avoid being struck down by the Supreme Court, as well as meet the test for good and effective lawmaking. I do not know if the two are likely to be in harmony or not, I suspect not given the Supreme Court's present makeup. It seems more likely the law will be weaker rather than stronger to accommodate this risk, but it cannot be traded off the make the law "more effective".

    You are right the constitution could be amended, but count the number of states won by republicans in the last preseidential election. That is prima facie roughly how many states wiare unlikely to ratify the amendment, and I don't know how that number ever gets to zero. I can't even imagine two thirds of Congress getting it together to propose an amendment. Possibly pessimistically, I think it is politically impossible for the 2nd amendment to be repealed.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 141 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I am absolutely in favour of better mental health treatment in the US, but the main problem with gun violence in the US is not mass killings, as horrific as they are. It’s the people dying by ones and twos and threes

    Around 30,000 each year, plus another 100,000 injured. It's an astonishing number.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I have been arguing (SO POINTLESSLY, Jesus Christ on a bike) on Facebook with my sister and some other people (southern, Christian, Republican, rural) since this happened. Apparently the lack of dedication to the Lord in public school is to blame and Lucifer has taken over the actions of the shooter. "The finger pulling the trigger is the problem not the gun. Fighting Satan on that one".

    I... honestly, I spend a lot of time defending my relatives from dumb stereotypes about southern people, but I've found some of them talking about this particular issue absolutely infuriating. Even if the magical sky fairy theory is correct and Lucifer is in charge, WHY ARE YOU LETTING HIM BUY THE GUNS AT WALMART, you dumbasses?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    We don't seem to have any rhetoric yet about video games, violence on television etc etc. I am reminded, however, of the time when a medico was trotted out on TV news in the immediate after-math of the Aromoana massacres. His argument (a familiar one) was that the 'trigger' for the violence must have been a Chuck Norris movie ( Commando ?) which screened on TV that weekend--an argument rather under-mined when the police quietly revealed details about David Gray on the following Monday, including the information that he didn't own a TV set. But he did have shelves of WiIbur Smith novels and gun manuals. Maybe if Gray had owned a TV, he may have been less socially isolated>

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    I have been arguing (SO POINTLESSLY, Jesus Christ on a bike) on Facebook with my sister and some other people (southern, Christian, Republican, rural) since this happened.

    I guessing that saying “here’s the DATA!” isn’t working for you.

    But ... the South has way more gun homicide than the rest of the US. What's God saying there?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to BenWilson,

    It can and has been done, it wasn't even hard.

    I suggest that it would be significantly more difficult to do this in America and that it was successfully done in Australia isn't really relevant. The groups owning firearms are completely different and handguns were never allowed to start with in Australia (with the same exceptions as exist here - sport etc).

    NZ and Australia only allow ownership of firearms for the purposes of hunting and sports. Self-defence is not a valid or legal reason.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Oh, and while I'm having a moan: can we also talk about gender? Why are these shooters pretty much always dudes? What is it about the ways in which we construct masculinity which allows this to happen? How do we change THAT?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Aspie activists can be remarkably insensitive

    true, though not surprising

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19538 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The only way a gun ban of any sort could be imposed by the US Federal government is by amending the constitution by repealing the second amendment, probably by getting three-fourths of the state legislatures approval.

    I can’t see how that is true given that the federal government did ban assault weapons between 1994 and 2004. I guess you can argue that the ban wasn’t particular successful, but it was enacted without an amendment to the constitution.

    ETA: I see your point that it wasn't tested by SCOTUS. I think it's interesting that it was in place for 10 years without such a challenge.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I guessing that saying “here’s the DATA!” isn’t working for you.

    Noting that my non-christened, non-church-going, non-school-praying children would not be killed by gunfire in their local school because GUN CONTROL made... no impression whatsoever. :)

    But … the South has way more gun homicide than the rest of the US. What’s God saying there?

    Oh, silly Russell. Don't you understand that it's because people have REJECTED the word of the Lord that all these bad things are happening? The Lord has politely bowed out and Lucifer is in the schools because of the separation of church and state! (Also, Christians are totally persecuted in America something something Obama is a Muslim.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    Self-defence is not a valid or legal reason.

    Isn't it not only not a valid reason, but a "no firearms licence for YOU" reason? Which is an utterly different attitude to the US in every possible way.

    Oh, and while I'm having a moan: can we also talk about gender? Why are these shooters pretty much always dudes? What is it about the ways in which we construct masculinity which allows this to happen? How do we change THAT?

    Well, the same reasons that most violence is committed by men upon men, I guess. It's hardly exclusive to mass gun killings.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Danielle,

    The Lord has politely bowed out and Lucifer is in the schools because of the separation of church and state! (Also, Christians are totally persecuted in America something something Obama is a Muslim.)

    You know you can hide people's feeds on Facebook and only check in on them when your blood pressure is dangerously low, right?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    But any time that a person sets out to kill dozens of young children and they were identified and being treated, we have to define that as a failure of the mental health system, even if fixing that failure might be really hard. Safety of the patient and safety of others in their family and community has got to be a top priority of that system.

    These are people your talking about. And when labels like

    Oppositional Defiant Disorder

    are put on people.
    Your going to get nowhere.
    A sympathetic, well-resourced health service, with no fear of retribution or recrimination might be a good starting point. Maybe a no expense to citizens outservice, concentrating on building relationships and trust with people and communities might (cause I dont know) work. To fund it would need a govt that that wasnt so obsessed with hobnobbing with business and sports wallies.
    Like that'll happen.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1715 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Well, the same reasons that most violence is committed by men upon men, I guess. It’s hardly exclusive to mass gun killings.

    The thing is, no one ever talks about that except we feminist harpies, and it certainly would be nice if it was a broader conversation.

    You know you can hide people’s feeds on Facebook and only check in on them when your blood pressure is dangerously low, right?

    The problem is that I want to know what's going on with the peeps, and see the family pictures, but I don't want to implode with rage over all the annoying Republican photomemes. Is there a filter for that? :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ana Simkiss,

    Ben, I disagree that Australia and the USA can be seen as equivalent in this area. They are just not the same and gun culture is not only an aspect of the Ameerical self, but in the constitution which might as well be the Bible so reified is it. Yes legislation can work, but it will work differently in different environments.

    Sounds like exceptionalism to me, again. America really isn't as unique as it would like to make out. The people aren't some strange species that don't think like the rest of the planet. It actually isn't synonymous with its extremists. It might suit the gun lobby to make out that they are, to make everyone else feel powerless. But that's just not the case. They are not harder to control than other nationalities.

    Yes, there are nuts there, like everywhere. But don't forget that the power of the state makes every other power look feeble by comparison. No matter how much of a gun nut you are, when the police turn up and demand to search your house for guns, most people are going to let them. If an amnesty period is ended, and the mere suggestion that you possess a dangerous and illegal firearm is enough to trigger a search, then intimidating people with weapons becomes quite a short lived thing.

    I suggest that it would be significantly more difficult to do this in America and that it was successfully done in Australia isn't really relevant.

    If you can think of anywhere more relevant, go to it. Yes, it's not identical. But America is still, by and large, a society of laws. If the law changes, their enforcement agencies have it well within their powers to reduce the number of guns floating around by orders of magnitude very rapidly. I expect they'd even love to do it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10559 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Isn't it not only not a valid reason, but a "no firearms licence for YOU" reason? Which is an utterly different attitude to the US in every possible way.

    Correct. Stating that you want a firearms licence for purposes of buying a gun for self-defence during the vetting procedure will guarantee that you won't get one.

    If you can think of anywhere more relevant, go to it.

    No, I can't think of anywhere relevant at all to compare the situation in America with.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

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