Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, March 10, 2014 9:34 pm

Hey, conservatives: Here’s where personal responsibility meets gun ownership

Richard Mayhew, Balloon Juice’s resident health-insurance guru, on firearm safety:

When I learned how to shoot, I was taught the following three things:

  • Only point a weapon at something or someone that you intend to kill
  • Always assume a weapon is loaded, and the safety is off.
  • You are always responsible for your weapon until the weapon is in the armory’s gun safe.

Can we incorporate these basic assumptions into civil law where the assumption is that any discharge (intentional or accidental) is the responsibility of the owner of the weapon and therefore the owner is liable for whatever damage a bullet fired from his weapon causes.  Liability would follow even stolen weapons if reasonable efforts to secure the weapon were not made. …

There have been attempts to regulate firearms as a consumer protection issue, but the NRA is too strong.  This proposal moves responsibility down the chain to the individual owner instead of the manufacturer.

Which is exactly where it should be. Hello, personal responsibility.

The rational response of creating the assumption that the weapon owner is liable absent extraordinary circumstances instead of the current assumption that [expletive] happens is for responsible owners to buy insurance to cover their liability.  Speaking as an insurance company bureaucrat, I would assume insurance companies would offer good rates to individuals who own longarms instead of handguns, who have a gun safe, who have trigger locks, who have gone to safety classes and who have otherwise demonstrated that they actually are reasonably likely to be safe.

Individuals who think “tactical” masturbatory fantasies are reality and believe that everyone should have a loaded pistol in their unlocked night stand even if they have two pre-kindergarteners in the house would probably be rated as high risk for negligent discharge.  Individuals who have more weapons than fingers would probably be rated as risky.  Individuals who have a history of accidental discharge would be rated as risky.

I’m not a fan of using liberterianish policy making as a first best choice, but my political judgement is that this type of regulation is the only viable away forward right now.  And going back to my health policy wonkery, reducing gun woundings means lower trauma costs, and lower recovery costs to cover.

I’m sure the NRA as an organization would fight this tooth and nail, of course. But I think it would be instructive to see the number of “personal responsibility” conservatives and libertarians and the number of so-called responsible gun owners who would fight it as well. I’d be delighted to be proved badly wrong on this, but I suspect that well more than half of American gun owners, if polled, would oppose this measure even if the reasons and benefits were explained carefully to them.

Because for way too many American gun owners, it’s not about rights and responsibilities, it’s about I want what I want and [expletive] you. I saw that attitude over and over and over again while covering cops (not from cops, but from many of the people with whom they interacted), and that’s why I say this: Whatever else it is, the American gun-owning public is in no way, shape or form a well-regulated militia.

Friday, December 14, 2012 7:55 pm

On today’s Connecticut massacre; or, PARTS of the Constitution are a suicide pact

Commenter Kurt Weldon at Pierce’s place:

When the Patriot Act was thumbing its nose at the First Amendment, we were told “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” And yet, when the Second Amendment is discussed, the Constitution is very much a suicide pact. The First Amendment is phrased as an absolute. We treat [it] as conditional. The Second is phrased conditionally. We treat it as an absolute.

Words matter, and history’s greatest clusterflocks are, to a one, tagged with the shattered remains of people who believed otherwise, the destruction not distinguishing in many cases between the merely ignorant and the guilty as sin. Are we really going to continue to treat as rational actors the kinds of public figures who argue, in effect, that if we give each kindergartner her own Glock, this crap won’t ever happen again?

However, lest I be accused of looking at the world only through shit-colored glasses, let me pass on, via commenter Patrick Myers on the same thread linked above, an observation — and, perhaps, instructions for you if you’re wondering what to tell your kids about what happened today — from Fred Rogers. Yeah, that Fred Rogers:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

Among those helpers today were cops, firefighters and public school teachers — the same cops, firefighters and public school teachers the Republican Party and its sponsors, the Koch Brothers and ALEC, have been demonizing so loudly and publicly for so long. Bad as today was, but for some of those teachers it could have been far worse.

My aunt is a retired public school teacher in Connecticut. Her older daughter’s husband is one today.

No, I don’t believe in banning individual gun ownership. But I also don’t believe for a goddamn second that the American people currently constitute a well-regulated militia, and anyone who claims otherwise, including a majority of the current Supreme Court, apparently, is batshit insane. I believe in the Constitution, but I have never signed a suicide pact and I don’t know another soul in America who has. Maybe I just need to get out more.

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