Monday, August 7, 2017

Lead Poisoning

There are some pretty obvious consequences to having as many guns in society as there are people – the reality we call the “United” States of America. And some that may have escaped your attention. We’ve hammered home the obvious consequences in so many earlier blogs, providing statistics that the NRA is doing its best to prevent from being collected, so today we are going to take a quick look at one aspect of “too many guns” out there that just doesn’t get enough coverage (covfefe?): The staggering numbers of guns that are simply stolen, a whole lot of which wind up fueling violent gun-crime.

The July 27th Los Angeles Times provides the numbers and the backdrop to this little foray into “one more damned thing that could just kill you.” “[A] new analysis by the Center for American Progress of data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] found that a gun is stolen in the U.S. every two minutes.

“The ATF, which is responsible for oversight of the gun industry, has been particularly concerned about burglaries and robberies of gun stores, finding that the former have increased 48% and the latter 175% between 2012 and 2016. During this period, nearly 31,500 guns were stolen from gun stores.

“But it’s not just gun stores that are targets for thieves. In 2015 alone, gun owners reported $164 million worth of guns stolen nationwide. Local police agencies have sounded the alarm about a rise in thefts from vehicles, urging gun owners to leave their weapons at home or lock them securely if they are left in a car.

“These thefts represent more than financial losses to gun owners and dealers. Guns are both dangerous weapons and durable goods. Once stolen, they don’t simply disappear from the nation’s gun stock — they are transferred and traded in underground illegal markets and often end up used in violent crimes, like the slayings of Officer Familia and UPS employees Wayne Chan, Benson Louie and Michael Lefiti.”

The strange part of all of this seems to be that there are no winners when guns are stolen… but there remains this overwhelming proclivity from over-funded gun lobbyist NRA to prevent any legislation at all that applies to guns from ever being passed… just as they are currently working on fomenting state legislation to allow silencers on guns because gunshots are hard on their shooters’ ears. We really don’t want there to be obvious gunshots, because that just might alert the police that a crime is being committed, do we?! Wear ear protectors at the range, fools! It’s the way it’s been done for decades! If only Congress and too many state legislatures were able to make decisions without getting NRA approval first!

The consequences of the 1996 NRA-lobbied Dickey Amendment – a federal statute aimed at the Centers for Disease Control and their research into gun homicides – linger without end. “Infuriated by CDC-funded research suggesting that having firearms in the home sharply increased the risks of homicide, the NRA goaded Congress in 1996 into stripping the injury center’s funding for gun violence research – $2.6 million. Congress then passed a measure drafted by then-Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) forbidding the CDC to spend funds ‘to advocate or promote gun control.’ (The NRA initially hoped to eradicate the injury center entirely.)

“The Dickey Amendment didn’t technically ban any federally funded gun violence research. The real blow was delivered by a succession of pusillanimous CDC directors, who decided that the safest course bureaucratically was simply to zero out the whole field.” Los Angeles Times (6/14/16). Result: no statistics by the most logical government agency to gather those numbers combined with a reluctance of any other federal agency – seeing how nasty the NRA-controlled Congress was to the CDC on their budget allocation – to step in and provide the numbers. You’ll notice that those ATF numbers above have no mention of any numbers relating to gun homicides. Hmmmmm.

Still, the playing field for stolen guns is just too open, too devoid of obvious legislation that could just save a whole pile of innocent lives. “Amazingly, under current law, the ATF cannot require gun dealers to even lock their doors. Certainly most gun store owners — like any other business owner who wants to make a profit — have implemented security measures to protect against theft. However, gun theft numbers make clear that we cannot solely rely on the industry to police itself.

“Congress needs to give the ATF the authority to require gun dealers to take certain basic steps to secure their inventory. A good starting place is the bill Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) introduced this week, which would require gun dealers to store guns securely after business hours and would direct the attorney general to consider regulations regarding additional security requirements.

“Congress also needs to ease other restrictions that impede the ATF’s ability to effectively oversee gun dealers — such as the appropriations rider that prevents the ATF from requiring dealers to conduct an annual inventory reconciliation — and adequately fund the agency so that it can conduct regular compliance inspections with dealers to help identify security risks.

“There’s also more that policymakers could do to help prevent thefts from individual gun owners. Gun owners should be required — or at the very least incentivized — to lock up their guns when they are not in use. Not only would this measure help prevent theft, but it would also greatly reduce the risk of accidental shootings by curious children who find guns in their homes.

“Policymakers can also improve data collection on how often guns are stolen and the circumstances of those thefts. In most states, gun owners are not required by law to report thefts to law enforcement. That makes the numbers available to the FBI a likely undercount and renders it difficult to accurately gauge the true scope of this problem or develop smart, targeted policy approaches to address it.” LA Times (7/27/17). But you know, you just know, the NRA won’t allow logic to trump obvious faults in the pervasive and highly unregulated use of most of the guns floating about our nation. Don’t expect a miracle anytime soon! And remember, for every justifiable self-defense gun homicide, there are 30+ gun homicides that aren’t!

I’m Peter Dekom, and the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to reverse the litany of homicide-enabling laws fomented by the NRA!

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