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Nothing new to see here.
on February 1, 2013
Like many, I've been a fan of King's fiction all my life. He definitely has a way with words that few can match, and this piece is no different. The first part was especially entertaining, where he describes the basic stages that happen in the media after a tragedy takes place. He then goes on to talk a lot about his book Rage (a story about a school shooting) and how he decided to pull it from sale after a number of kids apparently were inspired by it. I don't think I would have pulled it, but it's his book, and so that was his choice. I understand. I also agree with him that entertainment like movies & TV and video games probably has very little to do with violent crime, at least there is very little statistical evidence one could point to showing such a connection.
So you might be wondering... why only 2 stars? Because as the title of my review states, there is nothing new to see here. This book doesn't add anything to the debate that hasn't already been said a million times, and that's just by Piers Morgan. If the aim of the book was to build a bridge between the pro-gun control crowd and the anti-gun control crowd, then it utterly failed at doing so. Most of the short book simply recounts different shootings that have occurred over the years, and then offers the same exact solutions we here touted in the media on a daily basis. Solutions that aren't really solutions, but just emotional knee-jerk reactions to a tragedy. Reminds me of how people acted after 911, blood thirsty and ready for war, without ever asking relevant questions, such as why people attacked us in the first place, and if our foreign policy could have incited such attacks. No no no, let's just rush off to war and kill a few million people to make ourselves feel better, and while we're at it pass laws allowing the government new ways to monitor and detain US citizens, further infringing upon our rights. Moral of the story, learn how to control your emotions. Learn how to use reason and logic when forming an opinion.
Here's the big 3 proposals King mentions at the end of the book. Here's what we all paid our money to hear. They will sound familiar to anyone who pays attention.
1. Universal Background Checks: This is the one least likely to cause debate among most people. There is an outdated study that suggests 40% of all gun sales don't have background checks, which means that 40% of all gun sales are a private citizen selling to another private citizen. With all the controversy about places like Wal-Mart and Dick's sporting goods selling so many guns, I find it highly unlikely that 4 out of 10 sales are private sales of what would be mostly used guns. But regardless, I'm willing to concede universal background checks as long as it's done in an open and fair way. At best, I believe all universal background checks would really do is deter a criminal a week or so at obtaining a gun. Does anyone really think the gangbanger is gonna say, "Well, I guess I can't get a gun now because of that new universal background checks law." Seriously? New gang members will still be able to buy a gun because they won't have a criminal background yet, and old gang members with criminal backgrounds will continue to get guns they way they have always got them, by having somebody without a criminal history buy them for them. It's called a black market for guns, and it's an easy way for the seller to make lots of money charging way over retail for a weapon. As for the mass shooters, the vast majority had no criminal background, so a background check would have done nothing anyway. Not to mention, many of them simply stole the guns from family members who had passed background checks. As far as Obama saying that if we only save one life it would be worth it. Well, that's a ridiculous premise for an argument. How many lives could we save every year by reducing the speed limit to 25 mph? Probably tens of thousands at least, yet he would never advocate that.
2. Ban high-capacity magazines: Most polls that ask people if they agree with banning high-capacity magazines don't specify what high-capacity means. For some people, high-capacity might mean 50 or 100 round drums. For others, 30 round magazines. Some might think anything over fifteen or twenty would be high-capacity. It's a highly subjective question. For Mr. King, anything over 10 rounds is high-capacity, which is again an example of him adding nothing new to the debate, as that is the same limit most pro-gun control advocates are asking for. Come on King, be more creative. How many gun crimes are committed where someone fires more than 10 rounds? Hardly any, and yet this is touted as a solution. If at best you force a handful of mass shooters each year to take a few extra seconds to reload, how many lives will you save? 20? 30? Out of 12,000 homicides a year. Would King jump and down with joy if next year there was only 11,970 homicides? I don't see how this does anything to tackle the greater problem of violence in the country. Also, I would love for someone to answer this question: If one or multiple attackers breaks into your house and threatens you or your family, would you prefer to have a gun with 10 bullets in the magazine or 11? If your answer is 10, you're either a fool or a liar. If you're answer is to hide under the bed and wait for the police to get there, you're just a fool.
3. Ban "Assault" Rifles: Wow, couldn't have seen that one coming. I've yet to hear anyone properly define what an "assault" rifle is, or why certain features somehow make a gun more deadly. Why does an adjustable stock make the gun more deadly? Or a rail where you could mount a scope or flashlight? Or a pistol grip? And if pistol grips were a sign of a weapon of mass destruction, or are a "military style" feature, why aren't these same people calling for bans on all pistols, since last I checked pistols had pistol grips. The only people who call for assault weapon bans are people who don't know anything about the guns they want to ban. They just see a scary looking gun that reassembles an m-16. In fact, the only reason I've ever heard anyone give for these rifles being more dangerous than other guns is that they can accept high-capacity magazines. The rest of the stuff is just aesthetics. The ar-15, for example, shoots a round that is significantly smaller than most hunting rounds. Some states even have laws against using that caliber round to hunt deer because it's NOT deadly enough. So if the only reason for wanting these certain types of rifles banned is because they can accept high-capacity magazines, making them capable of shooting off a lot of rounds consecutively without having to reload, then wouldn't their proposed ban on high-capacity magazines be enough? Is an AR-15 with a 10 round mag more dangerous than a Glock 19 with a 10 round mag? Only at long range, like 100+ yards, and how many mass shootings are done at long range? Rifles also require two hands to shoot with any sense of accuracy, and would be easier to wrestle away from an attacker because of their size. Handguns, however, can be easily concealed and can be shot with reasonable accuracy one handed. Would you rather a gunman go into a school with a 10 round Glock in each hand, or one AR-15 rifle with a 10 round magazine? Which would be more deadly? The answer should be obvious. This whole argument for banning these semi-automatic rifles is quite stupid to anyone who knows about guns. But still, people like King spread irrational fears based on their own misunderstandings.
So in conclusion, none of these new proposals will do anything to curb the violent crime problem in the US. Most people in the gun-control crowd only focus on mass shootings, when statistically the vast majority of gun violence is committed by gangs involved in the illegal drug trade. The one thing that would have a real and almost immediate effect on bringing down overall gun violence, ending drug prohibition, never gets mentioned, even by the liberal crowd who so often claim to believe in individual rights. Also strengthening education, better understanding of mental illness, economic growth, more responsible parenting, ending the welfare system that has decimated many urban, mostly minority communities, would all lead to better results in the long run. But, of course, these are much harder issues to discuss and implement, and aren't a quick fix to heal the collective's emotional wounds.