Saturday, August 27, 2011
A glance at a typical opinion piece from the other side
Today's post comes in the form of a response to a recent opinion piece over at TickleTheWire.com. Read that article here.
I do not much like to argue on the internet, and I always thought it rude to insult an unintelligent person, but today I am forced to do both. Read a fucking book, you infant. Ok, glad we got that taken care of. Now on to more civilized things.
I will break down your ill-conceived article into a few basic claims.
1. Semi-automatic rifles are a danger to society and need to be regulated.
2. US-bought guns are "flooding into Mexico" and are in some large part responsible for the violence there.
3. It is reasonable for the ATF to require US gun dealers in certain states to report on certain "assault rifle" sales.
We will go through these discussion points one by one, and then I will close with a summary of what we've learned today, and a bit more abusive ad hominem.
Claim No. 1: Semi-automatic rifles are a danger to society and need to be regulated.
FACT: Semi-automatic "assault rifles" are responsible for less than 1% of all gun-related crime in the US, including mass shootings.
Claim No. 2: US-bought guns are "flooding into Mexico" and are in some large part responsible for the violence there.
FACT: One often-misreported statistic is responsible for this claim, that "95% of all guns seized at crime sites in Mexico come from the US."  However, the fact of the matter is that the Mexican State Police only submit to the ATF for tracing those weapons which they already suspect of coming from America. In other words, the sample is BADLY biased. More recent estimates for the total number of guns used in crimes in Mexico that come from the US are on the order of 30%, and most of the news agencies that previously reported the erroneous numbers on the order of 70, 90, or even 95% have been made to retract those statements.
Gen. Douglass Fraser, head of the US Southern Command, confirms this "Over 50 percent of the military-type weapons that are flowing throughout the region have a large source between Central American stockpiles, if you will, left over from wars and conflicts in the past,"
And, this ties into our next discussion point, but through Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF was directly responsible for moving as many as 2,500 guns into Mexico. 
Claim No. 3: It is reasonable for the ATF to require US gun dealers in certain states to report on certain "assault rifle" sales.
FACT: First off, by conventional definition, assault rifles are selective-fire, meaning in your parlance that they are capable of "full auto" (gasp!) operation. Such weapons are regulated very tightly by the National Firearms Act of 1934, and are extremely difficult to own as an individual. The semi-automatic equivalent of these weapons are by definition not assault rifles.
More importantly, Obama is using ATF regulatory actions to enact laws and requirements that would not likely pass through congress. I will not dispute here the fact that perhaps some more gun control is needed, however this type of action should be undertaken by congress, with the consent of the people, not by executive order. When executive order by a single man is sufficient to restrict civil liberties and monitor or prosecute individuals without due process, then we all have cause for concern. Furthermore, the ATF has a long history of botching everything it lays its hands on , so I submit to you that the ATF as it stands today is hardly an agency to trust with our civil liberties, including the right to bear arms.
I hope that in the future, you will read up a bit more on the topics which you discuss, and hopefully fix your website so that people like myself can register and submit comments on the articles you write. In the case of this article, you've really missed the mark, in my opinion. The bottom line is that more government control over individuals is not the answer. If we want to help with Mexico's problem, we should stop selling (or giving) arms to South American governments, and we should better secure our border.
In closing, most of the weapons used in crimes in Mexico DO NOT COME from the US. Semi-automatic rifles are NOT an imminent threat to your safety in the US. And the ATF as it stands today is a complete waste of taxpayer money and should not be trusted to water your plants, much less regulate anything of any importance.
 Kopel, David. "Rational Basis Analysis of "Assault Weapon" Prohibition," 1994 Journal of Contemporary Law; Vol. 20:381-417.