Ken's Project Blog

March 13, 2011

Minority Report

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 10:51 pm


In the above video clip we see a “Pre Crime Division” using information from a “Pre Cog” about a crime that will happen in the near future. Below is the full Op Ed President Obama wrote to the Arizona Daily Star newspaper. I think the President is trying to create an impression among the readers of his Op Ed that with the right set of regulations (and improved enforcement of existing regulations) we can prevent future crimes.

His Op Ed describes the Tucson shooter thusly:

But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

Let’s go through this piece by piece:

A man our Army rejected as unfit for service – the Tucson shooter was rejected by the military for his failure to pass a drug test. Are we going to now suggest that people who want to buy guns must pass a drug test?

A man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies – the Tucson shooter was kicked off of campus for disturbing statements and exhibiting abnormal behavior. He was told he couldn’t return to campus without a psychiatric evaluation – the school didn’t want to “judge” him, but they were concerned about him remaining on campus. They weren’t interested in helping him, they were interested in protecting the other students, and ignoring the community outside the campus.

A man apparently bent on violence – “apparently”? The President wants us to believe the shooter’s plans were somehow apparent to others, yet no one acted to stop them. I believe most of the shooters friends and classmates simply “drifted away” from him, opting to take a position of “Live and let live” rather than intervene and try to understand what was going on with their friend.

(He) was able to walk in to a store and buy a gun – And why not? There was no record of any problems that could have been used to prevent him from buying a gun – use of drugs doesn’t prevent one from buying a gun, the college he attended never tried to force a psychiatric evaluation of him (which could have blocked his purchase), and only “the Shadow knows the evil that lurks in souls of men.

The President then goes on and outlines what he thinks is needed, going forward:

I’m willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few – dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example – from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

I’m willing to bet they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas – that we should check someone’s criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily; that there’s room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.

That’s why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

The President paints a picture of a broken background check process in need of (I assume) more funding, but no background check imaginable (or possible) under current laws would have prevented the tragic shooting in Tucson – friends, family, and schools that refused to force the shooter to undergo psychiatric evaluation prevented our current background checks from working. What good are increased enforcement efforts if the community doesn’t do it’s part.

The simple truth is, if the shooter had undergone psychiatric evaluation while in public school, or in college, or as a result of the numerous times the police were called on to intervene when he was causing problems, it is very likely that he would have been marked as a person with psychiatric problems severe enough to prevent him from buying a gun in Arizona or any other state.

Finally, the President added this bon mot at the end of his letter:

Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.”

I think the President is assuming that gun rights supporters have forgotten about the “commonsense” gun confiscations in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. We have not, Mr. President.

The President’s entire Op Ed piece:

It’s been more than two months since the tragedy in Tucson stunned the nation. It was a moment when we came together as one people to mourn and to pray for those we lost. And in the attack’s turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people’s pain.

But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.

But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.

Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.

Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners – it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They’re our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that’s something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.

I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.

However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.

I’m willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few – dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example – from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

I’m willing to bet they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas – that we should check someone’s criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily; that there’s room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.

That’s why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

• First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that’s supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn’t been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states – but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.

• Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data – and therefore do the most to protect our citizens.

• Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can’t escape it.

Porous background checks are bad for police officers, for law-abiding citizens and for the sellers themselves. If we’re serious about keeping guns away from someone who’s made up his mind to kill, then we can’t allow a situation where a responsible seller denies him a weapon at one store, but he effortlessly buys the same gun someplace else.

Clearly, there’s more we can do to prevent gun violence. But I want this to at least be the beginning of a new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people.

I know some aren’t interested in participating. Some will say that anything short of the most sweeping anti-gun legislation is a capitulation to the gun lobby. Others will predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody’s guns. And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.

But I have more faith in the American people than that. Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.” And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.

As long as those whose lives are shattered by gun violence don’t get to look away and move on, neither can we.

We owe the victims of the tragedy in Tucson and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best efforts – to seek consensus, to prevent future bloodshed, to forge a nation worthy of our children’s futures.

Sources:

YouTube videos Minority Report – Precrime Intro and The Shadow soundtrack: Track 12: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Arizona Daily Star: We must seek agreement on gun reforms

CNN.com: Giffords stabilizes as suspect appears in court

Washington Post: Others could have sought evaluation for Arizona suspect

New York Times: Police Begin Seizing Guns of Civilians

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