Guns for hunting people

Really enjoyed this piece in the Atlantic last week buy a Charles Eisendrath, “gun guy,” who talks about why we need to regulate assault weapons.  I especially likes how he refers to them as “guns for hunting people,” which, of course, is exactly what they are.  Some highlights:

In most states, it is illegal to hunt animals or birds with more than six rounds in a rifle or three in a shotgun. Why? Because if you can’t kill within those limits you need remedial marksmanship (of the sort NRA Executive Vice President Wayne R. La Pierre might require to bring reportedly poor marksmanship up to snuff). If you’ve got ten or even 30-shot replaceable clips, then you’re holding arms for hunting humans–equipment that brings the Second Amendment face to face with the Sixth Commandment.*

Wow– I had no idea about that six rounds law.  I’ll be quoting that in the future.  Anyway, the author argues that rather than just limiting the size of detachable magazines is to simply eliminate detachable magazines:

One way to do that is to change manufacturing standards for guns as we did in barring vehicles without seatbelts or catalytic converters. Civilian weapons should be required to conform to the more humane rules for hunting game. No amount of legislative fiddling will prevent Rambo-styles clips from replacing small ones if the structure of the gun isn’t changed. The answer is to return long guns to traditional magazines internal to the weapons, themselves, limited to hunting restrictions.

Here’s his take on handguns:

Do I favor handguns’ remaining legal? Yes, except for the kind that are really assault rifles without stocks. For one thing, the huge sales boom in pistols represents a whole nation’s understandable lunge for self-defense, largely against bad guys with the assault weapons we hear about all to often. For that reason, keeping the option open for handguns, at least for now, may make it easier to eliminate assault rifles. It also weakens the argument that by eliminating civilian war weapons we would disarm law-abiders to the advantage of outlaws. We should start with the main threat. When people feel less fearful, they may buy fewer pistols, too.

Here, though, I think Eisendrath makes a big mistake.  He assumes that since he loves guns and approaches gun policy rationally, most others will as well.  I’m still waiting for that.  He’s right that keeping handguns legal absolutely, positively weakens the argument about law-abiding citizens defending themselves.  But this has never been about whether arguments are weak or strong, rational or irrational.  Sadly, to far too many on the right, gun ownership is a sacred right and any infringement on that right, no matter how sensible, is pretty much blasphemy.

So, I really appreciated what Eisendrath suggests as far as assault rifles go and think it would make smart policy (as if that means anything in the gun debate), but think it is completely dead as any other policy these days that actually tries to limit guns.

Everyone gets a trophy

So, not really paid any attention to politics (or much of anything else) this past weekend (made it a true vacation), but there was one thing I was thinking about.  My kids love their soccer trophies and it got me thinking about the “everyone gets a trophy” era we live in.  That definitely describes participation in team sports for kids these days, but I don’t think its quite as bad as it sounds.  I think maybe there was a while there where they idea was to get every kid a trophy to boost self esteem.  But, it seems to me now that a trophy has become pretty much a standard memento of participation and not much more.  I still remember my friend’s bowling trophy from many years ago that literally said “last place.”   I assume part of this is the falling cost of trophies.  It amazes me that my kids get really nice looking soccer trophies for $7-8.  I got exactly one sport trophy (though, many a well-earned piano “trophy”) in my days and damn did I value that thing as it actually represented first place for our soccer team– the only way to get a trophy.  That said, my kids love their trophies and in no way take it as meaning that they are somehow extra special, worthy, or whatever.  To them, it just means they played on a soccer team for a season.  I think that’s fine.  Though, I will say in my second season when the Blasters went 0-7-1, I didn’t even suggest we get trophies and no one else did either.

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