Guns and the perfect as the enemy of the modest progress

So, the other day I mentioned Dylan Matthews excessively skeptical take on much of anything short of full-scale Australian-style gun confiscation.  In fairness, Matthews admitted some policies might have some modest impact.  Of course, Matthews lives in the real world.  Charles Krauthammer, in contrast, lives in Republican fever-swamp land.  Today’s column essentially asserts that an Australian-style confiscation is the only thing that could reduce gun violence and since we know we can’t do that, there’s no point in even trying.

The reason the debate is so muddled, indeed surreal — notice, by the way, how “gun control” has been cleverly rechristened “common-sense gun-safety laws,” as if we’re talking about accident proofing — is that both sides know that the only measure that might actually prevent mass killings has absolutely no chance of ever being enacted.

Mere “common-sense” regulation, like the assault weapons ban of 1994 that was allowed to lapse 10 years later, does little more than make us feel good. AJustice Department study found “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

As for the only remotely plausible solution, Obama dare not speak its name. He made an oblique reference to Australia, never mentioning that its gun-control innovation was confiscation, by means of a mandatory buyback. There’s a reason he didn’t bring up confiscation (apart from the debate about its actual efficacy in reducing gun violence in Australia). In this country, with its traditions, public sentiment and, most importantly, Second Amendment, them’s fightin’ words…

In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.

So, the poorly-thought out, overly-comprised assault weapons ban didn’t do much of anything therefore no non-confiscation policies will actually do anything.  Wow, there’s some rigorous logic.  As to policies what would surely make a meaningful dent, I detailed those the other day.  This is just such an intellectually vapid argument.  And, of course, Krauthammer is what passes for a smart guy among conservative pundits.

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Photo of the day

The Aurora Borealis made it to the UK recently.  Great photos at the Telegraph:

Aurora Borealis over Dunluce Castle, Portrush, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. The castle will be familiar to Game of Thrones fans as on the show it is the House of Greyjoy

The aurora borealis over Dunluce Castle, Portrush, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. The castle will be familiar to Game of Thrones fans as on the show it is the House of GreyjoyPicture: Ross Parry

The sensible center on GMO’s

Went to a great talk earlier this week on the myths and realities of GMO food from Greg Jaffe, the Director of Biotechnology Research at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  You may know CSPI as the non-profit that makes headlines now and then for telling you what not to eat (e.g., they were way out ahead of the curve on trans fat).  You might think CSPI would be among the alarmist liberals on the issue.  Nope.  They simply follow the science.  And you (as a reader of this blog) know where that leads.  Jaffe (and CSPI’s) position basically came down to: GMO foods are safe, GMO labeling would be hugely misleading to consumers, but we should expect a more coherent and sensible regulation regime of GMO foods by the government.  Well, damn, if that doesn’t all just make sense.  Here’s Jaffe’s FAQ that lays out a lot of this.  (And he’s right about the problems with current regulation– here’s the relevant part of the FAQ).  Is it so damn hard to just follow the science and common sense?  Apparently.  In searching for Jaffe’s page on-line, it was interesting to see him get pilloried by right and left for being so bold as to suggest that there’s no known health harms from GMO foods and that labeling would not actually benefit consumers.

And, lastly, totally fascinating factoid.  There’s no DNA in plant oils!  I had no idea.  Thus, a plant oil from a GMO crop is completely indistinguishable from a plant oil non-GMO crop.

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