A Serious Question on Gun Control

One of the hotter political distractions these days is gun control.*  Understandably in the wake of some pretty serious violence the debate has sprung back to life, much as it did after the rash of shootings culminating in Columbine.  I hesitate to even write about this because what passes for political discourse in this country today, especially on the internet, is essentially intolerance and hatred for those who would dare have a different opinion than you (which is ironically just as closed minded and tension-causing as those who claim to be enlightened claim to be against).  And I want to preface this with the fact that I do not personally own a gun, have only shot one a handful of times (not counting BB guns), and don’t really find it terribly appealing.  But my question is are guns really the issue or is it just another short term fix/ oversimplified political talking point?

*And I say distractions because there are far more pressing issues that serve as a greater danger than guns do.  Those dangers include but are in no way limited to North Korea, an economy that is showing no signs of recovering any time soon, and a federal government full of people hell bent on demonizing each other rather than doing what is best for the country.

I don’t want to get inside the anatomy of why we are having a rash of appalling violence.  It has little to do with a gun culture and more to do with the contagiousness of ideas.  If you’re really curious about this I suggest Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he lays it out pretty well.

The first thing that jumps out to me is the numbers.  Conservative estimates have there being about 52 million Americans owning 260 million guns.  That’s a lot of people with a lot of guns.  A huge, huge, huge percentage of those people purchased them legally, own them legally, and use them legally.  To say that guns are the problem seems kind of strange.  Cars and alcohol kill people.  Yet there is hardly a movement to get any of these things outlawed (well I’m sure there is always a temperance movement out there).  Before you say “but cars, booze, have useful or non-destructive functions in society, guns just destroy” think about this: alcohol is pretty damn destructive, cars have a pretty crappy impact on the environment and due to their ubiquity actually kill and injure a lot more people.  I would also counter that guns do have a useful and non-destructive purpose.  Protection is pretty useful.  Shooting clays is not destroying anything beyond a clay target.

The other thing that jumps out at me is the War on Drugs.  Why is this relevant?  Because in the War on Drugs we outlawed drugs and spend millions and millions of tax dollars every year trying to catch those people who, decades later are still using them.  I don’t see guns being too different.  You outlaw guns, the only hands it takes them out of are those who are going to use them legally.  Your typical gang member doesn’t care that drugs are illegal, why would he care if guns are?  Outlawing drugs didn’t make them any harder to get, I don’t think outlawing guns would be any different.

So the real issue seems not to be no guns for anyone, but how can we keep the guns out of the hands of those who will use them to do bad.  One would think background checks are the answer.  However, background checks as they are right now really aren’t going to catch a whole lot.  They will check for felonies, misdemeanors, history of domestic violence, dishonorable discharge from the military, if you’ve renounced your citizenship, or if you’ve ever been involuntarily committed/ adjudicated mentally incompetent.  In other words they check court records and a few other things.  This background check would not have caught the guy from Newtown.  

So it seems that background checks are woefully incomplete.  I blame this on laws like HIPPA.  I don’t understand why people are shouting from the roof tops to take guns away from everyone, despite there being a Constitutional guarantee of a right to bear arms, yet no one has said a word that laws like HIPPA, which have no constitutional base whatsoever, need to be adjusted.  The right to privacy is not found in the Constitution, nor in the common law.  This “right” is a statutory creation of the 20th century (legal scholars are reminded the contortions Justice Douglas went through in Griswold v. Connecticut when he called it the penumbra of the Constitution aka the shadow), meaning it is actually a privilege.  Being a statutory creation means it is only guaranteed as long as the legislature guarantees it.  This means it can be modified.

I realize that your mental condition is not something you want out there for everyone to see.  But if guns are so dangerous, and it so important to keep people safe from guns why are we not going farther to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands?  Instead the response has been to let dangerous, crazy people remain secretly dangerous and crazy while taking a Constitutional Right (the Second Amendment, so important the Framers put it second) away from millions who wouldn’t even dream of using them to harm an innocent person.  It seems like we would be punishing the wrong people.  It seems to me like the extreme reaction is not the best, but a middle ground can be found.  Would it involve people giving up privileges?  Absolutely, but it would not involve giving up rights.  The thing about privileges is that they are luxuries; they are not necessary for a functioning republic.  Rights are the essential liberties that make the Republic.  When we start giving up rights for luxuries we start down the Roman path, which we all know ends in destruction.  

Beating Vegas: Conference Championships

Welcome back to Beating Vegas. Readers, the Conference Championship round has always been a bitter sweet time. Sure it’s nice to get two action pack games from the four best teams in the league, but it always the sign of the end. It’s that moment on the CBS afternoon game, when they feel the need to remind all those forgetful senior citizens that 60 minutes is coming on right after the game.

Before we get to the picks I want to expand on the Manti T’eo discussion from my January column: http://jurispublici.richmond.edu/default.php?pageType=2&docId=45502&docIssue=2013-01-18. I have an exclusive that I’m going to reveal to you right now! American treasure and part time Juris Publici reporter Clint Eastwood has found the real Lennay Kekua!!! That’s right Kekua is real and very much alive! Don’t believe me? How about some photo evidence:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/clint-chair-borowitz.jpg

That’s right. As you can clearly see that is an image of America’s greatest actor lecturing Miss. Kekua on the dangerous in getting involved in an internet hoax. Good work Clint, now LET’S WIN SOME MONEY!

FALCONS +4.5 over 49ers

Ugh I hate picking the Falcons. You’re not going to find a bigger Catnip fan than me. Honestly I think the 49ers are going to pull this one out, but here at picking Vegas we pick  the lines. (Picking winners is for amateurs). Four and a half is just too many points for the road team.

PATRIOTS -8.5 over Ravens

I’m going to go Mugatu for a second. JOE FLACCO IS TERRIBLE! I FEEL LIKE IM TAKING CRAZY PILLS! Every time Dan Derdorf compliments Flacco on one of those lame ducks he puts up. Did you see the game tying Hail Mary he put up last week? It looked like a punt. There was ice on the ball when it came down. I don’t know how high this line would have to get before I took the Ravens but I’m thinking triple digits. I think we (as in America) wants one thing. To see Tom Terrific lose in the Superbowl yet again.

Beating Vegas: Division Round Part Deux

Hello again and welcome to another week of playoff pick-ums. Normally I’d use this space to talk about last weeks playoffs games, but holy hell they were boring. It was one snooze fest after another. It was likely watching soccer last week. I kind of feel guilty for ragging on redskins fans last week. RG III is going to be limping around like Tiny Tim for the next nine months and Dan Synder is still the team’s owners. Let that be a lesson to the rest of the D.C. sports teams, moderate success is only going to increase the pain of inevitable failure. The Wizards know better than to get anyone’s hopes up. Well let’s hope we get some interesting games this week, and LET’S WIN SOME MONEY!

BRONCOS -9 over Ravens

Hey did you know Ray Lewis is retiring? No really its true! I don’t know why any commentators is mentioning. I don’t know what the Ravens are going to do next year. Sure they can find another slow middle linebacker that’s a liability in pass coverage, but is he going to be able to replace the spastic dancing before the game? Look for Peyton to light the Ravens up with his cadre of white scrappy receivers.

49ERS -2.5 over Packers

I believe in Colin Catnip. The Packers look intimidating, but everyone does against Joe Webb.

FALCONS -2.5 over Seahawks

It’s so weird. From week one I was looking forward to picking against the Falcons in the playoffs. Week one and I was foreseeing the Matt Ryan three interception game. Now the time as finally come and I love Atlanta. Listen, the only people that can win on the road in Atlanta is General Sherman and whoever is playing the Braves in the playoffs.

(Note: I’m pretty sure Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman isn’t related to the Civil War General…pretty sure)

Texans +9.5 over PATRIOTS

Here’s a little fact for you. The Pats are 1 – 8 against the spread in their last nine playoff games. That’s a real stat that I really heard. Is it true? True enough to pick the Texans. I think they can cover as long as Matt Schaub is limited to simply handing the ball to Arian Foster.

Enjoy the games everyone!

Beating Vegas: Divison Round Edition

Hey there loyal readers. I hope you’ve finally recovered from celebrating the New Year, because we have some football to talk about. The playoffs are finally here! This is a bitter sweet moment for me. On the bright side we are no longer subjected to Raiders and Cardinals games. Unfortunately, the playoffs mean no more Jets and Jaguars jokes. Before we get started let me put to some fears to rest. The playoff edition of Beating Vegas is going to be as juvenile and poorly researched as it was in the regular season. Now, let’s get down to it and LET’S WIN SOME MONEY!

TEXANS -3.5 over Bengals

I’m going to start the New Year out right and take this money Vegas seems to be just giving away. I haven’t checked, but is this the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs? Like the team that wears those stupid orange-striped uniforms and a ginger quarterback? Yeah if they’re the Bengals I’m thinking of they got no short. But maybe I’m wrong. A pack of actual Indian tigers seem to have a good shot against Houston 3-4 defense, especially after they ate Wade Phillips in the second quarter.

PACKERS -7.5 over Vikings

When it comes to the playoffs there’s a rule that you never take the underdog unless you actually believe they can win the game. I just can’t see Christian Ponder winning a road playoff game. I don’t know how much Minnesota is paying him but it’s too much. They can pay me to hand off to Adrian Peterson for about $10/hr. It may not seem like a lot but it’s about double a Florida State grad can expect to make.

RAVENS -6.5 over Colts

Don’t get too excited Ravens fans; you’re team is still a terrible fraud. I just don’t trust Andrew Luck. He’s already looking a lot like Brett Favre out there. Ed Reed get ready because I think some poorly thrown passes are headed your way.

REDSKINS +3 over Seahawks

I can’t decide if I want the Redskins to lose in the first round or blow it tragically in the Super Bowl. I never realized how obnoxious Skins fans could be but maybe that’s because they never had reason to be. Anyway I’m always going to take the home team giving points. Gambling rules I mention two paragraphs ago be damned!

Beating Vegas: Week #17

Yada Yada Yada LET’S WIN SOME MONEY!

BILLS -3.5 over Jets

PATRIOTS -9.5 over Dolphins

BENGALS -4.5 over Ravens

Browns +10 over STEELERS

COLTS +6.5 over Texans

Blaine Gabbert Chad Henne and the Failure Brigade +6 over TITANS

GIAINTS -6.5 over Eagles

WASHINGTON -3 over Cowboys

Bears -3 over LIONS

VIKINGS +3 over PACKERS

FALCONS -3 over Buccaneers

Panthers +4 over SIANTS

Chiefs +17 (WOW) over BRONCOS

Raiders +8 over CHARGERS

Cardinals -16.5 49ERS

Rams +11.5 over Seahawks

Beating Vegas: Week #16

Hey there! We’re back for week 16 just in time. I have to go participate in the annual tree genocide later today so let’s make this short and sweet. LET’S WIN SOME MONEY!

COWBOYS -1 over Saints

Somehow Vegas still believes in the Saints. They’re going down with that ship.

PACKERS -10.5 over Titans

At this point in the season you always pick the teams that have to win over the teams that don’t have anything to play for.

Colts -5 over CHIEFS

I just don’t….this is too easy.

Bills +5 over DOLPHINS

These teams seem just about equal so I say take the points and hold your breath.

Chargers +2.5 over JETS

Let’s all thank the Jets for one of the most magically bad seasons in the history of football. It was a masterpiece of incompetence and blunders. We shall miss you Sanchez.

Redskins -4.5 over EAGLES

***Jinxing powers activate***

STEELERS -3 over Bengals

Bengals? Playoffs?  Hahaha, that’s a good one!

BUCCANEERS -3 over Rams

Even the players don’t care about this game.

Raiders +9.5 over PANTHERS

No one is a bigger Cam Newton supporter than me, but 9.5 is a whole lot of points.

Blaine Gabbert Chad Henne and the Failure Brigade +14.5 Patriots

Chad Henne can backdoor cover a two touchdown spread. He was born to back door cover this spread.

TEXANS -7.5 over Vikings

I feel like Wade Philip game plan goes like this:

Plan A: Tackle Adrian Peterson

Plan B: No really we need to stop A.P.

Browns +11.5 over BRONCOS

Old man Weeden is offended by this line. He hasn’t been this insulted since Jesus told him there wasn’t room for a 13th apostle.

Bears -6.5 over CARDINALS

Again you take the team that has to win over the team that no longer cares.

RAVENS +2.5 over Giants

All of New York is hoping Joey Flacco is going to be his usual Joey Flacco this week.

Niners +2 over SEAHAWKS

That’s right. Colin Catnip is coming out of Quest Field with a win. Unless we get a replacement ref sighting.

Beating Vegas: Week #15

Hey it’s finals week. You’re busy. I’m busy. Let’s get right to it, shall we? LET’S WIN SOME MONEY!

Bengals at Eagles (the line was +3.5)

I’m done with Thursday games.

FALCONS -1 over Giants

Any Giants fan can tell you what games the Giants are going to win and lose from here on out. The only question is what games the Redskins are going to win…

Redskins Even over BROWNS

…this game. They’re going to win this game.

Packers -3 over BEARS

The Bears playoff chances seem to melting away

frosty06

Don’t you cry Bears fans, Brian Urlacher will be back again someday.

Vikings +2.5 over RAMS

After next Monday I never want to see the phrase “fiduciary duty” again.

Blaine Gabbert Chad Henne and the Failure Brigade +8 over DOLPHINS

Did you know that Jacksonville, Florida and  Washington D.C. were founded the same year? I now present to you the Congressional Debate surrounding that event:

(Scene: New York City 1790, America’s founding Fathers meet to lay out the creation of a capital city)

Madison: We need a city for a new nation that can stand independent of the states and serve as the capital for this great democracy.

Franklin: Yeah and we need a place for all the meth dens and strip clubs this country is going to have.

Hamilton: God Damnit Franklin!

Franklin: What!? We do!

Jefferson: What if we set something up in like Northern Florida; we’ll call it Seminole City or something. That way it’s far away from civilization and Franklin and the rest of the freaks get go do whatever they do there.

Madison: Alright it’s settled. We’ll build one city on the Potomac as the capital, and we’ll build another one in Florida for other stuff…

(End Scene)

SAINTS  -3 over Buccaneers

Hmm no idea about this one.

Broncos -2.5 over RAVENS

The Ravens are so very fraudulent.

HOUSTON -8 over Colts

Speaking of frauds, Texans fans can go back to not existing again.

Lions -6 of CARDINALS

Can we talk about this Bud light commercial for a second? You know the one where a guy walks in to find that another man is in his house with his girlfriend. The man explains that he used to live there and their couch was his lucky seat for watching Niners games.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZx5HO_duec

First of all, that guy needs to dump his girlfriend. If I walk into my house and there’s another man therewith my girl, there better be a better explanation then he’s there to watch the game. I just caught her in the beginning or tail end of infidelity. Second, even if I believed them, she just let in a dude into our house that feels the need to sit on our couch because “it’s his lucky seat.” You don’t want to be dating a girl that will, A. let a possibly psychotic person into your house and B. give that person alcohol. That kind of bad decision making is going to get the both of you killed.

BUFFALO -5.5 over Seahawks

This gaming is being played in Toronto. My sources are telling me that is a place in Canada.

Panthers +3 over CHARGERS

The Carolina Panthers: Somehow better than the Falcons, but worse than the Chiefs.

COWBOYS +2 over Steelers

Hypothetical Trade: Tony Romo for Mark Sanchez and full pan of homemade lasagna. Who says no?

OAKLAND -2.5 over Chiefs

If the NFL schedules this game but nobody watches it, does it really happened? That’s what CBS is going to find out this Sunday.

49ers +5.5 over PATRIOTS

You can’t give Colin Catnip that many points!

Jets +1.5 over TITANS

I want the Jets to make the playoffs so badly. They’ve done all the failing they can do in a regular season game. Let’s raise the stakes!