Published on: January 3, 2013
MNB took note yesterday of how Concord, Massachusetts, has become the first community in the United States to ban the sale of plastic water bottles that are 16 ounces or smaller.
There are ways around the ban, we wrote. One is to simply refill existing bottles. Another is to buy the bottles at nearby towns. Or, you can just buy a plastic water bottle that is larger than 16 ounces, since those are not banned.
But MNB user Brian Blank chimed in:Kevin…you missed one: switch to a sugary soft drink. (The law of unintended consequences strikes again—d’oh!)
Not surprisingly, we got a fair number of emails regarding yesterday's story about how the Gannett-owned Journal News
- which covers Westchester and Rockland counties, bedroom communities near New York City - decided to post on its website a map showing the name and addresses of every pistol permit holder in the counties. (The map is being constantly updated as the paper gathers information that is in the public domain.) The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association then called for a nationwide boycott of all companies advertising in any Gannett paper.
You can read the original piece and my extended commentary here
One MNB user responded:Nice commentary on the gun issue. I agree with most of your observations and don’t want to start a gun control debate. The only thing I would privately challenge is your thought/comment about the type of weapons our founding fathers envisioned. You said; "I take the Second Amendment very seriously, though I think that it is clear that the founders did not envision the kinds of weapons now available when they wrote it."
I would say that our founding fathers didn’t care about the type of weapons available. The 2nd amendment makes no mention of any type of weapon. It is however, very clear about maintaining freedom.... It states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Our founders were not thinking small, they didn’t envision weapons, they envisioned threats of force. They simply desired to preserve the right of the population to remain armed to discourage future tyranny. Note that our founders did not limit the right to the military (militia) but specifically said “the people”. After all, they had just finished fighting the “militia” of their own previous government.
The right of gun ownership is meant to be a deterrent. If any threat to our security is posed we should have the right to counter that threat with equal deterrence. Don’t get me wrong, we do need regulation. Background checks, registration, etc are fine. After all, the second amendment also says a ….”well regulated militia…”. My point is simply that today, any enemy of the population will have advanced weapons. If we limit responsible individual gun ownership to hunting rifles and handguns with less than 10 round magazines we don’t have much chance of preserving our rights against any type of imposed tyranny.
Keep up the commentary though. I have been around the industry long enough to see many of your comments borne out in reality.
I keep wondering who, exactly, these "tyrants" are who are going to try to take away our freedoms.
MNB user Andy Casey wrote:I agree with you that posting this is probably not the right thing to do but couldn't help but think a silver lining is that bad guys might use it as some kind of "do not rob" list. Of course, I suspect there are far more unregistered guns in the US than registered ones.
From another reader:Your article raises many questions, most with reasonable answers depending on ones point of view. However, in today's debate mode "reasonable compromise" is one side requiring the other to accept their demands or vice-versa.
The gambit runs from a United States Senator saying "Mom and Dad, we're coming for your guns" to "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun". Where is the reasonable compromise in that chasm?
Like you, I didn't grow up in a gun culture. I also used the phrase "I never have owned one and never will". Never is a long time. Like you also, my wife and daughter are teachers. Both, unfortunately have been subjected to "Lock downs" in both drill and reality - real threats. In both, the safety lapses are astounding. Fortunately some have improved, but some haven't. Our "Never" came this season after several years of debate in our household. It came after many - too many instances of the reality in which we live, not the reality of which we grew up in. It is unfortunate, but we do, regardless of our background and history, live in a new reality. We are now each owners that are licensed and well trained by professional courses.
Proper and legal gun ownership is really not the debate or the issue.
Sure, what the newspaper did was wrong. However, we live in that reality also. There is little sense of right and wrong in journalism - let alone much else.
I, along with you, agree, that a gun purchase should be the most difficult purchase. We followed the rules. We received extensive training. We have locked them appropriately. Yet, our "never" is now a reality.
The other reality is that we leave our children vulnerable. We can no longer leave them unguarded and unprotected. Worse, we can immediately stop advertising and marketing that fact to all those that wish a vulnerable target to carry out evil.
The entire focus of the debate should be solely focus on protecting them. There are certainly differences enough in how that can be done, however it should and must be done without delay - immediately.
A newspapers actions or an association's misguided call for boycotts are distractions from what we do know. We know our children are vulnerable. As it is, we value them less than our money. We guard that. We value them less than most patients in hospitals, we guard those. We value them less than airline passengers, we put them through intense security and guard them with Air Marshals. Even now, the newspaper in question is guarded by armed guards. We worry more about how they will feel being exposed to a friendly officer than explaining the horror of what happened in Newtown.
All of the factors of the "why" surrounding all of the cultural and political issues could take up volumes. None change the fact that our children, our teachers, and administrators are vulnerable and we market that fact to those wishing to carry out evil. That is the marketing that needs to change - both in marketing their vulnerability and the reality of their vulnerability.
All of the other is simply noise distracting from the fact that we care so little about our kids that we chose not to protect them.
I certainly wish we could all harken back to a time when there wasn't a second thought about it. Nevertheless, as long as we continue to allow the distractions to devour the real issue, our children remain vulnerable and the next time the horrific occurs we will have ourselves to blame.
Every community can certainly decide their own solution. The solution should be protecting each child immediately - every day.
I think there are both short-term and long-term approaches to security. Short-term, I think that there is a good case to be made for a heightened police presence at schools, just because it is something that can be done quickly. But long-term, it strikes me that reasonable people ought to be able to agree that maybe tighter gun regulations and an assault weapon ban is an intelligent approach.
I continue to believe that an idiot or a paranoid person with any sort of gun is more dangerous than an idiot or a paranoid person without one. One way to deal with this situation is to have a more sophisticated and enlightened approach to mental illness, so that troubled people are getting the help they need, but I also think that greater gun regulation should not be on the table.
From another reader:What if the paper published a list of those citizens drawing government entitlement checks, free cell phones,…to name only a couple things people might not want publicized.
True, these are also legal activities, yet it would be seen as an invasion of privacy. I can only imagine the outrage.
How is this different from a privacy perspective?
It is clearly meant by the newspaper to make gun owners feel ostracized because of the recent shooting incident.
Shame on them.
I said it yesterday, and I'll repeat it here.
I think the Journal News
did this because it could. But just because you can
do something does not mean you should
do something. It does not make sense to abuse the First Amendment to point out that you think there may be abuses of the Second Amendment.
From MNB user David Sibert:I know you didn’t want to necessarily have this debate on MNB, but I do believe that the 2nd amendment debate is important from a retailer’s perspective.
First, there is issue of retailer’s creating “gun free zones”. I don’t understand the motivation of retailers who take a position on this (such as Starbucks). At worst, it feels like they are trying to take advantage of a tragedy to improve their corporate image. At best, it politicizes a place of commerce, and causes them to lose a portion of their existing customer base. A retailer declaring a position either way seems to create a lose-lose situation.
Second, the discussion of a potential tightening of gun laws has been one of the best marketing campaigns I’ve seen. Based on an informal sampling of gun stores from North Carolina to Missouri (as I traveled this holiday season), it seems that fears of impending regulation has caused a spike in the sale of high capacity handguns and rifles. AR style rifles in particular have sold out, and are specifically sought after.
Personally, I think the nation needs to look at the facts. The data I have seen suggests that there are over 300 million firearms currently in the US. None of the proposed legislative measures would address that. Furthermore, cities with the most restrictive gun laws, such as Chicago and Washington DC, have not seen an improvement in their violent crime statistics. The series of shootings in Chicago this past summer are a good example.
Every time there is a gun related shooting, the perpetrator has broken multiple existing laws. The recent shooting of the firefighters in New York is an example. Existing laws denied the shooter, a felon, from possessing a firearm, but did not prevent the tragedy. From a more comprehensive perspective, murder is outlawed in pretty much every jurisdiction, and is forbidden in most religions, but neither did this sway the ex-con. Those who choose to kill have already made the decision to go beyond the rules of our society. I would hope we could focus on helping people live within all of our societies’ rules.
I think we need to address the motivations of people who would commit violence with any tool. Improvements in our mental health programs would be a good place to start. Our culture’s glamorization of violent and criminal activity in the entertainment industry (movies, songs, video games – Grand Theft Auto being a great example) would be another productive conversation. Focusing our political leadership on stimulating the nation’s economy, and thus reducing the level of desperation and stress in our population would be an even better exercise.
As far as the newspaper publishing the names and addresses of registered handgun owners, I really question their motives. To your point, a map with non-labeled pins would have described the scale of handgun ownership. Providing personal information seems to be a bullying tactic against those who have decided to exercise their legal right. This should not be tolerated.
Keep up the good work – I truly appreciate your insights.
Listen, I believe that nothing ought to be off the table in this discussion - not how we treat mental illness, not violence in movies and video games, and not the nation's gun laws.
To take anything off the table is to make a serious mistake, in my opinion.
BTW ... I'd be entirely in favor of laws that say that a) anyone in possession of any sort of gun in the commission of a crime ought to go to jail for a minimum of 15 years, and b) anyone who fires a gun in the commission of a crime ought to go to jail for a minimum of 25 years - no debate, no negotiation, no plea-bargaining. (And while they are in jail, I'd give them a steady diet of books, music and carbohydrates, and I'd take away the exercise equipment. But that's a different issue...)
I also believe that - evidence to the contrary - the nation's political leadership ought to be able to figure out what to do about the nation's economy while still dealing with other issues. (We can hope, right?)
From MNB user Philip Herr:Like you I didn’t anticipate diving into the gun debate, but nevertheless, here goes. I have been thinking quite a bit about the publication of names and addresses of registered gun owners. And like you, I really can’t see much point beyond the fact that the paper can. And therein lies the twist. It is something that can be done to get the attention of the gun lobby. Let’s face it, gun-control advocates have been so “out-gunned” by the NRA and the arms manufacturers, that we (gun-control advocate) feel powerless. And in a season where the political environment has been contaminated with anonymous billionaires supporting conservative causes, this is just one way to create some degree of transparency. Admittedly a strange one, but nevertheless, a “shot across the bows.”
If it has to come down to the first versus second amendment, I believe the first has precedence (not that either are likely to go away). Here’s praying for some sanity in 2013.
I'm with you. But we all have to keep in mind that none of our constitutional rights are absolute ... which is why we have to hope that sanity and probity rule in the public discourse. At the moment, we seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, and down on our luck....