Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stupidity, Politics, and Math


I REALLY didn't want to write anything about the Connecticut school shooting... Frankly, it may sound callous, but we've seen this before, we've seen this worse.

It's truly awful...

...but sometimes truly awful things happen; especially when mental illness is involved.

That's not why I'm writing though... Or even exactly what I'm writing about...

What has basically forced me to write about this, is the outright stupidity that much of the pro-gun side is exhibiting at the moment.

Stupidity, paranoia, histrionics.... whatever you want to call it, it's irritating me enough that I had to write this little 3800 word rant.

The world is not ending.

The sky is not falling.

This is not the "American Dunblane".

No-one is coming to take our evil black rifles.
No... It's not.

Why not?

Because, much as abortion is for the right, gun control is something the left talks about to get column inches and screen time, to win the approval (and money) of single issue voters from your own side; and of course, to feel morally superior... It's not something you actually DO.

... If you actually DID it, it would end up hurting you... Again, much like abortion....

Pro gun folks, please stop screaming about how all the fun guns are going to be banned, Obama tyranny, etc... etc...

It's not going to happen.

There will be no new gun control of any kind (except perhaps, at worst a symbolic gesture, though I doubt even that), never mind a new so called "assault weapons" ban, or a magazine capacity ban.

Not that I wouldn't strongly oppose such a thing, but:
  1. I'm pretty sure such a thing would never get voted on at all.
  2. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't even get debated in committee.
  3. I'm pretty sure if it was, it wouldn't be voted on in committee.
  4. I'm pretty sure if it ever made it to the floor, it wouldn't get a floor vote.
  5. I'm pretty sure that if it did, it wouldn't pass...
  6. Actually, I'm pretty sure such a thing wouldn't get more than about 25% behind it... 40% at worst
  7. I'm pretty sure if it did somehow pass in one house, it wouldn't get through both houses.
  8. I'm pretty sure if it did, it wouldn't make it through conference or reconciliation.
  9. I'm pretty sure even if it did, current jurisprudence would prevent such a thing from ever being implemented.
  10. If there were any kind of "ban" passed, and it were to somehow make it through the courts, it would have to be so restricted, narrow, and limited as to  be meaningless
I repeat, there will be no meaningful or significant gun control legislation of any kind even voted on... or likely even debated in open hearings, never mind passed.

I'm sure several bills will be introduced... Carolyn McCarthy, Frank Lautenberg, and Dianne Feinstein need to get their fawning press... and in an attempt to appear "reasonable" some republicans will talk about talking about it... but they'll never be slated for conference. They'll just be symbolic gestures by congresscritters in pro gun control districts.

In fact, there will most likely be several conflicting bills introduced by several different people in each house.... Intentionally so. This allows the politicians in question to pretend THEY were trying to get the GOOD bill passed, but couldn't, so they wouldn't vote for the BAD bill... etc... etc...

Nothing but red meat for the base... Just like every other time this has happened since 1996.
"...But.... But.... How can you possibly say that? Awful media screaming.... Gaaahhh!!! SCARY BLACK MILITARY STYLE RIFLES!!!!!, Dead CHILDREN!!!! PELOSII!!! FEINSTEIN!!! OBAMA!!!! GAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!"

Politics, and Math.

Fox news was reporting that this morning, Rasmussen released a poll conducted after the shootings:

Only 27% of the population support additional gun control. Over 60% believe that additional gun control won't stop things like this from happening. Over 70% believe that this is a mental health issue, not a gun issue.


This IS a mental health issue. A major one. And a cultural issue (the part of the culture that turns guns into a magic rod of power in their heads, and denigrates and degrades the value and nobility of human life).

If you haven't already, you should read Clayton Cramers book about mental illness and how poorly we deal with in this country "My Brother Ron"... We basically have NO way of dealing with the mentally ill at this point, and it's a major problem.

... and a lot of folks know this, and understand this.... Though I don't think anyone has a really good idea what to do about it.

Occasionally, "the people" are not mindless sheep. Occaisonally they're actually surprisingly wise... Especially after decades of obvious garbage being shoved down their throats, is utterly contradicted by just a few minutes of real world experience, or the tiniest bit of basic logic and reason.

... And yes, "the people" can, on occaision, exhibit the ability to reason using facts and logic.

It's rare I admit...

So... as far as "more gun control" goes, the people don't want it, it won't work, and everyone not operating on a predetermined agenda (or through naive idealism, or blind ignorant fear) already understands that...

Because, as any advocate for the legalization of drugs will tell you, banning only stops the law abiding. It doesn't eliminate either the use, or desire, for the banned subject.

Because of course the argument makes sense when it's applied to something you support, but is utter twaddle when it's something you don't support... Of course...

...No, of course not...

Gun control is exactly as good an idea as banning drugs, or alcohol, or knives, or cars, or any other damn thing that requires an adult level of responsibility to manage properly.

Of course, that hasn't ever stopped politicians before.... like, well... for example, prohibition.

And much like prohibition, something like half the households in this country have guns in them.

When you account for the fact that very few of the households in the urban northeast, midwestern industrial cities, or coastal California, are among that number (and that's about 1/3 of Americas households)... and it actually works out to something more like 3/4 of households outside of the big anti-gun constituencies.

...and for the past 8 years, the second most popular gun in America, is what our president has been calling a "Military style Assault Weapon" (which in and of itself is a delberate fraud, but that's another issue entirely).

Since 2004, manufacturers have sold between 500,000 and 1 million AR-15 type rifles a year. While there are certainly lots of folks who have three or four of them, most folks only have the one...

They sell them at WAL-MART now. And not just one model, covered in mossy oak for the hunters... The last time I looked into the WallyWorld gun section a few weeks back, they had FOUR different models, including ones with rails, collapsible stocks, flash hiders, 30 rounds magazines...

You can't demonize the rifle that the guy takes to the range for his 12 year old daughter to shoot. The scare tactics only work on people who don't know any better...

...and more than half the country now knows better.

But I digress...

Basic truism of politics: Politicians never do anything unless they think it is to their advantage.


...and outside those few districts that are strongly pro gun control (about 20% of the population, but only about 2% of the area) there is no advantage in gun control.

Plenty of advantage in talking about it... Talking about it helps liberals raise money...

But actually DOING something?

No... that's bad.

Gun control hurts the democratic party. The only places that support it would support democrats anyway, and everywhere else, every single democrat that votes for gun control means thousands fewer democratic voters.

Gun control cost the Democratic party control of Congress in 1996, they know it, and they will NEVER repeat that mistake again.

So, Democratic party politicians will talk about gun control on TV, but they won't actually DO anything that they can get nailed down on, unless they are from one of the (very few) anti-gun districts, or their seat is completely safe (in which case they're playing to the small but wealthy national liberal donor audience).

Hell... there isn't even any money in organized gun control anymore. There used to be big money lobbies behind it, but now almost all gun control is funded out of the Joyce foundations, and they don't have the money to spend on buying either politicians, or media campaigns.

Private individuals rarely donate very much to the gun control cause, if anything; and that has always been the case. A few very rich ideologues, the occasional frothing or crying liberal, and the sad people whose loved ones were killed by lunatics and idiots, and who are now used by the ideologues to put a sympathetic and legitimate face on their actions... and that's really it.

 You can almost always get people to donate "for" something... it's a lot harder to get them to donate "against" something; unless you can make people very afraid, and then convince them you will take their fear away.

Well... most people aren't afraid of guns anymore... and of the ones who are, most don't believe that the government is going to be able to do anything about their fear.

There's just no constituency for gun control.

Just 27%, in a poll after a major emotional event...

Certainly less, when the emotion dies down, and they have to actually commit to something, not just say what they think the guy at the other end of the phone wants to hear...

Ok... so maybe no AR-15 bans... but what about magazine capacity limits?

Not a chance. Any real restriction on people doing something they actually want to do... they remember it. A magazine ban would lose the Democrats every remaining rural house and senate senate seat they have left.

There's literally tens of millions... if not hundreds of millions, of "high capacity" magazines out there. Unless they made ex post facto law criminalizing their possession  then seized all of them (also a constitutional problem) and destroyed them... Which, never mind the legal, constitutional, political, and economic issues surrounding that, is simply PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE...

It's also just plain stupid... People understand and remember stupid. They remember being irritated, and inconvenienced.

Again, this is the kind of idea that only sounds good to the ignorant or the fearful. Those who have no clue... who just don't know any better... And now, more than half the country knows better.

No... A ban of any kind, of any weapon, of any magazine, just isn't going to happen.

No-one who isn't in a guaranteed liberal pro-gun control seat is going to touch ANY gun control of any kind.

Hell, the NRA has had more than 30,000 new members sign up since the shooting, along with over 80,000 renewals, and who knows how much in additional donations (I'm already a life member); and more are coming in every HOUR.

People on the left keep saying "We need to have a conversation about gun control"... 
Well, guess what, we've been having that conversation since 1968; and as of 2008, it's over.  
They lost, and we won. 
That doesn't mean there isn't still work to do of course; there's 150 years of racist, bigoted, fascist, legal kruft to get rid of.

That's going to take decades, and millions of dollars in legal fees, and there will be setbacks along the way...

But, fundamentally, gun control is dead.

I'm going to say this flat out:

There will not be any kind of meaningful, serious, or significant gun control legislation on the federal level within the next 12 years... possibly not ever again.
"...but... but... the Republicans are caving... they're stupid, venal cowards... but.. but... they ALWAYS sell out and screw up. I just KNOW they're going to cave on this like they do everything else and they'll go along with a ban...

...but.... but... DUNBLANE!!!! STOCKTON!!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!"
... OK...

Why would they do that?

Republicans certainly do a lot of dumb stuff... just look at who they ran for president the last two times... but they do it for a reason.

Like all politicians, they only do that which they believe is to their own advantage.

Any vote on gun control at all, never mind a vote FOR gun control?

To what advantage, and for whom?

There is no rationale under which any remaining Republicans (now that Chaffee and Snowe are gone) would vote for any kind of gun control legislation; nor would better than half the democrats. 

It's a losing issue for democrats, it's an even worse losing issue for republicans, AND then the dems get to lord it over the republicans... There's no WAY they'd let that happen. 

However, to avoid fundraising issues, giving the press talking points, or being nailed down on the record, rather than vote yay or nay, they'll just make sure that it never comes to a floor vote. 
  • Just like they did after Aurora (2012, 12 dead, 58 injured)
  • Just like they did after Seal Beach (2011, 8 dead, 1 injured)
  • Just like they did after Giffords (2011, 6 dead, 13 injured)
  • Just like they did after Binghamton (2009, 13 dead, 4 wounded)
  • Just like they did after Virginia Tech (2007, 32 dead, 18 wounded)
  • Just like they did after Columbine (1999, 13 dead, 21 wounded)
Just like they have after every other "Ahhhh!!!! they're going to take our guns now!!!" incident since 1999.
Oh and note... I don't include the shooters in those totals, or mention their names. Just a thing for me...
Let's do some math here....

The last significant piece of gun control legislation to pass at the federal level was the 1994 so called "assault weapons ban". There was a minor amendment that was passed in 1999. The so called "assault weapons ban" expired in 2004, without any kind of serious attempt at renewing or extending it.

Nothing has changed since 2004 to make gun control any easier or more likely... or 1999, or 1994 for that matter. 

In fact, post '96, it's a lot harder and a lot LESS likely.

Every significant federal gun control measure introduced since 1999 (and there have been a lot of them. McCarthy and Lautenberg introduce restrictive bills every few months) has not only failed, but I believe they have all failed to even reach a floor vote. Only rarely have they even made it out of committee. 

... and the 1999 bit was minor legislation on trigger locks, and only passed as a last second add-on amendment to an anti-crime funding bill (to put more "cops on the street"), 51-50 with Al Gore voting as tie breaker. 

The majority of serious pro-gun legislation since 1999 on the other hand has either passed, or come close to passing in one house or the other (usually passing in the house and never coming to a vote in the senate). 

Just as an example, the national parks carry bill in 2009 passed 279 to 147, under a democrat controlled house (and just after a couple of mass shootings within a few months). The national concealed carry reciprocity bill from 2011 passed 272-154 (just after a couple MORE mass shooting events). 

They couldn't even get gun control after Columbine...

They got a nifty piece of propaganda disguised as a documentary... but no actual gun control.

After losing control of the house and senate after '96 (because of gun control), the Democrats took both the house and senate back in 2007; and had the house, senate, and presidency from January 2009 until January of 2011. 

In that time, they didn't even bother trying to advance a serious bill out of committee. 

There's a reason for that...

Overall, the Senate has 46 members with an NRA A grade, and another 13 with a B or C. Only 35 get a D or F (6 are not rated). 

Of those 35, many can't afford to vote for any kind of gun control right now (no matter what speeches they make in front of the cameras); either because they're in very pro-gun states, or because they're in moderately pro-gun states (or even pro gun areas of generally anti-gun states... look at the map below) and have a strong challenge facing them.

There are 11 strongly pro gun Democrats in the senate, 1 slightly pro gun, 3 neutral, 2 slightly anti-gun... (from a+ to c-) meaning none of them have actually supported major or serious gun control in any meaningful way (otherwise they'd be graded at D or F)... Then there's 2 D's and 36 F's (counting Sanders and King as democrats of course). 

Oh, and there's only one strongly anti-gun republican in the senate at this point, Mark Kirk of Illinois; and two neutral to slightly pro-gun (both got C+), Collins of Maine, and Coats of Indiana. Every other republican gets either an A or a B. 

So... WORST case, we'd be looking at a 60/40 split...

...But that's before the electoral politics and math come into play.

The Dems know that with the economy going the way it's going (and they're going to be attempting to make it worse) they're going to lose seats massively in 2014. They are desperate to hold on to the senate, or at the very least to prevent a filibuster proof Republican majority

The following democratic senators are up for re-election in 2014:
  1. Alaska - Mark Begich - Very Pro Gun - very unsafe seat
  2. Arkansas - Mark Pryor - neutral - very unsafe seat
  3. Colorado - Mark Udall - neutral - not a safe seat
  4. Delaware - Chris Coons - Very anti-gun - safe seat
  5. Hawaii - UNKNOWN (special election to replace Daniel Inouye)
  6. Illinois - Dick Durbin - Very anti-gun - safe seat
  7. Iowa - Tom Harkin - Very anti-gun - iffy, can't afford to screw up
  8. Louisiana - Mary Landrieu - neutral - very unsafe seat
  9. Massachusetts - UNKNOWN (special election to replace John Kerry)
  10. Michigan - Carl Levin - very anti-gun - safe seat
  11. Minnesota - Al Franken - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
  12. Montana - Max Baucus - very pro-gun - iffy, can't afford to screw up
  13. New Hampshire - Jeanne Shaheen - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
  14. New Jersey - Frank Lautenberg - very anti-gun - safe seat
  15. New Mexico - Tom Udall - slightly anti-gun - safe seat
  16. North Carolina - Kay Hagan - very anti-gun - not a safe seat
  17. Oregon - Jeff Merkley - very anti-gun - safe seat
  18. Rhode Island - Jack Reed - very anti-gun - safe seat
  19. South Dakota - Tim Johnson - very pro-gun - very unsafe seat
  20. Virginia - Mark Warner - very pro-gun - not a safe seat
  21. West Virginia - Jay Rockefeller - moderately anti-gun - very unsafe seat

Now... look at that list....

That's 21 Democratic senators up for election, only 9 of which are actually "safe" seats (including Mass and HI), and four of which are very pro-gun. 

Of those senators, who is anti-gun, and in a safe seat?
  1. Delaware - Chris Coons
  2. Hawaii - Whoever it is, they'll be an anti-gun democrat
  3. Illinois - Dick Durbin
  4. Massachusetts - Whoever it is, they'll be an anti-gun democrat
  5. Michigan - Carl Levin
  6. New Jersey - Frank Lautenberg (the most anti-gun senator)
  7. New Mexico - Tom Udall
  8. Oregon - Jeff Merkley
  9. Rhode Island - Jack Reed (as bad as Lautenberg)
Al Franken almost lost his last election, and there are plenty of hunters and shooters in Minnesota. He can't afford to lose a single vote, or to have Minnesota uninvolved voters mode involved at all. If it comes to a vote he'll probably vote for it, but he won't be pushing hard for it. 

Tom Udall may actually be iffy... He's generally pro gun control, but he's not very outspoken about it; and New Mexico is swingy on the issue, with a slight pro-gun bias. My guess, if it actually comes to a vote he'll be for it; but he'll want to avoid it. 

Tom Harkin is another one. He's anti-gun, but he had a serious challenge last time (his opponent wasn't all that strong, and lost by a wide margin, but Harkins negatives are HUGE in his home state right now), he's going to have a  serious challenge in 2014 (he's a core target for unseating as part of the GOP midwestern strategy, and he's got some serious weaknesses), and Iowa is generally a pro-gun state (though there's a lot of anti "scary black rifle" shotgun owners... all that great bird hunting and all...). Same guess, he'll vote for it if it comes up, but he'd much rather avoid the issue. 

You know who REALLY can't afford to even have something come up for a vote?

Harry Reid. 

You know... the Senate Majority leader? 

The guy who controls the senate agenda, and what comes up for a vote when?

If he presides over gun control legislation of any kind, he loses his gavel in 2014, and his seat in 2016; and he knows it. 

No if's ands or buts about it, he's gone, it's that simple. 

Reid isn't going to let that happen.

... and that's just for 2014, never mind 2016 and 2018. Gunnies have long memories on this sort of thing, as does the NRA, never mind the SAF, JPFO, GOA, the various state rifle and pistol associations....  

The numbers are even worse looking for gun control in the house. House members have to run every election; and of the 435 members of congress, 242 get an NRA "A" rating, and another 30 get a B or C. Only 146 get a D or F (17 are unrated).

Take a look at this chart:

Of those 146 congrescritters, 37 of them are in STRONGLY pro-gun states (though not necessarily pro-gun districts). Another couple dozen are in moderately pro-gun states, or in pro-gun areas of anti-gun states. 

Basically... I doubt they'd get 100 votes in the house if it went to a floor vote.

They might do it if they could... but they just don't have the votes.

Every left wing political show, talking head, blog, columnist etc... has been talking all day long about how they don't think anything is actually going to happen. That the politicians will talk big, and do nothing. 

There's a reason for that. 

But the biggest reason I'm sure this is all noise? A nice distraction for Obama and the democrats from the upcoming "fiscal cliff"?

Obamas special blue ribbon action committee on gun control, is chartered to "come back with advisory recommendations by the end of January"... and Joe Biden will be in charge of it. 

Seriously... If they actually meant to do anything, would they have appointed BIDEN to run the effort?