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Oy vey...the gun debate is going to make HCR look like a church picnic.  By virtue of the technical and constitutional questions involved, there are few issues in which clarity of purpose and precision in language are more important.  By that I basically mean any attempts at legislative remedies need to be exceedingly well defined and focused.  

Contrast, for example, DiFi's proposed AWB with the bill aiming to limit magazine capacity.  One is clean and straightforward, with a chance of success; the other is riddled with vagaries, exceptions and grandfather clauses, appears to violate the constitution, and would likely end up facing legal challenges and injunctions while gun deaths continued apace all the while.

So what is a gun control proponent to do?  Push for measures that would actually be effective and could get out of Congress, like DeGette's, or better still, repeal of the Tiahrt amendment language pertaining to gun trace data.  If the goal is to keep guns out of the wrong people's hands, there are few things more immediately effective than properly equipping BATF to do its job, like appointing a director, funding the agency, and stop kneecapping BATF's efforts at prosecution.

In 2003, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), a recipient of significant NRA support, quietly slipped an amendment into an appropriations bill that suddenly limited public access to ATF crime-gun trace data. These tracing records tended to implicate certain licensed firearms dealers as common source points in supply chains for illegal gun trafficking. Several analyses of trace data, including my own, had shown that 1% of licensed gun dealers was linked to a majority of firearms recovered from criminal enterprises. While most of these traces may have involved legitimate transactions, many unscrupulous merchants were easily flagged.
No public release of info greatly hampers the efforts of policymakers to address the problem, but it also hampers BATF's prosecution efforts; how do you back up your legal case if you can't release the pertinent info?  
That no funds appropriated under this or any other Act with respect to any fiscal year may be used to disclose part or all of the contents of the Firearms Trace System database maintained by the National Trace Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or any information required to be kept by licensees pursuant to section 923(g) of title 18, United States Code, or required to be reported pursuant to paragraphs (3) and (7) of such section 923(g), to anyone other than a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency or a prosecutor solely in connection with and for use in a bona fide criminal investigation or prosecution  and then only such information as pertains to the geographic jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency requesting the disclosure and not for use in any civil action or proceeding other than an action or proceeding commenced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or a review of such an action or proceeding, to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of such title, and all such data shall be immune from legal process and shall not be subject to subpoena or other discovery, shall be inadmissible in evidence, and shall not be used, relied on, or disclosed in any manner, nor shall testimony or other evidence be permitted based upon such data, in any civil action pending on or filed after the effective date of this Act in any State (including the District of Columbia) or Federal court or in any administrative proceeding other than a proceeding commenced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to enforce the provisions of that chapter, or a review of such an action or proceeding
Please call your Senators and tell them to repeal the Tiahrt language and let BATF do its job.  It is a very straightforward piece of legislation to draft and would be very effective in keeping guns out of the wrong hands.  It would have a high probability of passing, and most importantly, it would actually make a difference.


Being precise in purpose and language is of critical importance at every step along the way of this debate, not just in crafting targeted solutions.  As we all know, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics, or to rephrase, there is misinfo, disinfo, and statistics.  While statistics are useful when interpreted accurately, misinfo does nothing to add to the convo or solve the problem of (gun) violence.  

Because it keeps popping up, I will use as an example this business about how the NRA snuck language into PPACA that prohibits medical professionals from all but saying the word "gun."  I specified "misinfo" because it is not my belief that anyone is purposely spinning the information with a specific intent to deceive; this example just really highlights the importance of precision in language, both in sending and receiving.

The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. Under the headline “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights” was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients’ gun use — a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health.
That's the opening paragraph of a WaPo article on the subject.  It takes until the bottom of page two for them to get around to revealing that the application of this provision is limited to "wellness and prevention programs."  Wellness and prevention programs are not a part of routine medical care.  Nothing about this provision prevents a doctor or counselor from asking about guns during the normal course of medical treatment.  

Here is the relevant tract of the ACA:

‘‘(c) PROTECTION OF SECOND AMENDMENT GUN 24 RIGHTS.—

25 ‘‘(1) WELLNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS.—

26 A wellness and health promotion activity implemented under subsection (a)(1)(D) may not require:

2 the disclosure or collection of any information relating to—
4 ‘‘(A) the presence or storage of a lawfully possessed firearm or ammunition in the residence or on the property of an individual; or
7 ‘‘(B) the lawful use, possession, or storage of
8 a firearm or ammunition by an individual.

 
here is what subsection (a)(1)(D) is all about:

   

SEC. 2717. ENSURING THE QUALITY OF CARE.

    (b) Wellness and Prevention Programs.--

    For purposes of subsection (a)(1)(D), wellness and health promotion activities may include personalized wellness and prevention services, which are coordinated, maintained or delivered by a health care provider, a wellness and prevention plan manager, or a health, wellness or prevention services organization that conducts health risk assessments or offers ongoing face-to-face, telephonic or web-based intervention efforts for each of the program's participants, and which may include the following wellness and prevention efforts:

                ``(1) Smoking cessation.
                ``(2) Weight management.
                ``(3) Stress management.
                ``(4) Physical fitness.
                ``(5) Nutrition.
                ``(6) Heart disease prevention.
                ``(7) Healthy lifestyle support.
                ``(8) Diabetes prevention.

Okay, maybe "wellness programs" aren't so precisely defined, but they are very obviously above and beyond routine medical care.

This debate is just too important for the waters to be at all muddy.  Who's with me?

Originally posted to Cedwyn on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  there are uphill battles, (29+ / 0-)

    and then there's pickett's charge, knowhatimean?

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:27:13 AM PST

  •  I like that the Biden committee is focusing on (8+ / 0-)

    calling it "gun safety" rather than gun control.  Can you see how it changes the intent?

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:38:00 AM PST

  •  Excellent proposals and excellent points... (18+ / 0-)

    ...and about precision in language.

    There are some folks who sincerely believe that the U.S. can duplicate the Australia, British or Japanese models of gun control. Never happen. A key factor in all those places is that serious gun restrictions have been part of the culture of those places for half a century or more. In the case of England, a century; in Japan, four centuries.

    And, of course, none of them has anything approximating the 2nd Amendment.

    We need to focus on legislation that can be effectively enforced, that can meet constitutional challenges and that will actually help reduce gun violence.

    Dumping the Tiahrt amendment should be high on the list. At the state level, activists ought to dump rules like the one pressed into reality by the Gun Owners of America which forbids local sheriffs (who issue conceal carry licenses) from providing anyone (including other sheriffs) with information about the numbers of citizens who get CCLs. Not having this kind of information serves who exactly?

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:45:36 AM PST

    •  1,000 times, this ^^^ (13+ / 0-)
      There are some folks who sincerely believe that the U.S. can duplicate the Australia, British or Japanese models of gun control.

      ...And, of course, none of them has anything approximating the 2nd Amendment.

      do not have and never did have.  it's a whole different ballgame in the face of the 2nd.

      and it's also true that we are talking about countries that, with the exception of australia, can fit inside one smallish u.s. state.

      homogeneity of culture is A LOT easier to achieve on the small scale.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:49:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  exactly the right tone and none of the usual (11+ / 0-)

      histrionics

      If the goal is to keep guns out of the wrong people's hands, there are few things more immediately effective than properly equipping BATF to do its job, like appointing a director, funding the agency, and stop kneecapping BATF's efforts at prosecution.

      “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” - Dalai Lama XIV (-9.50; -7.03)‽ Warning - some snark above‽

      by annieli on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:01:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am not following this part (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn, PavePusher, 43north
      forbids local sheriffs (who issue conceal carry licenses) from providing anyone (including other sheriffs) with information about the numbers of citizens who get CCLs.
      The reason I say this is that I have seen published figures regarding CCL numbers in several states.  My state, North Carolina, even breaks this information down by county, including the number of permit requests, number of active permits, and number of permit revocations.  It has also been a matter of some controversy, but the information regarding who has a CCL is considered public record and may be obtained by going to the sheriff's office and making a formal request for information.  The Raleigh area newspaper made use of this, put the information in a database, and published it on a website which created a lot of argument.
      •  Sorry. I missed a very crucial word... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn, 43north

        ...This is the case for Colorado only.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 12:25:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sherrifs are allowed to share CC permit info with (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PavePusher, 43north

          other law enforcement personel for law enforcement purposes here in CO.

          What they can't do is make a data base for a list of who has a CC permit. We like things that way because we believe it is no one's business who has a gun or a conceal carry permit. You should just always assume anyone could be carrying. Like a lot of western states we have a very low murder rate.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 03:54:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're mistaken. What they can't do... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            43north

            ...is provide a COUNT of CCLs even without the names. One can keep a tally on all the checks going to the CBI to pay for permits, but this is not broken down by the bureau by county. Colorado has one of the worst systems for granting conceal carry permits (of those states that require permits). An hour watching a video meets the firearm class requirement. You never have to prove you know how the gun you're going to conceal works. You never even have to fire it. In fact, you can get a permit to carry a concealed firearm without EVER having fired a gun.

            I lived in Colorado a long time. I often open-carried when hiking and camping. I have nothing against hunting (although I despise the methods of some people who dare call themselves hunters). But this counting restriction imposed as a result of pressure the Gun Owners of America is another example of how unreasonable fanatics can be on the subject of their firearms. Why give any credence to fanatics?

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 07:08:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What purpose does this count fulfill? (0+ / 0-)

              What's the point?

              P.S.  May I please see your First, Fourth, Thirteenth and Twenty-Fourth Amendment Licences?  We want to make sure you're a "responsible person" in the exercise of your Rights....

              •  So your view is that nobody should have... (0+ / 0-)

                ...to have a permit carry a concealing firearm?

                The count is data. Which counties have the most CCLs. Are some sheriffs issuing far more per capita than others? Why is that? What factors contribute?

                All the amendments have their limitations. The Supreme Court, even in Heller, accept this.

                Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                by Meteor Blades on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:23:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The Second is the only one that requires a licence (0+ / 0-)

                  so broadly, and is curtailed so broadly.

                  Would you be willing to accept a licence for your other Rights, with similar scope of "restrictions", as readily as you do with the Second Amendment?

                  Like hell you would.  If we licenced the First Amendment the way the Second is done, we'd truely have the blood in the streets that the Anti's wail about.

                  And I still do not understand what your ultimate goal with the counting is.  What trends are you looking for, why, and what would you do in reaction after demonstrating them?

                  •  One's speech, the media's speech... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mokurai

                    ...the clergy's speech may wound, but it does not kill. And yet, we do restrict that speech under certain circumstances, with legitimate purpose.

                    I am a gun-owner and I will happily accept licensing and a requirement that I demonstrate an understanding of gun safety and state and local gun laws either by testing or by taking a thorough firearms training class.

                    I understand fully the absolutist view on the 2nd Amendment. It is a view I reject. And, despite the NRA's successes at loosening gun laws nationwide, if absolutists do not soon accept reasonable additional restrictions on firearms, unreasonable ones will be coming.

                    As to the purpose of the count? The data will speak for themselves. Once collected, analysis will determine what, if anything, they say. Wanting to collect such data is not extraordinary. Opposition to the collection of these data is.

                    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                    by Meteor Blades on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:05:30 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Looking over history briefly.... (0+ / 0-)

                      I'd say speech has killed quite a lot of people.  YMMV.

                      And yet, we do not require a Speech Licence merely to take one's speech outside the home, or a background check to engage in speech within the home or in the public square.

                      We already have laws to punish harmful behavior.  What good will additional laws do, and why do you think they will strengthen laws that are not already properly enforced?

                      It's also quite interesting that you appear to not want to say what you think the data will show, or what you want it to show.  That indicates to me that you want to use this for additional restrictions, no matter the results.  Rigorous science states a hypothesis, then collects the data, analyses it and checks for confirmation.  You seem to want to do it out of order.  What, specifically, are you looking for?

                      •  Please: (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        PavePusher
                         Rigorous science states a hypothesis, then collects the data, analyses it and checks for confirmation.  
                        Some rigorous science does not first state a hypothesis but merely asks a question. Does this subatomic particle exist? If it does exist, how does it behave? I'm not asking something as weighty. I am not making as weighty a question, obviously. How many CCLs are issued in each county per capita? Is there a disparity among counties in the numbers issued? Are there special factors in the county — like the murder rate — that may coincide with a larger or smaller number of CCLs per capita?

                        Let the patterns of the data, assuming there are any that clearly demonstrate some apparent causation of good or bad result.

                        I do not prejudge the data and your accusation that I am up to no good and intent on additional restrictions based on whatever the data say is false. I do believe more restrictions are needed on guns but not necessarily on CCLs (although some states' safety/proficiency requirements for acquiring them are ridiculously inadequate).

                        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                        by Meteor Blades on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 10:06:13 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You are correct, I was out of line. (0+ / 0-)

                          I offer my apology.

                          I can only say that I let my defensiveness get in the way of honest communication.  It's been a rather rough week on DKos and I guess I've let it get to me.

                          Probably time for me to take a break for a day or two.  

                    •  I don't get the need either. Why? What will it (0+ / 0-)

                      prevent in the name of gun safety...gun control...gun emergencies or whatever meme this is for?

                    •  Reasonable restrictions (0+ / 0-)

                      In line with this:

                      I understand fully the absolutist view on the 2nd Amendment. It is a view I reject. And, despite the NRA's successes at loosening gun laws nationwide, if absolutists do not soon accept reasonable additional restrictions on firearms, unreasonable ones will be coming.
                      I suspect that background checks, while reasonable, will not do enough to prevent guns from reaching those who should not have them. What will come after that? I would appreciate your comments on this diary:

                      http://www.dailykos.com/...

                      The only winning move is not to play. - Joshua

                      by FightersFate on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 07:20:55 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  This turns out not to be the case (0+ / 0-)

                    for licensing. You are so used to it that it doesn't even come to your consciousness when you try to think about it, except for your obsession with the Second Amendment.

                    Free Speech frequently requires a license in the form of a parade or other event permit or a broadcast license, and is often limited to arbitrarily selected "Free Speech Zones" when it is most needed. Voting requires registration and, increasingly, photo ID at the polls. Churches must register in order to get tax exemptions.

                    Some Constitutional rights are available only to citizens, and every class of Civil Right in the US is routinely violated for some groups of people, including Blacks and other minorities, the young, the old, women, people of various shades of political and other opinion, and others. The Eleventh Amendment specifically denies citizens of any state the right to sue any other state that might injure them, as in the National Guard shootings of out-of-state students at Kent State.

                    There are common violations of voting rights, Freedom of Speech and of the Press, Freedom of Religion (for Native Americans, conscientious objectors, and now Muslims, among others), Freedom of Assembly, Habeas Corpus, unreasonable searches and seizures, wiretapping, self-incrimination, speedy and public trial, double jeopardy, due process, excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishment, drone killings of US citizens. Such rights are only enforceable when somebody can get a really good lawyer in front of a sympathetic Supreme Court, which has not been the case during a large fraction of our history. We are getting better at it, with a significant number of Supreme Court rulings that can be enforced now in other courts, but we are nowhere near there.

                    Counts are a tool in statistical analysis in public health. We would like to ask whether there are hot spots for gun crime, accidents, or suicide with too many illegal guns, or with lots of legal guns. We may not. The Tiahrt Amendment forbids CDC and NIH doing such studies, even when they could get the data.

                    America—We built that!

                    by Mokurai on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:24:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The Free Speech licence you refer to.... (0+ / 0-)

                      is applicable only when your exercise would interfere with others.  My lawfully carrying a sidearm does not stop anyone from going about their normal business.

                      I'm completely against "Free Speech Zones".  I consider them anathema.

                      Voters must prove eligibility to vote in the district they claim.  There is no licence required, you simply need to prove your identity and residence.

                      Trying to justify restrictions of Rights with the excuse that we unConstitutionally restrict other Rights is patently absurd.  Instead of using that as justification to restrict, we should be using it as incentive to restore Rights.  

                      Lastly, see my reply to MB above.

                    •  I contend that this is wrong too: (0+ / 0-)
                      Free Speech frequently requires a license in the form of a parade or other event permit or a broadcast license, and is often limited to arbitrarily selected "Free Speech Zones" when it is most needed. Voting requires registration and, increasingly, photo ID at the polls.
                      As a matter of fact, we all hotly discuss and all generally agree how wrong it is.  

                      Voter ID for an example.  Just say for the sake of discussion that true voter fraud was rampant and our elections were considered complete frauds because of it.  Say data proved that the only true way to curb it was to issue and demand voter IDs and the in order to create the system, it was necessary to charge people for them, because there were no funds available. Also, it was known the Voter IDs would deny some people, who had the legal right to vote,  that same right because they didn't have the money or no documentation of address or where homeless or whatever reason.  

                      Ok, how many freak out diaries would you see about this injustice to the Bill of Rights?  I think we know the answer to this.  

            •  I don't think we said anything that contradicted (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              43north

              each other?

              I know that when the local cops want to find out if so and so has a ccl before they serve a warant or if there is a restraining order they call up the sheriff, or so I've been told.

              To tell the truth I don't own a handgun, things are quiet here. I do know a few people that have ccl and they said they had to take a few hour course then go to the range and fire a handgun. I know it's pretty easy, but then so is buying a pistol, and I believe you don't need a ccl to carry a loaded handgun in our car.

              I find many people don't understand many aspects of hunting, we are an urban culture.

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:08:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  And who does giving out the numbers of CCLs serve? (0+ / 0-)
      •  Epidemioligists in public health services (0+ / 0-)

        or it would if the Tiahrt Amendment were repealed. CDC and NIH are forbidden to conduct studies of gun crime, accidents, and suicides as the important public health issues that they are.

        America—We built that!

        by Mokurai on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:27:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the tiahrt language only addresses (0+ / 0-)

          gun trace data, who sold what to whom and what not.  not sure it's of use to epidemiologists or health policy types.

          Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

          by Cedwyn on Fri Jan 11, 2013 at 05:15:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This diary belongs on the front page (8+ / 0-)

    An excellent action diary, Cedwyn.

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 09:51:07 AM PST

  •  This nails it (6+ / 0-)
    Push for measures that would actually be effective and could get out of Congress
    Great diary.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:14:56 AM PST

  •  Well done. There are enough of us for (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theboz, fuzzyguy, Cedwyn, 43north

    reasonable control efforts that we could work with the anti-gunners if we could all negotiate in good faith.

    I see what you did there.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 11:56:55 AM PST

  •  Another very interesting read (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fuzzyguy, Cedwyn, 43north

    Cedwyn, I am beginning to think that you would make quite the detective.  Twice now, you have managed to uncover details that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else in the discussion of this whole issue.

    I absolutely agree that one of the first and foremost things we need to do is enforce the existing laws.  To that end, we need to determine and understand why they are not as effective as we would like.  Things like the Tiahrt amendments are contributing to the problem.  

    If we could focus on solid background checks for those who wish to buy guns, engage the public in awareness of proper handling and storage, encourage training, and better enable law enforcement to actively pursue gun related crimes we would be a lot better.

    •  That, plus public health measures, plus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      closing the private sale loophole, giving BATF authority and funding for the necessary databases, plus restrictions on magazines, would go a fair distance. It is not clear to me that banning one class of semi-automatics while allowing others will accomplish anything. I want to hear what are the claimed legitimate uses for so-called assault weapons. We can discuss more, including the rest of the Feinstein bill and whatever Biden announces on Tuesday, as long as we can ignore the Second Amendment absolutists (including repealer/confiscators at the other extreme) and conspiracy theorists who take themselves out of any reasonable discussion, just as they are out of the political mainstream.

      Thanks for this Diary. I have so far seen mainly the two extremes here on dKos.

      America—We built that!

      by Mokurai on Thu Jan 10, 2013 at 10:37:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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