No Collusion? Witch Hunt? Hardly

Let’s go over some clear and undeniable facts. The Russians, not a 400-pound guy in a Manhattan apartment, engage in a great deal of illegal interference against our country’s election system. This, in my view is an attack on our country. Countries that do that should be penalized, and we should make it clear we won’t tolerate it. Even the beneficiary candidate has a moral duty to issue a “thanks, but no thanks” message to such a country. But instead, the beneficiary candidate starts acting as if he welcomes the interference,, even going so far as to suggest a further crime they might commit, of delivering the missing e-mails of Hillary Clinton. You also have Trump’s staff getting the Republican platform changed from its prior anti-Putin stance to a more pro-Russian stance, you get all kinds of contacts during the campaign between Russian agents, contacts about which Trump official lied repeatedly. You had a campaign chairman who had previously worked for a pro-Putin dictator in Ukraine. You had a national security adviser who was an agent of the Turkish government and had inappropriate connections with the Russians. You had an attorney general who lied about contacts with the Russians and had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. You have a President who acts as if everything is normal and tries to keep Russia from suffering any harm from the crimes they have committed, and even at a conference in Helsinki took the side of the Russians against the word of all of his intelligence agencies that Russia didn’t do it. And you’re telling me that what was wrong was that they investigated the possibility that there might have been not collusion (there was plenty of that), but an actual criminal conspiracy between people in the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Oh, and I didn’t even mention the Trump Tower meeting with Don, Jared, Manafort, and Veselnitskaya. Mueller didn’t find enough evidence to issue conspiracy charges, although if they had been really a dirty cop in the pay of the Democrats he would have found a way to invent some. Oh, and you find Trump trying to shut down the investigation on multiple occasions, and if he had had a more cooperative staff it would have worked. But to say that do investigate all of this was a big no-no, and only someone who didn’t like Trump’s immigration policy would initiate such an investigation to keep Trump policies from being enacted? That’s ridiculous. Anyone in their right mind would want to know what was going on, at least anyone who doesn’t own a MAGA hat. We can all be thankful there wasn’t some quid pro quo between the Trump staff and the Russians, and, if anything, we should be grateful to Mueller for assuring us of at least that. But that still leaves a lot of conduct on the part of the President and his aides that is, quite frankly, profoundly corrupt. To say “no collusion” as if this is a clear bill of health for the President is a shameful distortion of the truth and the product of clever marketing and propaganda. People like Justin Amash and 800 former federal prosecutors came to a very different conclusion when the actually read the Mueller report.

Advertisements

P5b: Prohibit People on Terror Watch List from Buying Guns

This post is part of a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

Link to Serious Example of this Proposal: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/283822-senate-schedules-votes-on-gun-control

1) What problem does it solve?

Mass shooters target unarmed citizens.

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer: TBD

Negative Answer:

It’s not clear how much lifesaving impact the new legislation would have, even in the unlikely chance that either one passes because, relatively speaking, so few gun deaths come from terrorist attacks1 and background checks are so easy to evade at gun shows and on the internet. (Terrorists increasingly are turning to guns, though, and have used them in three mass shootings over the last 12 months: Orlando, the Charleston church shooting and San Bernardino.)

Source: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-problems-with-using-the-terrorist-watch-list-to-ban-gun-sales/

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: TBD

Negative Answer: TBD

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: TBD

Negative Answer:

(a) Terror watch lists are secretive. You don’t know why you are on the list, and don’t know how to get off. No due process.

Counterpoint: “Nonetheless, the probability that a law-abiding U.S. gun buyer would be mistakenly prevented from buying a gun is low. There is roughly a 1-in-89,000 chance3 a background check conducted since 2013 would be flagged in the terror watch list.” Source: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-problems-with-using-the-terrorist-watch-list-to-ban-gun-sales/

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

P5a: Keep Guns Out of the Hands of the Mentally Ill

Note: I haven’t found a well-defined statement of this proposal. For example, which DSM-V diagnoses would qualify as “mentally ill” for purposes of this proposal?

1) What problem does it solve?

Mass shootings

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer: (?)

Negative Answer:
(a) We don’t have a well-defined list of DSM-V diagnoses.

(b) Due process is still owed to the potentially mentally ill.

(c) Most of the mass shootings have not been committed by mentally ill people. (Note this contradicts point a.)

“In an analysis of some 350 mass killers going back a century, about 22 percent were found to likely have had psychosis; the rate in the general population is closer to 1 percent. A much smaller percentage had severe depression…”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/us/gun-access-mentally-ill.html

(d) Difficult to implement:

“To say no one with mental illness should have a gun — how do you accomplish that?” said Ronald Honberg, senior policy adviser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Does that mean anybody that goes to a therapist for depression or anxiety should be reported and put in a database and prohibited from purchasing a firearm? That would impact a fair number of police officers.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/us/gun-access-mentally-ill.html

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: None

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: With due process, it adds the economic costs of additional court proceedings. Without due process, it takes away the constitutional rights of people accused of being mentally ill without their day in court.

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

P2: Repeal the Second Amendment

This post is part of a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

1) What problem does it solve?

Mass shootings

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer: Australia!

“In 1996, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement after a mass shooting in Tasmania in April of that year. In that incident, a 28-year-old man, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed 35 people, and injured 18 others, in what was known as the Port Arthur Massacre.

“Under the 1996 law, Australia banned certain semi-automatic, self-loading rifles and shotguns, and imposed stricter licensing and registration requirements. It also instituted a mandatory buyback program for firearms banned by the 1996 law.

“Since 1996, the number and rate of homicides — defined as murder and manslaughter — has fallen. Below is the chart that appeared in our 2009 Ask FactCheck article, showing a 20 percent decline in homicides from 1996 to 2007.”

Source: https://www.factcheck.org/2017/10/gun-control-australia-updated/

Negative Answer:
(a) https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/02/australia-ambassador-on-why-gun-laws-cant-save-america/553655/

(b) “I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-used-to-think-gun-control-was-the-answer-my-research-told-me-otherwise/2017/10/03/d33edca6-a851-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html?utm_term=.54b2ea8d5fbb

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: (?)

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: (?)

Negative Answer: An unarmed citizenry would be unable to oppose a tyrannous government.

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

P7b: Notice Socially Isolated People and Engage Them

This post is part of a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

Link to Serious Example of this Proposal:

https://mystudentapt.com/2015/10/06/theres-a-way-to-stop-mass-shootings-and-you-wont-like-it/

1) What problem does it solve?

Loneliness is what causes mass shooters to lash out.

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer: When done, it is excellent! People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.

Negative Answer:  Some experts posit that it’s anger not loneliness that drives mass shootings. The FL shooter had friends and a social network— some of whom were white supremacists. (H/T: Elinora Price)

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: (?)

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: (?)

Negative Answer: (?)

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No (?)

P7a: Improve Access to Mental Health Care

This post is part of a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

Link to Serious Example of this Proposal: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1982

1) What problem does it solve?

Some / many / most (choose your word) mass shooters are mentally ill.

There is a clear relationship between mental illness and mass public shootings.

At the broadest level, peer-reviewed research has shown that individuals with major mental disorders (those that substantially interfere with life activities) are more likely to commit violent acts, especially if they abuse drugs. When we focus more narrowly on mass public shootings — an extreme and, fortunately, rare form of violence — we see a relatively high rate of mental illness.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-duwe-rocque-mass-shootings-mental-illness-20180223-story.html

2) How well does it solve the problem? 

Affirmative Answer: It wouldn’t entirely solve the problem, but it would help mitigate it. Mental Health Therapists (MHTs) are passionate about their work and are not greedy individuals(usually), most would do some pro-bono work for some type of kick back that would cost less than it would to cover a person through Medicaid/Medicare. Student loan debt reduction in exchange for x number of annual pro-Bono hours, for example, would be something that probably many MHTs would be interested in.

Negative Answer: Poorly.

(a) The majority of mass shooters weren’t mentally ill.

“If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, that would be wonderful,” Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, told ProPublica. “But overall violence would go down by only about 4 percent.”

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/10/why-better-mental-health-care-wont-stop-mass-shootings/541965/

See also: https://www.npr.org/2018/02/23/588374658/experts-say-theres-little-connection-between-mental-health-and-mass-shootings

(b) Furthermore, some mental illnesses like sociopathy, cannot be treated with medication or psychotherapy.

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: (?)

Negative Answer: (?)

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: Free access to mental health care has a large (economic) cost, but that cost outweighs the the harm caused by mass shootings.

Negative Answer: Free access to mental health care has a large (economic) cost.

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

P6: Allow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to Study Gun Violence as a Public Health Problem

This post is part of a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

Link to Serious Example of this Proposal:  https://blog.ucsusa.org/charise-johnson/cdc-scientists-plea-to-congress-let-us-research-gun-violence

1) What problem does it solve?
While motor-vehicle deaths are tracked in minute detail in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, no such comparable database exists for gun deaths. Basic questions like exactly how many households own guns are not definitively answered.

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer: Well

Negative Answer: (TBD)

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: Such research is politically motivated. It is a slippery slope towards trying to take away people’s guns.

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: A negligible amount in the huge budget of the US federal government

Negative Answer: (TBD)

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

P5d: Raise the Legal Purchase Age to 21

This post is one among many in a long series of planned blog posts about proposed gun control measures to reduce the risk of mass shootings.

Link to Serious Example of this Proposalhttp://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/

1) What problem does it solve?

“… data shows that young adults account for a disproportionate number of gun homicides and suicides.” http://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/

2) How well does it solve the problem?

Affirmative Answer:

Laws that prohibit unsupervised possession or purchase of firearms by children and young people can prevent tragedies. Based on data from the FBI, 18- to 24-year-olds account for a disproportionate percentage of arrests for homicide and violent crime in general. A survey of convicted gun offenders in 13 states found that nearly a quarter of them would have been prohibited from obtaining firearms at the time of the crime if the minimum legal age for possessing any type of firearm was 21 years. Yet, as described below, federal law and the laws in most states continue to allow unsupervised access to firearms by individuals in these age groups.” http://lawcenter.giffords.org/gun-laws/policy-areas/who-can-have-a-gun/minimum-age/

Negative Answer:

(a) “If the aim merely is to prevent anyone under 21 from possessing a military-style assault weapon, it won’t work and doesn’t make sense. There are millions of such firearms already out there for the grabbing. And the vast majority of mass shootings are committed by older adults, anyway.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-guns-schools-teachers-20180301-story.html

(b) “Of the 23 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history, three (Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Columbine) were perpetrated by killers younger than 21 who used rifles. The Sandy Hook shooter, who was 20, used a Bushmaster XM-15 bought by his mother, so a higher purchase age clearly would not have thwarted him. The Columbine killers, who were both younger than 18 when they started collecting weapons, obtained two shotguns and a Hi-Point 995 carbine through a straw purchase by an acquaintance who was 18. If the purchase age had been 21, they might have found an older straw buyer, or they might have obtained the long guns through an illegal private sale, which is how they acquired an Intratec TEC-DC9 pistol.” https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/26/can-congress-save-lives-by-raising-the-r

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer: None

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: TBD

Negative Answer:

(a) It infringes on the rights of people under 21. “For those who believe that all long guns — rifles and shotguns — should be denied to people under 21, that’s an unwarranted infringement on young adults’ rights. That last sentence may sound faintly like a National Rifle Assn. echo, but so be it. Even the NRA can be right sometimes.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-guns-schools-teachers-20180301-story.html

(b) The proposed ban would increase the inconsistencies in age restrictions in federal law. “Doesn’t make sense that an 18-year-old can enlist in the Army and be armed with an automatic M-16 to fight terrorists, but can’t buy a bolt-action plinker back home until he’s 21.” http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-skelton-guns-schools-teachers-20180301-story.html

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No

R3: Armed School Guards

1) What problem does it solve? Mass shooters target unarmed citizens.

2) How well does it solve the problem? 

Affirmative Answer: TBD

Negative Answer: TBD

3) What new problems does it add?

Affirmative Answer: None

Negative Answer:

(a) Creates the risk of a guard’s gun falling into the wrong hands. If a guard is overpowered, we’ve now given someone with bad intentions a weapon.

4) What are the economic and social costs?

Affirmative Answer: Economic cost of armed guards. Social cost of having presence of armed guards in schools.

Negative Answer: Economic cost of armed guards. Social cost of having presence of armed guards in schools.

5) Given the above, is it worth the costs?

Affirmative Answer: Yes

Negative Answer: No