Sunday, June 19, 2016

Gun Control Like DUI Laws?

My friend commented:

"Yeah, we can't keep perfect records, so should we not even try? We keep people with repeated DUI offenses from driving; is keeping people with history of abuse from buying guns an ammo?"

I'm not sure where he's going with this because once a person is convicted of a felony the laws prohibit gun ownership, even if the felony was non-violent as I understand it.  I think this is also the case with domestic violence charges.

DUI issues are quite unlike gun issues.  A single DUI offense is relatively a small thing - you pay a bunch of money to a lawyer, maybe you get convicted maybe you plead out to reckless driving maybe the whole thing is dropped because the cop filling out the paperwork at 2AM mis-spells something on the affidavit, or because the jury doesn't like the officer that testified about the breath alcohol test.  

But even folks with a conviction or more than one drive, either unlawfully and hoping not to be caught, or with a "go to work permit" or some other version of a conditional license.  It is certainly not the case that our system stops folks with DUI offenses from driving - that's why we see 2nd and 3rd offenders.  Just last month here in Maine there was a case of a mother with prior offenses who had a wreck while under the influence with her kids in the car.  In that case, as with most DUI events, no one was hurt.

I wonder what the ratio is for:
-number of times a person operates a vehicle when intoxicated
-number of times an injury happens as a result

-number of times on average a person drives drunk prior to being caught
-of those "caught", how many are convicted?  When I was a police officer, it seemed like quite a few were able to dodge the DUI conviction one way or the other.  The system was anything but ironclad, probably for good reasons (presumption of innocence).  

In other words, DUI laws would seem a poor model for how to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, murderers and crazies.

One of the big problems with keeping guns away from criminals, murderers and crazies is that the population we're talking about is largely young men.  And with mass murderers, they often have little in the way of warning signals - almost never a prior arrest or felony.  This seems to be true of both the domestic whack job killers and the religious killing in the name of god type.

Last point - most criminals don't get their guns lawfully - they get stolen guns, they steal a gun, they get a "friend" to buy the gun for them and such.

You want to stop gun violence?  Stop the drug war.

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