Letting The Gun Manufacturers Solve The Gun Violence Problem – Why Not?

So as I start putting down some thoughts on the Supreme Court when I read an oped in LA Times that reminds me of how stupendously different a world their Editorial Board lives in from the one I occupy.

Dean Esmay Kevin D links to the column – which proposes a kind of ‘cap and trade’ be applied to gun deaths, with the gun manufacturers held responsible for the deaths.

In other words, rather than telling gun makers what to do, performance-based regulation would tell them what outcome they must achieve: Reduce deaths by guns. Companies that achieve the target outcomes might receive large financial bonuses; companies that don’t would face severe financial penalties. Put simply, gun makers — whose products kill even when used as directed — would have to take responsibility for curbing the consequent public health toll.

I’ll ignore for a moment the interesting notion that artifacts – rather than those who wield them – are responsible for what is done with them, I’ll suggest that my response as a gun manufacturer would be simple: if you want to solve the problem of crime with guns, arm those who aren’t criminals.

So, let’s embrace their proposal. Let’s hand over gun regulation to the folks from Colt, Springfield Arms – but why limit it to the manufacturers – let’s take all the industry and turn the problem over to them. The management of Gunsite and folks like Massad Ayoob can sit down with the gun manufacturers can devise the new policies and programs around firearms regulation. Mandatory firearms training. Must-carry laws. Castle doctrines widely applied. Re-activation of the Civilian Marksmanship Program in schools.

Let’s give them a decade or two to see how the policies work – after all we’ve let folks like Jeffrey Fagan and Stephen Sugarman set the policies for the last 40 years. Fagan testified against the death penalty to the New York Legislature, and also opposed life without parole for juvenile murderers. Sugarman is a Boalt law professor who believes in applying performance-based regulation to, among other things, salt in prepared food and to fast food with the intent of managing childhood obesity.

No, I don’t seriously envision turning over firearms regulation to the NRA. But it’s honestly just as sensible as the proposal in the Times. More so, possibly.

I’m chuckling just thinking of the look on the Times Editorial staff as the new regulations are announced.

Unbreakable You

The folks at St. Martin’s Press were kind enough to send me a copy of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jerry White’s book ‘I Will Not Be Broken: 5 steps to overcoming a life crisis‘.

Now, because I tend to be such a deep thinker (irony alert…) I don’t read many self-help books. I tend to think life is too complex to manage in five steps of any kind of process. But they had sent me the book, and I had some time to read…

..and I came away damn impressed. It’s not a well-written book by any means; it follows the classic self-help model of point: example, example, example, example, restate point. But the message underneath is worthwhile enough – actually, let me restate that – the message underneath is one that people ought to know and the steps are ones that actually help you get there.White was a student in Israel when he wandered into a minefield in the Golan Heights and stepped on a 15-year old landmine, losing his foot. Years later, he decided to do something for the others who has been injured as he was.

Here, in his own words, is what the book is about:

We called this effort the Landmine Survivors Network. Corralling the voices of mine “victims” around the world, we set out to ban the use of landmines and help survivors get legs and find work. This mission has sent me around the world, to the floor of the United Nations, the halls of Congress, foreign embassies, palaces, and local hospitals. Along the way, I’ve met a great many survivors from all walks of life. We’ve had very practical conversations about what works and doesn’t work as we seek to achieve success in our lives … to walk a path of growth and renewal.

With this book, I share what I’ve learned.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s not quite that simple. I believe you have to decide it will make you stronger. Experience has taught me that happy endings can never be taken for granted. They must be chosen. When I was in the hospital for six months in Israel, no one did my physical therapy for me. No one underwent the pain or the fear of six operations for me. I would have liked for someone to, maybe. I confess, the first time I was put in a wheelchair, I sat there and waited for someone to push it for me. I had just had another surgery, I was weak, in pain, exhausted. And when I looked up at my nurse, she looked down at me and laughed. “If you want to move, push.” And so I did. And I continue to do.

Whether we like it or not, personal determination is required to build resilience – to become fit for whatever the future may hold. We have to tap inner resources and develop some emotional muscle. It’s both a discipline and our responsibility.

No one can do it for us.

The good news is, we are not alone. We are surrounded by survivors who have gone before us, and their examples will help mark the way forward. Their experiences show us that with the right support, everyone can recover and thrive. As we overcome hardship, there is laughter and hope and love waiting for each of us. But it is crucial for us to want those things. Frankly, I have always craved those things. And life has treated me pretty well.

The book is a simple list of the steps he took to make sure life did treat him pretty well after he was injured, and a host of anecdotes about others who have walked a similar path.

It applies, he suggests, not only to those who undergo massive life-changing events like he did. It applies to all of us who face the typical setbacks and failures that life brings us.

My own life is fortunately free (so far) of any such Major Event – but I’ve had a host of minor ones that could have left me different, more passive, more bitter, more of a victim than I turned out to be – and so has every one of you, I’ll wager.

What did it take to thrive in spite of those? What would it take to thrive in spite of the kinds of things we all imagine on our darkest day – the death of a child, a spouse, an accident that leaves our bodies marked or incapable?

Well, I have to say that this book offers a recipe for what it would take.

And more – it offers a worldview that suggests that being tested by those things and coming out the other side can leave us better people.

The path to positive survivorship I have described in this book, with its action-oriented guidance, is drawn from the lived experience of survivors themselves, including my own. But there is real science and years of research behind it.

I think it’s important to look at how trauma inflicts its damage. Humans have suffered from injuries, conflict, and natural disasters throughout history. But it wasn’t until 1980 that we put a label on the residual effects of trauma: post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Since that time, PTSD has become a popular area of research, in part because it is considered one of the only psychiatric disorders whose cause is an external event. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that research about the consequences of mass violence and war broadened to include studies of social, cultural, moral, and spiritual factors that influence our human response to trauma.

Allow me to boil down some of the research jargon. Put simply, traumatic stress – not just everyday traffic jam stress – is caused by a confrontation with helplessness and death, a complete loss of control. And it is more common than you may think. Life seems to lose meaning and predictability. Our worldview is altered. From childhood, we all develop expectations about how the world will treat us. We are influenced by our upbringing, personality, cultural norms, and belief system. After a catastrophe, new information must be thought through until the negative experience is integrated into a new world-view. This is what we call the coping process.

Thankfully, most of us will never fight in a battle, witness a massacre, or find ourselves trapped in a minefield. And many of us will muddle through adversity without ever exhibiting any dramatic psychological scars from their trauma. Why the difference? It turns out that nearly every survivor of disasters, injuries, or assaults will face either positive or negative long-term consequences. What intrigues me is that positive outcomes – growing stronger through crisis – are not at all uncommon.

Am I suggesting that disasters bring blessing? Yes, depending on how we respond to them. In many cases, crisis will catalyze unexpectedly positive outcomes. But again, this happens only if we decide it will, if we are willing to search for meaning and purpose and thereby rediscover our common humanity. It’s not the crisis itself that is important, but how we respond to it. Hundreds of survivors I have met describe how they grew stronger post-crisis.

There is a new term for it: post-traumatic growth (PTG). Also called “adversarial growth,” I am referring to the development of positive attitudes and goals that can come out of even the most ghastly experiences.’ Researchers now believe that PTSD and PTG actually result from the same mental processes. A survivor experiences predominantly negative or positive consequences depending on events and feelings they experience after the trauma. As we discussed earlier, strong and caring social support can ensure growth, whereas isolation and social antipathy will foster the symptoms of victimhood. So resilience isn’t about the depth of trauma we experience, but, rather, about what we think about our trauma – how we process our personal nightmares.

This ties closely with Dave Grossman’s analysis in ‘On Combat‘.

What kind of person bears no scars, has suffered no disappointments, and has a personality unshaped by failure? A child.

What Grossman and White are talking about is growing up, and learning to take a grown-up’s pleasure in the world as it is as yourself as you are.

The highest recommendation I can give a book comes in the form of postage – when I put it in an envelope and send it to my sons to read, it’s something I believe well worth reading.

This book is sitting on the dining table in an envelope, headed to Biggest Guy tomorrow.

Draw your own conclusion.

There’s No Word For This Except “Stupid”.

Openly Gay Army Sergeant Discharged Under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Decorated Army Sergeant Darren Manzella has been discharged under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law banning lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from military service, effective June 10. The Iraq war veteran was one of the first openly gay active duty service members to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone. In December 2007, Manzella was profiled by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. He told correspondent Lesley Stahl that he served openly during much of his time in the Army, with the full support of his colleagues and command.

Discharging him because he was on the media? Look, we face a real personnel shortage in the military. I get the cultural issues – but I’m willing to bet that when you get to the 20-somethings like my son – they are not such major issues. I haven’t asked him, but knowing him, I’d say he just wants to know that whover he’s standing beside knows how to apply battle dressings and start an IV.

We lose translators, intelligence specialists, medics, and – I’ll bet – some pretty good trigger-pullers. How about declaring a moratorium on this for a while, until we manage to figure out the staffing issues?

In Case You Wonder Why Obama’s Position On Iraq Is “Nuanced”

Josh Marshall, referring to this Quinnipac poll:

As you can see, in every one of these key battleground states, majorities favor staying in Iraq until the situation is “stable,” and then withdrawing troops, which in some ways is closer to the GOP’s current stated position, though not really identical with it. In all four, decided minorities favor starting withdrawal immediately, with the goal of completing withdrawal in 18 months.

Um, paging Ms. Samantha Power

Expectations

I was discussing social media with a colleague the other day, and I made the point that many of the features in social media work in part because we expect them to.

Regardless of whether the matching formula in eHarmony works as well as advertised, it is more likely that you’ll meet your lifemate there than on many other sites. Why?First, because the population that goes to eHarmony self-selects. You go there to find a spouse. It seems more likely that the people there are open to serious relationships than, say, the people you meet at www.sluttyhookups.com (note that as of 11pm Pacific time, the domain is available – I’ll take it as an experiment to see how long before it’s claimed…), because the people who choose to go to eHarmony are looking for a wedding ring, not a night in the sack.

Second, because there is a ‘halo effect’ around the selections – if you believe that the people chosen for you are ‘potential mates’, you’re likely to be more open to connection and relationships than you would be with the person you met down at the Coffee Bean.

This isn’t a diss on the usefulness of eHarmony or other dating sites – we know four great couples that have met, married, and stuck starting there.

But it’s something to think about as you contemplate the impact of social media on people’s choices – whether for mates, for shopping, or for politicians.

Who Knew Segways Were Useful?

I’ve kinda always thought the Segway was a technically cool solution to a nonexistent problem.

Today, reading Blackfive, I discovered that they are in fact damn useful.

Here’s Major Dan Gade, a wounded veteran:

As many of you know, I was seriously wounded in Iraq in 2005, and lost my right leg. I am not alone: the war has produced more than 800 amputees of various degrees of severity, and many more with burns, joint fusions, and other issues resulting in decreased mobility. For many of us, the solution to our mobility issues- the thing that enables us to get around our college campuses, places of work and worship, golf courses, and other locations, is the Segway. A Segway is to a person with a mobility problem as a guide dog is to a person who is blind.

Originally designed as a “hip and cool” device for people to get around their communities, the Segway has become, in some respects, a ‘standing wheelchair’ for many of us for whom a wheelchair is not required. It offers unlimited indoor and outdoor mobility, quiet operation, safety, and increased longer-distance mobility. In addition, it offers greater health benefits because of the reduction in the amount of time we spend sitting on a daily basis, and greater dignity because of the ability to carry on conversations at eye height with a standing person instead of at navel height. This is not to say that a wheelchair is not dignified in any way- those who rely on wheelchairs for their mobility are undoubtedly grateful for the mobility they offer- but simply to point out that standing is more similar to walking than sitting is.

However, for a variety of reasons, certain venues which allow wheelchairs (Federal law requires it) choose not to allow Segways. Part of this is the perception that Segways are dangerous- in fact, no person has ever been hurt by a person with a disability riding a Segway- and part of it is a fear of new technology. In any case, Disney Corporation and its affiliates, as well as numerous mall conglomerates, choose to allow their fear of the unknown or new to overrule their compassion and common sense, and force those with Segways to use rented, unfamiliar wheelchairs to negotiate their parks and venues. Interestingly, Disney World in Orlando offers Segway tours of its parks in the morning (for a sizable fee), and its executives use Segways to get around the park, demonstrating that it is not the device which Disney fears, but the use of the device by a person with a disability. In other words, Disney is choosing to discriminate on the basis of disability, in clear violation of the spirit of Federal Law and common decency.

The problem with Disney is not theoretical: in December of 2006, I was staying at a Disney property and planning on going to the park the next day with my wife and friends, but was informed by my host (a Disney executive) that my Segway was not welcome. As you can imagine, this would have been crushing to my daughter, had she been along on that trip. I, and many others like me, have worked very, very hard to be able to stand and walk- to be told that I’m only welcome if I’m willing to sit is insulting to me. I suppose it’s a matter of pride in some ways, but I am proud of my service and sacrifice, and have no intention of allowing Disney or anyone else to force me to use a wheelchair when my injuries don’t require it. The Segway is a means of resuming my life as closely as possible to what it was before.

But you can help: On Tuesday the 18th of June, the Department of Justice released a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” which seeks public comment on whether Segways should be accommodated in the same way as wheelchairs when they are operated by a person with a disability. You can help by simply contacting the Department of Justice and stating that disabled veterans and others with mobility issues should be accommodated in all circumstances, whether they use a Segway or a wheelchair. It would be best to express your views in your own words rather than quoting me, but only because “form letters” are counted by DOJ as single comments rather than separate ones.

HOW TO HELP:

1) You can do it on-line here (do the same thing on both links: they are for government/public facilities like courthouses and for private entities like stores, malls, and amusement parks, respectively):

http://www.regulations.gov/

and

http://www.regulations.gov/

2) You can mail in comments to:

ADA NPRM
P.O. Box 2846
Fairfax, VA 22031-0846

Reference “CRT Docket # 105″ in your first note and “CRT Docket #106″ in your second note. Again, it’s two different things, so write TWO NOTES, one with CRT 106 and one with CRT 105 as the subject.

3) FORWARD THIS NOTE TO OTHERS. In 2004, when I requested stockings for my soldiers in Iraq, I received over 1500. I’d like this same level of commitment to those who returned on stretchers and are trying to get their lives back!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions:

Daniel Gade
MAJ, US Army
daniel.gade AT us.army.mil

This Is Cool In Several Ways

Here’s a picture of the political blogverse, from PresidentialWatch08:


PW08a.JPG

First just as a very nice bit of data visualization. I’ve been looking into that more than a little lately, and suggest the Flowing Data blog as a good gateway.

Now let’s see how we look in it:


PW08b.JPG

First, it’s neat that we made the cut at all; it’s nice to think that we’re part of the conversation. But it’s also kinda neat that we have a fairly extensive set of links over to the blue – liberal – blogs, as well as the red – conservative – ones. Again, it’s about the conversation.

Presidential Watch appears to be one of a crop of interesting blog aggregators springing up. I’ll do a piece on them in the near future.

Was Pat Buchanan Always A Crackpot?

I’m not sure whether Pat Buchanan was always barking mad or if he’s just become so in the last decade. He was always someone who – in my mind – kind of defined the boundary between tolerable conservativism and political leanings that really needed to be pushed to the swamps well outside the mainstream of American political dialog.

But he’s certainly insane today, and I don’t completely understand why he has any kind of a reputation or following today.

His latest is a column that suggests that the British – by their reluctance to negotiate in good faith with Hitler – were responsible for the Holocaust. No, really.

What of World War II? Surely, it was necessary to declare war to stop Adolf Hitler from conquering the world and conducting the Holocaust.

Yet consider. Before Britain declared war on him, Hitler never demanded return of any lands lost at Versailles to the West. Northern Schleswig had gone to Denmark in 1919, Eupen and Malmedy had gone to Belgium, Alsace and Lorraine to France.

Why did Hitler not demand these lands back? Because he sought an alliance, or at least friendship, with Great Britain and knew any move on France would mean war with Britain — a war he never wanted.

If Hitler were out to conquer the world, why did he not build a great fleet? Why did he not demand the French fleet when France surrendered? Germany had to give up its High Seas Fleet in 1918.

Why did he build his own Maginot Line, the Western Wall, in the Rhineland, if he meant all along to invade France?

If he wanted war with the West, why did he offer peace after Poland and offer to end the war, again, after Dunkirk?

That Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite is undeniable. “Mein Kampf” is saturated in anti-Semitism. The Nuremberg Laws confirm it. But for the six years before Britain declared war, there was no Holocaust, and for two years after the war began, there was no Holocaust.

Not until midwinter 1942 was the Wannsee Conference held, where the Final Solution was on the table.

That conference was not convened until Hitler had been halted in Russia, was at war with America and sensed doom was inevitable. Then the trains began to roll.

And why did Hitler invade Russia? This writer quotes Hitler 10 times as saying that only by knocking out Russia could he convince Britain it could not win and must end the war.

Wow, it’s hard to know where to begin here.

Let’s start with a few facts. Hitler had been building concentration camps and killing the inmates in unsystematic ways since – 1933. The first industrial killing of Jews – generally considered to be the responsibility of the Einzatzgruppen – took place in the conquered Baltic and Russian territories during 1940 and 1941. Note that the invasion of France took place in 1940. By 1942 when the Wanasee Conference rationalized what had been a fairly ad-hoc killing regime – it’s not logistically easy to kill millions of people. It’s not clear how Buchanan constructs a logical bridge to get from 1940, and the beginning of the war with the British – and 1942, or how he dismisses the wholesale murders of Jews, Gypsies, gays, Poles and others that took place before 1942. Because there were certainly trains running before Wanasee.

And it may have escaped Buchanan’s notice, but the Germans built a few boats between 1935 and 1939 (See “Bismarck” and “Tirpitz”). They planned to build more, but the Z Plan, like many of Hitler’s industrial plans, couldn’t be supported by his industrial infrastructure.

In the years before the war, the Kriegsmarine believed that any military confrontation in the near future would not be against Great Britain again, Poland and France were seen as possible enemies and the naval construction was directed to with this possible enemies in mind. A possible confrontation with one of the major sea powers was not believed before the mid or late 1940, at a time where the Z-Plan should have been completed. As it got obvious that tensions with Great Britain started to rise in 1938, the fear of a military confrontation with Great Britain caused the increased speed of the introduction of the naval construction program. But even at this time, the Kriegsmarine still believed that a war with England was several years away.

Look, I’m not aware of a mainstream history of World War II that suggest that Hitler ‘accidentally’ invaded France. This is just crackpottery. Nor am I aware of any history that suggested that Hitler could have been dissuaded if we’d only let him invade Poland without declaring war.

There are two reasons why the metaphor of Hitler is brought up: The first is that there are some people so evil they just need to be defeated; and the second is that not everyone who sits down to negotiate really intends to settle.

I’ll add a third point, which is not that bringing up more morally or historically ambiguous points about Hitler is somehow off bounds – but that if you’re going to do something like that you’d best walk in the door with better facts and arguments than are displayed here.

This is the kind of clueless commentator that our mainstream media supports?

Keychains And Billionaires

I’ve been meaning to dig into this in my nonexistent spare time. Meet “The Small-Donor Fallacy

As of April 30, the Obama campaign had collected more than $120 million in contributions of $200 or less. In April alone, the latest month for which data are available, Obama raised more than $31 million, about 65 percent of which came from contributions of $200 or less. This seems good for democracy — but it may not be as good as we think.

Despite the importance of small donors, both Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain are still taking lots of big donations from wealthy special interests. In fact, when the nominating system as a whole is studied over time, the evidence suggests that the role of big donors will turn out to be growing, not shrinking.

Through March, small donations amounted to 39 percent of the combined fundraising of Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. But over a comparable period four years ago, such contributions made up an even greater share (42 percent) of the fundraising of the two leading Democratic contenders, Sen. John Kerry and former Vermont governor Howard Dean. On the GOP side, small donors were much more important for McCain in 2007 than they were for George W. Bush in 2003. But for most of last year McCain was not the front-runner, and his campaign was famously broke. Now that he is the presumptive nominee, big donors are his bread and butter.

Read the whole thing. And recall that Obama has been counting the purchasers of keychains and bumper stickers as “donors”, which was what made me wonder if he had a zillion keychain buyers, a million $100 donors, and ten or fifteen stupendously powerful bundlers.

Nice work, Prof. Mandle.

Norman Michael “Ehren” Murburg


Murburg_Eric_Small.JPG

Biggest Guy is in the second row on the left. Ehren (or Michael, as BG called him) next to him.

His funeral was yesterday, and I’m going through the pictures from Eric’s graduation to send some to Michael’s parents. I’ve looked at the phone a few times, and just not been ready to pick it up and call them. Maybe this weekend.

Think about Michael, and please hold someone close to you and tell them you love them one extra time.