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When Black Swans Fly

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Making the Random, Predictable?

As I indicated earlier, preparations can certainly serve to reduce the frequency of black swan events, but it cannot stop them from happening altogether.

There is already substantial legislation at the state level which is designed to lessen the lethality and access to firearms.. This Wikipedia page provides a state-by-state analysis of applicable handgun and long gun laws. Connecticut, in fact has strong legislation designed to reduce the presence of assault weapons as well as ensuring that only those who are neither criminals nor mentally disturbed can purchase firearms. Nonetheless, with all that was in place, this shooting occurred.

California, Connecticut and New York are among the states with the strongest limitations on assault weapon. The California Penal Code, Section 12276.1 (a) essentially follows the Federal Law which expired in 2004 in which there are now calls for reinstating it. In one way or another many states have replicated it in their definition of what constitutes an, "Assault Weapon." For a fuller understanding of the California law, this PDF's provides a complete analysis of the kinds of weapons which are completely illegal, having him one way or another violated the ban on assault weapons As you will note, the defining characteristic of a semi-automatic is, that it is equipped with the magazine which discharges a shell with each pull of the trigger. The vast majority of rifles sold to domestic consumers can be classified as semi-automatic. The Bushmaster 223 caliber rifle certainly fit that category. So too did the other handguns carried by Lanza.

It is important to understand that, for all practical purposes, every handgun in the United States (with the exception of historic weapons) can be classified as being semi-automatic. In confined spaces, the handgun is every bit as lethal a weapon as is the rifle or shotgun. Therefore, in and of itself, restricting purchase of semi-automatic long guns is likely to have little or no effect on the casualty rate when shooting incidents occur.

In the case of both children and those with mental or emotional illness, it is essential that we find ways of keeping weapons from them. It is important to note that none of the proposals which have been made by others or which I am making here would not have had the remotest effective in preventing this shooting.

Helping, But, by No Means Completely Ending

The proposal offered below offer possibilities for mitigating, but, by no means completely ending shootings at schools or other places where many people assemble.

1. Requiring Biometric Trigger Locks Require that all handguns and long guns be manufactured such that a biometric trigger lock comes ready to use by the purchaser. Even if taken whether accidentally or purposefully by those not permitted to use the weapon, they are prevented using it. When properly designed and installed, these locks cannot be circumvented. Just as there are safety specifications required of manufacturers, whoever currently has a responsibility for safety inspection and quality control would be tasked with the responsibility for verifying that all manufactured weapons which can be sold in the United States have this trigger guard installed.

Private owners having purchased weapons prior to this legislation taking affect would need to be given a specific length of time by which a licensed gunsmith or other qualified individual in could install new trigger guards. This would of course require a long period of time, since given the number of weapons in circulation would take a long time to make these conversions. For those failing to make these changes have any fines or disqualification from gun ownership should be included to eliminate failure to install this measure.

2. Gun safes or long gun cabinets: Require that prior to purchase or transfer of both handguns and long guns that safe storage be a part of the requirements to make  purchases. Handguns must be stored in Gun Safes when kept within residences. When present in places of business, or public dormitories (as at colleges and universities, or offices), depending on the regulations of the school or place of business. In general if weapons are allowed that entity must provide its own regulations for safekeeping of those weapons. Long guns when stored at the residence of their owners would be required to be stored in break proof cabinets. Prior to the purchase of weapons a bill of sale showing that such cabinets had been acquired or that a safe was purchased, would be necessary for the purchase of any firearm.

3. Fixing accountability for background checks: In the aftermath of the April 16, 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. History, it was discovered that Cho Seung-Hui had been determined to be mentally ill and a danger to himself and others. In spite of that court ruling and an order to undergo a psychological evaluation, Cho was able to purchase the handguns he used to shoot 32 people and himself from a licensed gun dealer. Given this information as well as the rest of the article in which it appears, it should be evident that legislation at the federal level is essential to ensure that all applicants are thoroughly and carefully vetted, eliminating any who may be disqualified by mental disturbance, drug addiction, alcoholism, or criminal record.

4. Requiring Mental Health Workers Flag Concerns regarding Patients or Student Contacts. Yet almost every one of the major mass shootings which have occurred in recent years, the perpetrator has had some contact with a mental health worker. This may have been in contact with a medical professional, school guidance counselors, social workers, or others having a professional relationship with that individual. When these professionals have concerns about an individual it is essential that they not only have data entry access to those databases which are used in assessing the application of prospective firearms purchasers, but that these professionals be required to enter appropriate warnings to prevent potential killers from being able to purchase weapons.

5. Elimination of the Production of "Assault" Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines except for Sales to Law Enforcement and the Military. Calls for the Elimination of, "Assault," weapons may mean different things to different people. When we talk about an assault weapon some people think of it as a fully automatic weapon that fires all his ammunition continuously so long as the trigger is pulled. In essence the most familiar example that would be the MP-5, which is a machine pistol so often displayed in movies depicting Special Forces personnel in action. The only organizations which can justify the use of fully automatic weapons are just that -- United States Military. There is no conceivably justifiable reason for placing automatic weapons in the hands of individual citizens.

In the case of legislation limiting the production or sale of large capacity magazines, the large numbers of them currently in circulation, guns will make elimination of them very difficult for many years to come.

An alternative Proposal

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An OpEdNews editor, Sherwin Steffin is a retired educator, and research analyst. His working career ranged from classroom teacher, university administrator, founder and CEO of two software companies, independent consultant, (more...)
 
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In this paper I offer both an explanation for this... by Sherwin Steffin on Thursday, Dec 20, 2012 at 7:13:27 PM
The biometric  signature though would  i... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Dec 20, 2012 at 7:52:06 PM