Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum”

There are, I think, three regular commenters on Ethics Alarms who extend all the way back to Ethics Scoreboard days, or pre-2012. One of them is Tim Levier, who unlike the other two, I have actually met while I was in his state of Colorado. Tim posted the following on my Facebook page, and I invited him to cross-post here. In his post, he addresses the “do something!” lament that appears to be thoroughly rotting the brains of our leaders in both parties as they hustle to pander to the emotional responses to the Orlando tragedy. Tim wrote a younger friend about what somethings he would do, and not all of them are relevant to guns. They all, however, are relevant to building a society in which fewer people might choose to start shooting strangers.

Here is Tim’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum.

I’m 35 and was recently talking with someone slightly younger. He had the standard call for ideas to check the “do something” box. After I did some jumping jacks to show that I did something, I buckled down and wrote some ideas.

Now, I’m usually accustomed to reading some constitutional murky stuff, so I veered a different direction. Below is my list as I wrote it to him, perhaps there’s something in it that speaks to people. My 4 ideas for improvement (not solutions, because solutions don’t exist.):

Idea #1

I’ll tell you that the #1 thing I would like to see in this country (give me some slack here, I believe everything is connected), given the state of health care…

I’d like to see a 3 tier system of medical insurance & payments. (Tier 3 will be the part that relates back.)

Tier 1: Primary Care / General Practitioners. No insurance. These doctors run their offices and clinics on a cash only basis. Drive the cost of common tests for strep and other infection down to an affordable amount.

Tier 2: Injury Care / Specialists. Insurance based. Break an arm, need stitches. Xrays, MRIs, CT scans, cancer & diseases.

Tier 3: Mental Health / Therapy Care. Government Based. Anyone at any time can seek counsel at no additional cost from mental health professionals.

Idea #2

Here’s the harder sell. I can’t organize my thoughts terribly well in a coherent way, but see if you can follow, 2 issue explanations, then 1 idea:

Issue 1: There’s been a swing away from organized religion. (Full Disclosure: I’m quite agnostic/atheist) Say what you will about religion (it’s evil, stupid, corrupt) but it certainly helps people in crisis and teaches them respect for life. We have in the last 50 years finally accepted that people don’t want religion in their lives, but we haven’t given them anything as replacement.

Issue 2: We’ve come up in quite the time, you and I. We can tell someone what a vinyl record is and we can work modern technology with easy. We’ve also seen how new technology disrupts. I’m willing to bet you’ve seen “the pattern”. With all of this new consumer technology, the pattern is essentially that we become so engrossed with it that we abuse it until a problem develops. A) Texting / Distracted B) Cable TV / TV always on C) Video Games / Detached D) Instant News Sites / Mindless, etc etc etc. Technology is supposed to enhance experiences not substitute them.

We’re leading some pretty empty lives and it’s mostly because we haven’t figured out how to incorporate an appropriate amount of resources, leaving a good chunk of it behind and enriching our own lives. It leads to people living in an echo chamber and having a disassociation from reality.

Idea: Education needs reform, and not the way a lot of people think. We put so much focus on high intelligence concepts with little focus on how to live. Practical education. We should revive Home Economics for financial planning, cooking, baking, woodworking, household repairs, how things work, how to solve problems, how insurance works, how renting and mortgages work, how retirement works, medical insurance, etc etc etc. We aren’t building functional members of society with our education system. We’re trying to figure out who is the smartest and advance them through different levels of attrition so that maybe one day, 1 person can make a difference.

Here’s the rub with this idea. It needs to include some controversial modules. The value of life being one of them. It doesn’t have to be religious in nature, but we need to communicate how petty some things can be in relation to the grand scheme. A module on firearms would also be appropriate. I think every High School has a dedicated school resource officer. I think they should team up with a firearm instructor each semester to teach a week-long class to every junior about firearm safety, maintenance, handling. The worst that could happen is that we create a society of well informed individuals who can talk on even terms to discuss the best step forward.

Idea #3

I still come back to a strong desire for better statistics and reporting. It’s easily the #1 thing we can do now with no muss, no fuss. FBI doesn’t even track and categorize Officer Involved Shootings (OIS). There’s no reporting requirements at all.

To date, this year, 526 people have been killed at the hands of trained law enforcement professionals and there’s no indication if any of those deaths were justified, if all of them were justified, or what percentage was justified.

Every single person killed by firearm should be chronicled.

1) Was it an accident?
2) Did they shoot themselves? (suicide)
3) Were they shot by LE? w/ Justified/Unjustified
4) Were they shot by a civilian? w/ Justified/Unjustified
5) Were they shot by someone they knew?
6) Were they considered bystander?
7) Were they indiscriminately targeted? <–True Mass Shooting

The inability of our society to put pencil to paper to outline these easily identifiable criteria only suggests that there will be complete inaction to otherwise impact gun regulations.

Idea #4

I’ve talked about my ideas that are indirect to firearms. Well, here are my ideas that are closer to firearms. This time though, I’m not going to offer my deep thought explanations, I’m just going to place them here and see what others find intriguing.

1) Legalize in every state and jurisdiction concealed carry w/o permit.

2) Restrict open carry in every state and jurisdiction to permit holders (generally an application to local sheriff)

3) Quit demonizing people for carrying and asking them to leave establishments. Cater to them, offer a gun check if necessary.

4) Education Education Education

7 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero: Mother Jones Pundit Kevin Drum”

  1. I’m looking at the gun laws in Arizona and apparently they allow concealed carry in bars with a permit, but only if you are not drinking alcohol (maybe sasparela is ok) or the owner of the bar has posted some “No Guns” signs. Open carry is pretty much allowed anywhere with certain exceptions (wildlife preserves, bars?, close to schools, etc.) Felons cannot own guns, illegal aliens, those incarcerated, the mentally incompetent and so on). I don’t think the homicide rate is particularly high in the state. Are these laws reasonable?

  2. I take issue with Idea 3.3 – It is virtually impossible to get the government to admit a shooting of someone by law enforcement was unjustified. Hell, unless there are threats of violent protests, it’s hard to get a cop charged for shooting someone (I’m looking at you, Chicago).

    • Also, you’d have to get police departments to actually record the number of people they shoot each year (you know, like the law says they should).

      But aside from that, I actually really like Idea 3, and assuming we could get police departments to actually do what they’re told, would be the best possible of the solutions.

    • I’m going to stalk you over here because we had the brief “carry” discussion over on the other thread. 😉

      You didn’t mention my idea #4, which really hits on the current state of “right to carry”. I’m going to talk specifically about Colorado, since that’s the situation I’m more familiar with.

      Open Carry = Okay, unless you’re in Denver.
      Concealed Carry = Shall Issue permitting.

      Open Carry = People freaking out and calling police. Police make contact with you and you tell them bugger off. Good cops leave it at that, bad cops continue to harass you & your 4th amendment rights not to be subject to search and seizure. (Open carry being a legal activity, they have no justification to stop you.)

      Concealed Carry = No one knows you have a firearm, you have a permit, but no one knows to ask to inspect your permit because they don’t know you have a firearm.

      By requiring a permit for concealed carry, aren’t we just forcing some people into an open carry situation? Who has time for a class and some extra money for an unnecessary permit? Just open carry! Wouldn’t it just make sense that if we (as society) would prefer to not see the sidearm that we make concealed carry the de facto preferred method? If we make it necessary to get a permit to “open carry” then when the police want to make contact with you, there’s a legal requirement to show your permit, which you do, and then be on your way.

      This would take so much animosity out of these police contacts, keep sidearms out of the eyes of the worried ignoramus, and enable non-residents to not forego their right to carry when they visit.

      I will say though, I’m all for anyone who is carrying to complete at least a “once in a lifetime” course on firearm safety and carrying etiquette/education.

  3. We’re a visual society, so here I go again with my idea. Yeah, it’s all tech-y: Require a camera on every gun. A camera aligned as closely as possible with the gun’s boresight, that records the downrange view on every firing of the gun, for every bullet expended out of that gun. A camera on a gun, such that the gun will not operate if the camera does not operate.

    But wait, there’s more: Require not just recording of the downrange view on every shot, but also telemetering of the imagery in real time, with an incorruptible identifying code unique for each individual gun. The telemetry signal can be picked up by ubiquitous receivers – part of the cost to a gun owner, but also part of the cost to society (even non-gun owners), to pay for all that infrastructure. The receivers can be in or on every car, building, acre of wilderness, aircraft, boat, police station, bug’s, bird’s and bat’s ass, and in a huge array of GPS-like satellites that blanket coverage of the earth. A free society would surely be glad to pay the cost of a satellite system like that.

    Someone would have to be working full-time to watch all that imagery. Oops! More cost. But a market for equipment would blossom. People who don’t want to carry guns – but who might feel safer, if only they had a receiver/transmitter to tell the whole wide world that they’ve just been shot at, or that they’re in the vicinity of a firearm that just discharged, complete with a split second of relevant imagery for each shot fired – might want to carry or wear the latest iPhone with that app. On-the-ground reception could be correlated with satellite reception, using fancy software. The watchers might actually enjoy the excitement on (for example) Friday and Saturday nights, or on full moon nights, when downrange views other than a bunch of shattering clay pigeons or paper cut-outs being perforated are likely to be available.

    There would be the usual technical difficulties, of course. Multiple shots fired in close proximity by multiple guns. How to capture all those signals, all that imagery? Malfunctions, tamperings, mis-codings, obstructed reception for any of millions of possible causes. Even…viruses, inside bullets. The Gunnernet, like the Internet, should not be expected to be built in a day.

    Think of the statistics that governments could collect and analyze then! Imagine all the new laws and regulations that would be necessary! (Oops! More cost.) “High-crime areas” could of course receive closer scrutiny and more thorough blanketing of receiver/retransmitter coverage. That way, the poor would not feel as though their needs are neglected. Some sex acts might become slightly more complicated. Hell, someone on YouTube might make a mint just with compilations of suicides!

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