Machine Guns (Phaedrus & Stevil)
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26-05-2014, 03:50 PM (This post was last modified: 26-05-2014 03:56 PM by Phaedrus.)
Machine Guns (Phaedrus & Stevil)
I'd just like to clarify something here. No one in the US wants machine guns for self-defense. The desire to own a machine gun comes from a few different directions: a gun collector who wants to expand their collection to include notable military firearms; a shooting enthusiast who wants to experience the thrill of firing a full automatic weapon; a military veteran who wants to keep their service weapon as a memento or hobby; or corporations or body guards in the business of defending important persons or valuable items (like cash transport trucks).

No one wants nor endorses machine guns for self defense, as they are ill-suited to the task, being less reliable and more likely to cause collateral damage than a handgun, shotgun, or rifle.

With that out of the way I'd like to go over the US history and laws on fully automatic weapons.



I don't support giving access to machine guns to "the general public". We already had a period in the US, in the 1920s-1930s, where machine guns were both legal and readily available to the general public. It was the time of Bonnie & Clyde, and the Italian Mob. There were robberies and murders with Thompson guns and Browning Automatic Rifles. There needed to be regulation on automatic weapons, and so a quite sensible law was put in place:

The 1934 National Firearms Act put major restrictions on the ability to purchase machine guns and certain other weapons. The gist of it is this:
  • To purchase a machine gun, one must apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (BATFE, or just ATF)
  • One must submit a $200 tax stamp ($3500 in today's money, at the time)
  • One must undergo a thorough FBI background check
  • That background check looks for criminal associations, anti-government political beliefs, and insanity, and involves interviews with friends, family, bosses, coworkers, teachers, landlords, religious figures, and others going back a decade or more
  • One must have the endorsement of a state or federal Judge, US Senator or Congressman, or the head of the local police department (Chief, Sheriff, etc.)
  • That firearm is put in a national registry which tracks who owns what

This was a very thorough and reasonable system for ensuring that only the most respectable, honest, law-abiding citizens can acquire a machine gun, and the process to purchase one takes 6-12 months. On top of that, there is the significant economic investment of the tax stamp plus the cost of the expensive gun and large quantities of ammunition that it consumes.

Manufacturing a machine gun without a license, or modifying an existing gun into a machine gun, requires undergoing the same process; and due to a change that occurred in 1986 is now totally illegal.


In the 80 years since the NFA was passed, there have been three violent crimes committed with legally registered machine guns, and two of those were committed by police officers who acquired their guns outside of the standard NFA process. I'd say that the National Firearms Act has been pretty effective at keeping machine guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.


In 1986, an additional change was made. Ronald Reagan made an executive order banning the addition of new machine guns to the NFA registry. Basically, existing machine guns could be bought, sold, and traded; but no newly manufactured machine gun could be legally purchased. Unless that gun was registered by act of congress, of which a few hundred have been, mostly for corporations or friends of politicians (on both sides of the gun debate, surprisingly).

What this means is that the supply of machine guns has been made finite; people can only purchase machine guns made before 1986, or the handful that have been legislatively registered since. This means that the supply decreases as the guns wear out or break down, which has driven up the price significantly. The cheapest machine guns available today, the MAC-10 and MAC-11 machine pistols, cost around $2,000, plus the $200 tax stamp.

The legal and economic barriers for owning a machine gun are huge; only the most respectable, financially secure, and responsible people can legally own a machine gun in the US; and the near-utter lack of crime committed with these guns attests to that.

It's far easier to purchase an illegal M16 stolen from the Mexican army and smuggled across the border than it is to buy a machine gun legally. Hell, it may be easier to go to a police academy and get a job as a police officer, which grants you exemption to most NFA rules, including the ability to buy newly made, post-1986 machine guns (though details vary depending on state and local laws). And notably, two of the three crimes committed with legally owned machine guns were done by police officers, hinting that the type of people who can own machine guns in the US are more responsible than our own police.





The changes that I would make to these laws are fairly minimal. I would end the ban on newly manufactured and registered machine guns, as I feel this does almost nothing for public safety and was more a political play by Regan to get support from the Democrats in the legislature.

This, however, would have the side effect of dramatically reducing the prices of certain machine guns. For instance, a MAC-10 could be manufactured and sold for around $600-$800; or an AR-15 auto-sear could be sold for $50-$100. Even with the $200 tax stamp I feel this would be far too cheap. So I would increase the ATF tax stamp to compensate somewhat for inflation. My original thread said $1000, but I don't think that $2000-$3000 would be unreasonable. This would keep the minimum cost to own a machine gun at $2500-$3500, around what it is now. This should be adjusted to keep up with inflation every 5-10 years.

I would also change the way the NFA works somewhat by changing it from an application system to a license system; that is, rather than having a separate application and background check for each machine gun purchase, I would make it a license valid for 5 years, requiring an application fee ($200?) and new background check if you wish to renew it. This would remove some unnecessary hassle while not making anyone less safe.






Why should people own machine guns? Because I believe that doing or owning anything should be a right granted by default, and withdrawn only if that person's activity or intent represent a danger to society. A lot of people should not own machine guns; they're not responsible enough, or they might commit a crime with them. But there are people who can own machine guns responsibly, and won't commit crimes with them. They don't represent a danger to society. So if laws are put in place to ensure that only the most responsible people can own a machine gun, why shouldn't those people be allowed to own one?

E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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26-05-2014, 06:26 PM
RE: Machine Guns (Phaedrus & Stevil)
Nice informative post Phaedrus.

I have a couple of issues with some of your subjective statements but first up I will address the question as to whether machine guns ought to be allowed for civilian ownership, (in my opinion of course).

In order to do this we need to be clear by what is meant by "allowed". Here we are talking about whether the law allows people to own machine guns. The law is a set of rules governing society which restrict what society members can do. It is a restriction rather than an allowance. So our focus comes onto the restrictions imposed by the law and enforced by the police that we deem as necessary for the society that we live within.

In order to define the restrictions we want to impose on society, impose onto our neighbors and ourselves, we need to clearly define the purpose for these restrictions. I am an amoralist so I don't agree with the concepts of "rights" or "morality". I think basing laws on moral beliefs is essentially handing the government a blank cheque since they can outlaw something and simply declare their reason as being because that something was immoral. This results in an oppressive government with too much power over the people. In my opinion government are to be a representative of society rather than a controller of society.

The purpose of Government and Law (in my opinion)
To provide a safe, stable and prosperous society.
I am against laws that don't work towards the above purpose. Notice that I do not include in my defined purpose "to protect the rights of people"

Machine guns and how they relate to the safety, stability and prosperity of society
Machine guns do present a danger. Guns can be used effectively and efficiently to kill people. Machine guns (I presume) were designed and built for the purpose of wartime combat, to kill or pin down the enemy people. A person with an intent to randomly kill people (there are many incidence of this) in society could use a machine gun and do a lot of damage in a crowded place such as a school, a mall, a movie theater etc. Thus there is a potential danger.

It would be simple to state due to the potential danger, why not simply outlaw civilian access to machine guns?

So what purposes do civilians have to own a machine gun?
You have stated that you don't think that machine guns are suitable for self-defence. I agree with this, so lets take that aspect off the table straight away.

You have stated purposes as:
1. a gun collector
2. a shooting enthusiast who wants to experience the thrill of firing a full automatic weapon
3. a military veteran who wants to keep their service weapon as a memento
4. corporations or body guards in the business of defending important persons or valuable items

I see 1 and 2 as valid reasons.
I see 3 as less valid, although I understand that a military veteran can become attached to their weapon as it had a special place as providing them a means to protect themselves in extreme circumstances. Personally I think when that person becomes a civilian they no longer need a service weapon and that the service weapon belongs to the government (in particular, the army) and is not suitable as a memento. Perhaps their uniform, or their boots, or badges etc could be suitable as a memento.
I am opposed to civilian corporations and body guards possessing machine guns for the sole purpose of protecting important persons or valuable items. If you are on the battle field where there are no other civilians bystanders are around then a machine gun may be suitable, but if you are in town, in a street or airport then the risk is high that there will be bystanders around. Machine guns are for spraying bullets in a general direction, not for accurately hitting a target and avoiding hitting other things in that general direction. This poses a great threat to society.

Even though 1 and 2 might be valid reasons, does it offset the potential threat to society of making machine guns available to civilians?
You agree that it does not, thus your statement
Quote:I don't support giving access to machine guns to "the general public". We already had a period in the US, in the 1920s-1930s, where machine guns were both legal and readily available to the general public.

So you look for some mitigation
Quote:The 1934 National Firearms Act put major restrictions on the ability to purchase machine guns and certain other weapons.
Which you state has been effective
Quote:In the 80 years since the NFA was passed, there have been three violent crimes committed with legally registered machine guns, and two of those were committed by police officers who acquired their guns outside of the standard NFA process. I'd say that the National Firearms Act has been pretty effective at keeping machine guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.

But you oppose the additional law
Quote:In 1986, an additional change was made. Ronald Reagan made an executive order banning the addition of new machine guns to the NFA registry. Basically, existing machine guns could be bought, sold, and traded; but no newly manufactured machine gun could be legally purchased.
Because you deem it as unnecessary
Quote:I would end the ban on newly manufactured and registered machine guns, as I feel this does almost nothing for public safety
I like that you point to "public safety" as your reasoning for laws, this means that I can relate to your reasoning.
There is a flaw regarding your statement of 80 years being proof that NFA is effective because part of that time also includes this additional Regan law. So for that part, we don't know if the NFA laws or if the Regan law was the contributer to the "public safety" statistics presented. If the NFA was introduced in 1934 then there were 52 years between NFA and the introduction of Regan's law. So the extra 28 years includes both NFA and Regan's law.

A condition you put onto this count was that the machine gun must be legally owned "three violent crimes committed with legally registered machine guns". What this doesn't account for are the illegally owned machine guns.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/17...-80-years#
Quote:In the last 80 years, legally registered machine guns have accounted for TWO deaths. Illegal, or non-registered machine guns account for a fair number of killings - in 1980, 1% of Miami homicides were committed with machine guns. It's nearly impossible to start drawing statistical comparisons when talking about illegal gun ownership, since there are no records of these guns and they are owned exclusively by criminals (they are illegal guns, after all).
In order to assess whether machine guns ought to be legal we need to consider the full consequence of making machine guns legal. It is possible that a gun owner has legal ownership of a machine gun. This is how this gun came to be within society. It is also possible that a thief broke into the gun owner's home and acquired the gun thus it now becomes illegal ownership and thus if anyone gets killed with it, it then doesn't count in your above statistics.
However if the original gun owner didn't have the gun, then it wouldn't have been in society, thus it wouldn't have been stolen. So we can trace these machine gun killings to be a consequence of the law allowing civilian machine gun ownership.
We cannot simply ignore this as a consequence.
Do you know of any statistics that show the percentage of guns used in crimes which were originally legally owned by civilians but were then stolen?

Your final statement was interesting to me
Quote:A lot of people should not own machine guns; they're not responsible enough, or they might commit a crime with them. But there are people who can own machine guns responsibly, and won't commit crimes with them. They don't represent a danger to society. So if laws are put in place to ensure that only the most responsible people can own a machine gun, why shouldn't those people be allowed to own one?
It seems that there is an assumption that it is possible for a third party to ascertain who is responsible and who is not, and also to ascertain who is going to continue being responsible in the future.
It seems that there is a lot of trust with regards to the Judge, US Senator or Congressman giving out the endorsements.
A lot of trust with regards to an FBI background check.
But I do understand your trust is also based on the 80 year track record.

It seems to me that there is a lot of effort put in place to support collectors and gun enthusiasts looking for a thrill, where-as collectors will just collect whatever they can and it won't be the end of the world to them if they don't have machine guns, it also won't be the end of the world to enthusiasts if they don't have a thrill opportunity to fire a machine gun.

One alternative would be to have the military have an open day, once a month or so to allow appropriate civilians on the range and to handle one of their machine guns. I don't know if this would be possible but it could provide a PR opportunity for the military.
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26-05-2014, 07:11 PM
RE: Machine Guns (Phaedrus & Stevil)
Just a reminder this is the boxing ring and the debate is between Stevil and Phaedreus alone. Thank you.


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26-05-2014, 07:49 PM (This post was last modified: 26-05-2014 08:00 PM by Phaedrus.)
RE: Machine Guns (Phaedrus & Stevil)
(26-05-2014 06:26 PM)Stevil Wrote:  Nice informative post Phaedrus.

I have a couple of issues with some of your subjective statements but first up I will address the question as to whether machine guns ought to be allowed for civilian ownership, (in my opinion of course).

In order to do this we need to be clear by what is meant by "allowed". Here we are talking about whether the law allows people to own machine guns. The law is a set of rules governing society which restrict what society members can do. It is a restriction rather than an allowance. So our focus comes onto the restrictions imposed by the law and enforced by the police that we deem as necessary for the society that we live within.

In order to define the restrictions we want to impose on society, impose onto our neighbors and ourselves, we need to clearly define the purpose for these restrictions. I am an amoralist so I don't agree with the concepts of "rights" or "morality". I think basing laws on moral beliefs is essentially handing the government a blank cheque since they can outlaw something and simply declare their reason as being because that something was immoral. This results in an oppressive government with too much power over the people. In my opinion government are to be a representative of society rather than a controller of society.

The purpose of Government and Law (in my opinion)
To provide a safe, stable and prosperous society.
I am against laws that don't work towards the above purpose. Notice that I do not include in my defined purpose "to protect the rights of people"

I also agree that the purpose of government is to provide a safe, stable, and prosperous society. I also want government to provide a free society. I believe any action that does not cause significant harm to another person without their consent should be legal by default. And if an action is harmful, the law should only regulate it to the point where the harm has been eliminated, or to the point where the economic or societal cost of implementing that regulation outweighs the benefits, or if it infringes on too many other personal freedoms, such as free speech and privacy, etc.

In order for law to be a restriction on something, that activity or object must have been assumed, by default, to be legal before-hand. And that's where I'm coming from: any activity or object is legal by default. Machine guns are legal by default. The law is in place to prevent machine guns from causing harm: therefore the law should be of only the scope necessary to accomplish that task, and no more. If additional regulation has no or negligible effect on reducing harm, and especially if it involves great societal cost or effort or infringement on other personal freedoms, then that regulation should not exist.

If it's an activity that everyone agrees should be totally illegal, like rape, then a total ban on that activity is fine. The action itself is deemed harmful, therefore the scope of the law is to ban it entirely.

Owning a machine gun is not, in of itself, harmful. Using a machine gun to commit murder or other crimes is harmful. Therefore the scope of the law should be to prevent machine guns from being used to commit crimes; and the most effective way to do this is to prevent machine guns from falling into the hands of potential criminals. You could ban machine guns entirely, which would accomplish that task; but there are a significant number of people who could handle machine guns legally and responsibly, and there are a significant number of people who want to own machine guns.

So the best solution, which maximized person freedom while minimizing harm, is to have extensive background checks and upfront costs to make sure only those people who we can be as sure as possible are not going to use them to do wrong have access to them. This allows people who want to own a machine gun and can own one responsibly to do so, while preventing people with less pure intentions from doing so.

It mitigates (say,) 99.9% of the harm, while still allowing that desired freedom to own machine guns to exist, although in a much more limited way.



Quote:Machine guns and how they relate to the safety, stability and prosperity of society
Machine guns do present a danger. Guns can be used effectively and efficiently to kill people. Machine guns (I presume) were designed and built for the purpose of wartime combat, to kill or pin down the enemy people. A person with an intent to randomly kill people (there are many incidence of this) in society could use a machine gun and do a lot of damage in a crowded place such as a school, a mall, a movie theater etc. Thus there is a potential danger.

Agreed, though the danger may be overstated. A machine gun is a great way to spend ten bullets to do the job of one. They are more dangerous than many other firearms, but not by an order of magnitude.



Quote:I see 1 and 2 as valid reasons.
I see 3 as less valid, although I understand that a military veteran can become attached to their weapon as it had a special place as providing them a means to protect themselves in extreme circumstances. Personally I think when that person becomes a civilian they no longer need a service weapon and that the service weapon belongs to the government (in particular, the army) and is not suitable as a memento. Perhaps their uniform, or their boots, or badges etc could be suitable as a memento.
I am opposed to civilian corporations and body guards possessing machine guns for the sole purpose of protecting important persons or valuable items. If you are on the battle field where there are no other civilians bystanders are around then a machine gun may be suitable, but if you are in town, in a street or airport then the risk is high that there will be bystanders around. Machine guns are for spraying bullets in a general direction, not for accurately hitting a target and avoiding hitting other things in that general direction. This poses a great threat to society.

3 is the weakest reason, though the attachment between a soldier and their gun is far greater than their attachment with boots or uniforms. The gun may have saved their life; and if not, it is still drilled into every combat soldier that the rifle is a part of them. It's not a weak bond.

4 has both pros and cons. The fact is that there are objects and people in this world that professional criminal organizations are willing to use near-military force to acquire or kill. Cash trucks, jewelry stores, politicians, wealthy businessmen. Whatever you may feel about those objects or people, they have the right to defend themselves against the threats they may be faced with.

The issue is, of course, collateral damage; but the people wielding these weapons aren't generally your typical Joe Schmoe. They're usually highly trained, often ex-military, and are trained in tactics and rules of engagement to minimize collateral damage. When Ronald Reagan was attacked, a Secret Service agent drew a (full size) Uzi. He did not spray and pray with it; he held station over the president while looking for any additional threats.


Quote:But you oppose the additional law
Quote:In 1986, an additional change was made. Ronald Reagan made an executive order banning the addition of new machine guns to the NFA registry. Basically, existing machine guns could be bought, sold, and traded; but no newly manufactured machine gun could be legally purchased.
Because you deem it as unnecessary
Quote:I would end the ban on newly manufactured and registered machine guns, as I feel this does almost nothing for public safety

Yes, I believe that to be unnecessary, as it is a restriction with not even a feasible explanation for how it would improve public safety. You've already decided to allow the machine gun purchaser to own not just a lethal weapon, but a military lethal weapon that you've barred off the general public. You've already allowed them to own this hardware. What does it matter if it was made before or after 1986? It's not like there was some enormous leap in machine gun technology then: most of the machine guns made today are based on, or descended from, 50-100 year old designs.

The provision was a shadow ban, to try and remove the supply of machine guns and thus effectively ban them when that supply runs out. I oppose a ban, outright or effective, for the reasons I stated above.



Quote:I like that you point to "public safety" as your reasoning for laws, this means that I can relate to your reasoning.
There is a flaw regarding your statement of 80 years being proof that NFA is effective because part of that time also includes this additional Regan law. So for that part, we don't know if the NFA laws or if the Regan law was the contributer to the "public safety" statistics presented. If the NFA was introduced in 1934 then there were 52 years between NFA and the introduction of Regan's law. So the extra 28 years includes both NFA and Regan's law.

To my knowledge one of incidents occurred in the 70s, one in the 90s, and one in the 2000s. So 67% of them happened since Reagan's law went into effect. So it doesn't seem to have been effective. Though there aren't many data points to draw a conclusion from, other than that the NFA act seems to have greatly improved the situation since the 30s in terms of total machine gun use.


Quote:A condition you put onto this count was that the machine gun must be legally owned "three violent crimes committed with legally registered machine guns". What this doesn't account for are the illegally owned machine guns.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/17...-80-years#
Quote:In the last 80 years, legally registered machine guns have accounted for TWO deaths. Illegal, or non-registered machine guns account for a fair number of killings - in 1980, 1% of Miami homicides were committed with machine guns. It's nearly impossible to start drawing statistical comparisons when talking about illegal gun ownership, since there are no records of these guns and they are owned exclusively by criminals (they are illegal guns, after all).
In order to assess whether machine guns ought to be legal we need to consider the full consequence of making machine guns legal. It is possible that a gun owner has legal ownership of a machine gun. This is how this gun came to be within society. It is also possible that a thief broke into the gun owner's home and acquired the gun thus it now becomes illegal ownership and thus if anyone gets killed with it, it then doesn't count in your above statistics.
However if the original gun owner didn't have the gun, then it wouldn't have been in society, thus it wouldn't have been stolen. So we can trace these machine gun killings to be a consequence of the law allowing civilian machine gun ownership.
We cannot simply ignore this as a consequence.
Do you know of any statistics that show the percentage of guns used in crimes which were originally legally owned by civilians but were then stolen?

The figure was quoted in the other thread as being 32% of guns used in crime were stolen. However, though I can't find the exact number of stolen machine guns per year, the number appears to be quite low.

The reason is that many regular gun owners do not own gun safes. A safe is an expensive, heavy, hard to install piece of solid steel, typically running $1000+ incl. installation for a handgun safe, and $2500+ for a rifle safe. Many gun owners cannot afford a safe, so keep their guns in steel cabinets (good enough to keep out a person without tools, but vulnerable to pry bars or sledge hammers). Or worse, they simply keep them in a closet or in a drawer or under the bed. These are typically the guns stolen. Guns kept in proper gun safes are rarely stolen as most criminals do not have the time or skills to break one open.

Most machine gun owners have gun safes. You'd be an idiot not to have one, and an FBI background check should keep most irresponsible idiots from getting a machine gun in the first place. Aside from the ethical responsibility to keep a machine gun out of the wrong hands, there would also be considerable financial loss and liability to worry about. Would one keep gold ingots sitting in a drawer? If not, then why would anyone in their right mind keep an Uzi in the drawer? Keep in mind, we're already filtering out the fools as being too irresponsible, and the cost is also filtering out anyone without at least tens of thousands of dollars of disposable income, so everyone left should be able to afford a safe.

So since we can assume that nearly all machine guns are kept in secure safes, possibly with additional security, we can then evaluate the economics of stealing machine guns. Something like an automatic AK-47 is a huge investment for a gun owner, on the order of $20,000. But on the black market, such weapons are far less costly, being taken from war zones, stolen from militaries or militias in developing countries, or manufactured illicitly. The black market value might be $2,000-$3,000. The machine gun owner's incentive to protect that firearm far exceeds the thief's incentive to steal one. Even if it were something rarer and more valuable like an M2 Browning heavy machine gun, it's $250,000 for the owner vs. $50,000 for the thief. Odds are the protection for the weapon makes trying to steal it more difficult than it's worth. There are far easier and more profitable things to steal than machine guns.

Most illegal machine guns make their way *into* the US, not out of it. Mexican cartels sell machine guns at fair profit to interested parties in the US, if they don't see them as a threat to their own interests. The cartels get their machine guns from the Mexican army, either stolen or bought from corrupt officers. Or they get them imported from the Middle East or Asia. Few if any come from the US. Those facts alone should indicate that theft of machine guns in the US is not a major source of illegal machine guns.


But I could agree with there being a requirement of owning a secure safe that meets reasonable standards as a prerequisite for purchasing a machine gun.



Quote:Your final statement was interesting to me
Quote:A lot of people should not own machine guns; they're not responsible enough, or they might commit a crime with them. But there are people who can own machine guns responsibly, and won't commit crimes with them. They don't represent a danger to society. So if laws are put in place to ensure that only the most responsible people can own a machine gun, why shouldn't those people be allowed to own one?
It seems that there is an assumption that it is possible for a third party to ascertain who is responsible and who is not, and also to ascertain who is going to continue being responsible in the future.
It seems that there is a lot of trust with regards to the Judge, US Senator or Congressman giving out the endorsements.
A lot of trust with regards to an FBI background check.
But I do understand your trust is also based on the 80 year track record.

It seems to me that there is a lot of effort put in place to support collectors and gun enthusiasts looking for a thrill, where-as collectors will just collect whatever they can and it won't be the end of the world to them if they don't have machine guns, it also won't be the end of the world to enthusiasts if they don't have a thrill opportunity to fire a machine gun.

As I said above, the scope of the law should only extend as far as needed to prevent misuse, and no further. If that makes the laws a little complicated to own a machine gun, then that's fine. If you don't want to own a machine gun, then those laws don't really matter to you as long as they keep them out of evil hands.

Besides, the purpose of the ATF tax stamp (currently $200) was originally to pay for the government's effort, in terms of the background check and registry. That number was unfortunately not adjusted for inflation over time, so the background checks are now a burden on the government. Increasing the tax stamp to, say, $2500 would alleviate that financial burden on the government, while also removing any incentive for the FBI to skimp on background checks.

I agree that the recommendation of a judge, senator, or police chief may not be worth a whole lot if they're apathetic or easily bought. It's just a back-up to the main safety, which is the background check. But regardless, as you agreed, the system does seem to work.



Quote:One alternative would be to have the military have an open day, once a month or so to allow appropriate civilians on the range and to handle one of their machine guns. I don't know if this would be possible but it could provide a PR opportunity for the military.

An excellent idea, I think they should implement that immediately. It might even slightly reduce demand for owning a machine gun. Those who still want to own one should still have that right.

E 2 = (mc 2)2 + (pc )2
614C → 714N + e + ̅νe
2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
It works, bitches.
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27-05-2014, 01:01 AM
RE: Machine Guns (Phaedrus & Stevil)
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  I also agree that the purpose of government is to provide a safe, stable, and prosperous society. I also want government to provide a free society. I believe any action that does not cause significant harm to another person without their consent should be legal by default.
Yes, I agree. Don't give the government more power than their mandate which is to provide a safe, stable and prosperous society. If laws don't operate towards that purpose then we shouldn't have those laws.
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  And if an action is harmful, the law should only regulate it to the point where the harm has been eliminated, or to the point where the economic or societal cost of implementing that regulation outweighs the benefits, or if it infringes on too many other personal freedoms, such as free speech and privacy, etc.
Rather than harmful, I'd say if the action threatens the safety, stability or prosperity of society. This way abortion does not need to be outlawed even though it is harmful to the fetus.
Infinging people's freedoms comes with risk of making society unsafe and unstable as people may rebel. Not addressing the poor/rich gap is negligent as the poor may rebel.
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  In order for law to be a restriction on something, that activity or object must have been assumed, by default, to be legal before-hand.
I understand what you are getting at, but this is circular as we are defining laws. Let's just state that laws infringe on people's choices. All infringement should be carefully considered and focused towards the purpose of government and law.
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  If it's an activity that everyone agrees should be totally illegal, like rape, then a total ban on that activity is fine.
No, i disagree. I don't like consensus and I don't like majority. We need to focus law on the primary purpose of having a safe, stable and prosperous society.
Rape makes society unsafe and unstable. Theft makes a society unsafe, unstable and unprosperous.
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  Owning a machine gun is not, in of itself, harmful.
Agreed, but it does present a danger. Accidents do happen and thefts do happen.
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  Using a machine gun to commit murder or other crimes is harmful. Therefore the scope of the law should be to prevent machine guns from being used to commit crimes; and the most effective way to do this is to prevent machine guns from falling into the hands of potential criminals.
Agreed
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  You could ban machine guns entirely, which would accomplish that task; but there are a significant number of people who could handle machine guns legally and responsibly, and there are a significant number of people who want to own machine guns.
Understood.
(26-05-2014 07:49 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  So the best solution, which maximized person freedom while minimizing harm, is to have extensive background checks and upfront costs to make sure only those people who we can be as sure as possible are not going to use them to do wrong have access to them. This allows people who want to own a machine gun and can own one responsibly to do so, while preventing people with less pure intentions from doing so.
Disagree.
We need to address the risks and benefits and costs etc.
The risk of having machine guns in society is that they get used against society either via the legal owner (depression, anger, grief, insanity, accident) or via an illegal owner (i.e. stolen).
Given what you have presented it seems that the liklihood is small, assuming a proper vetting process and assuming that owners take measures to secure their weapons.
But severity is extreme, in that many people could lose their lives.
So the risk is:
small likelihood but extremely high severity.
The benefit is that some collectors can have satisfaction of ownership and some enthusiasts can have thrill of experience.
The cost of not allowing is that the collectors can't have that particular style of gun but can continue collecting other guns (potentially), and enthusiasts can have experience of other types of guns (potentially)
Mitigation is that the enthusiasts can take a tourist visit to USA and get their experience that way or potentially visit the army if they provide an "experience an automatic gun" service to the public.
Mitigation for the collector is to let them own a machine gun which has been modified such that it can never be used, or maybe they can have an inoperative replica.
It seems to me that the benefit is minimal to society, none to myself and although the risk is low it is extremely severe, in that I or a loved one of mine could get killed.
The cost from my own perspective is that I am supporting restricting access to people whom might be considered trustworthy with such guns.
Another factor to consider, is that once this gun is made available and thousands are purchased and put into circulation then they cannot easily be removed from circulation, thus this "experiment" is irreversible.
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