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Gun Control... how far should it go?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I can't believe what I heard in the radio! A legislator being interviewed who wanted to amend the Puerto Rico firearms law. According to him it had to be made stricter and more severe to lower crime. I really cannot imagine how can it be made more severe as it is already the strictest of all the United States.

Here in Puerto Rico in order to get a firearms license you have to, on top of the basic things:

Need to have three sworn statements from three respectable people who haven't got any family relationshÃ:censor:p with you in the neighborhood, testifying that you are not a violent person and that you are a respectable person and isn't regularly drunk.

You cannot have any case pending for possesion of ilegal firearms, be it in Puerto Rico or the USA or abroad. (What on earth happened to innocent till proven guilty?)

Not to be habitually drunk (That is very common sense thing, but they haven't put a definition to habitually drunk, so we do not know what can be meant by it)

You have to state clearly in your solicitation your motives for ownership of the gun.

Not to be dishonorably discharged from the army or police (look, the same way that you can be discharged for drug smuggling, you can also be for lagging of in service hours)

You cannot be someone who being previously a citizen of the US renounced his citizenship (Isn't that discriminatory from other foreign citizens? Obviously handywork of the anexionists)

If you have violated the fiscal laws of owing money to the government, even if the debt has been paid for centuries ago.

You also do not qualify if you are paying any pension to a former spouse to take care of children of the ancient marriage (since when being divorced with children is a crime?)

Oh, it has to be signed by an attorney and brough by him. So you also have to pay the attorney.

Once you have it, you can buy the firearm you specified you need. But, there is another thing: You cannot buy or use more than 50 bullets a year. If you want to buy fifty more bullets you have to get a special permit to do so, when you need those bullets.

Silencers, be it home made or factory made are illegal. period. The same thing with automatic firearms.

But when you go to the penalties for violating the firearms law is when you gag:

For ilegal fabrication and/or sale of firearms: 15 years jail, if there are aggravatives, then then it is up to 25 yrs. If there are atenuating circunstances, then it will go no lower than 10 yrs.

The same penalties go for selling firearms to someone without license.

possesion, sale distribution of automatic firearms: 24 yrs, if aggravating circunstances, 36 yrs, if atenuating circunstances it is no less than 18 yrs.

If you were carrying a loaded firearm without license or simply left your license at home, then it is 5 yrs, 10 with aggravations or a minimum of one year with a atenuant.

Having a silencer, carries 12 yrs, 24 if there are aggravation circunstances, or 6 yrs if its atenuated.

Now, erasing the serial code of the weapon carries (drumbeat please) a fixed term of 12 yrs.


Let's take into account that in Puerto Rico most people who are convicted of raping a minor rarely get more than 10-15 yrs.

Now, the joke is that crime has risen since that, we've got the highest crime rate in the caribbean. The only thing that has happened is for the traffic to go underground as it was in the prohibition in the US. On the contrary, now that it is harder to trace a firearm, as it is illegal, and unregistered it is harder to prevent it or trace it.

It is obvious that they need to start thinking about something else than strict gun control.

What are your opinions on this subject?
post #2 of 21
Gun control in the UK is strict. Basically it is illegal to own a gun unless licensed to do so for sports or hunting. You can't keep a gun on the basis of self defence.

I personally think this is right and although I understand the arguements about being able to defend your person, famiy and property, I still think if you have a gun you are more likely to use it in a fit or rage or out of fear without stopping to think.

I know sometimes I get so angry that I KNOW if I had a weapon I might be tempted to use it. The knowledge that I might kill someone is enough to make me think twice about legalised gun ownership.

I know that most of the US will dissagree with that, and that's cool. It's just I'm looking at it from a persepective of a nation that does not have gun ownership in it's culture, and I'd hate to see it happen coz there's enough violence going on without it.

To say that owning a gun will deter crime is, in my opinion a falacy. It will just escalate the problem to a point where murder will just happen every day and become the norm.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
You know, I have always understood those worries of crime rise and so on. And I find them very noble and justifiable worries. After all, who could argue with trying to lower the number of murders?

The detail, is that the same way it happened with alcohol in the 1920s, all banning guns achieves is that there is the same amount of crimes, but with all the gund traffic going underground. Puerto Rico is a witness to that... we've got a murder rate of more than 700 per year in a 4 million inhabitant 35 x 100 mile island. According to the bureau of consular affairs of Spain, Puerto Rico has the third largest crime rate on the world, after S. Africa and the former USSR.

BTW, police roundups have gotten enough weaponry to take over a small country... grenade launchers, Machine Guns, etc. And the US troops get surprised that they find them in Iraq.

If it's like that in the American jurisdiction with the most restrictive firearms law, then we ought to start worrying about other ways, as extremely heavy gun control ain't working.

I believe that it should be with the common sense requirements, and at the same time, lower a bit those penalties... its embarrasing that for having an illegal gun with you you end up in jail for more time than for rape.
post #4 of 21
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

My idea of gun control is a firm grip and being able to accurately hit the target.
post #5 of 21
Its funny, I always strongly believed that the massive numbers of guns in the USA was a leading cause of the great number of murders here. But, when I saw the movie Bowling for Columbine, my thoughts on this started to change. The movie is such a wonderful exploration of violence in the USA and (although it IS a pretty anti-NRA movie) it forces you to think about issues I had never considered before. I like the theory that it is not guns don't cause the violence, nor is it caused by the type of folks who chose to settle in the USA as the continent was being settled by Europeans, but instead, it is the constant fear-mongering at the hands of our politicians and the media that is contributing to the violence in our society.

That was a truly lousy explnantion of the ideas put forth in Bowling for Columbine. Sorry! I brought it up because seeing that movie really forced me to re-think my views on guns. Although I would never own one and have no desire to ever even touch one, I don't think we can blame everything on guns as we have in the past.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by valanhb
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

My idea of gun control is a firm grip and being able to accurately hit the target.


My sentiments exactly, concisely put.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by yoviher
I really cannot imagine how can it be made more severe as it is already the strictest of all the United States.


Anyway, guns are fun
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by valanhb
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

My idea of gun control is a firm grip and being able to accurately hit the target.
I'm with Heidi. Since the UK ordered all handguns to be turned in, the gun-crime rate has increased 33%. Criminals aren't afraid of being shot by potential victims and are bolder, in their crimes.

By the same token, in areas where gun ownership, by law-abiding citizens is encouraged, violent crime stats are much lower.

The anti-gun lobby doesn't want it publicized but, many more crimes are prevented by guns, than are committed with them. When a disgruntled former student went on a shooting spree, at a college in West Virginia, the media reported that he was subdued by two students. What was NOT reported was that those two students retrieved their OWN weapons, from their cars and drew down on the perpetrator. Numerous rapes, robberies and assaults are prevented by law-abiding people protecting their homes and families, from criminals.

Pity the stupid criminal, who tries to invade our home: he will be met with a fusillade of .45 and .38 caliber lead. We have worked too long and too hard, for what we've got, to stand idly by and let some useless piece of excrement take it away without a fight.

My own dad once held an intruder at shotgun point, until the police arrived. Should he have just let the guy waltz in and possibly injure him, my grandmother, brothers and 1-year-old son? The scuz made the right decision: he assumed a prone position, legs and arms outstretched and was grateful to see the police arrive.

Victor: 50 bullets a year? That won't even last me one day of target practice! We always shoot off at least 100 rounds each.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by katl8e
Victor: 50 bullets a year? That won't even last me one day of target practice! We always shoot off at least 100 rounds each.
LOL When I was serious in my competitive shooting, I was going through about 2000 round in just practice ammo in a season which was basically from May through August. Matches were probably close to another 1000 rounds, and each match is 80 rounds! No wonder I've only seen the Puerto Rico Rifle Team at the National Matches once.
post #10 of 21
Yep, the 50 bullets a year part is especially laughable.

Using a gun is much safer if you're familiar with it, and comfortable using it. The only way to do that is practice, practice, practice. You don't want to be funbling around in an emergency situation. There's no way to become familiar with using the gun if you can't use ammo.

I'm glad Katl8e found those statistics - I'm looking for the ones on Texas crime since our concealed handgun law was passed - read somewhere crimes went down dramatically.
post #11 of 21
It all seems very reasonable to me but i'm anti gun.
If you want to own a item which can kill (yes i know other things can too and they don't put laws on them) then it should be very closely enforced and monitored.
post #12 of 21
So, somehow being a responsible adult isn't good enough for me to own a gun? We do have laws on the books that state it is illegal to use a firearm in the commission of a crime, that convicted felons cannot own or possess firearms, that you must obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon, that you must have a special license to own an automatic firearm. Somehow that isn't enough?

The constraints imposed in Puerto Rico are outrageous, and obviously not doing anything to quell the crime rate. They have already made it so that only a slim percentage of the population can possibly even qualify to own guns, and as Victor says the crime rate has grown even higher. That's the big argument, isn't it? That by taking guns away from law abiding citizens that will somehow make the criminals not have them??

I have had access to guns almost all of my life, from the time I was old enough to respect them and know how to safely use them. How would my making a wrong choice in marriage make me somehow unsafe to handle a rifle? Or making a mistake on my taxes? Both of those are clauses that exclude someone from owning a firearm in PR, which have no bearing at all on someone's ability to safely own and handle a firearm.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Curiously enough, a just as repressive law was there, since 1951. In those days, violent crimes were unheard of and 20 policemen for a 20,000 people town was considered a waste of money. Crime kept rising till 2000 when the anexionists repealed the old law and made an updated one, which is more stricter than the previous one, which is the one I am quoting. Since then, crime has risen even more.

You can obtain a special license for target practice, for that one they do background checks and such, and for the license to be valid, you have to become a member of a shooting range club, and later you have to prove you are a member of the club. Now, you may think that with that license you can buy more than 50 bullets? No. You still have to get a special permit stating your reasons to buy those bullets at the police HQ for every 50 bullets you buy.

Let's think this: there is a divorce rate in PR of 50%. How many of those divorces are with children? And then, the parent that did not took custody of the child, but pays monthly to the former wife doesn't qualify for the gun license.... Have you got any idea the amount of people you are excluding here? When you add all the people who have had problems at owing the government money somewhere in their lives. Plus requiring a lawyer.... all the people who can't afford a lawyer to handle all those sworn statements and such. You know, you are basically "infringing the right to own and bear firearms".

There is another detail: A foreign citizen who is legally residing here can apply for the gun license. But a foreign citizen who is legally residing here who, once was a U.S. citizen and lost/renounced his citizenship, does not qualify for it. Isn't that discriminatory?

As valanhb said, it is done so that only a slim percentage of the pop. can even qualify for it. Being a U.S. territorry all federal laws apply here... what are the chances of this being declared unconstitutional under the second amendment?
post #14 of 21
If I am not wrong, Canadians own more guns per capita than US but have a lower gun related crime rate. But Canadians have stricter gun control

Gun control legislation whether is it mere registration or a ban, by itself will not stop crime. What you need is enforcement. And not just enforcement but punishment as well. If one wants to ban guns, the punishment for owning a gun must be severe, such as life in prison. Then one must actively enforce it by conducting searches, of course that would mean an increase in police search powers.

Note that I am not saying that a ban is bad. What I am saying is that a any legislation to control guns must be part of a wider package.

By the way, I am for gun control. Perhaps it is just me, but I really do not like using guns, (Used an M16 before) the smell of gunpowder, the need to maintain a gun and to clean it to prevent carbon built up. Urgh
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally posted by yoviher
You cannot have any case pending for possesion of ilegal firearms, be it in Puerto Rico or the USA or abroad. (What on earth happened to innocent till proven guilty?)

Not to be habitually drunk (That is very common sense thing, but they haven't put a definition to habitually drunk, so we do not know what can be meant by it)

You have to state clearly in your solicitation your motives for ownership of the gun.

Not to be dishonorably discharged from the army or police (look, the same way that you can be discharged for drug smuggling, you can also be for lagging of in service hours)

Silencers, be it home made or factory made are illegal. period. The same thing with automatic firearms.
Actually, while some of the stipulations suggested are ridiculous, I find the ones listed above to be reasonable. IMO, there has to be some sort of gun control in place. Just to illustrate my point - have you seen "Black Hawk Down"? Would you really want just anybody to be able to go to the local marketplace and buy a Kalashnikov? That scene made me wonder about the "gun fairs" in the U.S..
post #16 of 21
I have relatives that collect antique firearms, and have been to gun shows in Texas several times with them. If you want to purchase a gun from a dealer at a gun show, you must fill out an extensive information form, and the dealer calls in a background check before you can puchase the gun.

Check out the excerpts from this article:
http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.as...20030430d.html

Walsh also identified the United States as "the most violent nation in the world," a claim that is also inaccurate. According to a 2000 report by the Dutch Ministry of Justice entitled Criminal Victimization in 17 Industrialized Countries, 12 of the 16 other countries have higher per-capita violent crime rates than the United States.
The two countries with the strictest gun control laws - Australia and England - have the highest per-capita violent crime occurrence of any of the countries on the list

...Heil noted that guns are used for self-defense against criminals more than 2.5 million times per year, saving more than 400,000 lives, according to researchers at Harvard University and the University of Florida. In nine out of 10 of those cases, the intended victim merely shows the gun to the criminal, ending the assault with no one being harmed.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by jcat
Actually, while some of the stipulations suggested are ridiculous, I find the ones listed above to be reasonable. IMO, there has to be some sort of gun control in place. Just to illustrate my point - have you seen "Black Hawk Down"? Would you really want just anybody to be able to go to the local marketplace and buy a Kalashnikov? That scene made me wonder about the "gun fairs" in the U.S..

I understand what you mean, Jcat, and I find them reasonable too, but my worries are a lot this: There are people who are discharged from the police for stealing a typewriter from their office and such things. At the same time there are people who are discharged from the police for commiting a murder. Don't you think it ought to define for what reasons may the person have been discharged?

As for the drunk thing, I find it reasonable, the problem is that since it does not define what does habitually drunk means, my fear is that it is open for other less honest interpretations.


Thy451, one of the precise things which I condemn the most of the PR law is precisely the penalties.... Tell me: Do you think 12 yrs in prison is reasonable for mutilating a serial number? Just to give you an idea of how large that is, that is more time than what many convicted rapists get. And then I ask: Would the person who simply took out the serial number of a firearm, but did not commit any other crime, be as bad as a person who raped a minor?

While traveling in Florida, we had the curiosity of checking what were the requisites for buying a handgun there. It was in Daytona that we checked, BTW. We entered a local armory and simply asked (pretty tough way to find out, huh?). The answer was that a. he needed to be residing in the area, b. fill out a series of forms right there in the shop c. the shopkeeper does a background check and within a few days phones you to come and pick up the gun and pay for it. Of course, you need to have that gun registered at the local PD.

I find that it ought to be the way it ought to be. Not too tough, but at the same time, not too lax. And I think it is more effective than the joke they've done here, since at the same time you allow a responsible person to own a gun, for the reasons I've already mentioned.
post #18 of 21
I agree with Victor that the problem with even the "reasonable" clauses in PR is the definitions.

What is "habitually drunk"? How do you prove it? Does keeping liquor in the house make you suspect? (I.e. I have quite a few bottles of hard liquor in my home, but I rarely drink it. But would the fact that I have more than, say, 10 bottles make me suspect?) How often does a "habitual drunk" drink - every day? A couple times a week?

Who determines what "motives" are valid? Is collecting a valid motive? Competitive shooting? Hunting? How many firearms are considered "valid" for each of these scenarios? (For example, back in the day when modified M-14s, .308 caliber semi-automatic, were the standard for the competitive shooting I participated in, between my father and I we had 6. We each had a primary rifle, a backup rifle, and one each for a specialized match that which also served as backups for our teammates.)

Thy451, I agree with you that enforcement is an issue that needs to be addressed. Personally, I think that the laws we have on the books are generally sufficient - IF they were properly enforced and prosecuted!
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by valanhb
I agree with Victor that the problem with even the "reasonable" clauses in PR is the definitions.

What is "habitually drunk"? How do you prove it? Does keeping liquor in the house make you suspect? (I.e. I have quite a few bottles of hard liquor in my home, but I rarely drink it. But would the fact that I have more than, say, 10 bottles make me suspect?) How often does a "habitual drunk" drink - every day? A couple times a week?

Who determines what "motives" are valid? Is collecting a valid motive? Competitive shooting? Hunting? How many firearms are considered "valid" for each of these scenarios? (For example, back in the day when modified M-14s, .308 caliber semi-automatic, were the standard for the competitive shooting I participated in, between my father and I we had 6. We each had a primary rifle, a backup rifle, and one each for a specialized match that which also served as backups for our teammates.)

Thy451, I agree with you that enforcement is an issue that needs to be addressed. Personally, I think that the laws we have on the books are generally sufficient - IF they were properly enforced and prosecuted!
Exactly Heidi! That is what I mean about the drunken thing and the motives.

About your last parragraph, I agree a lot. We do not have to make ridiculously long sentences (like here in PR) for owning illegally a gun - what we have to do is enforce it!
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Folks, the full text of the Puerto Rico firearms law is here (In spanish) http://www.lexjuris.com/lexlex/lexarmas.htm

I've tried finding a copy in English, but have not had any sucess, in case you can find it, it is Law number 404, approved the 11 of september of 2001.

Folks, if you thought this was ridiculous, wait till you hear this:

I have done some research and found the law concerning blank bullets. It is law Number 88 of the 25 of June of 1965. Its full text is here: http://www.lexjuris.com/lexlex/lexblanc.htm

It bans all kind of blank bullets, and guns who can use blank bullets, exceptions made specifically for deportive and theatrical events.

Any person convicted of this, will face a fine of no less than 50 dollars and no more than 100 dollars, and inprisoned no more than one day.

I think the folks at my government need to have their heads examined.
post #21 of 21
Brandon, I am afraid that I must respectfully disagree with you. Guns are not meant to be fun. They are serious weapons.
I have carried one for many years, and have practiced extensively to learn safety and accuracy. I also had to weigh the consequences of my actions much more heavily when I started carrying it. It is STRICTLY for self defense. People that act like ignorant fools just do not seem so bothersome when wondering if dealing with them is worth going to jail over. Just showing it to make someone go away or shut up IS NOT an option. In the many years I have had one, I have had to pull it out twice outside the house, when I truly felt my life was in danger. I also had to shoot an intruder that ripped 2 doors off the hinges to get in to my house. Fun? NO! Necessary? Absolutely. The authorities never even questioned it when they came to the scene.
I agree that there should be extensive safeguards in place to buy guns. Just because someone does not have a criminal record does not mean they are not crazy or dangerous. If someone is buying a gun for protection, I do not see a problem with the waiting period or the background checks.
I have read many instances of crime going down when it was announced in the newspaper that there would be firearms instruction by local jurisdictions. If you would like some very good info on guns, and laws, there is an excellent book, "Armed and Female" by Paxton Quigley. She is an American firearms expert and gun safety advocate.
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