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Interviews: Ask J. Michael Straczynski What You Will

grylnsmn Lensman movie (276 comments)

Years ago, you mentioned that you signed on with Ron Howard to write a screenplay for a movie based on E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series. Is that project still in the works?

about 4 months ago
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27 Reported Killed In Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

grylnsmn Re:Somebody's got to say it (2987 comments)

The takings clause doesn't apply for someone convicted of a crime, but at the same time the Constitution prohibits the government from making something illegal and retroactively punishing people for it. That's called an "ex post facto" law, and is prohibited in Article I Section 9 of the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment requires the government compensate you for "taking" your property, and that applies even if the government merely destroys the value of your property (or forces you to do so). As one example, the Supreme Court just recently held that if the government temporarily floods your land (denying you the use of it), it is considered a "taking" under the Fifth Amendment, and requires compensation.

As for that 12 year old, she is more at risk from a swimming pool than from any assailant. Should we ban swimming pools in order to protect her? A single incident with 20 dead kids isn't even a blip on the radar compared to the number of kids killed by drowning each year. Policy decisions need to be based on reason and evidence, not on emotional reactions to one horrific incident.

Finally, you know nothing about me or my background, except that I happen to own guns. I have had good friends killed by guns, including one who was killed in a drive-by shooting. I've also had a good friend protect his own life with a gun (he's disabled and confined to a wheelchair) without having to fire a shot. I have had serious threats made against me, and I have had people trying to break into my home in the middle of the night.

My guns have never hurt anyone, and I hope they never do. I am responsible in storing them (they are all locked up and unloaded, except for the one in the holster on my hip right now), and they present no danger to anyone unless they make an imminent threat against me or my family. I practice regularly, and can generally hit only what I aim at, specifically so that I can reduce the chance of hurting someone accidentally. I have taught gun safety to others and hold people to its rules in an exacting manner.

The blood of those 20 children rests on the hands of one person, and one person only: the person who shot them.

about a year and a half ago
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27 Reported Killed In Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

grylnsmn Re:Somebody's got to say it (2987 comments)

Requiring someone to take their valuable property and destroy its value is a taking under the Fifth Amendment, and is only constitutional if the government provides fair compensation for it. If you are going to have a law that requires people to turn a $1000 firearm into a almost worthless hunk of metal, then that is a taking. That means that it would cost $300 billion or so.

The Second Amendment is not tied to service in a militia. It is an individual right, as stated explicitly in both Heller v. DC and McDonald v. Chicago. You might not like or agree with those rulings, but that doesn't change the fact that they are the law of the land, and aren't likely to change anytime soon. As a result, the Second Amendment is absolutely a problem for what you propose.

And actually, I am part of the unorganized militia of the United States, as defined in 10 USC 311: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311 I am an able-bodied male between the ages of 17 and 45 and a citizen of the United States, and I don't fall within the exceptions listed in 10 USC 312: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/312

And again, you haven't explained how your approach would protect kids like the 12-year-old girl in Oklahoma who shot an intruder. (Story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/20/oklahoma-girl-shoots-home-intruder_n_1992381.html) You would essentially penalize millions of Americans, and allow people like that 12-year-old to die just so you can pat yourself on the back and say that you saved lives, without ever considering the lives that you would in turn destroy.

about a year and a half ago
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27 Reported Killed In Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

grylnsmn Re:Somebody's got to say it (2987 comments)

I'm sorry, but your suggestion simply isn't realistic, and it completely ignores the many uses for guns that save lives. Someone else posted a link to a news story about a 12-year-old girl in Oklahoma who shot and killed an intruder in her home, someone who was trying to break into the bathroom where she was, knowing she was in there. How would your suggestion have saved her life?

Assume for a moment that you got your wish and all guns magically disappeared from the US. When the next mass tragedy occurs (such as the Oklahoma City bombing, or a knife attack like in China), what will you blame next? Will you insist that people shouldn't be allowed to have gardens, because they might use the fertilizer to make a bomb? Or outlaw kitchen knives? How about making the sport of baseball illegal because some people misuse bats? At what point will you stop blaming the tool and start blaming the wielder of the tool?

The overwhelming majority of gun owners are responsible, law-abiding citizens, and (as the statistics I gave you show) that vast majority of firearms are never used to harm anyone. Guns have been proven to save lives, including during mass shootings (see http://www.volokh.com/2012/12/14/do-civilians-armed-with-guns-ever-capture-kill-or-otherwise-stop-mass-shooters/ for some examples). Simply banning guns won't stop evil people from harming others, and so you cannot definitively say that removing all guns would save more lives than allowing private ownership of guns would unless you actually compare the statistics. As such, you need to provide some sort of statistical argument to back up your claims.

Have you wondered why full-automatic guns are not illegal to possess? In 1934, Congress required them to be registered. In 1968, Congress prohibited them from being imported for civilian use. In 1986, Congress prohibited any new full-automatic firearms from being registered by civilians.

Why did they go through all that trouble, instead of just criminalizing possession? Because such a law would be unconstitutional. Any time the government takes the legally-owned property of someone, they have to provide full compensation for it (and they cannot use coercion to reduce the amount of that full compensation). The government cannot retroactively make something illegal. The combination of those two constitutional principles makes it virtually impossible to criminalize the possession of something previously legal. Even if the government only mandates that you make it non-functional, that is legally a taking, and they are required to compensate you for it.

In order to actually put your proposed gun confiscation scheme into action, you would need to repeal the Second Amendment (removing an individual right for the first time ever, and requiring supermajorities in both houses of Congress and ratification by 38 states), pass the law(s) criminalizing possession, budget money (a minimum of $300 billion at an average of $1000 per gun) to buy back the guns, and then find a way to enforce it when there are no clear records of who owns what guns. (For example, I have friends who own guns from before 1968 that don't even have a serial number. That means that there is no way to trace it at all.)

That simply isn't realistic, and you know it.

about a year and a half ago
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27 Reported Killed In Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

grylnsmn Re:Somebody's got to say it (2987 comments)

And what realistic option do you have to get rid of the 300 million (or more) guns that already exist in the US? The other nations that you have visited that have tighter restrictions on guns can do so because of a combination of a lower overall population and less historical gun ownership. It's a lot easier to disarm 10 million people of 1 million guns than it is to disarm 311 million people (current Census estimate of the US population) of over 300 million guns.

And if you were to outlaw all guns and require people to turn them over, you would run into some very significant constitutional issues, and that's not even touching the Second Amendment. Firearms are generally a valuable piece of property, and the government cannot simply take your property without providing you "just compensation" under the Fifth Amendment. I have a fairly small gun collection (three rifles and four handguns), but it is worth several thousand dollars. The government can't just pass a law requiring that I give them up without paying me for them, any more than they can take my house to build a new highway without paying me its fair value.

And, if you are going to call my argument "pseudo-statistical", then why don't you provide better statistics? As I pointed out in my comment, at every turn I was giving your argument the benefit of the doubt. I used the numbers that best favored your position, and still demonstrated that better than 99.9% of all handguns aren't used to murder people.

Connecticut has the fifth strictest gun laws in the nation (according to the Brady Campaign), and yet they did nothing to stop this tragedy. Chicago has had (until recently) a complete ban on handguns, and still prohibits any form of carry outside the home, and yet they still have hundreds of murders each year. The same applies in Washington DC, and New York. In the DC area, where I live, crime is much higher in Maryland and DC, where the ownership and carrying of firearms in heavily restricted. Contrast that with Virginia, where the crime rates are far lower, and anyone who can legally possess a gun can openly carry it without a permit (and permits to conceal cannot be denied unless you meet very specific criteria).

Numerous studies have shown that at worst, more permissive gun laws (such as "shall issue" permit systems) have no effect on crime rates in a state, and at best cause a significant decrease in crimes of all types. Contrast that with the claims from groups like the Brady Campaign that blood would be running in the streets after gun laws are relaxed. For some reason, those claims never seem to materialize outside of isolated events like this one, and even with those isolated events the overall statistics still show crime rates dropping.

No one is saying that you should be required to own or carry a gun, but if you want to restrict my right to do so, then the onus is on you to support your claim with evidence and reason. I've provided you with substantial, non-anecdotal evidence to support my position (and I can provide links to back up all of the numbers I've used in my statistics). Where is the non-anecdotal evidence to support your arguments? So far, all you have provided are your own anecdotes and emotional arguments, not cold hard facts. Where is a workable plan to actually implement what you desire without violating the rights (including property rights) of those who currently own guns?

about a year and a half ago
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27 Reported Killed In Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

grylnsmn Re:Somebody's got to say it (2987 comments)

And what about my right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? Do I not have the right to defend myself in the case where someone attacks me? Your position would deny me the most effective means to do that.

The fact is that murder (including mass murders like this one) is rare in the US. According to CDC statistics there are less than 12000 firearm homicides a year which includes those ruled justifiable, such as self defense or law enforcement-related ones). (Source: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm) That's in a population of over 300 million people.

At the same time, you need to consider how many guns there are in the US. The most common estimate is 300 million, with 50-100 million of those being handguns (it's almost impossible to get precise numbers).

So let's do the math. Let's take the smallest estimate for handguns, 50 million. Let's also assume that each firearm homicide is committed with a different handgun (which, as we can plainly see, is not the case, but it skews the statistics in your favor). That means that in any given year, no more than 0.024% of handguns are ever used in a homicide. 99.976% of handguns are not used to kill anyone each year, and that's with skewing every statistic in your favor. If you take into account multiple homicides with the same gun, or the ones committed with rifles or shotguns, the percentage of guns involved in a homicide shrinks even more, (to 0.004%, assuming one gun per homicide).

Your argument would restrict the rights of 99.9+% of the people in order to protect against a tiny fraction of a percent who would abuse it. Contrast that with studies that have shown that guns are used for personal protection between 800,000 and 2.5 million times each year. Even at the low end of that range, it massively dwarfs the number of times guns are used to kill others.

And all of that doesn't even start to get into how impossible it would be to get rid of those 50-100 million handguns, let alone all 300 million (or more) guns in the US. In the best case scenario, you will only disarm those who will follow the law, while doing nothing about the criminals who are armed. (Do you really want that 0.024% to be the only civilians with guns?)

Quite simply, yours is an emotional reaction, not a logical one. When you look at the actual statistics, you can see that the right to keep and bear arms is a net positive, and it simply isn't workable to eliminate it.

about a year and a half ago
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27 Reported Killed In Connecticut Elementary School Shooting

grylnsmn Re:Somebody's got to say it (2987 comments)

Our country makes it too easy for nutcases to have guns. I, for one, would give up the right to bear arms for everyone, and not miss it.

How can someone who is such an advocate for freedom support denying freedom to others?

The right to bear arms is absolutely fundamental. It is inextricably linked to the right to life. What good is your right to life if you do not possess the means to defend it when you are threatened? The police cannot be there to save you all of the time.

For example, I live in Northern Virginia, inside the Beltway. Where I live, the average police response time varies throughout the day (because of traffic, among other things) between 6 and 10 minutes. When someone is trying to beat my door down at 1:30am (as happened the week after I bought my house - looking for a previous occupant), 6 minutes is an eternity. Had things gone just a little different, I would have been dead long before the police could possibly have arrived.

One of the most basic principles of any freedom is that that every right comes with the potential for abuse. Free speech opens up the potential for shouting fire in a crowded theater. The right to privacy in your papers and effects creates the potential for criminals to hide their behavior. Similarly, the right to keep and bear arms opens up the potential for people to harm others.

And yet, that doesn't mean that any of those rights should be preemptively restricted.

The same gun that allows one man to shoot his girlfriend in a domestic dispute could be used by a 90-pound woman to stop the 200-pound rapist that is attacking her.

about a year and a half ago
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Bill "The Science Guy" Nye Says Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

grylnsmn Re:Personally, I don't see a conflict (1774 comments)

> You also have to be elastic about the order of events, such as stars being created after planets, etc.

Not at all. Remember the principles of context and perspective. From the surface of the Earth, the stars, moon, and sun weren't visible until after the atmosphere cleared up considerably.

It's not something as cut-and-dried that you can just prove or disprove. There are numerous different ways it can be interpreted, and just because one interpretation is incompatible doesn't mean that all are incompatible.

about 2 years ago
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Bill "The Science Guy" Nye Says Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

grylnsmn Re:Personally, I don't see a conflict (1774 comments)

But it's not even necessary to think that we all descend from two "first" humans. The record in Genesis simply doesn't have enough information one way or the other.

Consider the age-old "Mrs. Cain" question. The Bible doesn't say where she came from. It doesn't tell us (one way or the other) whether or not she was the daughter of Adam and Eve, and therefore Cain's sister.

Again, it's important to look at such accounts in context. Moses wrote down what he did for a specific reason, and in a specific context. The account in Genesis wasn't meant to be an all-encompassing scientific description of how life began. It's more like a Cliff's Notes version of "how we got to this point in the story".

Can you interpret it all to be incompatible with our current scientific understanding? Yes, but that doesn't mean that you have to interpret it that way. You can also interpret it such that it is fully compatible.

Just because you can disprove one interpretation doesn't mean that all interpretations are false.

about 2 years ago
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Bill "The Science Guy" Nye Says Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

grylnsmn Personally, I don't see a conflict (1774 comments)

I'll probably get modded down for this, but personally, I don't see a conflict between Creationism and Evolution. Are there forms of Creationism that can conflict? Sure, but that doesn't mean that the two are completely irreconcilable.

For example, if you look at the creation account in Genesis, and take into account that the word that translates as "Day" can also mean "period of time", "Age", or "epoch", and not necessarily a defined period of time, then you can easily interpret it as mirroring what science tells us about how the Earth was formed and life evolved.

Consider, that we started off with a massive release of energy, then the solar system coalesced from a cloud of dust and gas. As the Earth formed, vapors condensed into liquids, the land cooled and solidified, and the sky cleared (making the sun, moon, and stars visible). Plants developed, and then animals of increasing complexity developed, culminating in Man.

Tradition has it that the book of Genesis was written by Moses, who learned of the Creation directly from God. If you consider the level of understanding that would have been available in his time (Rabbinical tradition holds as being around 1300 BCE), the descriptions in Genesis are a rather good description of what modern-day science thinks on the subject today.

The important thing is to keep each subject in context. Moses wasn't concerned about describing the details of how life was created. For his account all that was necessary is to describe that it was created.

It's not necessary to pick one or the other. You can provide a balanced view of both sides to you children. I know my very-religious physicist parents did.

about 2 years ago
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Paul Suspends Presidential Campaign, Forms New Org

grylnsmn Re:Happened once already (341 comments)

Before reagan, pubs wanted us to stay out of other nations (except covertly; nam was started covertly by Eisenhower),

Actually, Truman is the one who first sent troops to Vietnam, not Eisenhower.

more than 6 years ago

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