Monday, January 9, 2017

Vinnie Jones, I love you, but you are wrong

I hope a million people read this post and that it changes America.
Vinnie Jones is a British gentleman, who I believe is now living in America (Los Angeles, to be exact). He was a professional British footballer for 15 years, who has been very successful as an actor in many action & adventure films. Look him up; it's likely you will recognize him.
I'm watching a documentary on Netflix he made in 2008 called "Vinnie Jones' Toughest Cops". It's an excellent series for those who want to see what it's like fighting the worst situations in America, and it really doesn't pull any punches (but it does bleep obscenity). He visits prison inmates, and goes on ride-alongs with the SWAT teams. He even acts a spotter for fleeing felons, which conceivably places him at risk to life and limb (as well as his camera crew). Good show, watch it if you can.
Vinnie knows very little about firearms. Some have said that this is customary for a British subject, since they have disarmed themselves, and boy, could I go on a rant about that. On the other hand, he MUST have some working knowledge of firearms, since he uses them in his films. He even shows his ability to rack a pump shotgun on the police range, and fires off a magazine of 5.56 using a police rifle with full-auto capability.
Quickly, let me get to the point at which Vinnie makes an egregious error:  On a police raid in New Orleans, the cops pick up a stash of firearms in the possession of a felon. One of the weapons impounded is a HiPoint 995, which is a 9 mm, semi-automatic carbine. A 'carbine' is a rifle which fires shorter, lower power pistol cartridges. 'Semi-automatic' means that with each pull of the trigger, the firearm will fire a round, eject the spent brass, and load a fresh round into the chamber, ready for firing. This is the most common type of action found in firearms owned and operated by civilians in the United States. '9 mm' describes the type of ammunition used by the firearm; it is an inexpensive round, with low recoil. As is the case with most pistol rounds, it's really not suitable for hunting game much bigger than a rabbit or squirrel, because it is so low-powered. It's just fine for self-defense or short-range target shooting.
So: are you with me so far? He has found a rifle which fires a mild mannered round, one at a time.
He calls it a machine gun. He repeatedly calls it a machine gun, and makes a point of it being an awful and amazing thing to find in the hands of a citizen.
And WHY does he identify it as a machine gun? I expect it's because it's made of black plastic, and looks scary. Maybe also because it makes for good TV, ALTHOUGH (!) in my humble opinion, he is already MAKING good TV, and this error degrades the quality of the product.
In very quick laymen terms: A machine gun will fire continuously, as long as the trigger is pressed. That means that if you pull the trigger, and hold it back, a machine gun will fire every bullet in the magazine or belt, without stopping.
Are machine guns against the law?
NO. NO. A Thousand Times, NO! It is PERFECTLY legal to own a machine gun, as long as you have paid for the appropriate tax stamp, and pass the federal background check. The stamps are issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and cost $200. There are usually another few fees, for photographs and finger prints, but the one-time $200 fee is all it costs to get the stamp. (I think there might be a dealer fee you have to pay as well.)
BUT THERE IS MORE TO THE STORY. In 1986, legislation ironically titled the 'Firearm Owners Protection Act' made it illegal to manufacture a fully automatic firearm for civilian use after that date. Therefore, the supply of these weapons is frozen, and the cost to purchase one has risen to the point that no average citizen can afford one.
Now, I could say a LOT more about firearms, but then the blog enter TLDR status. I do have a final point, and it is, in fact, the most significant thing I have to say.
Virtually all of the crime Vinnie was documenting had origins in the drug trade. Vinnie and the cops made that observation on numerous occasions, and it was particularly evident when he went to Laredo and visited the impound lot.
But never once did anyone make the statement that the situation closely resembled that during Prohibition. It does. Exactly.
The fights over turf are fights over who has the right to distribute narcotics in that area. Drug dealers are killed and robbed. Buyers are killed and robbed less frequently.
And thus far, NOBODY with any political weight seems willing to take the appropriate next step.
Legalize it. Regulate it. Tax it.
Provide treatment to those willing to kick the habit, paid for out of the proceeds.
And that's all I have to say about that.

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