If you don’t live life in a deep dark hole and have some sort of moral compass, you have probably been thinking a lot about gun control lately. Rightly so. Not long ago, I asked a few questions to try to get some interesting discussion out of my friends (sadly, few replied — I wonder if that means I’m really just talking to myself here?), and now I’d like to have a new discussion. This time on solutions and what I honestly think will have a meaningful effect in society.
First, an apology to a my friends on Facebook. While no one said anything to me directly, I think I was indirectly accused of being a right wing, gun loving nut because of some of the pictures I shared. I assure you, I was not intending to give that view or be insensitive to the larger discussion society is beginning to have.
Before I go into the things I think we should do as a society, let me give the basis for my opinions:
- The second amendment was NOT written to allow for self defense or hunting. Anyone who tries to tell me that an “assault rifle” isn’t necessary for hunting is either ignorant to the purpose of guns in our society or simply providing a strawman to provide a fear based reasoning. The 2nd Amendment was designed to keep the government in fear of the people and provide the populous the means to throw off their government should it cease to represent the people, their interests or the Constitution itself. Those who argue that the mentioning of a militia means the right to bear arms is kept by the government are still ignorant of the 2nd Amendment. At the writing of Constitution, the colonies had already formed a Continental Army under the control of a provisional government and if they had meant the army they would have said so. The amendment was written to allow private citizens to form and supply a private militia should one be required. I know its too much to ask, but I firmly believe that every discussion about gun rights and control MUST start with this understanding.
- As a small aside… for those of you who think the Constitution is outdated and the 2nd Amendment no longer applies, the proper way to get rid of it is through the amendment process as we’ve done 17 times after the bill of rights. We should not simply choose to ignore our founding document which we’ve for 2 centuries held as the basis of our government’s power… if we allow anyone to simply ignore one part of the Constitution because its popular to do so today… just imagine the power we give to a government who stops caring about popular opinion.
- As a matter of policy, most of the extreme crime that has made national news would not have been prevented by the former Assault Weapons Ban and in several cases the only law that might have prevented the crimes at all is a total ban on all weapons (or maybe semi-autos).
- While we’re not really moving in the direction of a total ban, or even a ban on semi-autos, I think it important to note, at least for myself, that such bans (even if the government tried to go around and collect everyone’s guns) would at best only take the guns from people who are willing enough to give them up as to not hide them or otherwise make them unavailable for the government to take. In other words… we’ll likely only be taking the guns from the “good guys” therefore making an increase in gun violence after gun bans a self fulfilling prophecy.
- I also think it is extremely important to note that across the country there are thousands of reports of crimes that were prevented or lessened by private citizens owning guns. Obviously, a very small minority of those incidents would have resulted in one or more persons’ deaths and I realize the number of lives actually saved is impossible to quantify, however, we must also recognize that placing absurdly strict gun laws into effect will reduce the number of incidents where a “good guy” used a gun to stop a “bad guy” and the number of deaths by violent crime will very likely go up.
- As a concealed carry permit holder, I would like to point out that the number of gun deaths and violent crimes perpetrated by a licensed or permitted person is so low that it doesn’t even warrant a mention in the FBI violent crime reports despite the fact that the FBI does keep track of the permit status of criminals.
- Finally, heavy and excessive gun controls have not caused overall violent crime to go down. For national examples we can look at Washington D.C., Chicago, and L.A. which saw and/or continue to see some of the highest crime rates and gun violence rates of anywhere in the world while the controls were/are in effect. For worldly examples we can look at Great Britain and Australia who saw spikes in gun violence after their laws were passed and have continued to see elevated violent crime rates ever since (I realize by comparison the U.S. has a dramatically higher rate of gun deaths than these countries as well, but it would take an entire dissertation to explain the differences between the U.S. and G.B./Aus and the answer isn’t simply gun control). For an extreme example, we can look at Mexico which I believe requires no explanation (and please don’t tell me that Mexico is different because it has drug cartels… the same cartels are operating just over our southern border and are slowly taking hold in many of our border cities).
I realize all of the above are things many of you have heard or read before. Some of you probably read them and can say “yeah but…” to every single one. [Because of these things, I’ve personally been accused of contributing to the deaths at the school in CT.] I’d love to hear counter points to everything above… just don’t give me emotional or accusatory drivel.
Now, for the reason I’m typing this morning. What would I do?
- Close the background check loopholes: No one should be able to go to a gun show to avoid background checks and walk away with a small arsenal.
- Create a national standard for background checking that includes proper criminal and mental health checks. Then, prevent any person who is not permitted in a state meeting these minimum requirements from carrying concealed or transporting a loaded weapon across state lines. The only purpose of this would be to provide incentive for every state to create a permitting process and would never actually prevent crime, but is a good step to making sure people have to go through proper checks to carry a weapon legally.
- Safe storage requirements: If everyone in a home can legally own a weapon, then a locked door to the home is sufficient. However, if any person in a home can not legally own a weapon (i.e. felon, mentally ill, children under the age of 21, etc), then any and all firearms in the home should be required to be stored in a manner that prevents unlawful persons from gaining use of the firearms when the firearms are not in use by or in the possession of a person who can legally own said firearms. If the logistics are too hard for you or your family to handle… then you don’t get to have guns
- Make gun laws for those who are legally permitted to carry concealed make sense. Remove all “gun free zones” from law for permit holders whose permits meet minimum standards for background checks and shooting proficiency. If we want to create a federal carry permit/license issued by the ATF for this purpose, bring it on, but lets stop creating public areas where people can not defend themselves from the guns the government can’t take away (even if they gave themselves the power to do so). [Note: a provision for allowing non-publicly accessible private land/facilities (i.e. a private residence or membership club) to post a no-guns sign would be acceptable, but limiting in a mall/theater/etc is just stupid.]
I do, very much, hope all my friends out there comment and contribute to this discussion. I know we’re not going to change anything ourselves, but it is most definitely worth it to share our thoughts and ideas.