Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality
I have been curiously watching all of the posturing on gun laws/gun control and I think the first calm and rational discussions have started over the last twenty four hours most notably from the president himself. I have yet to hear anything that sounds like a realistic solution to the challenge of gun control or a plausible solution to the rising violence in our country (which are not necessarily the same thing).
While I am not really in agreement with much of what is being said on both sides of this argument, I do agree that something needs to be done immediately. I am writing this as entirely opinion and probably more about venting, but I know that there are very obvious middle grounds that all involved can rise to that is above all of the crazy of politics and the heat of the moment.
Excuse me for just thinking out loud and going off a rabbit trail, but since when has CNN become another news (I use the word “news” almost sarcastically) organization that promotes one side of an argument, either accidentally or intentionally becoming the propaganda machine of one party. Even to the point of having several people from one side of an argument and one straw man for the other side who the host beats up. It appears that the last hope of news that is not really propaganda has come under new management and is starting to “sell out” so to speak.
I know I have gone off on a rabbit trail, but let me explain how that is connected to all of this. I was watching this Piers Morgan fellow do exactly what I just described and go off on some rants while beating up the straw man he had on his show to supposedly defent the right to bear arms. The main basis of this argument was how Great Brittan has banned all guns and violence has gone down.
Immediately my head pulled back on my neck and my left eyebrow raised itself. I flashed back to all of the news from my childhood of bombs and kidnappings. My brain flashed on all of the ruckus around trashcans in London which had to be removed because they were too easy of a place to put bombs. Suddenly, according to the oversimplification of Mr. Morgan, all of the problems of violence in Great Brittan were magically solved by making guns illegal. Has it never occurred to him that there may be a whole lot more to any drop in violence that may have taken a lot longer than just passing that law took that all played a part in this and that minimizing it to outlawing guns altogether might force people to miss what really caused any positive changes.
My next thought (question) was: “Were bombs and acts of terrorism made illegal in that law as well?” Then I asked myself: “Were bombs legal in Great Britain before that?”
This opened a Pandora’s Box of distrust for both sides of this argument and forced me to step outside of the situation and take a perspective other than either extreme.
Then I listened to a few supposed experts proclaiming that if the teachers had guns this would have not happened. My head shook itself before I even had a chance to process this. The solution to violence at schools is to create the environment of an old Clint Eastwood movie where a person who is going to hurt children has the power to create the Okay Corral where there is battle/rain of bullets and magically the only person hurt would somehow only be the evil person. This idea completely overestimates the ability of an average teacher (or any person for that matter, but in this case “a teacher”) to get to this weapon quickly, switch his/her mind over to “shoot to kill” mode without deep though, aim and shoot while under deep pressure and with very limited time in a way that incapacitates the person before that person hurts anyone. The chances of all of this happening through the average citizen without some other disaster being created are astronomically unlikely.
Then, back on the political right, I have been aggravated for years and years by people describing the reason for banning “weapons of war” or assault rifles being that hunters do not need machine guns to hunt. Why? Because fully automatic weapons have been illegal since before I was born (i.e. machine guns) and are not an issue anyhow. MACHINE GUNS ARE ALREADY ILLEGAL AND HAVE BEEN FOR MANY, MANY YEARS. That also means that people in the media need to stop calling semi-automatic weapons, “automatic weapons”. All of this is lying to sell an untruth. Anyone who has a fully automatic, machine gun is already in ownership of something that is illegal and laws that have been spoken of as getting machine guns off of the street were being sold to us by people who are either lying to us or deeply uninformed.
There is more insanity on both sides that I have heard, but let’s get back to the point:
Starting with “the right to bear arms” in our United States Bill of Rights and Second Amendment of our constitution. The NRA and extreme right wing keep disguising this as having something to do with hunting and collecting and so on. The fact is that the founding fathers had felt that some of the previous corrupt governments of the worlds had been able to force their subjects into submission by having their militaries push around unarmed citizens as well as the fact that militias were the main first line of defense against outside invaders.
The idea that the constitutional argument has something to do with hunting rifles against weapons of war is incredibly ludicrous. The law was put in place to allow the general population to have weapons of war period. Both sides of the argument are arguing over a lie.
What the constitution does not say is that it should be okay for every person, no matter how mentally challenged, irresponsible or just plain stupid a person is can just go out and grab weapons of war at will. As a matter of fact, it is probably allowable within all parts of the constitution to reasonably keep such people away from sharp objects and so on.
What I am getting at, is that according to the constitution and the intentions of those that penned those laws citizens in general are allowed to possess weapons of war.
That being the case, the only two options for addressing this issue that are not “unconstitutional” are to attempt to change the constitution or to put measures in place that are more discerning about who can get these weapons and how they are stored (while somehow not limiting the constitutional right of every citizen to possess weapons of war).
I am absolutely not a fan of making wholesale changes in the constitution for several reasons that are pretty involved, but to achieve a lot of what I have been hearing including bills to ban assault rifles and magazines that have certain capacities etc. can only legally be done by changing the constitution. I say that because the basis of the arguments is that weapons of war are not for hunting and as such not covered by the Second Amendment. The truth is that weapons of war are exactly what are covered by the Second Amendment so in truth, these bills and previous laws banning such firearms were legally unconstitutional by the intention and letter of the law of our constitution.
Much of what is going on is an attempt to under mine what is in the constitution. While I do agree with some of the ideas, they are either constitutional or not. So again I say, the only legal way to do much of what is proposed is to change the constitution and basically remove the right to bear arms (the right to bear weapons of war).
I am definitely leaned towards much tougher regulation and monitoring of who gets these weapons and how they are kept.
There are many of these laws in place in many parts of the country, but when you dig deeper you find that they are often not enforced and almost always have some massive loopholes that many who should not be getting these weapons use to arm themselves. Much like people who have their licenses suspended in a big city yet they still drive, but far more dangerous and troubling.
Here a few points I came up with that seem like they would have to be a part of this for any gun controls to be able to work:
- Gun ownership has to be done in the same way that driver’s licenses and other licenses are issued by the states. – Gun ownership has to be licensed and renewed every few years and just like you cannot drive a car if you do not have a license, you can no longer legally own a gun if your license is suspended or revoked (there are some places that do some form of this currently).
- I believe, EXTENSIVE background checks MUST be done on every person who purchases a weapon in the United States (even if it is purchased in parts at a gun show) which could be a part of the cost of the license renewal fee.
- I would like to see a psychological evaluation of every person who purchases a weapon but even doing that at every license renewal would have an exorbitant cost and would be limited. I do think that this may be a more serious consideration for the more dangerous weapons such as assault rifles etc. and that It may have to be a part of the financial responsibility of a person who wants to own this level of weapon. (If there is a license to own weapons that must be renewed every four years, there can be a higher level of license that requires a psychological evaluation that needs to be done as part of each renewal)
- There needs to be specific laws on how these weapons are stored and on who other than the owner of the weapons can access these weapons. This needs to focus on some level of training/certification for children and appropriate age limits etc. Spouses, significant others, domestic partners etc. must have their own certifications and if not, should not have access to these weapons.
- There needs to be separate certifications to be able to carry a firearm or to have a firearm in some public setting (such as security guards, business owners etc.)
- Being convicted of violent crimes, being admitted for psychological evaluation etc. should immediately mean the suspension of your license and require the surrendering of your weapons. (I am not sure what happens to these weapons or who they are surrendered to due to the fact there may be reasons that some of these folks might be found perfectly fit and be able to get their license and weapons back, but it is a general idea).
- Having an unstable or otherwise disqualified person in your home should require some kind of specific off site storage or suspension of your license. Maybe private businesses that do just government approved gun storage that requires showing a gun owners license to get into your box etc. The government would license and govern these too, but they would only be required for those that cannot safely have weapons in their homes or who would prefer to store them somewhere safer.
I have lots more that I could add, but I think that these ideas as a framework might be a good compromise and a great way to start to turn the tide on this issue.
I do believe also that there is much more to all of this than just guns however. Explosives can be made of just about anything, guns can be acquired illegally pretty easily in the area in which I live (just as illegal drugs are everywhere in our big cities and the war on drugs struggles to even put a dent in it). People with major psychological problems are roaming the streets of our cities with no supervision and minimal help if any. Our society has grown more and more addicted to extreme violence and enjoys being angry at someone or something.
In other words, I do not believe that better gun laws or eliminating guns all together will solve all violence, but I do believe that we should not be easily arming every person in our country no matter how dangerous or disturbed.
The mother of this person (who I am not using his name on purpose) apparently was fairly responsible and otherwise responsible with her weapons, but there were no protections in place that would keep another individual (in this case a person with deep emotional and psychological issues) from coming into her home and stealing them from her to kill her and several children. I do not feel that this kind of safety has been sufficiently addressed or discussed in all of this.
This is really about me venting and trying to step out of all of the rhetoric of both sides and try to take a look at this within the framework of the constitution. I do leave you with these thoughts:
If you want to eliminate guns or “weapons of war” you are asking for a change in the constitution (which is possible, but not likely and in many cases unwise).
If you do not want much tougher controls on who has access to guns then you are a shrinking minority and do not reflect the will of the American people. You also may have slept through the last couple of weeks of news.
Let’s all come together and do something sensible and constitutional that best guarantees our safety and the safety of our children because lives are more important than laws, lives are the reason for the laws, and lives are way more important than party politics.