With President Obama and Vice president Biden set to hold an event Wednesday that is expected to involve their plan to address gun violence in the nation, at least 10 states have decided to pursue their own measures to try and reign in the problem.
New York, which already has the toughest gun control laws in the nation, is expected to pass a bill today that further tightens their laws on high capacity magazines, background checks and metal health reporting.
But are we really addressing the issue or just looking for a quick fix to score some political points?
At the heart of the issue for gun rights advocates and NRA members/supporters is the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which reads;
“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
So we can start our discussion right here if we want to. Mind you, it will be a bit of a diversion from the real issue, but since this is the number one defense of the gun rights advocates, I guess it makes sense.
The Second Amendment was adopted, as was the rest of the Bill of Rights, on December 15, 1791. Guns at that time, whether on the battlefield or on your private land, were single shot muzzle loaded rifles. In this environment, the only advantage the “State” could have would be in numbers of people, and I guess resources more more ammunition.
I have heard gun control advocates state that you don’t hunt deer with an AR-15. The AR-15 seems to be a popular semi-automatic assault weapon. This is a strange and irrelevant argument to make against people who are arguing their right to own an AR-15 rests in the Second Amendment, not in Field & Stream. Who cares what you would use to hunt deer?
I know the remake of the 1984 Patrick Swayze hit Red Dawn has people believing they could stand up as a resistance to a nation, ours or another, who decided to invade and control us, but let’s be honest, we can attack Baghdad from a Subway in Missouri with a laptop and an access code (forgive the slight exaggeration), so do we really believe that the Second Amendment truly protects a “Free State”?
Perhaps we should allow civilians to own laser guided missiles, F35 fighter planes, B2 Bombers and maybe even smaller, domestic versions of ICBMs (nuclear weapons) in case a rogue President or Congress decides they want to take over our nation. In this event, we would have a “well regulated militia” to ensure that security.
Oh wait a minute, that said “well regulated militia”. But if the concern is a collapse of individual liberties and the very freedom we hold so dear, who could possibly be responsible for the regulating of this well regulated militia? The militia itself?
You see, we can beat up this Second Amendment debate forever and get nowhere. You could also argue that nowhere in that Amendment does it say that the right of the people to keep and bear any arms ever created or manufactured shall not be infringed. If we allowed every American to have their very own muzzle loading musket, we essentially would be holding true to the Amendment, would we not?
See how useless this debate is?
Sadly, however, this is the type of debate we are hearing on TV after recent mass shootings have put gun control back into the nation’s focus.
The next one is the gun control advocate breaking out his chart of gun crimes or gun related deaths in the United States compared to other nations. Yep, we rank right at the top, as we do in the list of guns per 100 people, with 88 guns owned per 100 people.
The theory in this pointless argument is that our obsession with guns is creating nearly 30,000 deaths every year, between homicides and suicides. But a vast majority of those gun deaths, homicide or suicide, are committed using a handgun. Now I know that one of the issues in this recent round of debates is the use of high capacity bullet magazines for semi-automatic pistols, but I don’t think you could frame that as an attack on handguns, even if you work for the NRA.
Handguns have not been the target of this debate, period. And they never should be. Nor should shotguns or rifles such as the Remington 700 or the Kimber 84M Montana, two of the most popular rifles in the nation.
In my opinion, most anything else is debatable. There are requirements for what kind of vehicles can be licensed for use on the streets versus off road, etc. These rules are in place for public safety. They are not excessive, quirky as they may be at times. Rules about what kinds of firearms can be bought by civilians is fair game for regulation as well, it is absolutely not a Second Amendment issue.
You are not going to stop the staggering numbers of gun crime in this country via gun control, period, so using the statistics is a facade that serves only to confuse the issue.
People are not rallying behind this issue because of gun crime overall. They are doing so because in this most recent mass shooting, a young man walked onto the campus of an elementary school and gunned down 20 kids in the first grade because he had a full set of screws loose.
When you are forced to bury 20 first grade children, not to diminish the other innocent victims, it gets people just a bit riled up, with good cause.
The job of our elected officials should be to channel that frustration to the proper avenues, instead of at everything that may have contributed to this tragedy.
Even gun rights advocates don’t want guns in the hands of people like the young man in Connecticut, the lunatic in Aurora, or the disturbed individual in the Oregon mall.
These are the types of people that theoretically the Second Amendment allows us to protect ourselves against.
There are those who propose we arm the teachers, add military to schools, etc., but even in those arguments would a teacher need an AR-15 strapped over their shoulder to limit the damage of a potential attacker? It could be argued effectively that a person well trained with a Smith & Wesson model 351PD, a good old fashioned six shooter, could take down a would be assailant in rather quick fashion.
One last argument the gun rights advocates make is changing the laws to restrict gun ownership only restricts lawful owners. Criminals don’t buy their guns at Walmart or Cabela’s, so laws don’t impact them.
Again, this argument is valid, but off point. I was encouraged while I did some research for this article that you cannot just go onto Craigslist and buy a gun, but it also showed how consistent regulation and enforcement can make it much more challenging for one of the people I mentioned before to find a place to buy an AR-15 without going through a process no more complicated than we go through to be able to drive a car.
And this brings us to what should be the focus of any new legislation if we really want to address this issue with more than hollow gestures.
Mental health concerns should be communicated immediately and cross checked for firearm registration. I know that at some time in your life you may need to talk to someone about the stresses that life has dealt you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I also believe that while you are working through those issues, you probably shouldn’t have any firearms in your house.
This is not to protect just the next class of first graders, but to protect you as well.
I believe that there should be absolutely no legal way to purchase a firearm in this country without being subjected to a background check. I can perform one at my desk in less than 5 minutes for $10. I believe you should be licensed to carry a firearm, and that license should be renewed annually, which would involve another background check.
I believe the background check should be integrated with a mental health database, but that data should only be accessible for the purchase of a firearm, not for employers, creditors, etc.
Whether you have a 30 round magazine, or you have to reload after every 7 shots, as has been passed now in New York, the end result will be much the same, tragedy. What we need to do is everything we can to make sure these individuals aren’t able to buy firearms at all. I understand, of course, that in the case of the Connecticut shooting, all of the laws in the world wouldn’t have helped, as his mom owned the guns used in the shooting.
The truth is there is no one quick solution. But there are arguments and debates that simply cloud an already complicated issue even further, and we shouldn’t waste our time on those arguments, but instead work together to look for any effective solutions to the seeming rise in mass shootings as a form of suicide note for the mentally disturbed.
As for the recognition and treatment of mental illness, well we’ll have to save that for another article…………