The great gun debate

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I haven’t really posted much on gun control because it’s an issue to which I see no immediate solution on the horizon. The politics isn’t there, there’s too much money in the lobbies, and our culture in general doesn’t seem to be interested in gun control. However, in light of yesterday’s shooting at UC Santa Barbara, I thought I’d take the time to finally offer my two cents. Before continuing, let’s get something straight right off the bat: gun control does not mean gun abolition. What gun control is about is limiting gun violence. So let’s now examine some of the logic behind anti-gun control arguments.

1. The legal precedent. First and foremost, let’s start with the constitution, because that’s what anti-gun control advocates always fall back to. The second amendment does have a purpose. Or rather it did have a purpose. For the record, this is what the second amendment says:

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.

People often ignore the first part of the second amendment and focus on the second part, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and interpret that to mean it’s perfectly reasonable to own whatever weapon they want for their personal protection. To me, though, it seems pretty clear that when you put both halves of the amendment together, that the idea of keeping and bearing arms specifically applies to militias. Given the history of our nation’s birth and the authors of the constitution, it also seems pretty clear that the purpose of the second amendment was to ensure that people have the firepower to keep the government in check in case it becomes tyrannical, a la European powers at the time.

Fast-forward to the modern day. Does this amendment still make sense? Well for one thing the firepower of the average citizen is grossly and woefully underwhelming when compared to that of the US government. Does anyone really think that a group of Hillbillies with assault rifles is any match for the tanks and rpg’s of the US army? Do you really think that some guy with a 9 mm is going to stop a drone from bombing him? All of the guns in the world won’t protect you from biological or chemical warfare. The idea of owning firearms to protect yourself from the government is archaic and quaint at best. It makes no sense in this century, and barring some kind of apocalyptic disaster that destroys the infrastructure of society, it probably never will again. But we can take the absurdity of the second amendment further.

The second amendment makes no mention of what kinds of arms you can or cannot own. It doesn’t even specifically mention “firearms.” Well, why doesn’t every citizen then own a flame thrower and hand grenades? Why isn’t that legal? Why doesn’t every house in the neighborhood have a Howitzer mounted to the roof? Because it’s totally insane and unreasonable to give John Q Public the power to kill mass amounts of people completely at will is why.

2. This is really a mental health problem. Ah yes, this old cop-out. Well first and foremost, duh. Mentally stable people don’t run into malls and schools and start killing random people. The problem with using this scapegoat to advocate against gun control is two fold. First, I don’t foresee the mental health problem in this country getting better anytime soon. Healthcare with regard to mental health in this country has been on a rapid decline since the 1970’s and it ain’t gettin’ any better. Think of how hard it is to make ANY sort of meaningful healthcare reform and how defunct congress is. Do you really think that congress is going to magically join hands and pass comprehensive mental healthcare reform tomorrow? Next year? Next decade? I don’t.

But there’s a much larger problem with using the mental health argument in anti-gun control debates, and it’s this: it’s impossible to determine who will eventually have a breakdown or suffer mental health issues. Anti-gun control advocates make it sound so easy! “Well obviously we just won’t sell guns to crazy people.” That’s all swell and nice, but tell me this: how do you know who’s crazy? Every time you walk down a crowded street you pass by people who are depressed, bipolar, drug users, etc. Can you visually tell them apart from everyone else? No, you can’t. Talking to them in conversation you probably can’t either, because most of these people learn to cope with or hide their behavior, or they’re on medications. But what happens if that person loses their job and can’t afford their meds anymore? What happens when there’s an environmental stressor that pushes them over the edge? It’s impossible to predict these things.

What’s more, this applies to perfectly normal and healthy people, too. Barring very few exceptions, most people with mental health issues don’t come out of the womb with them, they develop them over time. Again, how would you predict this? A perfectly healthy, normal man can buy a gun and tens years later his wife cheats on him. He loses his job and his house. His child dies in a drunk driving accident. Life is random and unpredictable and affects people in random and unpredictable ways. And random and unpredictable people with firearms is when shit goes south real fast.

3. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Well, yes, if I’m unarmed and my attacker is packing heat, I’m screwed unless he’s the worst shot in the world. There’s a reason why people refer to guns as equalizers. But, similar to the mental health argument, how do you tell a good guy from a bad one? If someone walks into the restaurant I’m eating at with a gun strapped to their hip, how the hell am I supposed to know whether they intend to shoot the place up or whether they’re just waiting to stop some madman who just might enter the restaurant? I don’t. If someone walked into a restaurant where you and your family were eating with an assault rifle and said, “Don’t worry! I’m not crazy! I’m just carrying this in case I have to defend you all!” would you just believe them without question? Would there be any doubt in your mind at all as to their intention? I’d certainly have my reservations about it.

4. Even if you restrict or take away guns, crazy people will still find a way to try to kill you. No argument from me here, that’s definitely true. However, I don’t know about all of you, but personally I’d rather fight someone who had a knife than someone who had a gun. I feel like my odds of survival would be a lot better. Remember that kid who stabbed 20 people in his school? How many of those kids died? Oh that’s right, none of them. How different do you think that attack would have been if he’d had a gun instead of knives?

5. Gun control restricts my freedom. Here we go again with the freedom arguments. These are, in my opinion, the weakest of all the pro-gun arguments. Why? Because basically this argument is that the rights of some people matter more than the rights of others, which seems to me to be the least American argument someone could make. Anyone who talks about “freedom” in the gun control debate is more or less saying, my right to own and carry a weapon is more important than you’re right to live or be somewhere without them. Seems pretty subjective to me. Do people not have the right to not be around weapons? Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request, considering that firearms considerably up the ante when it comes to your odds of being killed. What’s at all unreasonable about not wanting to be around strangers with guns? And what’s more, why should people die who don’t have to just to support your “right?”

Alright, now that we’ve gotten those things out of the way, let’s clear a few things up. First, despite the arguments I’ve just made, I am NOT anti-gun. Obviously the police should have guns. Obviously guns can be used for self-defense by perfectly rational and reasonable people. Obviously people who hunt need to use firearms. I have no problem with guns themselves. In fact, I own several myself. What I am for is gun control.

“Gun control” means a lot of different things to different people, so let me explain what it means to me. It does not mean taking away all guns. For the reasons I went over in the above paragraph, guns do serve a purpose. What I am in support of is guns being sold only by licensed dealers. I’m also for more thorough and extensive background checks. I’m for closing loopholes at gun shows and expos that let people walk out of places with a firearm without so much as a cursory background check. I’m for the assault weapons ban. You don’t need an M-16 to fend off a prowler or burglar, sorry. I’m for banning extended clips. Again, you don’t need 50 shots to fend off a prowler or burglar. I’m for restrictions on ammunition. Again, I don’t really see why it’s necessary to have 2000 rounds if all you’re worried about it someone breaking into your home (if you’re worried at all about home invasion, I don’t see why you wouldn’t opt for the best home defense weapon, a shotgun. Skip the Uzi, Rambo, and go for the more practical weapon). I’m for getting gun lobbyists out of congress. I’m for tracking who buys firearms.

At the end of the day, all I would ask is that everyone in this country use a little logic and common sense in their approach to firearms. That’s it. This debate doesn’t have to be black and white and it doesn’t have to be so polarizing. The only options in this debate ARE NOT “no guns at all, ever” or “all the guns for everyone.” That dichotomy is hyperbolic and frankly stupid, and as most polls show not at all how the average American views the subject. There are only about 4 million members in the NRA, yet they dictate all gun control policy in this country. The way the current gun control debate is framed is way out of proportion to how the general public feels. But as usual in any argument, the squeakiest wheel gets the most grease. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. There are solutions and compromises to be had here. We just need all of the rational Americans to enter the discussion.

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27 thoughts on “The great gun debate

  1. If you want to guarantee a way to be safe from being in the presence of firearms, stay home. Have you seen the news? How many atrocities do the police/government agencies have to commit before it’s clear that them being the only people with guns is dangerous? Do we learn nothing from history? How many countries banning firearms only to murder their citizens in the aftermath do we need to witness? Does no one have any right to privacy? Should we register everything? Should I register every roll of toilet paper I buy? Our constitutional system is designed to protect rights, not limit them, but Washington seems to have forgotten this and sounds like you have too. Solutions need to come in other areas. Gun control as you define it is a fantasy that Americans as a whole will not accept.
    It’s unfortunate that this post is so schizophrenic because you make several wonderful arguments. Regarding the mental health situation, I argue, don’t cops and other government firearm carriers have break downs too? There’s no real hope of a solution in that field, I agree with you. I have to say (and this is irrelevant) that I don’t believe that you are the owner of a firearm. No one advocates the right of the government to take their property. Which they would do if you had your way and they deemed you a threat of ANY kind.
    You didn’t touch on the argument about criminals not obeying laws. The vast majority of murders or shootings are committed by this group. You want to stop mass school or mall shootings? Post ARMED security instead of taser wielding rent-a-cops.
    I guess what I mean to say by saying all of this is: If you advocate the limiting of constitutionally protected RIGHTS, it’s a slippery slope to despotism. Liberals will say that is fantasy or I’m overreacting. History says that it’s happened before and just because this isn’t post WWI Germany or post Revolution USSR or any of the myriad asian countries to go through this, does not mean it CAN’T happen here. It probably won’t, but it CAN if we allow the erosion of our liberties which started long before the Patriot Act.
    In the end, I’m glad someone cares about the issue, whether I agree with them or not. Thinking, talking, compromising is the only way forward. First Amendment is awesome like that!

    1. Well, to be fair I did say right at the beginning of this piece that I realize that gun control is never going to happen precisely because our culture apparently isn’t willing to do anything about it.

      With respect, I think that you’re engaging in a great deal of hyperbole here. You’re taking every argument I made to an unfounded extreme. Registering a lethal weapon is not the same thing as registering a roll of toilet paper and I think that you know that. Moreover, owning firearms and being for reasonable gun laws aren’t mutually exclusive.

      I will certainly agree with you, though, that it’s good that people can come together and freely discuss and exchange ideas. That’s the only way anything in this country is ever going to get done with regard to most issues.

    2. Having been to Auschwitz and knowing my history well, you are completely wrong about gun control being the downfall of the Jews. It’s way more complicated than that. There are also a lot of countries with strict gun control laws, where people own very few guns, and there is very little crime and gun deaths. Despotism is not the ultimate conclusion to gun control.

    3. The crucial difference between police officers and other trained persons who carry firearms is that you don’t get a gun until you pass a psychological evaluation. The last time I bought a gun, there was no psychological evaluation of any kind.

  2. I made a similar post when I first made my blog. Addressing some of the illogical arguments about gun control. I agree there seems little hope of things becoming more sensible on the horizon. By the way I have met some gun lovers who think that no arms should be barred from personal position. One guy actually argued that we should be able to have our own anti-aircraft guns if we want. I was just like “wow”.

    Look the constitution is a great start, but clearly it wasn’t brilliant given the amendments that had to be made, and those were just some obvious things. And then even some of those amendments are old and need amending. But time changes the world and just like a rail against people trying to derive their morality and spirituality from a 2000 year old book, even a 200 year constitution is going to have a few problems.

      1. Excellent post. I particularly love the bit about how we have the highest crime rate in the industrial world and highest rate of gun ownership; clearly owning guns does not deter people from committing violent crimes. I use a similar line of reasoning in why I oppose capital punishment: we’ve executed people for crimes in this country since it began, yet the crime rate continues to increase. Clearly the threat of death is not enough to deter crime.

        I also like your take on criminals. The poster above mentioned that I should have talked about criminals. To what end? It’s kind of a moot point that criminals won’t follow laws; that’s the very definition of a criminal. Again, it’s kind of impossible to predict who will become a criminal. And logically speaking, every criminal was at one point a law-abiding citizen until they decided to willfully break the law. “The criminal argument” is similar to the mental health argument because it’s impossible to tell the future and predict who will become a violent criminal.

    1. Anti-aircraft guns? Holy moly…wow.

      And I agree. The constitution is always a great starting point. But the world today is much more complex than the founders ever could have envisioned. Using the constitution to solve every 21st century problem is a bit like trying to complete medical school with textbooks from 1850 (or even 1950 for that matter).

  3. I am generally way left of center with my views. That said, I own 3 guns. So despite my left leaning ways, I am not prone to knee jerk reactionary restrictions on guns. Living where I do… a bible belt, gun toting, racist, bigoted, KKK infested, redneck zone, I pretty much feel better knowing I have some recourse in the event of well… anything these nutjobs decide they are capable of. Not to mention living in the country and every varmint that walks crawls or flies likes chicken…and I have chickens. Once a varmint gets a taste of chicken, and knows where to come and get them, one has to occaisionally kill a critter. I also will hunt/fish on occaision.

    As far as having any idea what to do about the gun problem, which I clearly recognize, I have very little to offer as a solution. Probably the single most important thing I see is a need for a gun owner/ or anyone with a profession requiring a firearm, to show some levelof responsibility, and a satisfactory mental health condition to be allowed to own them. How to implement this without a huge ruckus, I know not.

    As far as the constitution, I have always felt like, in the days it was written, the militia implied was your regular Joe farmer or shopkeep, who through patriotic duty, were pretty much on call in the face of threats to our country. While we do live in a more modern civilized world today, civilization itself I see as being a very thin veneer, susceptible to calamity. I am no prepper by any means, but having a few chickens, a couple of 5 gallon buckets (1 ea)of rice and beans, and a means to take game, I see as important as having water and a roof over my head.

    As a gun owner it pains me deeply every time one of these mass shooting incidents pops up. They come around far too often, and every single time a tragedy. There are days when I drop my boys off at school, I wonder if I did the right thing…thinking this could be the day it happens in my town. It is scary as hell. The only reason I have not resorted to home schooling is I want my kids to get/develop the social skills they will need in the real world. I hope in the few years left of their education/s I do not live to regret dropping them off at school…on That day.

    1. I own three guns as well. And I know plenty of liberals who own. I don’t own my guns because I fear a tyrannical government, though, like some people seem to fear. One of my guns was given to me by my grandfather, and I purchased the other two for hunting and self-defense.

      That being said, I don’t find it necessary to keep my guns loaded around my house (mostly for liability reasons). The only time I EVER carry a firearm is when I’m backpacking, and it’s mostly in case I run into predators of the four legged variety.

      Despite the image that most gun nuts portray, simply shooting someone isn’t always as black and white as it sounds, even if it’s on your own property and in self-defense. Very few states have a “stand your ground law” and the castle doctrine is a very thin legal defense; if you kill a burglar who breaks into your house, you’d better damn well make sure you can 100% prove that you were in mortal danger in a court of law (unless you’re white, then it’s probably easier).

      If law enforcement officers are subject to using the least amount of force necessary to subdue, I don’t see why the average citizen shouldn’t be held to the same standard. Killing someone, even in self-defense, should be the absolute last course of action taken in my opinion. This “shoot first and ask questions later” mentality that a lot of kooks out there have scares the living daylights out of me.

      1. Tempering your decisions in a dangerous situation would definately be wise. The only time one should engage a threat is if said threat is actually a threat. You are correct, a burglar in your house is not call for shooting them dead. A burglar in your house showing intent of bodily harm or threat to life is when defense is called for.

        Other than that, holding them until the cops arrive would be the best course of action. If they flee then get a good description.

        I literally have neighbors across the street, every time they hear a deer walking through the woods, they declare Prowler!…and open fire. This happens like 3 times a year. They shoot wildly into the woods, the cops come out, a search for a prowler ensues, and I am sitting over here shaking my head. In all the years I have lived here, I have never seen any prowlers. Deer? yes. Oppossums? yes. Raccoons? yes. Prowlers…no.

        Even if they had a prowler that wasn’t a woodland critter, should their first course of action be to spray the woods with gunfire? Hell no. These people do not have the responsibility, the mental faculties, or just enough common sense to own firearms. I fear there are many thousands just like them, and not very far from where I live. No doubt there are some across the street…

        Personally I am not a conspiracy idiot. I do know some though…classic R’s, Fox news loving, Obama hating, bible wagging, they are out to get us, wackos. I would actually rather have them as neighbors than the neighbors I have…this is how sad the countryside is in W Tn.

        The gun problem runs deep. It manifests itself in many ways. I am certain something should be done to curb this issue, I just have no idea how or what. If we could come up with a good idea, it will be a long hard fought battle (figuratively) to enact it. One thing for sure the tendency for mass shootings and murder/suicides has gotten out of hand. There are days I wonder if it is more a societal issue than a gun issue. Perhaps it is simply a result of a population/odds/ratio thing. There have been people going off the deep end and doing terrible things way before guns were available, and there would still be a % of incidents even if every gun on the planet disappeared today. (though perhaps a tad less tragic in body counts) No matter the cause, this is a tough situation.

      2. Wow, I’m glad I don’t live in your neighborhood! Yikes…

        I have no idea what to do about the gun problems in this country either. Even if a reasonable solution were proposed, the people like the ones you live next to would just shoot it down (no pun intended). It probably is a societal issue, but I can’t even imagine how we’d being to fix society’s woes. If passing a gun law is difficult, changing the mindset and behaviors of an entire society would be a Herculean effort at the very least.

  4. As you can imagine I disagree. All the arguments for gun control have serious flaws, and in the end it’s better to allow the population to have open access to guns.

    You may be very well intentioned, but good intentions don’t save lives. While you’re not calling for gun “abolition,” some people and politicians are, and we don’t want to go down that road. It’s better to expand our freedoms than limit them.

    Too much money in the gun lobbies? Good, that should help preserve our freedoms.

    It sounds very idealistic to suggest we limit gun violence, but there’s the rub. Why are we focused on limiting gun violence and not limiting violence? Why are we treating guns as if they’re the perpetrator and not the people? If a car kills, do we ban the size of cars to limit car violence? The problem isn’t guns… it’s the people using them for evil. I say we’re better off focusing on justice and teaching the public right from wrong (how’s keeping religion out of schools working for us?).

    The argument that the Second Amendment specifically applies to the militia doesn’t make sense. If that’s what it meant, then there would be no reason to include the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” If that phrase had never been included then I’d accept your argument. But being that it specifically stipulates that the right to bear arms applies to militias and the people, there’s no validity to the argument that it only applies to militias.

    And if we’re not sure what was meant we can always go back and read what our founding fathers wrote- which I’d certainly encourage everyone to do. Assuming these are valid quotes, George Mason said that a militia is “the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Richard Henry Lee said a militia, “when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…” Zachariah Johnson said “The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.” If we read what the founders intended we can see that the amendment does not specifically apply to militias.

    When you question whether or not it makes sense to have people armed today, I say it makes more sense than disarming citizens or giving government control of our weapons. Whether or not we’re under armed isn’t the point. The point is that politicians need to know that we’re armed. Sharpshooters could have taken out every armed citizen standing with Clive Bundy, but doing so would have signaled a war against the American people, and fortunately the government wasn’t stupid enough to start one.

    Though people generally don’t own flamethrowers or grenades, people do own similar weapons, such as welding torches, aerosol cans and fireworks- all of which could kill or maim. I wouldn’t call for howitzers, but I’m all for every citizen owning assault weapons. They’re extremely effective against burglars.

    The mental health issue isn’t as murky as you think. Many of the mass killings by psychos could have been prevented by using common sense, which you seem to be calling for. There were warning signs for just about every mass shooting, but no one has the balls to stop the killers who have already announced their intentions. Instead we expel elementary school students for drawing guns or soldiers in school, or for bringing in cupcakes on their birthday decorated with army figures. Where’s the common sense?

    Consider Elliot Rodgers who stabbed three people to death before going on his shooting spree. You said you’d rather face a knife than a gun, but not all the shooting victims died, while all the knife victims died. Four people were even injured when he ran over them. Only three of eight shooting victims died.

    I recall an incident where a shooter walked into a restaurant and opened fire. A woman was there with her parents, and she considered pulling out her gun to stop the shooter, but realized she left her gun in the car because she respected the sign on the restaurant that said “No guns allowed”. Her father was shot to death because she wasn’t carrying her gun. There are thousands of examples where people could have been saved had it not been for foolish gun control laws. And there are thousands of other examples where gunmen were stopped by citizens with guns. But I don’t hear anyone championing those examples for saving lives except the pro-gun crowd. I guess those examples don’t advance the anti-gun narrative. Perhaps it’s the gun control advocates who think the killers should have more rights than their victims???

    And yes, gun control does restrict our freedoms. If you don’t care for that right, then don’t carry a gun. It has nothing to do with some people’s rights are greater than others. Everyone has the right to bear arms. If you mean that some people have the right to die from guns, that’s an absurd way to frame the argument. People have a right to defend themselves from killers. If you really believed people had a right to live, then consider being a pro-gun advocate rather than a gun control advocate.

    I don’t want the government to know if I have a gun(s) or not. I don’t want anyone to be forced to register their weapons, or loopholes closed at gun shows. Criminals steal guns rather than buy them. So it’s the criminals who have the advantage with such laws.

    I’d love to see you find examples of people who were saved by possessing firearms. I think you’d be surprised at how common they are, but under-reported (for obvious reasons). I too want people to use logic and common sense, but gun control is not logical. The places with the strictest gun control laws have the highest crime and shootings, while the places with the fewest gun control laws are the safest. I’ve seen plenty of people open carrying guns, and I just smile and continue on my way. I’ve never been shot.

    1. I spent that last forty minutes writing a lengthy rebuttal to each of your points, but right as I was about to hit the “reply” button I had a change of heart. You know I disagree with you and vice versa. I don’t see the logic or validity in any of your points, nor you mine. But, I DO respect your right to have those opinions and views. And I respect that you have the right to own and carry a firearm if you choose. Exactly how many and what kind of firearms is up to interpretation because it’s never explicitly mentioned in the constitution unfortunately, so that’s a moot point.

      What I feel we both agree on is that it’s a problem that criminals have guns. After all, if criminals didn’t have access to guns, then every single argument you’ve made as why we all need to own guns is instantly rendered moot. To put it another way, the only reasons why law abiding citizens carry firearms is because they’re worried about the non-law abiding citizens getting and using firearms. Which totally makes sense.

      The problem is that I don’t see any proposals to stop that coming from your side of the argument. Apparently the only solution to criminals owning guns is having law abiding citizens own even more guns. Well, that does absolutely nothing to address the root cause of the problem: that criminals have guns. Simply giving the rest of us more guns doesn’t take guns out of the hands of the people we don’t want to have them. And the ONE things that I would think would limit the amount of unregistered or loose firearms out there–closing gun show loopholes–is something you’re patently against. I don’t understand that at all. If you’re a law abiding citizen, why would you even need a loophole? Loopholes like the gun show and expo ones favor criminals, so why on earth would you want to continue that? Closing gun show loopholes would in no way infringe upon your right to own weapons, what kinds you could own, and how many–yet you can’t even agree to that.

      If the pro-gun argument centers around the idea that you’re constantly under threat of harm from your fellow citizen or the government, then I’d say that we have a pretty lousy society. Yes, I realize that due to human nature crime and violence will always exist. But if you can’t even walk down the street or eat at a family restaurant without packing heat because you’re afraid that some criminal is going to blow you away, then what’s the point? Living under constant paranoia is no way to live at all. As I said, we can never mitigate all of the risks in life. But there has to be something better than, “I’m going to grocery store–better strap on my Glock just in case someone decides to shoot up the place.”

  5. You should have posted that lengthy rebuttal… it would have made for an entertaining discussion 😉

    And while you don’t see the validity in any of my points, myself and many others do, and we intend to educate as many people as possible.

    The fact that the constitution doesn’t explicitly mention what kind of firearms we’re entitled to possess isn’t a moot point at all. In fact I think it’s a clear proclamation that the government has no right to make that determination… that would be an infringement, which is expressly prohibited. Now I do believe “arms” to be “firearms” or guns, therefore any type of firearm is perfectly legal and constitutional. I don’t consider grenades to be a firearm, so I wouldn’t be bothered if they were outlawed.

    Yes, I agree that it’s a problem that criminals have guns. But it’s not the only problem, nor is it the biggest problem. I’m glad you realize that there’s a root cause to the problem that needs to be addressed because that’s what I’m getting at. I mentioned that we should be focused- not on limiting gun violence- but on limiting violence (regardless of the choice of weapon). The root of the problem is man’s sinfulness and violent behavior. People fight and kill because they desire something they don’t have. Therefore, if we could address this root cause we wouldn’t have to worry about gun control. In my opinion, those who desire gun control aren’t addressing the root problems. They’re only interested in a superficial band-aid to cover a gushing wound. How does strict gun control limit violence and killing? You may think you’ve got a better chance of surviving against a knife than a gun, but try telling that to the knife victims of Elliot Rodgers. Shouldn’t we put forth more effort to curtail the anger and hate that leads to these tragedies in the first place? Wouldn’t real justice and stiffer penalties reduce crime?

    I didn’t say that everyone needs to own a gun. However I did say that if one doesn’t like guns, then one doesn’t need to own one.

    I also disagree with your characterization that the only reason why law abiding citizens carry firearms is because they’re worried about the non-law abiding citizens. I’ll cite the Clive Bundy situation again… law abiding citizens carry firearms to oppose government tyranny. I don’t care how well-armed the government is. That’s not a good reason to give the government the right to infringe upon our rights. We bear arms, not just to protect our possessions, property and loved ones, but to protect us from the government, and also for hunting, recreation, collecting and a host of other reasons.

    If you don’t see solutions coming from my side, then I don’t think you’re listening. Removing guns from the hands of criminals won’t stop violence and murder. Take a look at all the murders that happen in the course of a year and find out how many are gun related. You’ll see that people don’t commit murders only with guns. They use other devices when guns aren’t available. Then ask yourself whether or not the murders would have happened if guns didn’t exist. And I would suggest that if the murderer intends to kill, the lack of guns won’t stop them. But when we the people carry guns, then we have a chance to defend ourselves.

    Further, there’s no possibility of stopping criminals from possessing guns. That’s what makes them criminals; they don’t obey laws. The strictest gun laws in the world won’t stop them. If they don’t have a gun, they’ll find a way to get one. Criminals generally don’t go to gun shows to purchase weapons. So does it really make sense to close the loopholes if it’s only going to affect the good guys? Law abiding citizens don’t need loopholes; they only need the government to mind their own business. And if you don’t think our rights will be infringed upon by closing the loopholes, then why demand it? Do you think it will stop a thug from acquiring a gun to kill his target? It’s a meaningless gesture that will do more harm than good.

    Would you feel safer walking through the entire state of Texas, Maryland, or Washington D.C? Texas has a 35.9% gun ownership rate while Maryland is at 23.3% and D.C at 3.6%. Can you guess which has the highest percentage of gun murders? Based on the theory that greater gun control will reduce gun murders, you’d probably guess that a higher percentage of people are murdered by guns in Texas, and very few in D.C, but you’d be wrong. There are only 3.2% gun murders in Texas, while 5.1% in Maryland and 16.5% in D.C. The argument that stricter gun laws will reduce gun violence is false.

    I also don’t live in constant paranoia when I go from place to place. I very rarely ever think about gun violence, except when the issue comes up for discussion. And I don’t know anyone who carries a gun out of paranoia.

    Yes, I do agree that we have a pretty lousy society. That’s the depravity and sinfulness of man, and that’s why we need Jesus. He’s the real solution that most people aren’t willing to discuss. Maybe we need to allow Christianity to have a greater influence in society and teach people right from wrong.

    1. I just fail to see the logic in the pro-gun solutions. You assert that criminals steal guns in order to attain them. That’s fine logic. So then how is the solution then to flood our society with more guns? Would logic not dictate that the fewer guns there are, the fewer would be stolen? Perhaps criminals can steal guns so easily because they’re everywhere. So again I ask why is the solution more guns? More guns = more opportunities for criminals to steal them. Pro-gun camps love to tout statistics about individual cities without taking all the factors into account. Looking at a microcosm and only a few variables will only give you and incomplete picture of the entire issue. The fact is that 1) the US has the most guns per capita in the industrialized world, 2) the most prisoners in the industrialized world, and 3) the highest rate of violent crimes in the industrialized world. Seems to me like guns are doing a sweeeeeell job of keeping us all safe.

      Furthermore, I think the term “criminal” is tossed around pretty loosely. Elliot Rogers didn’t have a criminal record when he shot and killed all of those people. Do you think any of the kids who shoot up their schools have criminal records? No. The guy who shot everyone in that Colorado theater? Hell, a former police officer shot and killed a man in a theater for texting. It’s a fallacy that “only criminal shoot people.” The entire point of being a criminal is to not get caught, and unless you’re a serial killer that means NOT drawing attention to yourself by doing things like shooting up a mall.

    2. I really should clarify that I should stop using the term “pro-gun” because it makes me sound anti-gun, which I’m not. “Anti gun control” would be a much more succinct nomer.

      1. The logic behind the pro-gun solutions is manifold. Maintaining freedom is essential. It’s vital. When we give up our freedoms and let our liberties erode, then we become oppressed, and that’s where people flee tyranny. But the problem is that we’re running out of places to flee. Of course those who are anti-gun or calling for gun control don’t take our liberties very seriously; they’re willing to give up freedom for safety, or don’t think certain freedoms are that important, or mock the idea that our government would bring harm to anyone if left to its own devices.

        I’d encourage you to take our freedoms more seriously and demand that we not let them erode. I really admire those who’ve fought and died for the freedoms we’re so ready to give up. “Live free or die” is the state motto of New Hampshire, and I think it’s a shame that we don’t have that type of attitude anymore. We’re so spoiled as a country that we no longer value freedom.

        Once we see the value of maintaining our freedom, the next step is to see the value of exercising those freedoms. Exercising our freedoms and proper education will reduce gun violence. I don’t think you realize the value of properly educating the public rather than restricting their freedoms. Instilling right and wrong in people also helps, and that’s where religion- and specifically Christianity- comes in. If we instill the value of life into the population then we’ll reduce violence. But many in the anti-gun crowd are also pro-choice, which naturally leads to a devaluization of life and moral relativism.

        You’d think that fewer guns would mean that fewer could be stolen, but that won’t stop criminals. However it will limit our freedoms. You claim that you’re not anti-gun, but it sure sounds like you’re in favor of having fewer guns. That sounds anti-gun to me.

        Having more guns in the population is a deterrent. If criminals know that the citizens are armed, then they’ll be less likely to commit a crime. Notice that the major mass shootings come in gun-free zones… not places where people are expected to be armed. Most criminals don’t want resistance. That’s logical. Therefore a well armed populace will deter criminals and reduce violence. Think about it.

        The statistics are helpful, and hopefully analyzing the statistics and data will put things in perspective and help us make wise decisions. Look at it from a scientific perspective.

        A Gallup Poll showed that only 4% of Americans think gun control is an important problem. Getting our economy in order, lowering unemployment and lowering the debt are greater concerns.

        A Harvard study has demonstrated that, “as gun ownership increases, murder and suicide decreases.” And, “Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. The study found that nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership have a combined murder rate three times higher than that of the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership.” “Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland’s murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe.” “Russia’s murder rate is four times higher than the U.S. and more than 20 times higher than Norway. This, in a country that practically eradicated private gun ownership over the course of decades of totalitarian rule and police state methods of suppression.” “The important thing to keep in mind is not the rate of deaths by gun – a statistic that anti-gun advocates are quick to recite – but the overall murder rate, regardless of means.” “gun control is ineffectual at preventing murder, and apparently counterproductive.”

        True, Elliot Rodgers didn’t have a criminal record, but there were warning signs- as there always are. And no one took them seriously enough. What he made public should have been enough to warrant a search.

        “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
        Ben Franklin

      2. I don’t know why you’d think I don’t take freedom seriously. I honestly have no idea where you’re getting that. I haven’t said anything about taking away anyone’s freedom. The only freedom that I’m interested in “taking away” is the freedom to kill someone at the drop of a hat, which I don’t think is all that unreasonable.

        The main difference here is that I don’t believe that violence is the only pathway to freedom.

        The logical extension of your argument would be that before guns existed, nobody had any freedom. Or that somehow we now have more freedom since the invention of guns. I’d challenge anyone to come up with a way to prove or quantify that.

        Is your argument that the entire constitution and the entire bill of rights are both utterly meaningless without guns? Because it sounds like you’re saying that all of my constitutional rights and freedoms wouldn’t exist if guns didn’t exist. And I see no reason or proof to ever assume that.

      3. In fact, the more I think about it, there’s really no reason or proof to conflate guns with freedom or liberty at all. There are more guns in American than in any other period of history, yet Americans as a whole have fewer rights than any other time since the founding of our country. You have no right to privacy with the NSA. You’re rights to free speech are limited by political correctness and lawsuits from the likes of the ACLU. Banks can knowingly and willingly crash the entire economy, bankrupting you in the process, and face no charges. Freedom of the press is more and more restricted due to government involvement and corporate consolidation of the news media. The government can seize your land and property whenever it wants. They can hold you without due process. If someone has more money than you do they have a bigger say in the way laws are passed. Where was all the help from guns when these laws were being passed, when all of this was happening? Nowhere.

        The more I think about it, the only right that HASN’T been restricted or changed in some way is the right to own a gun. Most guns, fewest rights. Every day your rights to free speech, a free press, etc are being legislated away. More guns don’t seem to be solving that problem.

      4. The reason why I don’t think you’re taking our freedoms seriously is because you’re so willing to give up freedom for the perception of safety. Even if you don’t think the second amendment applies to American citizens, the courts recognize that American citizens do have that right, and you reject that. You say you don’t want to take away all guns, but you’re advocating various forms of gun control and a reduction of guns and ammunition. You’re critical of those who exercise their 2nd amendment rights. You say that you’re not anti-gun or for the abolition of guns, but are critical of anyone who open-carries a gun in a public place. You claim that fewer guns would lead to less gun violence, that the 2nd amendment no longer has a purpose, that the 2nd amendment doesn’t make sense, and that protecting ourselves from the government is quaint. You argue for stricter gun control because the average citizen can’t own a grenade. You make the case that we need stricter gun control because mental health problems are getting worse and not better, but you also claim that the pro-gun argument on mental health is a cop-out and a scapegoat. You scoff at the idea that our freedoms would be restricted by stricter gun control laws, or that wishing to maintain freedom is a weak argument for opposing stricter gun control. You demonize gun advocates by suggesting that they believe that their right to own or carry a gun supersedes anyone else’s right to live (I know of no one who believes that). And you think people have a right not to be around guns.

        What have you written that would cause me to conclude that you take our freedoms seriously? Is it because you don’t think “all” guns should be taken away? Gee, how thoughtful.

        Tell me, how do you define a militia? Webster defines it as: 1) a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency. 2) a body of citizens organized for military service. 3) the whole body of able bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service. George Mason described it as the whole people. How would your definition affect our freedom to own guns?

        You claim that the 2nd amendment only applies to militias, but then claim that the purpose of the 2nd amendment was to ensure that people had the firepower to keep the government in check in case it became tyrannical. Which is it? Both can’t be true. If the 2nd amendment only applies to militias- which are controlled by the government- then how would the militia keep the government in check? That doesn’t make sense. But it does make sense if the 2nd amendment also applies to American citizens.

        No one has the right not to be around weapons. And no one should be forced to give up their weapons because you don’t want one in your presence. You don’t even know if the person next to you is carrying one. When you’re hiking and another hiker approaches from the opposite direction, do you announce that you’re carrying a gun so that they can exercise their right to not be around a weapon? Perhaps you should do that since you think people have a right not to be around guns. Since you believe cops should have guns, then doesn’t that violate everyone else’s right not to be around guns? You seem to be okay with that.

        Here’s what you claim to support: 1) Guns being sold only by licensed dealers. 2) More thorough and extensive background checks. 3) Closing loopholes at gun shows and expose. 4) Assault weapons ban. 5) Banning extended clips. 6) Restrictions on ammunition. 7) Getting gun lobbyists out of congress. 8) Tracking who buys firearms.

        Each of these restrictions would limit the freedoms of ordinary citizens who are not a threat. In fact people have been killed as a result of such restrictions. Tell me, who has the advantage when banning extended clips and restricting ammunition? You, or the thug who wants to kill you with the 10,000 rounds of ammunition he has in his backpack? Or how about the mother trying to protect her children from multiple intruders? Obviously the good guys will be at a disadvantage because the criminals don’t care about breaking the law.

        You claim to only be interested in taking away the freedom of someone killing at the drop of the hat, but you don’t realize that that person who wants to kill at the drop of a hat doesn’t need a gun to kill you. Have you ever heard the saying that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people?” It’s true. I think you’d be better off advocating less violence than advocating less gun violence. Guns and ammunition aren’t the problem.

        You say that violence isn’t the only pathway to freedom, but the purpose of owning a gun isn’t meant to encourage violence. Owning a gun is intended to protect one from violence.

        Saying that my argument is that “before guns existed, nobody had any freedom,” demonstrates a fundamental flaw. Of course people had freedoms even though they didn’t own guns. The trick is that one’s freedoms can’t be violated until someone takes them away. No one’s rights were being violated when guns didn’t exist. Our rights can only be violated once they do exist and we have access to them. Restricting access prevents us from exercising our right.

        For the sake of this argument, when I’m talking about rights, freedom and liberty, I’m strictly referring to gun rights because that’s what your post is about. I’m not referring to other rights like cigarette smoking, taking drugs, religion or speech. If you want to discuss the NSA or freedom of the press, I’ll be happy to discuss that if you post a related article.

      5. Thanks for the clarification. A lot of people who are anti-gun control don’t differentiate the “freedoms” that they’re talking about. It was my mistake to lump you in that crowd if you’re truly only speaking of 2nd amendment rights in this conversation.

        I notice that you’ve directly avoided answering the most pertinent question I’ve asked: how do any of the arguments you’ve made prevent violent people from obtaining guns? You can steer the conversation in a direction that suits your favor all you’d like, but I’d appreciate an answer to that question since it’s the crux of the issue.

        You’ll have to explain the logic of this to me: “the purpose of owning a gun isn’t meant to encourage violence. Owning a gun is intended to protect one from violence.” And how exactly does a gun do that without threat of violence? If someone violent attacks you and you pull a gun on them it certainly isn’t to encourage the both of you to hold hands and resolve your differences through song. There’s no action that can be taken with a gun that isn’t violent in some manner. A gun is useless without threat of force.

        A few other gaps in logic:
        “You say that you’re not anti-gun or for the abolition of guns, but are critical of anyone who open-carries a gun in a public place.” What do these two ideas have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing. Carrying a gun in public and owning a gun are not mutually exclusive, as you seem to think.

        “You say you don’t want to take away all guns, but you’re advocating various forms of gun control and a reduction of guns and ammunition.” Again, these are two unrelated ideas. Reducing the types or guns available and the types of ammunition available do not preclude gun ownership.

        “You make the case that we need stricter gun control because mental health problems are getting worse and not better, but you also claim that the pro-gun argument on mental health is a cop-out and a scapegoat.” Again, all you would need to do here is provide an example of how the pro-gun argument or any of the arguments you’ve made for increased freedom would prevent guns from getting into the hands of the mentally ill.

        “No one has the right not to be around weapons.” Says who? You? The NRA? I didn’t realize they made laws in this country now. Please direct me to whatever legal precedent you’re citing here and I’ll happily change my stance.

        “And no one should be forced to give up their weapons because you don’t want one in your presence.” Please direct to where I said that anyone should ever have to give up their weapons because of this. If you’d like, I can refer you to a point where I specifically said that I’m NOT for the abolition of firearms (which you even admitted), since they can and are used responsibly by people. At this point, you’re either misunderstanding what I’ve been saying or you’re just blatantly putting words into my mouth.

        Furthermore, for clarification, if I ever do carry a firearm with me hiking, I ALWAYS open carry it in plain sight. I’m not interested in conceal carry and I never will be, for precisely the reason I gave earlier: a lot of people are uncomfortable around guns, and that’s perfectly within reason and within their rights in my opinion. So yes, everyone I come into contact deserves to know I have a firearm, so I make no effort to ever conceal it, ever. Period.

        The bottom line here is that a lot of these arguments hinge directly upon how you interpret a constitutional amendment that is literally one sentence.

        “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.” That’s all the amendment says. Everything else about concealing weapons, how many people can own, what type they can own, etc. that comes after that sentence is purely subjective. Perhaps the authors of that amendment intentionally left it vague because they didn’t want those rights to ever be restricted. On the other hand, seeing as how the people who wrote the document were far from idiots, why not specifically mention that in the amendment? If the spirit of that amendment and it’s intentional vagueness is to allow unlimited freedom then why not write the amendment to specifically reflect that, so that there is no room for interpretation? The fact that most of this argument hinges upon the intent or the “spirit” of the amendment makes it fair game to me.

        But more importantly, there’s no reason why the laws can’t change. None whatsoever. Our legal system is not written in stone. Rulings are made and overturned everyday. The second amendment itself was just that…an amendment. As in it wasn’t originally part of the document. The constitution is more fluid than you think: we’ve changed it multiple times over the years, continually adding to it.

      6. Good discussion here. I’ll make two installments.

        Yes, it was particularly the 2nd amendment rights and freedoms I was referring to. But I’ll add that once we choose to give up one particular freedom, then it becomes easier for the government to take away any other freedom. And that’s a good reason not to budge an inch. Doing so will only harm us in the long run.

        how do any of the arguments you’ve made prevent violent people from obtaining guns?

        I did answer the question. Perhaps I could have been clearer: Justice was one answer I gave. Justice means punishment and administration of the law. If we deal with violent people swiftly and bring them to justice with a harsh sentence, then they will serve as a deterrent to other violent people while they’re in jail. We can also teach people right from wrong and educate them on personal responsibility. We should focus on religion- particularly Christianity. If more people possess these qualities, then violent crime will be reduced.

        Unfortunately some people think a godless society with a total separation from God will in someway produce a violent free nation… not! Such a nation will only become more depraved and violent, and we can see this as we head towards a cliff.

        I also echoed the conservative idea to crack down on those who have serious mental conditions, particularly those who have announced their violent intentions. The FBI should be on top of anyone publishing their intent to harm others.

        You’ll have to explain the logic of this to me: “the purpose of owning a gun isn’t meant to encourage violence. Owning a gun is intended to protect one from violence.” And how exactly does a gun do that without threat of violence?

        Simple: The conservative idea is that we don’t buy a gun hoping to use it. We buy a gun hoping we never have to use it. It’s a deterrent. The criminal doesn’t even need to know you have a weapon. All they need to know is that there’s a possibility that you have one. And if they think you may have one, then they may go elsewhere, or refrain from violence. And if they do know you have a gun, then they’re probably not stupid enough to demand a showdown. Most criminals don’t want to risk being shot themselves. Therefore, if they know you have a weapon or think you have one, they won’t resort to violence. You seem to think that if you open carry a gun, that’s somehow encouraging others to resort to violence, when that’s not true at all. Open carrying a gun is not a threat. You do this yourself. Does that mean you’re threatening violence? If anything it’s a warning (not a threat) to others not to resort to violence. There’s a big difference between a warning and a threat. A threat is telling someone that you’re going to hurt them. A warning is telling others not to harm you. I have never felt threatened by anyone open carrying a gun, and I wouldn’t feel threatened if I passed you while hiking.

        In the scenario you’ve presented, the attacker probably won’t resort to violence once he realizes the victim has a gun. He was the one threatening violence, while the victim warned him not to resort to violence. If the attacker decides to resort to violence anyway, and the victim shoots the attacker, then, yes, that’s a form of violence, but it was also just. The attacker shouldn’t have attacked. Every victim should have the right to protect themselves from the threat of violence. But nonetheless, the intent of the victim brandishing the gun was to prevent violence, not encourage it. In most cases no violence is necessary. So rather than encouraging violence, guns discourage violence. That’s the logic. And if you still disagree, then threaten the next person who open carries a gun and see if that encourages you to carry out your threat. Can you see how the gun would prevent any act of violence?

        “You say that you’re not anti-gun or for the abolition of guns, but are critical of anyone who open-carries a gun in a public place.” What do these two ideas have to do with each other?

        Obviously you would rather that person not possess a gun in a public place. That sounds anti-gun to me.

      7. “You say you don’t want to take away all guns, but you’re advocating various forms of gun control and a reduction of guns and ammunition.” Again, these are two unrelated ideas.

        It’s pointless to claim that you don’t want to take away all guns, but then limit the type of gun one can use and the type of ammo and the amount of ammo. In some cases you’d be rendering the victim virtually helpless. There have been cases where multiple burglars break into the home of a mother and her children. The mother locks herself and her children in her room and hides in the closet, but the burglars break in and find the mother and children in the closet. The mother has a gun and shoots the gun but misses several times before finally striking the burglar, and the other one flees. If you pass such a law limiting the gun and ammo, such victims may not be able to defend themselves. In such a scenario I’d instruct the mother to keep shooting until the attackers are completely incapacitated and are no longer a threat.

        “No one has the right not to be around weapons.” Says who?

        You did. You said, “Obviously the police should have guns.” Logic would dictate that if you’re in sight of a police officer, then, if you do have a right not to be around weapons, then your rights are being violated. And if you’re anywhere near the president of the United States, then your rights are being violated, because I’ll guarantee that there are body guards and sharpshooters with guns. If you do think you have a right not to be around guns, then tell that to the president or the next police officer you see and then tell me what their response is.

        “And no one should be forced to give up their weapons because you don’t want one in your presence.” Please direct to where I said that anyone should ever have to give up their weapons because of this.

        Such a response is implied. It’s a logical conclusion. If you claim that you have a right not to be around weapons, then what happens when you’re standing next to someone who is carrying a weapon (concealed or open-carry)? Obviously if you have a right not to be around weapons, then that person either needs to leave so that you may maintain your right, or that person must be forced to give up their weapon. Or you could turn around and go back to the safety of your own home. The only way such a non-existent right could be enforced is if we had metal detectors in all public places, forcing people to give up their weapons so that you don’t have to be around them. And since you do open carry your gun when hiking, aren’t you violating everyone else’s right not to be around a weapon? I just don’t see how you could think such a right exists. If you know karate, then your hands and feet could be considered lethal weapons. Your plastic knife could be considered a weapon. Do you really believe such a right exists? Is that in the Constitution? I think I missed it.

        If the spirit of that amendment and it’s intentional vagueness is to allow those rightwrite the amendment to specifically reflect that, so that there is no room for interpretation?

        I think it’s impossible to write something so that there’s no room for interpretation. The president of the United States is breaking laws all the time that seem pretty cut-and-dry to me. But that hasn’t stopped him from doing whatever he wants. If anyone gives him a hard time he just lies. He can get away with anything he wants.

        Yes, laws can be changed. But, like I said, we shouldn’t budge an inch on our freedoms. We need to maintain them with all the strength we have. Otherwise you may end up losing a freedom you do cherish.

  6. A well though out position. I do strongly believe that many of our issues with guns is a mental health issues, but I don’t use it as an excuse to limit gun control. I just wish both sides of the argument would set aside 10% of their war chest put it towards mental health issues. I know it will never happen but a guy can dream.

    I live in rural Oregon where gun laws are very lax, on of my co-workers bragged that she got a conceal carry permit and had never once fired a gun. Apparently in several county here all you have to do is bot be a felon and past a written test to get a CCP. No practical skill with a gun is needed. Let me say this I feel less safe now knowing might be caring.

    1. I’ve always wondered why there is no practical skills test involved in obtaining conceal carry permits. After all, you have to prove you can safely drive a car before you get your driver’s license–shouldn’t we at least do the same for firearms?

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