This past week I got the chance to watch a vigorous gun debate between Michael Moore and S.E. Cupp on Bill Maher’s show. Now despite my unabashed crush on Miss Cupp, and my absolute distaste for anything Moore does, I found myself siding with that disgusting behemoth of a man. To a point.
Every since the news broke about the horrible events at Newtown Conn, the phrase gun control has been on the lips of every newscaster and the front pages of every newspaper in the country. The only time that it isn’t in the forefront, is when they find something else to hang on Obama.
I am always fascinated why there is any debate about gun control at all. This is really the one issue where both sides of the aisle should be able to agree in about 15 minutes. But for some reason, conservatives allow the gun nuts to control the debate and stall the conversation. The truth is “Everyone” supports gun control. We just disagree where the line should be drawn.
To be fair, let’s provide some historical context. The text of the 2nd amendment 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.
There are some discrepancies about the placement of the comma after militia, but for the scope of this article, I think we’ll just look at the overall text.
Conservatives like to quote the second part of the amendment, – the right of the people… while often overlooking the first part about Militia and State. When the constitution was drafted, there was not much worry about home invasions, or carjacking’s or drive-bys, or any of the things that America has had to face in the past 50 years. What they did have to deal with, was the threat of the British landing on their shores and setting the entire village on fire. They needed to be able to raise a defending force at a moment’s notice, hence the right to keep arms in their homes.
Over the years, the nature of crime has obviously changed, as has the nature and manufacture of guns, but for the most part, the 2nd amendment went unchallenged for the next 2 centuries.
Then in the past 3 decades, as the media began to grow and take a more prominent part in our lives, certain words began to enter the American lexicon, carrying with it a stigma that can never be erased: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Fort Hood, Newtown. These are places on the map that most of us never heard of before, and now none of us will ever forget.
Of course, it is the news of mass shootings that get most of the attention, but it is truly only the tip of the iceberg. In 2011, the number of gun deaths in the U.S. was 32,000. To put that in perspective, the number of deaths due to terrorism in the last 30 years was about 3,500.
Of the 32,000, 11,000 were homicides. 19,000 were suicides. I can’t say for certain that if those individuals didn’t have access to guns they would still be alive, but I’m pretty sure a fair amount of them would be.
That leaves about 2,000 accidental gun deaths. Each one of those numbers astounds me. And while the overall trend is lowering in terms of gun violence, those facts are still mind-blowing.
And despite the numbers, I’m not here to take away your guns. I’m am not against hunting in any way. I believe that it provides a valuable service to the overall health of the environment, although how someone could shoot a wolf for sport is beyond my comprehension.
And I’m not trying to stop you from protecting your family or your home. If someone is threatening your life, you have the absolute right to protect yourself.
What I can’t understand is why gun owners put up such resistance to sensible gun laws. I’ve had numerous conversations with gun owners who claim that they are against gun control. I usually start the conversation like this:
You think private citizens should be able to own a tank?
No, of course not.
How about an RPG?
How about a mortar? A surface to air missile?
Don’t be ridiculous.
How about an M-16?
This one usually gets them stuttering, before they admit, no, private citizens should not have the same weapons that the military owns.
At this point I always say, So you DO believe in so form of gun control.
This really sets off the stuttering.
No offense to stutterers.
The biggest argument that gun owners have at the moment is the opposition to a national gun registry. I saw Ted Cruz talk about it on the senate floor. Are you familiar with Ted Cruz? He is the despicable freshman senator from Texas. He is the poster child for why we should allow Texas to become its own country. He reminds me of the movie Geronimo, where Robert Duvall’s character says “Texans are the lowest form of white man.” Ted Cruz is the new star of the republican party. I’m not surprised.
Ted Cruz says that if we allow a national background checks, it will lead to a national gun registry and that will open the door for allowing the government to take our guns. He later admitted that there was no indication that the government was moving towards a national gun registry.
My question is, what’s so wrong with a national gun registry? The gun lobby always champions that fact the most gun owners are responsible citizens. I agree with that proposition, but the fact remains, at one a point, all guns are legal weapons, until they fall in the wrong hands. When that happens, I want to know where it went wrong. A national gun registry provides that information. And yet, both sides of the aisle have done all they can to prevent that. It boggles my mind. Folks, if the day comes where a tyrannical government wants to come and take your guns away, they aren’t going to need a gun registry to do it, and all of your stockpiled AR-15’s aren’t going to prevent that.
For my two cents, gun control should be a simple matter. If you want a gun, you go to your local gun shop. You pick out the gun you want. You submit to a background check. You register the weapon. You go to the as-of-yet-nonexistent state run Dept of Firearms registration. You demonstrate that you have knowledge of the weapon, – how to load and unload the weapon, how to work the safety, how to handle and store the weapon, and then qualify by hitting a target – let’s say, 3 times out of 5 from say 50 feet. Five days later, you get a letter that says Congratulations, come pick up your gun.
WHAT THE HELL IS SO CONSTITUTION VIOLATING ABOUT THAT?
I will admit that I support a 20 shot limit on magazines and I support the ban on military assault weapons like the AR-15, used at both the Aurora and Newtown. And please, don’t try and start with the semantics of what an assault weapon is. It doesn’t have to be fully automatic in order to qualify. I am often reminded of United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s response when asked about a definition of hard-core pornography.
“I know it when I see it.”
And yes, we need to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illness, while at the same time protecting the rights of gun owners who demonstrate responsibility. But the overwhelming fact remains, the country wants tighter controls on guns. The 3 million member NRA is not going to be able to withstand the wrath of the 313 million population of mostly law-abiding US citizens who want to be able to go to the movies or the mall without the worry that some mental patient with legally obtained 9mm is going to shoot up the local donut shop. This is one issue that stands as a lynch-pin of the health of the republic. If we can’t come to a sensible consensus on this issue, the fate of the country is grim at best.