Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guns

Some of my in-laws hunt own guns and regularly hunt. Indeed, I have a scar on my forehead that I got while hunting with my grandfather-in-law a long time ago - I got too close to the scope. I understand hunting and appreciate a good venison steak when someone will give me one. I understand target shooting as a hobby. I even understand gun collecting within certain parameters. Especially given the events in Tucson, I believe it is time to change our laws regarding firearms.

First, I don't think the 2nd amendment has anything to do with the arguments we have today and certainly do not refer to the weapons you or I can purchase at a local gun store. Folk who call themselves "originalists" can't possibly believe that the framers of the constitution meant "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" to say that any crazy could go in and purchase a semiautomatic pistol, high capacity magazines, and unlimited rounds of ammunition, conceal them, and carry them anywhere. And if so, why not depleted uranium shells? Or nuclear warheads? After all, if the purpose of the amendment is to allow a citizen militia the ability to stand up against the army, then they need access to the same kinds of firepower. If the government has the right to regulate any arms, why does it not have the right to regulate all arms? Of course, as soon as I write that, I realize there are those who would argue that indeed, the government has no right to regulate any arms and that they should be able to go to the store and purchase a howitzer or shoulder mounted rocket grenade launcher if they want. Crazy!

Second, clearly the current regulations do not work. Crazies get guns and ammunition and, at least in the case of Jared Loughner, they do so legally. The last time we visited Phoenix, we ate at a Waffle House with a sign on the door - "No Handguns Allowed." I couldn't help but wonder what had happened that they had that sign or why the McDonalds across the street didn't have one. It was very common to see guns in holsters at people's sides. I'm sure there were at least as many concealed weapons.

Third, the argument is made that if more people have firearms, then when a crazy does pull out a gun, there will be someone there with a gun to "take them out." This didn't work either. In Arizona, which has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the nation and where you can't go anywhere without seeing guns strapped to people's belts and evidence of guns everywhere, nobody had a gun to "take out" Jared Loughner or at least, nobody used one. Indeed, he was stopped when people tackled him while trying to reload... which of course was after 32 shots since he had a high capacity magazine. And think of that scenario a bit more... so a crazy in the middle of a crowd, pulls out a gun and starts shooting and people from all around pull out their guns and start shooting as well... how many would be injured or killed in the crossfire?

Fourth, there are those who want to relax the laws further including allowing guns on college and university campuses and in bars. Picture college age guys brimming over with testosterone, alcohol, and guns... mix them all together and picture the results of that. We already have states where a person who is obviously mentally ill can buy a semi-automatic handgun. Imagine what might happen.

Fifth, in spite of what the NRA would have you believe, recent studies have shown that the vast, vast majority of guns being used by the Mexican drug criminals were purchased at gun shops just over the border in the US. Gun ownership is highly restricted in Mexico and there is only one gun store in the entire country and it is controlled by the military. Between 7000 and 8000 firearms are legally sold in Mexico each year. Last year some 30,000 guns were seized by law enforcement officials, primarily from drug cartels. Our guns are clearly finding their way into Mexico and feeding the violence there.

Yes, it is true that guns don't kill people, people kill people... but Jared Loughner would have killed and injured a lot fewer people, maybe none, without his Glock 19.

So what do I learn from this? Restrict gun ownership. Restrict the resale of guns. Restrict the ownership of ammunition. Restrict the kinds of weapons that can be owned. Restrict where those firearms can go or be.

1 comment:

Michael Mahoney said...

This will probably be a surprise to you, but I don't totally disagree with you.

I own guns, I used to shoot competitively, and two of my daughters shoot competitively. My father is a NRA instructor, my nephew a ranked shooter, and his girlfriend is finishing college on a rifle scholarship. Just so you know where we're at.

I have no problem with reasonable restrictions on firearms. Background checks, licencing, waiting periods, handgun registrations... I have no problem with any of that. While probably not strictly constitutional, these measures are at least prudent.

Of course, the majority of criminals won't care. They'll bring the guns wherever they want to do their crimes. They buy guns here because it's convenient, but if that source dried up, they would simply buy them elsewhere.

You can't legislate the human heart. David wanted Uriah dead and didn't need a gun to do it. Cain wanted Abel dead, and didn't need a gun to do it. There is very little correlation to gun control laws and gun violence. Some of the states that have restrictive gun control laws, like Illinois and New York, have high incidences of gun violence, where states like New Hampshire, who basically makes sure you're not actually in prison at the time, has by far the lowest per capita gun homicide rate.

Gun control laws simply don't work well. Do they have an effect? Possibly. Are they prudent? Probably. Would they have stopped this lunatic in Arizona? Probably not.