KingMidget's Ramblings

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Guns in America


Ever since the school shooting in December, I’ve been involved in a vicious cycle of discussion — well, no, it’s not a discussion, it’s more a frenzy of name-calling and hate and miscommunication — over at Elk Grove Patch.  The conversation revolves around the different views on gun control.  I posted the following tonight in an effort to steer the conversation away from the typical on-line crap and towards an actual solution.  I’m guessing it won’t produce anything new, but if you’ve got any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

 

Rather than deal with this in the piecemeal, name-calling fashion that so many comment threads seem to degenerate into, I’m offering the following as my ideas for a solution to the “gun problem” for purposes of a discussion and debate, knowing full well that this is likely to end up where all previous attempts at such discussions have ended.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t.

First, I want to dispense with some arguments and positions I’ve seen that I believe are irrelevant.

  1. If we outlaw guns, only criminals will have guns.  My proposal will not prevent people from having guns to defend themselves.  As well, we don’t make laws based on whether or not criminals obey them.  We make laws to define what we believe is right and wrong in our society and then enforce them to the best of our ability.  Would you prefer a world in which a criminal can possess an automatic weapon without violating the law or would you prefer a world in which the criminal’s mere possession of an automatic weapon would be a crime?
  2. To defend yourself, you must arm yourself to the teeth because the armed marauders are knocking at your door.  I keep hearing how people need semi-automatic or automatic weapons because they need to defend against the chance of a marauding mob of well-armed criminals invading their castle.  If we made laws based on similar likelihoods, we would outlaw airplanes, cars, and, well, pretty much everything.  The chances of your castle being invaded by criminals armed with automatic weapons, is most likely less than you dying in a plane crash or in a car accident.
  3. The corollary to #2 is that citizens must arm themselves against a tyrannical government.  Again, I believe this is an idea that should not limit ideas for exerting some control over the specter of gun violence in this country.  The black helicopters aint coming any time soon people.  The guv’mint isn’t going to impose martial law and destroy your lives and your freedom.  If you disagree, feel free to explain the scenario in modern America where you see that happens.
  4. The more armed people there are, the less gun violence there will be.  Somebody suggested that America in the 1800s is a perfect example of this theory.  As I suggested, anybody who thinks so should revisit their American history.  As well, there are plenty of examples in the modern world where this simply isn’t true.  The idea that more guns would reduce the incidence of gun violence defies logic.

Second, rather than talking about what the 2nd Amendment means and what it may allow for in terms of restrictions on gun ownership, let’s start with what we believe we should do as a country and a society.  Come to some consensus on where we want to head on this incredibly contentious issue and then determine how it fits within the 2nd Amendment.

Here’s my proposal (and I’m going to add my opinion of whether the 2nd Amendment as interpreted and applied by the Supreme Court in Heller would allow for it):

  1. Background checks for all gun purchases.  Not just for sales by licensed dealers, but for every gun purchase there is.  If you purchase a gun and did so without benefit of a background check, both you and the seller are subject to criminal penalties.  Yes, there will be plenty of underground gun sales it’s impossible to track, but this goes back to my fundamental point.  Do we, as a society and a country, want to allow people to buy guns without background checks or not?  If the answer is no, then we adopt a law that requires a background check for every single gun sale that occurs.  (Allowed by 2nd Amendment:  Yes, although there’s an interesting side issue here – what things disclosed in a background check would disqualify the purchaser?  I’m open to suggestions to what that could be.)
  2. Every gun owner must be licensed to do so.  The license could be accompanied by required training in the use and safe handling/storage of the covered weapon.  Again, possession of an unlicensed weapon, or possession of a weapon by an individual who does not have a license and can show proof of having received the required training would be result in penalties.  (Allowed by the 2nd Amendment.)
  3. Automatic weapons be either banned or subject to the types of additional scrutiny that concealed carry permits require.  (Open for debate, but I believe the Heller decision suggests this would be permissible
  4. I’m open on the idea of limiting (or not) the capacity of magazines.  Let’s discuss.  (Again, open for debate, but I believe the Heller decision suggests this would be permissible.)

 

That’s what I’ve got.  Yes, I’ve probably missed things.  Maybe I’ve not stated things as clearly as I would have liked.  What I’d like to see, however, rather than comments that I’m stupid for this or an idiot for that, are counter-proposals.  You don’t like my solution, offer yours.  Let’s see how this goes.  It’s up to you.

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10 responses to “Guns in America

  1. Patrick W. O'Bryon February 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Thank you for a thoughtful and cogent discussion of this difficult problem. .

  2. Conversations With The Moon February 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I’ll play devil’s advocate to some extent with your first four positions:
    1. Lawful restrictions on gun ownership will not affect those not inclined to be “lawful”. That said, many of those people in possession of weapons obtained them (theft) from people who “lawfully” owned said weapon. Chicken or the egg?
    2. I agree wholeheartedly with your assertion, but I do sleep more comfortably at night knowing that I have the ability to defend both myself and my family if the unlikely should occur. I think it’s reasonable to continue to allow folks to keep that piece of mind, especially in rural areas with long police response times.
    3. Agreed. I don’t see the likelihood of martial law being imposed anytime soon, however I will note the lack of law enforcement presence during the early stages of the Rodney King riots and the scenes of mostly Korean business owners successfully defending their lives and businesses with firearms in the absence of any form social order.
    4. I’m ambivalent on this one. I’ve seen studies supporting both positions and can visualize the efficacy of both all-or-nothing scenarios. If I had to wager I’d go with control over abundance.

    Now to your proposals:

    1. This is the biggest no-brainer out there…and we need to add mandated waiting periods as well…Agreed.
    2. Disagree. There is already a requirement in place in California called a “Handgun Safety Certificate” that must be obtained prior to purchasing a handgun. The test is a joke and the abundance of moronic and unskilled drivers on the roads in California make me even less of a “licensing” fan…I fear it would cost WAY too much money to implement and enforce a meaningful training/licensing program, but your heart is in the right place.
    3. Automatic (pull trigger once and gun fires continuously until trigger released) weapons are already banned and heavily regulated. Semi-automatic (gun fires once each time trigger is pulled) weapons have never been banned and I think we’d face an uphill battle on this one.
    4. I think we chatted once before about the benefits/lack thereof of magazine restrictions…I still believe it’s a red herring but frankly my position has changed somewhat when hearing the argument that the delay in reloading could allow enough time to save just one life in a mass shooting incident. This is not a deal breaker for me, so I could support it if, as we discussed, it was part of a broader political/social solution to the core issues.

    Good for you for approaching this hot button issue in the first place!

    • kingmidget February 8, 2013 at 6:24 am

      Thank you for the rational response, something that never happens at Elk Grove Patch. I’ve since learned that automatic weapons, for the most part, are banned everywhere. So, I’ve modified my proposal:
      New 3: Existing laws regarding automatic weapons remain unchanged.
      New 4: owning a semi-automatic with a clip of more than XX bullets in it would need the additional level of scrutiny I suggested for automatic weapons.
      New 5: You can own whatever kind of gun you want for defense of your castle. The moment you cross your property line with a gun that violates any of the above, you become a criminal.
      I don’t want to take reasonable weapons out of the hands of reasonable people. There’s something to be said for self-defense of your home. The problem is that out in the community, there’s no way of knowing who a good guy is and who a bad guy is and I don’t want any of them having guns.

    • kingmidget February 8, 2013 at 6:25 am

      Again, thanks for being the one person to respond to this idea with a rationale response. It’s amazing how incapable people are of doing what you did.

    • kingmidget February 8, 2013 at 6:45 am

      By the way, you’ve identified exactly why limits on magazine capacity should be in place. People say they can swap a magazine out in less than two seconds. That’s probably in an ideal situation where they’re at a range, the magazine is right in front of them, and they’re timed from standing, ready to swap it out. Let’s go back a step. From the second the last shot is fired from the empty magazine. Then time it for the shooter in the fog of their attack fumbling for another magazine in their pocket, getting it, popping it in and going from there. I think it’s more than two seconds and would give somebody a chance to charge the shooter.

      • Conversations With The Moon February 8, 2013 at 7:17 am

        That rationale is exactly why I changed my position. I’ve seen professionals swap them in under a second, but that, as you stated, is under ideal circumstance by professionals who do it for a living…not a deranged killer. One final note, my community is under siege right now while a sociopath is on the loose killing cops. The man he killed in Irvine was the close friend of one of my co-workers. It may be placebo only, but I have a greater sense of security knowing I have a gun in my house versus not having any way to defend myself. I think to some extent that strikes at the core feeling of many rational gun owners.

      • kingmidget February 8, 2013 at 9:01 am

        Condolences to your co-worker and his friend’s family. I can’t imagine the feelings people are having where this guy seems to be holed up.
        I get the comfort having a gun handy can bring. It’s not for me, but I get it. It’s why I’m not for any proposal that takes away people’s right to defend their home. But, the general right to self-defense ends at your property line. Once you enter the public domain, there should be a whole lot more restrictions and controls.

  3. Conversations With The Moon February 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Thank you and I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s a common sense proposal in a world sorely lacking any on both sides of the issue.

  4. Pingback: The Cat's Reflection » Blog Archive » Gun Laws

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