Monday, January 24, 2011

Gun Control

The commentary on the shooting spree in Tucson earlier this month has naturally led to a debate about stricter gun control. My personal opinion is that I am far more afraid of some members of my own species than I am any of the venomous, predatory creatures I may encounter on a hike in an Arizona canyon, or on an African safari. That is not even counting weaponry that makes the exercise of lethal force even more possible for Homo sapiens. I think we need to remember that we are animals ourselves, but that we also have the capacity for foresight, personal responsibility, self-control, and honest communication.

I don’t see the abolishment of personal firearms coming any time soon, but I am also not understanding why people are so up in arms about the Second Amendment at this point in our nation’s history. We already have well-armed militias, they just happen to be mostly racist survivalists. Don’t you feel safer now?

Why do we feel the need to obtain a gun on a moment’s notice? We want a waiting period before a woman undergoes an abortion, but you should be able to get a gun instantaneously? Forgive me, but this is the scenario I see playing out too often:

Gun Shop Owner: “Ok, I see from the background check you haven’t committed any crimes…”
Customer (to himself): “No, this will be my first offense.”

We cannot assume that lack of a prior crime means the person is not preparing to commit one, be it suicide, homicide, or some other act of violence. Purchasing a weapon can be a highly impulsive action, and it should not be accommodated so readily when the consequences could literally be so grave.

Psychiatric evaluation should be mandatory for anyone wanting to purchase a firearm. The more time allowed for intervention, anger management, and prescribed medication, the better. Stress, real or imagined, is arguably at an all-time high, and the answer is not putting guns in the hands of the angry and frustrated.

But if everyone was able to defend themselves (with a gun), then crimes like the Tucson shooting would not take such a heavy toll. Someone would have shot the bad guy already. Sure, but a citizen “hero” could just as easily kill another innocent bystander. We have a trained constabulary to kill innocent Black people….I mean….apprehend criminals. Sorry, I spent eleven years in Cincinnati….

Further, the overwhelming impression I get from gun advocates is that they want guns to allow them to protect the rest of their “stuff.” You won’t hear that argument from the gun lobby, though, because it sounds too selfish. Well, we are selfish, for crying out loud. Every animal is selfish, we just go to great lengths to disguise our selfishness. This dishonesty, I believe, is at the root of most social issues in the world today. We want our way, but can’t bring ourselves to say so in the most honest, straightforward manner.

Do you remember the Y2K scare? It was going to be a manmade disaster with all the computers crashing and causing total chaos. Even some people I truly admire were talking about stocking up and arming themselves “just in case.” Why? We don’t react that way to a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake. Heck, we put down our guns, and pick up shovels and sandbags instead. What is the difference? You lose “stuff” in any kind of catastrophe!

The bottom line as I see it is that we need mostly to admit our selfishness. I want fewer guns because I’m sick of good people getting murdered and maimed, and I really don’t see an upside to more weapons. I am also seeing less merit in the accumulation of material wealth all the time. We need to share more, possess less. Above all we need to re-establish trust in one another. Where do you stand? Please comment. The only thing I ask is that you be honest.


  1. Thank you for this very eloquent post. I chuckled when you pointed out that members of our well armed militia are people that most of us dismiss as lunatics.

    I also believe that when most people purchase a hand gun, they are not thinking of the potentially lethal consequences of their actions. I couldn't guess what they are thinking, but I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fact they are preparing to bring a tool into their homes that could end their lives or the life of a loved one.

    Granted, not everyone that owns personal firepower will go on a killing spree, but the potential for accidental violence is great. Eventually, one of these things is going to go off and somebody or bodies is going to get a lead pellet.

  2. Excellent point, Michael! Accidental shootings, especially from children playing with loaded weapons, hasn't made the news that much lately, yet it is a very real threat. Again, what exactly is the upside to more guns?

  3. I am as tired of guns making it into the hands of criminals as the next person. None of us wants to see innocent people killed because some lunatic lost his mind over lunch.

    One thing you must understand....criminals will find a way to own a gun. Whether they walk into a gun shop and answer a few questions and walk out with one legally....or they purchase one off the street illegally. Many people in the United States own guns and would never consider committing a crime, but do wish to have the right to protect their families...NOT their things. The second amendment gives us that right and to even consider amending it is unthinkable. Crimes will still be committed against innocent people, and should amendments be made; the law abiding citizens will no longer have any options. More gun control is only going to assist the criminals in owning guns and keep them out of the hands of the honest person who wishes to own one. Making psychiatric evaluation mandatory in the event a person wishes to purchase a gun will not work. Ask any psychiatrist, counselor or doctor and he will verify that a disturbed person is perfectly capable of hiding the fact that he is disturbed...thereby wasting valuable money, time and resources to only "fake" his way through the one thing designed to keep the gun out of his/her hands. Even if he fails the test, he can purchase one anywhere else he wishes, be it through the paper in an advertisement, a gun show, gun auction or various other ways. The man who committed the awful crime in Tucson had given his objective much thought, this was not a random act of violence brought on by a moments angst. He had reasons, and acted on those reasons, this was pre-planned not spontaneous.

    We as a country are far beyond gun will not work. There are too many guns out in the World right now, and no way to confiscate them all. We do not need stricter gun control laws, we instead need stricter consequences for crimes committed. Too many criminals are released back into the mainstream to go on and commit more crimes, often times more violent than they had previously committed.

    I would you as a human being you ride the bus, only to be confronted by a maniac with a gun intent on killing each and every person on that bus. You are sitting there along with every other person just awaiting your turn to die. During this little scenario no one on the bus owns a gun and can defend against this horrible act. Now lets change the scenario a person on the back of the bus has a conceal and carry license and has a gun on his person, he is able to stop this person from killing anymore innocent people and potentially saves your life...are you grateful? Or will you cry for more gun control? This is a very real potential, it is happening all over the country, almost daily. Non of us knows when we may be faced with this type of crime, and I for one am glad that I know how to us a gun, and don't think for one second I wouldn't use it to save your life or the life of anyone else I care about. I do not care about "things" I care about human life and my right to protect it.
    My husband has a conceal and carry license, and carry's a gun with him on a regular basis. I for one find a certain amount of security in that, I know that he will do whatever it takes to protect me and our children should the need arise. He is a college educated man and works at a white collar job, and would never think of committing a crime, but don't dare put his family in danger.
    One thing I noticed you failed to mention in your article is the individual who wishes to own firearms in order to hunt and carry on a time honored tradition of providing meat for the family table.