Fact: 42 of 50 states do not ban or regulate assault rifles. Why? (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
This is happening way too often in this country. Why? Guns are too readily available. Automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons designed to maximize kills are on the streets and apparently also in your mother’s garment closet. Why?
“It’s our constitutional right!” exclaim many of my fellow conservative thinkers. A US Representative invoked George Washington over the weekend on a TV program saying, “It ensures against the tyranny of the government, if they know that the biggest army is the American people.”
Let’s look closely at that constitutional right to bear arms. It was granted in a long ago era that really has very little resemblance to today when the military didn’t have nuclear weapons, lightning bolt death rays, corner shooting grenade launchers, and all kinds of exotic weaponry that could disintegrate you and your entire town quite easily, regardless of whether you are pointing the little gun you keep under your mattress or concealed around your ankle at them. The rights granted in the 2nd amendment are outdated and irrelevant yet so engrained in the survivalists’ and pretectionists’ DNA that the very threat of initiating a conversation is akin to telling the NEA that there will be a ban on paint brushes.
No, the guns that Americans own have nothing to do with protecting themselves against their government and everything to do with the belief that one day there will be a need to protect one’s family against an intruder that will never come – or the zombie apocalypse, or the world economic collapse or [insert another fanatical threat of choice]. Believe it or not, the odds of those events occurring and your gun helping in those situations are nearly equal.
I will never have a gun in my home. I would be MUCH MUCH more fearful of that gun being used against me or finding its way into a child or teenager’s hands. Children can find their Christmas presents. They will find your liquor cabinet. They will find your gun. They are resourceful. Are you comfortable with that? Before responding with a knee-jerk reaction, really think that through. If your answer is “yes” I hope you are right. I really do. Both for your sake and for the sake of anyone that may have disrespected your child that day.
I know that prohibition didn’t achieve its goals and even resulted in the creation of some very bad things and organizations. Drug laws don’t keep all the drugs off the street either. That I know. That is because there is huge demand for those items in society and where there is huge demand there is huge payout. As the risk increases, the payout grows. People want their drink and some want their illegal drugs and they would always find a way to get them. At the surface, that same argument can be used in the gun discussion.
But think about it. Yes, there is a huge demand for guns and no they will never be eliminated completely even with the best restrictions. But guns cannot be grown in concealed Central American hillsides nor can they be grown in your cousin’s basement. They must be (in nearly all cases) manufactured by large, well organized, tax paying companies that can be controlled and regulated much more easily than Pablo Escobar (or the thousands like him). Many of these gunmakers are also owned by the same large groups interestingly.
Yes, gun manufactures can be controlled much like tobacco companies. How many of your friends still smoke, by the way?
Additionally, drugs and alcohol don’t have a purpose of killing, although I am aware that their use does result in many deaths and that is extremely unfortunate. But there is a difference here that anyone can see if they look carefully and honestly. Drugs and alcohol are designed for recreational use; the types of assault weapons and handguns we are talking about are designed for killing. And they are designed well. In fact not only can they effectively kill but they can effectively kill many people in a short amount of time.
If Adam Lanza gets alcohol or drugs illegally, he will not use them to kill 20 children. If his mom had not owned guns, he may have been able to still obtain guns elsewhere, but he may not have. That’s the point. There is a chance that this would not have happened and it comes down to reducing risk and reducing likelihoods. That’s why we carefully design things in this world that can be dangerous to be as safe as possible and reduce the risk of accidents to children. Think of a roller coaster; they can be very dangerous and very fun, attracting young people – hence the careful design and engineering.
A frequent argument we will hear is that determined criminals will find ways to get guns and the law abiding citizens owning under protection of the Constitution of the United States of America shouldn’t be punished for that. I have two responses for that:
(1) All criminals aren’t “determined” and violence becomes an option for them when the tools to cause death are readily available
(2) The less guns owned by the law abiders will also result in less criminals getting those weapons either by stealing them or “borrowing” them, i.e. Adam borrowed his mom’s guns, didn’t he? And wasn’t she a lawful owner?
The resource pool for criminals includes the legal owners, doesn’t it? Yes, it does and often times that is the weak link. The reason criminals so often find a weapon is that they are so plentiful. Enabling legal owners will increase that pool of availability for the “bad guys”, won’t it? I ask everyone to honestly think about that. If it was EXTREMLY hard or nearly impossible for the good guys to get guns, it would be harder for the bad guys to get them and that would mean there was less of a need for the good guys to carry, which means it becomes even harder for the bad guys to get them. This continues in a vicious cycle of disarming society. Yes, in this case the vicious cycle is good!
I don’t see how there could be any logic that leads anyone to a different conclusion if they come to it sensibly, without bias and ignoring that barbaric call from their loins that screams out that they must protect themselves and their families at any cost.
I ordinarily don’t have a strong opinion either way about gun laws. I have typically been a person that believes the government should be limited and should stay out of our lives as much as possible. I have no interest in arming myself and I had in the past thought we should not prevent those who want to own legally and responsibly to do so. But I have come to the conclusion I describe above through careful thought and introspection of recent events.
I pride myself on seeing all facets of a complicated problem. I recognize that the bad guys don’t obey laws so it would be very challenging to construct a law that would completely prevent them from getting guns. Plus, anything can be used as a weapon if there is enough hatred in an individual. But that is not a good argument against making it very, very difficult if not impossible for ordinary citizens to own guns for the reasons I have described above.
I do believe that gun manufacturers need to be forced to take accountability here just like tobacco product producers have. It is their product that is finding its way into the hands of very troubled people. It is their product that is being used by people who are not fit to be a part of human society. If gun manufacturers were forced to better control how their product is distributed (or not distributed) through severe penalties or proactive procedures, it would make a difference.
But the blame is to be shared with the people themselves who commit the crimes and the people who have interacted with these people, specifically those leading up to the end game. As experts say, in cases like this one the killers almost always tell someone what they’re going to do. And even if they didn’t say anything, someone must have noticed something along the way that didn’t seem right. An email…a posting…an out of place comment. Who should have done something that didn’t do anything?
We also need to look within. Do you think this killer knew what he was going to do? Look in the mirror. Could you do something like this? Would you? If you don’t know the answer you need to do something about it now. Talk to someone. Address your problems at the source and do so aggressively. If you don’t know what the core problems are or don’t know how to solve them, you need to talk to someone that can.
Think about this: If you did commit a tragic crime, would someone looking through your records afterwards be surprised by what you did? Would your acquiantances be telling the media that, no, they’re not surprised at all that you did this? Are you the kind of person that someone would think is capable of doing something like this?
It’s up to you what you do from this moment on. It’s also up to society to be aware of those that need help and to do somthing. And it’s also up to us all to think logically and question the existence and availability of tools that have one purpose and one purpose alone.