Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Do you think it might be time to have another national conversation about gun control?  When Gabby Giffords was blasted and all of those innocents were killed in Arizona, we gave it the old college try.  The NRA and gun rights advocates came out in full force against anyone who would even consider that it might be vaguely possible to get even a little control of the weapons and ammunition offered to absolutely anyone, at any time, for any reason.  If someone came out publicly for some form of gun control, or at least not allowing guns into the hands of nut jobs, they were called unpatriotic.   To consider the 2nd amendment fallible was like saying the Founding Fathers could have been mistaken and to too many of the self-proclaimed patriotic, The Founding Fathers = GOD.  The Constitution = BIBLE.  Truly.  Don’t you mess with my constitution now!  

I am not one of those people who think the founding fathers were infallible.  They were plenty fallible.  Who wants to live in a world where it is legal to own another human and make him/her do your bidding?  About one third of the signers of the Declaration of Independence owned slaves, including two of the three writers of the Declaration.  Thomas Jefferson himself owned around 150 slaves.  Who believes the Constitution is infallible when women had no rights to vote or own property?  The Constitution was written by white, male elitists who could not have foreseen the changes to come two-and-a-half centuries later.  They just didn’t see it coming.   They couldn’t have.

I checked out the 2nd amendment to the constitution.  Here’s what it says, "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."  The context is pretty important here.  America had just fought with a superpower of the times.  To win, they had to use local militias.   The founding fathers were scared of a ruthless, authoritarian government.  Today, we do not need well-regulated militias.  And the militias we have today are not regulated at all.  They are just plain scary.  Gun rights advocates reliance on the 2nd amendment simply doesn’t make sense in terms of militias – which is what the amendment was intended for.
Another aspect of context is the weaponry we are talking about.  Back in the day of our forefathers, a rifleman was lucky to be able to shoot once or twice a minute.  The guns were single shot muskets.  In the recent Colorado shootings, the killer used an AR15 assault rifle.  With this gun, he could shoot as many times as he could pull the trigger – 50-60 times a minute. And he had over 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
Try defending the 2nd amendment to the families of the tens of thousands who die each year in America from firearms.  Really.  I’d like to hear a convincing argument. 

Convince the victims at Columbine High School where 12 students and a teacher were murdered and 21 others were wounded that we should have the right to bear practically any arms we desire.  Or tell it to the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre where 32 people were killed and 17 were wounded.  Explain our rights to bear any kind of arms to the families of the victims at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966 where 16 people were killed and 32 wounded.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
In the year 2007
Homicide with a firearm: 12,129
Suicide with a firearm: 17,348
Death by accidental discharge of firearm: 721

Predictably, the argument about gun control will heat up again, although I have serious doubts about anything substantive changing.  The NRA spends millions each year on lobbying efforts to be sure that we all have the right to own and bear arms. 

After the shooting in Aurora last week gun rights advocates claimed predictably that if others in that crowded auditorium were armed, someone could have shot and killed the shooter before he could have shot and killed so many others.  That’s not very likely because the shooter was covered in body armor.  So, unless the well armed bystander was shooting with armor piercing bullets – it wouldn’t have helped.

From the NY Times (.com): With a few keystrokes, the suspect, James E. Holmes, ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle and 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun — an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites — in the four months before the shooting, according to the police. It was pretty much as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.
When I buy Heidi’s allergy medicine at the drugstore, a photo ID and signature are required.  My information goes into a database to make sure that I am not purchasing an unusually large amount that could be used to cook up meth.  I get it.  That doesn’t bug me.  It makes sense.  Does it make sense that a guy could buy 6,000 bullets online and it not raise any warning flags?  Anywhere? 
He also bought head-to-toe body armor and a high capacity drum magazine that allowed him to shoot his assault rifle 100 times without reloading.  No record forwarded anywhere.  No background check.  No notice to law enforcement.  At all.  Gun groups have been saying that more restrictions would not make the nation safer and that they would restrict our constitutional right.  Ah yes, our constitutional rights.  What about the rights of those people killed and wounded in that theater?  Are they not guaranteed by the same constitution?
The freaky part of the argument to me is the stuff from people like former Arizona senator Russell Pearce who wrote last Saturday - “Where were the men of flight 93???? Someone should have stopped this man,” he wrote. “…All that was needed is one Courages/Brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done.”  And that’s not all… “Lives were lost because of a bad man, not because he had a weapon, but because no one was prepared to stop it.”  This opinion echoes the ideas of the National Rifle Association – the more guns out there, the more lenient the gun laws, the less gun violence there will be.  I’d like to see some proof of that. 
No, Mr. Pearce, lives were lost because of the weapons.  If that killer only had a knife or a sword or even hunting rifle or a pistol, this tragedy would have been so much less. 
Listen, we have free speech in this country.  And we should.  But one is held accountable for yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater.  That isn’t free speech.  That is lunacy.  That is just wrong.  So… isn’t it wrong for someone to be able to buy an assault rifle, a shotgun, two pistols, 6,000 bullets and hundreds of shotgun shells, magazines that hold a hundred bullets each, and full-body protective armor?  Without a background check?  Without a waiting period?  This guy paid extra to have some of his orders expedited for God’s sake! 
I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that just a little too much “freedom”?  Isn’t there a line a little closer to sanity we can draw about the types and amounts of weapons we can buy in our country?  Now that we are several news cycles away from what happened in Aurora, the conversation is already slipping away.  Already gun rights advocates are breathing a sigh of relief about this moment of scrutiny passing. 

We shouldn’t let it pass.
OK, if you have put up with my rant, here is your dessert.  Thanks for reading.


George said...

Sadly, I agree with Russell Pearce. “…All that was needed is one Courages/Brave man prepared mentally or otherwise to stop this it could have been done.” Clearly that one man is NOT Russell Pearce nor anyone in the majority of Congress, or they would be willing to discuss gun control options and TRY to do something to minimize violence.

Since the Constitution's 2nd amendment states that this the right to keep and bear arms is predicated by "a well regulated Militia..." then why won't anyone REGULATE THE FREAKIN' MILITIAS? I agree that the Militias that exist are downright scary, so why aren't they regulated? Anyone who wants to keep and bear anything other than a hunting rifle or shotgun should be required to be registered with a WELL REGULATED militia. After all, it says so in the CONSTITUTION.


Chris Hass said...

While I completely disagree with it, I can at least understand the perspective that it should be legal to carry a concealed weapon. Some people feel this would make them, and the rest of us, safer from the dangers of the world. However, I cannot understand how anyone could be in favor of semi-automatic weapons being legal. In less than five seconds I found such a gun for sale on the internet. It is called the Black Rain Tactical Rifle. The sales tagline reads "Let It Rain!"

Why would one need such a rifle? Well, according to the description "They are perfect for tactical engagements, security and protection, sport shooting, or specialty hunting." This leads me to a few questions...

What exactly are these "tactical engagements"?

What security detail, outside of the military, uses semi-automatic rifles?

What are the "specialty hunters" hunting with these things? A T-Rex?