Earlier this week, a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed as he slept in his own bed, because people who probably shouldn’t have guns had guns and decided to fire indiscriminately.
Also this week, a nine-year-old girl was at a fine little “family” establishment called Bullets and Burgers, we’re apparently the family that shoots together can also fire guns together. she was handed an Uzi 9 mm fully automatic, where she — and this is a shocker — lost control of the gun and shot the employee who was supposedly supervising her in the face, killing him and ruining the lives of two families in the process.
Earlier today, there was an apparent workplace shooting in Greenville, South Carolina that left two dead.
Of course, a few weeks ago, an unarmed teen was shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri, apparently because he was jaywalking.
Earlier this year, a baseball player from Australia was shot and killed by a few teenagers who claimed they were just “bored.”
Of course, and there is the infamous case in which a likely mentally ill man was able to get hold of his mother’s AR-15, and shoot up Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, killing 26, including 20 under the age of 8. before that, there was the case in which a man went into the back door of a dark movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, decked head to toe in Kevlar, and shot people pretty much at will for several minutes. And then there is the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was targeted by a mentally ill man, who killed nine people and ruined the lives of several families.
Though we treat them as if they are isolated, they are anything but .Every single day, an average of 316 people are shot by a gun, with 83 of those dying as a result. That’s each and every day. While no one expects that number to ever be zero, that should certainly be a goal, Recently, OSHA set new standards for workers’ exposure to silica dust, with the aim of saving 700 lives per year. The FDA also recently set up new standards for inspecting poultry, to cut the number of cases of salmonella, and perhaps a 1,500 lives per year. These are excellent ideas, because they save lives, and that is part of the mission of government.
Yet, every year, more than 100,000 people are shot in this country, and nearly 29,000 die as a result, and we do nothing. worse than that, when a politician attempts to do something, they lose their jobs. A year and a half ago, the Democratic legislature here in Colorado (which was barely Democratic, by the way) past several very modest measures to attempt to get a handle on the gun problem. When they did so, several Republican groups sought to recall and replace just enough Democrats to give Republicans the majority. Two recall elections were held to replace two Democrats, and the election saw a 17 percent turnout. SEVENTEEN PERCENT! the only reason Democrats were able to hold onto a one-vote majority was because a third Democratic candidate resigned before she could be recalled, and was replaced by the Democratic governor. Several days ago, the town of Castle Rock, Colorado overturned a ban on open carry that had been implemented by the town manager. So now, the people of Castle Rock get to be treated to idiots walking around with guns strapped to their backs, and wonder which are the bad guys and which ones are just gunloons.
What is wrong with us? Nine-year-old girls can pick up Uzis after a nice burger, and shoot people in the face, and no one will lift a finger. The first question we all have to ask ourselves is this; why do we take basic safety seriously on every other consumer item except firearms? If 29,000 people were being killed by correctly using a toaster, we would pull every toaster off the market and never eat toast again. But when it comes to guns, we don’t seem to be able to enact even the most basic common sense gun measures. Think about it. If we can stop even five percent of all shootings every year, we would prevent 5,000 shootings and 1,500 deaths every single year. Why would we not want to do that? And frankly, if we’re smart, we can do a lot better than five percent.
Perhaps the stupidest part of this is that the problem is actually pretty easy to solve. We just have to want to. That we can’t seem to do anything about the gun problem points (once again) to the Republicanization of America. We used to see problems and solve them. Now, we pretend not to see the problems in the first place, so that we don’t have to solve them.
The Sandy Hook shooter was able to get hold of his mother’s gun and enough ammo to do some serious damage, with no problem at all. The Aurora shooter was able to buy dozens of guns and thousands of rounds without so much as a background check. in fact, he didn’t even need identification. He went online, gave a credit card and received enough weaponry and ammunition to wipe out an entire village. The asshole who shot Gabby Giffords and others needed a doctor’s clearance before he could return to class at Pima Community College, but when he tried to purchase the gun he later used to massacre those people, the shop did the instant background check, and he was cleared.
And in what type of free country can someone who is too mentally to range to attend a community college classroom just up and buy a gun that he can use to murder people, without even a red flag being raised? there is a difference between freedom and stupidity. I’m not saying a normal, mentally healthy person should not be able to have a gun. I would never say that. But for Chrissakes people, we do nothing — and I mean nothing — to keep guns away from people who should not have them.
There is a serious gun problem in this country. and before the gunloons say something as stupid as, “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” let me just say this;
Common sense gun control is not about the guns, but the people who own them. That means the axiom above is always completely meaningless. Guns don’t kill people. People do kill people. But people do kill people with guns. Gun control is about making sure the wrong people have a harder time getting a gun. It’s about making sure that people with guns are less capable of violating our rights. Yes, gunloons, people without guns also have rights. We have the right to be protected from you and your guns. We have the right to life. We have the right to not be killed by your right.
The concept of “freedom” has been twisted by the gun culture to protect gun owners and carriers from any “inconvenience” whatsoever, without consideration of our collective right to not be shot and the “inconvenience” of being shot and either hospitalized or killed. How free are we, really, if we aren’t sure the bad guys aren’t armed to the teeth, because almost no one buying a gun is being properly screened.
And yes gunloons, it is entirely possible that there are currently “too many” gun laws. I don’t know, because I haven’t counted them, nor would I ever count them, because the issue is not how many laws there are but whether the laws, as they currently exist, are effective. And right now, as they currently exist, they are completely inadequate. For example, this report by NBC News shows just how easy it is for anyone to buy a gun legally, through licensed gun dealers, and then list the gun for sale, with no legal requirements for doing so:
Around 40 percent of all guns are obtained this way. As loopholes go, this one has a huge gaping hole in it. In only a handful of states, is there even a requirement that a private seller conduct background checks on a buyer. A gun buyer can legally buy an arsenal of deadly weapons, and if he or she resells them through private methods, there is no requirement in most states that the seller even ask simple questions like, “are you a convicted felon?” or “Have you ever been committed to a mental hospital, or diagnosed as a violent sociopath?” These folks could be selling to anyone — even a guy who’s too mentally ill to attend college — and there is no recourse available if they sell or give the gun to someone who eventually shoots someone else. And, as was the case with the Aurora theater shooter, Internet sales also don’t require a background check, or even identification.
To say that current law is flawed is an understatement. Regardless of how many laws there are, the laws that don’t exist give criminals and easy way out.
What I propose has nothing to do with mass confiscation. Such a thing would be impossible and unconstitutional. It is about common sense regulation, which is not only necessary, but is required by the same Constitution containing the Second Amendment. The Constitution is a big document, and each clause does not work in isolation from all other clauses. As part of the “militia,” you have the right to keep and bear arms; there is no doubt about that. But Article I, Section 8 also gives the government the power to regulate that militia and its arms. Here’s the Second Amendment:
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.
And here is the relevant portion of Article I, Section 8:
The Congress shall have Power To: (…)
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Guns are also “interstate commerce,” so the Commerce Clause would apply as well. Guns are not special exemptions. The words “gun” or “firearms” do not appear in the Second Amendment, or anywhere else in the Constitution. Even the strongest gun advocates have to admit we can’t keep a rocket launcher or nuclear warhead in our backyard. Even the mucky-mucks in the NRA would call the police and/or sue if any one of them discovered a chemical weapons plant in his neighbor’s basement. Those are also “arms.” Obviously, we can regulate nukes and chemical weapons as “arms,” so we all agree that there is a line. Therefore, why is it so controversial to simply differentiate between different types of arms, and make rules regarding who can have them and when, and even how many? The Constitution actually mandates it. (See above)
Once again, gun control is about keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people; it’s not about the guns themselves. A gun locked in a gun safe isn’t dangerous, and no one wants to take those. The issue is keeping the gun in the safe and/or out of the hands of people who might pose a danger to others. A variation of this silly argument has been making the rounds in recent years:
If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and spoons make people fat. Remember: Hold the person accountable for their actions, not the means they chose to utilize!!!
there is so much in the above that is ridiculous, it’s hard to get a handle on why anyone would agree with it. No, pencils don’t misspell words, and no, spoons don’t make people fat. But both are regulated, in order to save lives. many years ago, both pencils and spoons were made of lead. However, when it was found out that lead causes brain damage and makes people sick, the government regulated pencils and spoons, and everything else made of lead, except bullets. I think we can all agree that guns are more dangerous than pencils and spoons, which was the point of that argument in the first place. Yet pencils and spoons are more highly regulated than either guns or bullets.
When people demonstrate a level of irresponsibility that results in 30,000 deaths a year, most sane people would agree that a higher level of responsibility should be enforced. And the Constitution and case law back up the concept that government should be regulating guns. Check out this case, decided by a conservative Supreme Court in the 1930s; US v Miller. While the government can’t ban guns altogether, they most certainly can regulate them. Even far right icon Justice Antonin Scalia agreed in his decision in is relatively recent case, DC vs. Heller.
You’ll note that I didn’t talk about the other argument in the above. What about the “cars don’t drive drunk, people do” example?
You have a right to drive. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right. But as is the case with all rights, your right to exercise it depends on a balance between your right to drive and everyone else’s right to drive safety on the public roadways. To drive a vehicle legally, the operator must have a license, requiring the holder to demonstrate at least a minimal competence behind the wheel. The driver must be able to see the road and read road signs, show physical capability to operate a vehicle safely, and demonstrate at least basic knowledge of driving laws and regulations. Also, if your doctor finds that you can no longer be trusted to drive, he is legally required to report you to the state motor vehicle department, and your license can be suspended, pending a hearing. Likewise, if you can’t demonstrate financial responsibility in case of an accident, in the form of either insurance or a bond, you lose your license. If you demonstrate irresponsibility on the road, your license can be taken away for that, as well.
Every vehicle must also be registered with the state, and each owner is responsible for maintaining his or her vehicle(s). If your vehicle is involved in an accident, the state knows who to go to. By the same token, even a licensed driver can’t drive a tank or a rocket car. In other words, you have a right to drive a vehicle you own, but that right is balanced with the right of everyone else to operate their vehicle safely.
Why don’t we treat guns and gun owners the same way we treat vehicles and their drivers?
All guns should be registered and titled to one person or entity at a time, and all gun owners should have to attend gun safety courses and demonstrate a minimal competence and a knowledge of basic gun laws in order to keep and/or carry a firearm, which is a fancy way of saying they should be licensed. All gun owners should be required to report it every time their gun is missing or stolen. As with vehicles, registration, licensing and insurance costs could be indexed to the type of gun, and the potential damage. Shotguns could carry a low registration cost, and would probably also be very cheap to insure. A small handgun for personal protection might cost a little more, while military-style weapons could cost a lot more.
It’s no secret that some people are not naturally responsible, and must have it enforced upon them, under penalty of law. We do that with everything else; why do guns get a pass? If the cost of lead was half the price of stainless steel, do you think manufacturers would hesitate to continue to use it in pencils and spoons, if they could do so legally? Laws, regulation and enforcement are what keep us safe. We have to do a better job of enforcing the laws already on the books, but there are too few mechanisms in the law to assist with their enforcement. Convicted felons and the mentally ill are not allowed to own or carry weapons, but if we don’t screen for that every time a gun is sold, what good is the law? Ever try to sell a car without signing over the registration and pink slip, and transferring responsibility?
We already have a version of this common sense regulation in place in a number of states, in the form of concealed carry permits. The holders of such permits are licensed, their guns are registered, and they have to demonstrate a competence in handling a firearm that makes it unlikely they will do anything stupid. Let’s just expand the concept to all gun owners.
The problem isn’t the guns; it’s the people. As is the case with every other aspect of our society, we have to make rules that protect the majority from the crazy minority. Even though the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, 45% of the world’s gun murders occur here. We have a problem, and we have to fix it.
It’s just common sense.