I have been advocating for sensible gun control since 1982, when a friend of mine was shot and killed in a robbery of the store he worked in and another killed himself by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. The robber was a career criminal who had no business carrying a gun, and my friend suffered from depression, and should not have been in a position to buy or even have access to a gun.
It’s been almost 40 years now, and that year is still fresh in my mind. In part, it;’s because very little has changed in the intervening years. It is 37 years later, and we are still seeing a veritable bloodbath every year thanks to guns. What’s worse is, the reasons that are given for inaction have become more insipid than ever. The anti-gun control diehards keep citing the Second Amendment, as if the Second Amendment protects the guns. There is a reason I call the die-hard gun worshippers “gunloons,” and it’s only partly because they treat guns as if they’re a life force. Gunloons love to use a version of the Second Amendment that doesn’t exist to make their case against any sort of gun control measures, and they are against virtually all gun control measures, especially those that may work. They even have a Supreme Curt case to work from, in “DC vs. Heller” but they don’t read it because, well, they don’t read anything. The “Heller” case reinforces the Second Amendment – the actual Second Amendment, that is, and not the fictionalized version proffered by the NRA and other loons.
For nearly 40 years now, my efforts to get Congress and several state governments to adopt common sense gun control have largely been stymied due to fear of the gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association. However, in recent years, a few things seem to have changed. I call it the “Parkland Effect,” after the brave students who witnessed a terrible shooting at their high school and said, “enough!” and who seem to be fearless in their pursuit of gun sense. For the first time in my adult lifetime, I feel as if moderate gun control is possible because the needle has moved somewhat.
Consider this; the FBI announced yesterday, in Ohio, the FBI raided the home of an 18-year-old on August 7 and arrested the little turd for making threats against all sorts of entities, including federal authorities and Planned Parenthood, from an account on a site called “iFunny.” As username “ArmyofChrist,” he threatened everyone and drew the attention of federal authorities. It’s a good thing they acted, too; when they got to this kid’s house, they found 15 rifles, 10 semi-automatic pistols and – get this – 10,000 rounds of ammunition. This was similar to what they found when they went to the apartment of the shooter at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater. (The kid was living in his father’s house, so the father should also be held liable to a degree…)
Think about this a minute. In a sane country, how does a teenager gather 10,000 rounds of ammunition and 25 guns without gaining police attention? How is that possible? Doesn’t the fact that he had boxes containing more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition point to a problem here? It should be automatic that, when someone buys more than a couple hundred rounds of ammunition, they are visited by local authorities and put on notice that they are being watched. The only reason the FBI decided to act on this little asshole (I never use names, sorry – I don’t want to give these people more attention) and arrest him was because they wanted to cover their asses after blowing it in El Paso and Dayton.
We need to make sure all guns are registered, that all users are trained and licensed and that everyone with a gun carry insurance, as a way of demonstrating personal responsibility. There should also be a database in which purchases of ammunition are tracked, since it’s usually not the guns that are used to kill people, but the bullets. It should be assumed that anyone who collects thousands of rounds of ammunition is probably planning something because it makes sense. You don’t use 10,000 bullets to go duck hunting.
Another great sign that changes are coming came with a decision by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the state of Maryland’s ban on 45 different types of assault weapons was legal and constitutional, as was its 10-round limit on gun magazines. In their 10-4 “en ban” ruling, the court said the guns that are banned in Maryland are not protected by the Second Amendment.
Writing for the Court, Judge Robert King wrote that, “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.” He also cited “DC v. Heller” in saying that SCOTUS had specifically excluded that sort of coverage.
What this means is, there is absolutely nothing in the law that prohibits government at any level from enacting a ban on weapons of war for civilians. This makes sense; there is nothing in the Constitution that guarantees regular citizens the right to carry any type of weapon they wish and use it at will, which is pretty much what the gunloons demand with their ridiculous interpretation of the Second Amendment. In fact, Article I specifically gives Congress/the government the power to regulate the militia, which means they get to regulate guns, since your right to bear arms is directly related to your militias service.
The Fourth Circuit’s opinion is important and it’s game-changing. For one thing, it was an “en ban” decision, which means all judges participated in the decision, and only one judge saw fit to issue a dissent. The NRA also, predictably, dismissed the decision and claimed (wrongly, of course) that the Court had ignored the Supreme Court’s guidance from DC v Heller. They also made the predictable argument that the AR-15 deserves special protection because it’s one of the most popular guns in the country.
The bottom line on all of this is, the courts allowed the Assault Weapons ban to stand in 1994, and this year, they have upheld Maryland’s assault weapons ban. That means we can continue to take reasonable measures to prevent gun violence and elect the courts to have our backs. There is no longer an excuse for doing nothing.
Also published on Medium.