The Right to Bear Arms
I’m not sure why this is difficult for people. I get the fact that firing a firearm is an adrenaline rush. That some people eat, sleep, and dream about how a gun makes them feel, or how much more secure it makes them feel, or the history or emotional sentiment behind a specific gun’s lineage. There is a simple fact however that guns are manufactured for one and only one purpose: to kill at a distance.
Yes, there are other socially responsible purposes for gun ownership including deterrents and recreational sports activities. However, when you boil it down, pointing a gun at a living person or animal, with the intent to pull the trigger, is not an act of ‘reasonable force’. It is an act of willful acknowledgment that your actions will likely result in the death of whatever, or whoever, it is you are aiming it.
There is no portion of a body that you can aim at and have reasonable assurance that the person or animal won’t die as a result of organ failure or shock. As much as we would like to think that a shoulder wound or a leg wound isn’t fatal, there is no guarantee that damage outside of a major organ will not kill just as easily as taking direct aim at the heart or head.
Having said that, I am a supporter of gun rights. I feel that people can, and should, have respect for these types of weapons in the form of responsible gun ownership. To this extent, I think Canada has it right in that individuals seeking a Canadian Firearms Permit are limited in the types and purposes for which a gun ownership is permitted.
Why similar measures in the USA have not taken place I simply do not understand.
The adage that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” misses the mark completely in that access to guns are directly correlated to the number of deaths and suicides. Vox has published a very good article showing some of the statistics on gun access and violence in a series of maps and chart. It does not get much clearer than this that the problem is not uniquely people, it is gun access.
If the US really wants to stop these types of mass murders such as what happened in Las Vegas, the only way to do so is through comprehensive gun reform. Right now the balance is too much towards freedom of gun ownership to the point where guns are easier to obtain in some states (like Nevada) than it is to get a driver’s license.
I feel a balance can be reached. I have loved ones in the US which I want to see safe from gun violence. I feel that these ideas, in whole or in part, if applied equally and fairly across all states, would go a long way towards solving the problem.
- Limit the purposes for which handguns and long rifles may be purchased. In the US that would be hunting, sport shooting, and limited personal protection.
- Unless you are an ACTIVE member of a militia (i.e. police, military, or reserve), access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons or other weapons that can inflict mass casualties with a single shot (such as sawed-off shotguns) should be prohibited.
- The definition of militia would not extend to private security companies unless they are registered and certified by a dedicated certification board that is directly accountable to a militia organization.
- Limit the magazine sizes available for guns owned by non-militia for all weapon types.
- Remove the right to open carry weapons except for active members of a militia organization or in designated wildlife hunting areas.
- Remove the right to hidden carry weapons except for security and law enforcement or where someone has a verifiable justification for believing their life to be in immediate danger. Such hidden carry permits should be subject to expiration every five years similar to a driver’s license.
- Require that all gun transportation not covered under open or hidden carry permits must be through a securely locked container where the weapon must be unloaded and secured with a trigger lock.
- Require that all guns on personal property that are not in active use must be secured in a locked container where the weapon must be unloaded and with a trigger lock enabled.
- Gun collections (6 or more regardless of type), personal or otherwise, for the purposes of range firing or historical purposes should be limited to a 501 type organization specifically incorporated for the purposes of the preservation of gun history as either a active-fire association (such as a gun club) or a passive-fire association (such as a museum).
- Such 501 type organizations must have three ‘at arms length’ directors who would be legally accountable if a firearm within the collection were to be used for a purpose not stated in its bylaws.
- All gun owners must be licensed, have completed a firearms safety course, and undergo a background check.
- All private gun sales must be registered through a brokerage that will hold private sale guns and rifles in escrow pending a background check.
I don’t know how many more killings there needs to be before people start to wake up to the fact that people with guns kill people. Where guns are not accessible, people don’t get killed. The gun is the catalyst. Remove the catalyst and you remove a good measure of the problem.
The US went to war over 3000 casualties from 9/11 and has spent between $4-6 trillion since that time fighting terrorism when just as many, and more, have died from domestic gun related violence. Gun lobbies spend millions influencing even modest gun regulation reform allowing the body count to continue to increase every year. This doesn’t represent even 1/100th of the resources needed to combat this problem and yet it is every bit as big of a problem.
Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture?
To do nothing is irresponsible. To say that now is not the time is irresponsible. Making the gun the victim isn’t solving the problem it is contributing to the problem.
If society (a.k.a the NRA approach) is not able or willing to take on personal accountability for their gun ownership then there are only two outcomes that are left to choose between:
- acceptance of gun violence as a condition of citizenship, or
- acceptance that reasonable regulation of the gun industry is just and fair.
To do otherwise is treating the symptoms, not the disease.