This is the first part of a multi-post blog regarding my views about gun control. In the last post of this series, I will propose a system to address the issues of reasonable access to, and restriction of access to guns.
I have decided it is time for me to go on-record regarding my views on firearms, their private ownership, and what I consider to be reasonable regulations. Yes, I DO think weapons should be fairly and reasonably regulated, and I will try to explain. As the world is TODAY, there are no solutions which will reduce gun deaths to zero, or any where near it. No matter how hard we try, shit WILL happen. No matter how responsible gun owners are, we as humans are not perfect, and mistakes will still be made. Given how much war exists, how many guns are already in existence, and how utterly irresponsible and violent many people are, there is REALISTICALLY, only so much that can be accomplished in our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our children. Maybe someday, it will be possible to have peace on earth, but any person who can reason, and who has common sense, knows that reaching for an ultimate solution today is simply not achievable. Until we fix a corrupt political establishment, purchased by weapons manufacturers through the NRA, end all wars, disband all militaries, and destroy all military weapons, demilitarize police forces, end extreme injustices, and generally get people to love and value each other, there will remain citizens with guns, legal and illegal, and some level of gun deaths. That is just the way it is, and if you waste time pushing for it ALL at once, you will accomplish nothing at all. However, that does not mean that we cannot get the approximately 33,000 (CDC statistics for recent years) annual gun deaths down to something that is at least not as terribly shocking.
Whew! When I started writing this, I had no idea I had so much to say about the subject. As a result, I saw the necessity of dividing this into several posts, otherwise none of you will read any of it (maybe you won’t bother anyway). My intentions are always to bring people on BOTH sides of an issue closer towards the middle, and to promote reasonable compromise, so that the majority of intelligent humans can work together and agree on something reasonable to promote the welfare of our society. I too, don’t like incremental change and wish we could just jump ahead to the happy ending, but, alas, the universe just don’t work that way…sigh…
I will first disclose that I am a responsible gun owner, and have been since the 1980’s. I DO think that private citizens should be allowed to own firearms IF, and only IF, they meet certain requirements which I will attempt to describe to you. None of my firearms have ever done more than put holes in paper, tin cans, and the occasional bottle or watermelon. Yes, it can be satisfying to watch a watermelon explode with a high-powered round, even if that isn’t your “thing”. As an adult, I have never killed any living animal or human being. In fact, I once had a groundhog in the sites of a 22 cal. rifle, and just could not bring myself to do the deed. After all, that groundhog might have a family depending on it for support. OK, as a child, I did kill a few birds with a BB gun.
If someone were to break into my home carrying a lethal weapon, and directly threatened my life, I would only then consider using a gun to end their life. I do believe in a person’s right to defend themselves or their family, or another innocent human who is defenseless. For me, this is a natural extension to our constitutional right to life, and of other citizens to the constitutional right to life. More than that, I believe the right to life is a HUMAN right, transcending national boundaries.
One thing that my plan does not adequately cover, is the number of illegal firearms available on the black market. I am sure that there are many things my proposed plan excludes. It is not necessarily comprehensive, but provides ONE possible way to accomplish “harm reduction”. That is its main focus.
What is a “responsible” gun owner? Here are my thoughts:
A “responsible” gun owner is one who:
1) is psychologically STABLE and does not have violent tendencies.
2) is fully COMPETENT in the proper and accurate use of firearms
(can safely operate firearms, shoot straight and hit what is being aimed at).
3) is fully knowledgeable in ALL gun SAFETY rules
(pointing, loading, shooting, storage, access, etc.).
4) is knowledgeable in all applicable gun LAWS, federal, state. and local
(includes when it is legal, and prudent, to use lethal force in self-defense).
5) is CONSCIENTIOUS in putting into practice all of the above, at all times.
I will here make the assertion that any person (apart from military service and self-defense allowed under law) who has killed another human being, HAS, by definition, violated one or more of the above listed characteristics. This includes ALL firearms accidents (occurring only when some gun safety rule has been violated).
Before I end this post, I want to actually cover some of the most basic gun safety rules, to demonstrate how many accidental gun deaths could be eliminated simply by following them.
1. Never point a gun at anything you don’t want to shoot. Always point a gun in a safe direction.
Simple, if a gun is always pointed in a safe direction, even if it accidentally discharges, nobody will die. This is not as easy as it sounds. It takes practice and concentration on what you are doing at all times while holding the weapon, and knowing what constitutes a “safe” direction. Towards the floor or ground is many times good, unless your Grandma is sitting in the floor below you. Towards the sky is not the greatest since even a falling bullet can do serious damage. Think about that the next time you want to fire off a gun on the 4th of July in a town or city (not to mention that it is illegal in most cities and towns). Think of how many accidents are caused by a gun being pointed toward a child, that could have been avoided.
2. Every gun is always loaded.
Every time you pick up a gun for any reason other than to shoot it at something, you always check to make sure it is unloaded. If you set it down, even for a moment right in front of you, you still recheck when you pick it back up. How many times have we heard “I didn’t know it was loaded”. What about those cases where an owner started cleaning a gun, thinking it was not loaded, and ended up with someone dying? These deaths are easily avoided. Another corollary to this is “make sure a gun is always unloaded before you set it down”. Don’t allow the possibility for anyone, such as a child, to grab a loaded gun that is not in your hands, and possibly shoot it at someone.
3. Store all guns unloaded, except in the case of personal defense, in a locked gun safe only accessible to the owner, and no one else. A gun loaded for defense should be stored in a quick-access gun safe accessible to only the owner. Ammo should be stored in a secure, locked safe or container APART from any guns.
How many kids are killed by a loaded gun left in a drawer or out in the open? Only older kids who have demonstrated responsibility to their parents should be allowed to be trained by parents to safely operate and shoot guns. And then, only under the direct, and I do mean direct, supervision of the responsible owner. This is a tricky one. I won’t argue about what age is appropriate, and kids can be either responsible approaching adult age, or irresponsible their whole life depending on the child. Only parents have the information to assess the maturity of their own children. Start them out on BB guns or CO2 pistols if you have the desire to train your child to become a responsible gun owner when they are an adult. There is some validity in never allowing children to touch firearms until adult age (whatever that is), and some states have laws like that.
4. For any gun you own, read the manual and make sure you know every feature of your weapon, and how to properly operate it long before you load it for the first time.
If you don’t know the difference between the magazine release, safety, disassembly mechanism, and trigger, you are in for a world of hurt. If you are not fully knowledgeable, you are an accident waiting to happen.
5. Practice, practice, practice. Nobody should ever buy a gun (especially for defense) before they know how to operate any weapon, and can demonstrate proficiency in shooting (actually hitting a target, repeatedly and accurately).
Self explanatory. If you are not trained and have not practiced, a defensive gun is worse than useless to you, not to mention a danger to others.
6. If a gun is used for home defense, use the proper ammo for the purpose.
Most pistol rounds can penetrate through a target, through your house, into another house, and injure or kill an unintended target. This can happen with most rounds. Ammo such as hollow points have a much reduced capacity to penetrate. Hollow points immediately expand on contact, increasing the energy transferred to the target, and reducing the ability to penetrate further objects. This is why you never use a military-style rifle or hunting rifle for home defense. Powerful rifle rounds can penetrate multiple houses and cause lots of unintended injuries or deaths. Talk to a knowledgeable gun dealer for proper defensive weapons and ammo. This is why pistols and shotguns are best for home defense…not rifles.
These are only a few of the most basic rules, BUT…
If ONLY the above listed safety rules were followed religiously, the number of accidental gun deaths would mostly disappear. Most accidental deaths, many of them involving children, are due to stupidity in failing to follow a few simple gun safety rules. On the other hand, people are all fallible, and stupid people will always be with us who ignore the basic safety rules, and some amount of accidents are sure to happen. But, like with cars, if people are constantly reminded of these rules, some, and maybe many, of these tragic accidents might be avoided.
Next post in the series…gun control myths, misrepresentations, misdirections, emotional rather than reasoned logical arguments, propaganda, statistics, and outright lies. On BOTH sides! It drives my logical, scientific mind nuts when ideas are emotionally motivated, or misrepresented. We were born with the wonderful ability to reason logically, let’s make good use of it.