Where Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism truly fail, is with their blind faith in competition to regulate everything, from business to government, to the “99%”. It is a complete “dog eat dog” mentality that fosters a lack of compassion, increased suffering, and endless violence. What is really needed instead, is cooperation and collaboration which foster open caring, sharing, love and teamwork. This is the true democratic ideal. The Neolib/Neocon ideology has failed utterly to provide a workable system or any workable alternatives, but not so with the “Progressive” left. Bernie got the ball rolling, and Jill Stein still carries on with a viable alternative that promotes cooperation over competition. People, Planet and Peace over profit!
Hi there…Happy Saturday.
I find myself bothered this week by a trend I have been seeing in both politics and YouTube videos. Yes, it isn’t new, and maybe it has something to do with the particular videos I have been watching (my bad). It bothers me nonetheless (who even uses “nonetheless” anymore).
I have seen a constant barrage of hate, anger, judgement, and disparagement of others…maybe because I watched the Republican National Convention this week, hmmm? I partly blame the “media” for what they purposely choose to present to the public, but why do they choose only negative issues to present? You would think that there were no positive stories anywhere in the world.
Of course, since money is the ONLY driving factor in business, then they choose whatever sells to the public, which happens to be lots of violence. The public seems to really like fighting because of its sensationalism. This is even more worrying. Why does the public want to concentrate on death, anger, and struggle? Maybe because people are angry, frustrated, and desperate for anything to deflect their attention from their own problems? This is enough to bother anyone who gives a moment’s thought to what is going on.
I am also finding that many of the YouTube videos that gain the most views include those which make fun of other YouTube video creators, demean them, and point out the (perceived) stupidity in them. The inspirational ones are not nearly so popular because they are not as sensationalistic. OK, I said this was not a new phenomenon. It has been happening for a long time. Maybe that is ONE reason why our society remains filled with violence…don’t you think, maybe?
Whatever we all focus our attention on, feeds into the collective subconscious, and affects the mood of those around us, the country, and the world. This constant focus on negativity makes it truly difficult on those who wish to encourage peace, love, and the celebration of our beautiful diversity, to make the world a better place. As we have just entered the Aquarian age, a time when all humanity will eventually come together in peace and harmony, we see increased resistance to the change. I have a feeling it will get a lot worse before it gets better. Change never comes easy, even when it is change for the benefit of everyone.
Well…here’s to hoping for more positive vibes! But I remain bothered…for now…
This last post in the three-part series on gun control covers my proposed gun control plan. I will present a few background issues which affected my reasoning in the details of its implementation. This idea is not original to me. Others have proposed similar plans.
Ask yourself this – which right is more important, the right to life, or the right to own guns? In cases where it comes down to a compromise between the two, which would you favor? If there were ways to increase the safety and security of the public, and still allow “responsible” (as I defined in my first post) citizens to own guns, don’t both sides win? Balance in all things is one of the factors in how I think, and in my decision-making processes.
Causes of gun deaths include a) accidents (which are completely preventable so long as people follow ALL safety rules at all times, which we know is not going to happen because there are always stupid people who think they know better – “Darwin Awards”) b) gun deaths (including suicides) due to anger, stress, domestic disputes, economic problems, etc. (impulsive) and c) gun deaths due to premeditated murders. Mass killings with guns can be due to either environmental conditions or premeditation (as in actual terrorist incidents, which are rare). I must say that in my opinion, many of the mass shootings which the media and right-wingnuts have publicized as “terrorist” are actually due to mental health problems such as anger, resentment, and stress rather than to actual, verifiable terrorist ties. We have too many “fear mongers” in America, on BOTH sides of the gun control issue who are pushing their own political agendas, rather than addressing the actual root causes of gun violence in a sane and reasoned way. Have I covered all the causes of gun deaths and injuries here?
One aspect of a safety plan must be comprehensive education on gun laws and gun safety including periodic reminders of these things to gun owners, and mandatory initial training, with periodic refresher courses (as simple as review of a video every few years, and public safety ads).
Another aspect is making sure prospective gun owners are proficient in owning, operating, and accurately shooting firearms before letting them purchase guns.
Comprehensive mental health reform in America is desperately needed to address the anger, rage, resentment, and stresses which incite a normally stable and non-violent individual to become a killer. People are not born killers, environmental conditions create violent people. This is not actually a part of this gun control plan, but should be pursued separately by researchers and legislators.
We need comprehensive justice system reform. It is a travesty of justice that too many murders, especially regarding minorities, are committed by law enforcement officials, even committed against unarmed and helpless individuals in police custody. These officers must be held to account for their crimes. This in no way impugns all of the honest and noble members of our police forces who do their public service with all integrity. There are a few bad apples (maybe more than a few), including some outright racists who think they are above the law, who need to “brought to heel” and held to pay for their crimes, and no longer be protected by their fellow officers and the courts. This situation of affairs is unacceptable.
We need to solve the economic injustice which often leads to domestic disputes over lack of money, further leading to domestic violence, and sometimes maybe even mass murders. I will point out here, that the number ONE domestic issue spouses fight about is the lack of money, or money management. This is an actual fact even though I don’t have the references at my fingertips.
Any gun control plan must focus mainly on keeping guns out of the hands of those who are mentally unstable or have shown violent tendencies, and all who have been convicted of violent crimes (TBD by legislators, not by me).
A plan must include some method of data collection and communication, paper or computerized, to adequately track violent offenders and those who are not mentally stable enough to be gun owners. This method MUST also allow for reinstatement of rights to own and purchase guns in cases where a) offenders awaiting trial are absolved of guilt, b) least violent offenders have served their sentences and are deemed to be capable of gun ownership again by some authority such as a judge or ranking police official, and c) those with temporary mental health issues which have been sufficiently addressed as determined by mental health professionals. More details will be forthcoming.
The purpose of the plan is twofold – to be implemented in such a way as to not cause undue burden on “responsible” gun owners or unnecessarily restrict their right to purchase firearms, AND to provide a method of significant harm reduction relative to firearms-related accidents, injuries, and deaths.
I have considered a number of proposed methods of gun control. Most of the methods pushed by politicians are woefully inadequate, and only address SYMPTOMS rather than the underlying problems which lead to gun accidents, or cause people to become killers. However, ACCESS to firearms, even though it is only one of the SYMPTOMS of gun violence, must still be addressed by any effective method of control. Banning people on federal watch lists is a very problematic proposal. Also consider the fact (I have seen the pie charts which show the varieties of killings) that the number of people killed in mass shootings is miniscule compared to the total number of gun deaths (I have seen the figure of 33,000 per year in the US) even though these mass shootings are generally the only deaths which get hyped in the press, and which get the attention of the public, and thus our lawmakers. Proposals which ban certain weapons, or magazine sizes, or requiring background checks before buying AMMO (not gun background checks), are anywhere from woefully inadequate to overly restrictive to “responsible” owners (“responsible” being as I described in part 1 of this series of blog posts). There are pros and cons to each of these proposed laws, but I believe there is a better proposal. I will attempt to describe it to you in this post. Keep in mind that it is not comprehensive. Any truly comprehensive plan must address the corruption of our political system by corporate interests (i.e. the NRA and weapons manufacturers), injustice within our justice system, economic injustice, and our inadequately-funded mental health system. My plan does not address these broader issues, but provides some measures to reduce the effects of ignoring them.
Let me point out one idea here. If ALL of the ROOT causes which turn people into killers in the first place were solved, then the need to control access to guns themselves would become a non-issue. If nobody becomes a killer in the first place, then no amount of weapons in the hands of “responsible” people, who are not killers, would ever be a problem. I fully realize this is not realistically reachable goal as it stands today, therefore some restrictions on the ACCESS to guns is necessary. But imagine a world full of peaceful, loving people, where any need for guns for self-defense no longer exists. No more war, no more nukes, no more armies, no more weapons at all. It would truly be glorious to live in such a world…but we don’t.
One thing an effective gun control plan needs to include is mandatory EDUCATION. Let me give you a direct analogy using something we all are familiar with…driver safety.
There is a reason we see constant ads and reminders on TV and in the press that remind drivers to “don’t drink and drive”, “buckle-up for safety”, “don’t text and drive”, if you are sleepy get the hell off the road (my paraphrase),…etc. It is true that people sometimes ignore these things, and accidents happen, but the constant education and reminders reinforces these thoughts in the minds of drivers, and reduces the number of accidents that would occur otherwise. I have not researched the statistics (and I mistrust many statistics as misleading anyway), but there is a reason why someone pays good money to put these ads on TV and elsewhere…they reduce traffic fatalities. Children are very observant. Imagine a young child, securely strapped into a child safety seat, reminding their parents to “buckle-up”. It happens quite often, as most parents must surely know.
Any comprehensive gun control plan needs to include mandatory gun safety EDUCATION. If gun owners were constantly reminded of basic safety rules, and were forced to learn basic gun safety before being allowed to be a gun owner, I believe it would reduce the number of accidental gun deaths. When was the last time you saw a public service ad urging gun owners to “always point a gun in a SAFE direction”, or urging children to never touch a gun without an adult present (this does exist, at least in schools), or to “make sure every gun is unloaded”, or “always store firearms in a secure, locked gun safe”? I believe it would at least reduce the number of gun accidents. And maybe if children were exposed to such ads, it might instill in them at a young age a healthy respect for guns and gun safety. Many of them will grow up to be gun owners themselves. More on how this might look in practice later.
Finally, here it is, my actual proposal. It is a basic outline, and many details would need to be worked out, but I think it could be effective in reducing gun injuries and deaths.
It is really simple, and has been proposed by others. It is not an original idea of mine. Treat gun ownership similarly to how we treat licensed drivers. If you need a license to be able to operate a potentially deadly vehicle, then license people who are of age (whatever that may be, like 18 or 21) to be able to legally PURCHASE weapons and ammo. It is not so much an issue of “ownership” as an issue of “access” and ability to “purchase” guns and ammo, although there are aspects of ownership rights involved as well.
Most individuals who would become licensed would probably do so at a younger age, just like those who get their driver’s license for the first time. Initially, present gun owners would also be required to get a license in order to purchase any further firearms or ammo. There would be a more lengthy and stringent process to get the license for the first time, but a process which is not unduly burdensome or lengthy. Once the license is obtained, the gun owner would be free to purchase any of the weapons and ammo which are currently allowed today. So long as an individual does not commit violent crimes, violate gun regulations, or develop serious mental health issues, they continue to have the right to buy guns and ammo freely. This license would need to be periodically renewed (such as every few years). Anytime a person has a violation or serious mental health issue, a method of suspending the gun license must be in place. I will talk more on details shortly.
For this to work, there must be some kind of government bureau (similar to the BMV, but more organized – insert cynical smiley here -) who has the authority to initiate background checks of first-time applicants, issue licenses, and manage the suspension or revocation of licenses, in cooperation with law enforcement, the judicial system, mental health professionals, and qualified gun dealers. Yes, there are a number of issues and details which lawmakers would need to deal with to get this system set up and working. Hereafter I will refer to this entity as simply the “bureau”.
First-time applicants would first need to apply with the “bureau” which would initiate a THOROUGH background check with the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies, and POSSIBLY other federal agencies (CIA, NSA, INTERPOL, for naturalized citizens and legal immigrants?). This must be a more stringent background check than the idiotic 3-day waiting period check used today. The data obtained through background checks will remain PRIVATE to the “bureau”, and only available to “bureau” employees. A license can only be obtained after a successful background check. Some kind of appeals process must be in place for applicants who fail the check for some reason, and possibly due to some error, or for the case where a check is taking too much time. NOTE that no license may be issued without a successful check taking place, or a judge issuing a successful process appeal judgement. Yes, there are details here to work out, but automatically giving a license just because the background check is taking longer than 3 days is unacceptable. Keep in mind that we currently have a system of background checks in place, even though it has glaring flaws. We just need to fix some of the flaws for it to work effectively. Also, the background check is only done the first time a person gets their license.
For privacy reasons, the only data the “bureau” is ever allowed to share with law enforcement and registered gun dealers is the status of a license, whether it is active, under temporary suspension, or permanently revoked, along with the identity of the licensed person. This data will not be available to the general public unless they are registered with the “bureau” to SELL firearms. No more private sales of firearms are allowed, except when transferred through the agency of a registered gun dealer. This would apply to gun shows. If two people want to sell guns between them, it must be done THROUGH a licensed dealer (of which there would be many available at a gun show to do the transfer or sale).
There is nothing in this system to prevent two people from illegally exchanging firearms. We have that situation today. The only deterrent is the fact that the gun “registration” does not get altered. This leaves the original owner still having the gun registered to them. If the gun should happen to be used in a crime, guess who the police are going to come after? Note that in this plan, the “bureau” would not keep records of individual firearms purchased or owned. This answers some of the privacy concerns. However, current systems of gun registration may be kept in place for law enforcement purposes.
A first-time applicant must complete a course of training which includes gun safety, gun laws, training in operating various types of pistols and rifles, and physical demonstration of accurate operation and shooting of firearms. Such a course must be certified by the “bureau” to include a basic minimum of training which meets their requirements. The shooting portion, at least, would need to be done at a gun range (attached to a gun dealer, or through a hunting club, or similar organization) under supervision of individuals approved to certify the applicant’s proficiency and accuracy. Once applicants complete the course of training, they would then receive an official, signed certificate which they would take to the “bureau” as proof of completion.
Once an applicant has been notified of a successful background check, they can then take their certificate of course completion to the “bureau” who will make a copy for storage (the applicant keeps the original). The applicant must then complete a written (or computerized) test, similar to a driver’s written test, to prove they have a minimum knowledge of gun safety rules and laws. Once they pass the test, then the license will be issued. This license may possibly be a photo license. A person would still need their driver’s license or state ID to verify age and identity as well. It is possible that a gun license could also serve as a valid photo ID.
Once a person is licensed, only a periodic renewal is necessary, as long as no restrictions on the license have taken place. As part of the renewal process, the license holder must watch a video on gun safety and laws, just to reinforce this information in the license holder’s mind. This renewal could be done similarly to driver’s license renewals, every few years.
The holder of an active or unrestricted license can go to any registered gun dealer and purchase whatever guns and ammo they desire, without any waiting periods. The dealer would use the driver’s license and/or gun license of the individual to verify the buyer’s status to purchase guns and ammo. The dealer would use the gun license number via computer, phone, or whatever mechanism is devised to communicate with the “bureau”, and the “bureau” will respond with only the license status and identity of the license holder. Once the “active” status and identity are verified, the dealer can proceed with the sale.
What happens to arrested persons under this system? Any time a person is arrested for any violent crime (to be determined by legislators, as servants of “We the People”), all such arrests will be immediately transmitted to the “bureau”. They will use the arrest information to temporarily “suspend” the license. Any time a court clears the person of the crime, they must be REQUIRED to transmit this information immediately to the “bureau” who will then lift the restriction. If a person is convicted of a serious violent crime, or series of lesser violent crimes (such as a pattern of bar fights or domestic abuse, etc) which requires the permanent suspension of a gun license, then it will be permanently revoked by the “bureau” and be entered into their system so that the individual cannot reapply for a license, unless, or until a judge orders otherwise. This applies to all violent offenders, even if they have NEVER applied for a license. No individual citizen can purchase any weapon or ammo anywhere in America without a valid, active (unrestricted) gun license. This prevents anyone not licensed, from obtaining LEGAL firearms or ammo.
How does this get illegal guns off the street? Keep in mind that there currently exist laws and regulations that allow law enforcement to confiscate illegal weapons. These laws need to be enforced, which is one of the main causes of why illegally-owned weapons remain on the street. Legal confiscations by police are not adequately enforced. Most of these laws will not need to change. This plan will not prevent the black market illegal weapons, which exist today from being available to criminals. That needs to dealt with by other means. Again, what this plan DOES do, is prevent anyone who is not the valid holder of an active and unrestricted license, from purchasing LEGAL guns or ammo from any registered dealer. All dealers must be registered in order to sell guns and ammo.
People arrested of violent crimes which require license restriction will be (under legislated conditions) subject to “temporary” gun confiscation. These guns MUST be held by law enforcement until a trial is complete. If the arrested person is cleared, their guns MUST be returned to them and the court must immediately remove their license restrictions through the “bureau”. In the case where they are found guilty of crimes which require permanent revocation of their gun license, their license is revoked, and they forfeit their guns, to then be destroyed (too bad, so sad).
A similar method must be used for those with mental illnesses. However, again looking at how driver’s licenses work, when a medical physician determines you are physically unable to drive, that is entered into your medical record. When the physician determines you are again well enough to drive, the same thing happens. A weakness of this system is that the BMV is never notified (at least I don’t think so) and you are on your honor to not drive, even though there are no restrictions placed on your driver’s license. In the case of a qualified mental health professional determines you are not fit to own guns, that decision must somehow be given to the “bureau” so that a temporary or permanent restriction to your gun license occurs. Today, in cases of severe mental illness, there are already laws on the books which prohibit them from owning firearms. Another failure of our law enforcement officials to enforce these laws is that many times, when a person is diagnosed with a severe mental illness which then prevents them from owning guns, if they already have guns, those guns are never confiscated by police like they should be. This is a failure to enforce laws which already exist, either because the mental health status is unknown to the police, or they simply fail to do a confiscation when it is known. When a qualified mental health professional determines that a person is stable enough to again own guns, they will be obliged to contact the “bureau” to lift the person’s license restrictions.
Yes, there are many, many problems to be worked out with this system. What my plan will do, when working properly, is prevent ANYONE who does not have an active license from purchasing weapons or ammo from any REGISTERED gun dealer. This includes gun purchases made at department stores, sporting goods stores, gun shows, or anywhere else in the US. This will actually go a long way in reducing current gun violence, and make it harder for people to obtain weapons for mass shootings, or on the spur of the moment for crimes of passion or suicide. It will keep people in domestic situations, who don’t already have a current license, from impulsively buying a gun to shoot a spouse or family member or anyone else. What it will not do, is prevent a currently licensed member from impulsively shooting family members or others with the guns they already own. This specific case is where more sweeping reforms are needed to address the general causes of violence in America. No gun control plan by itself will resolve the conditions which turn people into killers.
But here is a thought. So many times you here of domestic shootings where someone knew ahead of time that a person seemed likely to commit violence (e.g. court restraining orders filed, domestic disputes reported to police). With the aid of police and the court systems, when such conditions become known, such people should be evaluated by mental health professionals. If they are deemed unfit to own weapons, then the guns they own should be temporarily confiscated, and their license temporarily suspended, until such time as they are deemed again safe to own guns. In the case of restraining orders issued, the judge should have the option of having their license temporarily restricted and their guns confiscated and temporarily held, until the order is lifted.
Just to reiterate, any TEMPORARY suspension of a license should be accompanied by a TEMPORARY confiscation of guns. Whenever restrictions are lifted, the guns MUST be returned. Some kind of appeals process must also be in place to redress grievances. In the case of a permanent revocation, the guns should be confiscated and destroyed.
Maybe it would have been safer simply saying “Implement a licensing system for guns and ammo purchases, similar in nature to our driver’s licensing system”. Maybe I should have just left it at that, without all the details. I guess what I wanted to do is demonstrate how such a system might prevent a large amount of the gun ownership and access restriction problems we have today. It is definitely not a comprehensive solution, but it allows “responsible” gun owners to freely purchase guns and ammo with a limited amount of pain and effort, which is reasonable to expect of those who want to BE responsible owners. We do not consider the effort to get a driver’s license to be unreasonable for the purpose of keeping our roads as safe as possible. Why should any serious gun owner consider these measures as unreasonable in order to provide some measure of safety from gun violence to our society? I, as a gun owner, would not object to such a system myself. Do you have other proposals which you think might work better? Propose them.
Even though it is CLEAR that the founding fathers never intended the second amendment to apply to private gun ownership, it is clear that today, there are those who think that a private right to own guns IS a constitutional right, rather than a legislated privilege. They have good evidence to insist on it. The system I have outlined does not prohibit the private ownership of guns at all to those who can do so responsibly. Even the courts have upheld the loss of constitutional rights to convicted felons and the severely mentally ill (i.e. the right to vote, own weapons, etc.) under legislated circumstances. Our society already accepts these limitations of constitutional rights as reasonable and just (even though there are efforts to restore some rights, like the right to vote, to felons who have served their incarceration). The plan I have described here does not alter our current view of these rights except to add temporary restrictions between arrest and conviction, and regarding temporary serious mental health episodes. It does add a measure of effort and responsibility to those who choose to own guns responsibly, which I think most gun owners would agree with. Most gun owners, who are not executives of gun manufacturers or the NRA, agree that some reasonable measure of gun control is acceptable and needed. Even NRA members mostly agree with the need for some restrictions on access to guns. In my opinion, I think that what I have outlined here provides for a perfectly reasonable level of effort, in order to provide enhanced public safety. I would personally not object to some similar type of system. I know there are plenty who will take exception to my proposal. So be it. Let the games begin…
There are many misconceptions and outright inaccurate statements made by people, both in private and especially in the press on all types of issues, especially controversial political issues. As an engineering type, analytical and a little nerdy, I hate inaccurate statements which are not accompanied by all the appropriate caveats and context. In the next few paragraphs, I want to touch on a few of the inaccurate statements regarding guns (kinda at random) (maybe more than a few). If you really are just interested in my proposed plan, and don’t want to skim through this post, you can skip to my next post which covers that topic. Of course I would love it if you were to hang on my every word, and worship me as a god of intellect and erudition…haha.
One statement that really “gets my goat” (ya, I am an old baby boomer) is “We have a problem with guns in America”. Not only is this statement inaccurate, but it also misdirects our attention away from the more deeply disturbing problems which desperately need to be addressed. One of the real SYMPTOMS which needs to be addressed is the easy AVAILABILITY of guns to those individuals who should not have access to them. This is much different than saying that the problem is with the guns themselves. More importantly, there is a much more deeply disturbing problem which is responsible for a much greater number of deaths and injuries each year. We have a more pervasive problem with VIOLENCE in America. Violence, again, is itself only a symptom of even deeper root causes. Violence is not always carried out using guns. People die and are injured each year by knives, baseball bats, golf clubs, crowbars, heavy tools, strangulation, drowning, fists, etc. Any comprehensive solution to “gun” violence should not be made without considering the underlying root causes of violence in general. Controlling guns is not THE answer to all of our problems, but is only a band-aid on the much more general problem of violence. Our mental health system desperately needs reform and massive funding and the government needs to stop preventing the CDC from researching the underlying causes of gun violence. We need associated measures to fix the general problem of violence which will benefit the greater number of victims of violence, of which gun violence victims are only a subset.
Consider this – IF it were possible to eradicate all conditions in our society which drive citizens to kill or maim, would the access to guns then be a problem? The answer is actually “yes” when you consider that gun control measures are still needed to prevent gun accidents (mainly education and training), which are not the results of violence, but rather of mistakes in following gun safety measures. Some accidents will happen no matter what we do because humans are imperfect, and make mistakes. But there are still ways to reduce those number of mistakes, and make gun ownership more safe. The larger problem is NOT that guns exist, but rather that people become violent, and THEN use guns (and other tools) to commit violence against others. It is not a gun problem per se, but a problem of VIOLENCE in America, and violence is only a symptom of deeper root causes. For example, criminals are driven to violence out of desperation to survive (mostly economically) so they resort to armed robbery, or carry illegal or legal firearms for protection from police or other criminals WHILE they are trying to make money illegally. Some criminals do it simply out of greed to gain more, without resorting to more acceptable (legal) means to obtain it. Whatever the root causes, the real problem we want to solve is how to prevent average citizens from becoming violent in the first place. But that is not the purpose of my proposal to control the access to guns.
One fact which is not generally known, and may surprise you, is that, under federal laws, a person CAN own military-grade, fully-automatic firearms, silencers, and explosives. Farmers, for example, can get a license for explosives to blow tree stumps. By meeting the background checks, going through the proper procedures, and paying for a yearly federal tax stamp, a private citizen can own a range of military-grade weapons and silencers, LEGALLY. I do not know of any mass killings in recent history which were done using any of these types of weapons or by any LEGAL owner of such weapons. In addition, the weapons used in recent mass shootings were NOT of the type I am describing here. The semi-automatic rifles used in several of the mass shootings do not fall under these strict federal regulations, and are weapons which are available to the general public under the less strict laws which apply to weapons commonly sold in gun stores and through gun shows.
I know of such people who have jumped through all the federal “hoops” to own such weapons. They often use them in sporting events which generally involve timed obstacle course competitions. So, people who claim that there is NO sporting use for military type weapons are wrong. There do exist people who compete in such activities, and enjoy them. These are mostly held at shooting ranges which have a healthy amount of security. I have attended such events, and have had the opportunity to shoot several fully-automatic military rifles myself. There are also shoots which involve a number of people using machine guns, mortars, and other military weaponry to destroy various items downrange. Such items may include old cars, refrigerators, washing machines, barrels of gasoline strapped with dynamite, canisters of acetylene and other explosive gasses, etc. Now, this may not at all appeal to you, but it does actually appeal to some individuals. Just watching things being blown up, and feeling the concussions, is an interesting thrill (it is similar to the thrill of attending a drag race, smelling the nitro in the air, and feeling and hearing the rumble of hugely powerful engines). Before I lose you completely and you decide to be outraged, please give me a chance to finish. One interesting fact I will offer here is that these events have an astounding safety record. In the times I have attended, I know of, or have heard of, NOBODY ever being injured, let alone actually losing their life. These events are attended by people who have a healthy respect for the deadliness of these weapons, and exhibit very responsible conduct. Weapons are openly carried at these events with no fear for personal safety. Many attendees are ex-military personnel. These events are very strictly controlled. The point I am making is this: these are NOT the type of “gun nuts” who are a threat to the public safety. There are OTHER types of “gun nuts” who DO present a threat to society (mainly of the stupid or violent variety). Please do not point to the WRONG people when making judgements. The simple ownership of deadly weapons, even military-style weapons, is NOT, in and of itself, a threat to society.
To answer some of the other emotional arguments that people make about guns, especially after a publicised mass shooting, I will offer another assertion. IF a person is “responsible” by my definition (given in the first post of this series), then no amount of weapons surrounding such an individual will EVER cause, coerce, or incite them to kill another human being. If simple access to deadly tools were sufficient to drive someone to commit violence, then we would expect chefs, constantly surrounded by deadly knives, to have the highest rate of violence. But we know this simply is not true. If such a “responsible” person had access to the nation’s nuclear launch codes, those weapons would never be a threat to anyone, because such a person of integrity would never launch them. Only such “responsible” and conscientious people as these should be allowed access to deadly weapons, and such a person would never pose a safety concern to society.
Here is another FACT that some people do not want to hear. There is a related statement that causes controversy because it leaves out important caveats. It is also used improperly as an emotional appeal against gun control. Both sides of this particular argument make me angry, because they are both guilty of lies and deception. The statement is “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. This misused statement is mostly true, but leaves out important points like “the easy access of guns to violent individuals increases the number of violent gun incidents”. Let me explain further.
If a pistol (let’s say it is even loaded, but with the safety engaged) is laying on a table. It is a scientific FACT that if no human being touches it (or any animal, extreme condition, or moving object disturbs it), it will NEVER fire on its own – it is an impossibility that it will do damage by itself. A gun is an inanimate object and by the laws of physics, cannot fire without human intervention. This is absolutely true. On one hand, stop blaming the tool itself for causing anything. It is inanimate, has no brain, cannot make choices, cannot move on its own volition, has no will, and cannot incite a person to violence. Without a human to fire it, it is nothing but a worthless dead hunk of metal. It is most definitely the human being who kills with it, and the blame for its misuse falls squarely on the human who makes that choice or mistake to misuse it. It is only a tool and the argument that it was designed to kill (which is only a strawman argument) is completely immaterial to the subject of gun violence against humans. The fact that it is, and was designed as, a deadly weapon has nothing to do with the actual conditions which drive a human being to pick it up, and use it to kill or maim another human being. With imperfect human beings, accidents will occur because people make mistakes. However, the safety of a weapon is solely the OWNER’s responsibility. Accidents are horrible, but it was not the gun itself that chose to fire on its own, some person HAD to point and pull the trigger, whether intended or not. If unintended, the responsibility still completely falls on the human(s) involved, NOT on the tool itself. It makes no logical sense whatsoever to try to blame a lifeless hunk of metal for a mistake committed by a human being.
On the other hand, the AVAILABILITY of such tools, to the WRONG people, IS a serious problem. The (my) goal is to devise a system which keeps the WRONG people from buying guns and ammo, while allowing the “responsible” gun owners full access to all the guns and ammo they want – so long as they continue to own them “responsibly”.
Again, I just cannot personally stand assertions which are not completely factual and logical, and not based on common sense, with all caveats carefully stated, on BOTH sides of any argument. Gun control advocates and “gun nuts” alike just drive me crazy with their emotional and misrepresented and downright deceptive arguments. God gave us a reasoning mind, and expects us to make full use of this faculty (whether you believe in God, or not)!
I get pissed at our damn crazy and purchased politicians, and press, on BOTH sides of the gun control argument, never accomplishing anything to help their constituents, who they are elected to represent. And I am infuriated with those responsible for reporting the FACTS, fairly and objectively, who totally give us corporate and political propaganda instead. Vote ALL of our corrupted politicians out of office, make bribery illegal again like it should be, and get honest and uncorrupted individuals into office who will actually speak for “We the People” as the founding fathers meant it to be! As for the corporate-controlled and extremely biased news media, they have the most incredibly low numbers of viewership because the general public has caught on to their tricks. Most younger people get their news from Internet news outlets like TYT (The Young Turks, the largest independent Internet news channel in the world), which actually present the news with all he facts so people can see what is really going on, and make decisions based on objective reporting instead of propaganda. Sorry for the digression.
There are numerous problems and caveats to actually solving the problem of gun violence in a way that does not unreasonably impact “responsible” citizens who deserve the freedom to own their guns in peace, while also effectively protecting the lives and health of innocents in American society. The greatest problems are not simply the access to weapons, OR even that these weapons are available, at all, to private, “responsible” citizens. One of the REAL problems (even though it is not a ROOT problem, but just a symptom) is how to keep the WRONG people from accessing weapons, while NOT demonizing the guns themselves, the “responsible” owners, or resorting to total confiscations of ALL guns.
I have a plan which I will outline in the next post in this series. But continuing, I feel obliged to say a few words about the second amendment to the Constitution, since it is at the heart of the gun control issue.
Again, there are two sides to every argument, so I consider both sides. AS ORIGINALLY INTENDED BY THE FOUNDING FATHERS, the second amendment has absolutely nothing to do with PRIVATE ownership of firearms. Read the “Federalist Papers”. The second amendment was originally written to apply ONLY to the federal military and federally-controlled state militias. State militias were TEMPORARY extensions of the federal military, under direct control of the federal government in times of danger to the public, whether from outside, or internal to the United States. This means that any private ownership of guns OUTSIDE of those militias, constitutionally, falls upon the federal and/or state/local legislatures to regulate by the passing of laws. It was not originally a constitutional right to private citizens who were NOT in a state militia. These are facts, research it for yourself before you try to argue with me, because I HAVE researched it. My main reference is the “Federalist Papers” which are easily available to anyone who can “google” it. The intent of the founding fathers is quite clear.
But what about today? Over the years, courts, including (I believe) the Supreme Court, have made rulings which interpreted the application of the second amendment to apply to all citizens (of a certain age, under certain restrictions). I have not fully researched this subject, so I am not totally positive about all the specifics. But let me approach it from another direction. The Constitution specifically guarantees the right to LIFE for all citizens, regardless of age or any other restrictions. Thus, if someone is threatening a person’s life, I believe the threatened person has a Constitutional right to preserve their life, or lives of any other innocents, by any and all means at their disposal. Basically, a right to self-defense, which I personally extend to protecting family, and any other defenseless person (the right to be a good samaritan, knight in shining armor, or champion). The right to own weapons is tempered, and rightly so, by the right to life, and the safety of the public. Similarly, a person’s right to free speech is tempered by the right to life, and general public safety. So, by your words, you cannot incite a mob to violence or shout “fire” in a public place and cause panic, or use “hate speech” to incite violence (maybe, I am not completely up on the whole hate speech thing). This should be common sense to most people, but I see a lot of people in whom common sense has never taken root. Even if it were possible to take away all guns in the hands of criminals (which practically, it is NOT, today), still, I think responsible citizens should be allowed guns with which to defend their right to life. Now don’t give me the argument that “having a gun to protect yourself, many times simply fails” because the victim cannot get to it fast enough, or that “the gun could then be taken away and used by the criminal to commit further crimes”. I am not denying the validity of both arguments IN THEIR PROPER CONTEXT AND WITH PROPER CAVEATS.
But even in cases where an intruder has only a knife, or just their hands, there are many people (like me) who simply do not have the ability to fight hand-to-hand with an intruder and have any chance of protecting their right to life. So these “responsible” citizens should have the opportunity to use guns (the great equalizer) in self-defense. Besides, the argument is a moot point since criminals DO have guns, and have them in spades, now, and in any foreseeable future. Come back and talk to me when all criminals have actually been deprived of guns. As long as there are militaries on earth, and manufacturers of weapons, there will be those who figure out how to make money getting them illegally into the hands of criminals. Get rid of all the world’s militaries, end all wars, and destroy ALL the weapons they possess, then we can talk about taking guns away from citizens, when they are no longer threatened by governments, militaries and criminals. Don’t hold your breath, it won’t happen in our lifetimes.
One small tidbit about gun safes. Any adequate gun safe is made so secure that it would take a criminal time, effort, and a good acetylene torch to cut through one and get to the gun inside. That’s IF they don’t destroy the gun in the process. Further safety can be accomplished by bolting a safe to the house itself, making it even harder and more time consuming for an intruder to steal.
Criminals taking guns away from people whose self-defense attempt is a failure remains somewhat problematic. Let me offer this: if a person stores loaded weapons in a safe way (in a SAFE with quick access only to the owner(s)), then either the defense attempt is successful and the criminal is defeated or dead, and the weapon is safely still in the owner’s hands, OR the owner was not able to get access quick enough and is likely dead, but the criminal does NOT have easy access to a securely locked-away gun and still does not possess it. The third option is the problematic one in which the owner gets the gun out, but is not successful in disabling the attacker. Then, the gun may be stolen, and this case remains problematic. Storing guns in quick-access safes is not 100% going to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands in case of intrusion and attack, but it would greatly REDUCE the problem, if gun owners would simply be “responsible” as I described in the first post in this series. Nothing is EVER going to make this world completely safe, accidents of all kinds are going to take lives. It is not about preventing ALL gun deaths (today at least), but harm reduction to a point that is much easier to accept. Once you end war and destroy every military weapon in the world, then come and argue with me about disarming citizens, but not before. The right to LIFE, above all else, is most sacred, and anything that increases a citizen’s, and the public’s, safety should be the top priority when Constitutional rights collide. When the rights of an individual collide with the rights of the public, again, the public welfare should take priority. Any good compromise maximizes the good for all people, and as much as possible, preserves each of a citizen’s Constitutional rights. This happens to be a case of an individual’s right to keep and bear arms vs. the general public’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In fact, the only people who will be losing the right to purchase and own guns (by my proposal) are the people who are a threat to the general public safety. Nothing is being taken away from “responsible” citizens in terms of rights. What is being asked for, is that citizens make a small amount of effort, in the name of the right to keep and bear arms, so that the safety (right to life) of the public can be ensured to its greatest degree. By making this effort, you may save the life of a family member. Is that really too much to ask? In the next post, you will see how much effort my proposed plan requires, which is quite reasonable IMHO (“In My Humble Opinion”, for those of you who don’t know, and are too lazy to google it).
The number of times a criminal is successfully thwarted vs. a criminal is successful, is a small percentage. This is true, but it does not take away from the fact that SOME lives and properties ARE saved by personal defense with a firearm each year. The basic issue is not taking guns away from everyone, but taking them away from those who are not “responsible”. Taking them away from the “responsible” would not increase public safety, because they are NOT the ones committing the violence, and doing so would prevent some, even if only a few, from being protected by guns from attackers. So, there is no benefit whatsoever in preventing “responsible” citizens from owning their guns, apart from a few times when a human mistake leads to an unfortunate accident.
We have not gotten to my plan yet. Patience, there are a LOT of issues revolving around gun control which I want to give my opinions on before I present my plan in the next post.
What about those poor misguided souls who insist they want their military-style rifles in case the Government becomes tyrannical. I hate to break it to you, but we are already there…pretty much. The Constitution prohibits the use of the federal military against US citizens on US soil. However, do you really think that a TYRANNICAL government will hesitate to use the military against a mass of revolting citizens, regardless of constitutionality? Hmmm, really? Now granted, I HOPE our soldiers would of good conscience and refuse to fire upon US citizens on US soil, BUT do you want to count on that? In any tyrannical government, there will be at least a few high-ranking military personnel who are complicit in the corruption of the federal government. With all the drones, bombs, etc. in our military arsenal, do you really believe that every citizen with a gun, revolting against the federal government simultaneously, has ANY chance in hell of overthrowing a tyrannical government? Hmm, really? I think a handful of corrupt individuals, controlling a few drones and sophisticated weaponry could massacre any such uprising. Remember, they have tactical nukes and drones…we have guns. I personally think it is “no contest”. If anyone thinks it could work, even if MOST of our soldiers also join with the public in the fight, I think you have badly underestimated the military power of a few. OK, this is a particular point I will consider arguments against, but give me some specifics that will convince me a revolt has any chance of succeeding. It will take a lot to convince me that it is, indeed, at all possible. In the days of our founding fathers, and through early history, the weapons (muskets and cannons) available to the military, were also available to all citizens, thus a civil war was actually possible. “Civil” war? What is civil about a war? Anyway, today is a completely different story. My view is that the general public has lost the ability to wage a successful revolt against the federal government, so the argument that citizens need guns to overthrow a tyrannical government, is either weak, or totally moot.
OK, I know this is being nitpicky, but the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, even though its designer intended it for military use, is NOT the same as the fully-automatic and select-fire M16 rifle (even though they look very much alike) that has had wide use in our military. A semi-automatic rifle can fire one round for each pull of the trigger. Is it a tremendously deadly weapon? Of course! Is it a modern weapon used in our military? Nope. M4, M1A, M60, M16…these are past or current types of military weapons. A select-fire rifle fires 2 or 3 rounds for each pull of the trigger, generally. A fully-automatic weapon fires continuously so long as the trigger is held depressed (until it runs out of ammo, of course).
I told you, as an analytical type, I prefer precision in statements, and the “media” is adept at butchering journalism and constantly making inaccurate statements, or promulgating outright propaganda, as are our corrupted legislators. Most of it is intentional political manipulation via propaganda, deceptive rhetoric, and emotionally-charged arguments. Almost all of our politicians are bought by corporate interests (like the NRA) through unlimited donations to political campaigns, and the major news media outlets are owned by 6 major corporations (maybe fewer as I write this). All of those corporate elite stick together, and we lovingly refer to them as the “establishment” (since at least the ’60’s, maybe earlier). Legalized bribery now exists. Corruption by any other name still smells to high heaven! Sorry for yet another rant…
How about this statement, inferred from statistics: the US has the largest per capita number of guns in the world, and the highest rate of gun violence, thus it is the “guns” that are causing the violence. Get rid of the guns, and get rid of the gun violence. Oh, this is a tricky one. Correlation does not prove causality!!! There are also statistics from other countries which indicate the opposite correlation, they got rid of the guns, but violent deaths and crimes continued to increase. If you could ever truly get rid of the guns, which we have not been able, so far, to do, then GUN deaths would certainly decline. But what about violence in general and murder itself? If I had the energy, I would use other “statistics” to refute this fallacy, but I don’t have that much energy. This series of articles has been hard enough to write as it is. The number of guns is not the ONLY factor in gun violence. Let me instead use a simple, common-sense argument to make my point. Simple is better; statistics are tricky and slippery. When people are prosperous, healthy, and happy, they are less violent, or not violent at all. It is no secret, we have millions of people in poverty. Many of them are working multiple minimum-wage jobs just to keep food on the table. US citizens have been struggling increasingly just to survive. It is also no secret that huge numbers of people are unhappy, and angry, especially with the corporate and political systems which have forced them into this struggle just to survive in the first place. Couple that with racial, economic, and other injustices and inequalities which beat people down, and it is no wonder we have so many people who are pushed to violence and past their breaking point. The rate of violent crimes has been slowly decreasing for the last decade, the level of deaths committed by guns has been more or less stable the last few years, and the number of mass shootings per year varies from year to year, but is not significantly different. One problem with this year, is that the number of deaths due to mass shootings is very high this year. The main problem is not increasing deaths or violent crimes, but rather that the level of violence in the US and the number of deaths due to guns in the US has been consistently “heads and shoulders” higher than most other developed countries on earth. The shear number of gun deaths each year is terrifying.
It only makes sense that happy, healthy, prosperous people simply don’t kill others, they have no reason to. Angry, stressed people are much more likely to become violent. I still submit that happy people don’t kill no matter how many guns they have. The ROOT causes of violence go much deeper than simply the easy access to guns. The fact that violent people CHOOSE to use guns is because guns are the best available weapon. Getting rid of guns, if it were possible, may get rid of GUN violence, but not violence itself. If violent people don’t have guns, they will still use knives or other weapons to kill, rape, and pillage until we treat the true causes of violence itself. My basic point is that the stated statistic is NOT the entire equation of the problem of violence. There is much more to it than that. It is not guns themselves that turn people into killers. I have owned guns for years, but those guns have never made me kill anyone. It is simply a ridiculous argument to blame the whole problem of violence on the tool chosen to commit that violence. The “establishment” wants to distract us from thinking about the rapidly increasing gap between the filthy rich and the poor which is creating more and more desperate, angry, and poor people who have no outlet for their desperation. The simpler argument is that desperate people are become violent because that’s the way humans work. Push them too far, and they snap, and resort to violence. Measures which get guns out of the WRONG hands is a good thing, but do not make the mistake of only controlling the tools used to do violence, while failing to treat the underlying root causes of violence. It is not simply the number of guns which accounts for the reasons why we have gun violence, there are many more factors at work here. To claim that getting rid of all guns will get rid of violence is not only incorrect, but quite naive and misleading. If it were even possible to get rid of guns (we have been trying for years to rid America of illegally possessed guns, and completely unsuccessfully), violence itself, which is truly what we need to prevent, will still be a huge problem until we focus on the root causes of violence (which is not the guns).
In addition to gun deaths each year, there are large numbers of people NOT killed by guns. Every year, people are beaten to death, knifed, strangled, etc., and sometimes even poisoned to death. Fix the root causes that turn people into killers, and you also reduce ALL violence regardless of method used.