Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wisdom Of Gun Control?

The citizens of Aurora, Colorado have suffered an unimaginable tragedy. I have a really hard time time wrapping my brain around it myself. That one man could kill twelve people and seriously injure fifty eight more is hard to fathom. It reinforces the concept that there truly is evil in the world. Some will say that this poor man is very, very ill. I am in no position to judge for myself. As an American I am grieving for the victims. But I am also grieving for the shooter's mother. These must be the worst days of her life as well.

While I was watching television in horror, I was expecting to see the psychiatrists speaking about schizophrenia and other mental disorders. But I was disappointed to see the news people display their political agenda of “gun control legislation”.

Here is a little background on me. I fired a gun for the first time when I was ten years old. My father took me to the range at Fort Benning for my birthday. I fired a variety of weapons including dad's .45 semi-automatic side arm. And yes they did turn their head and let me fire a few artillery rounds. I learned an awful lot in one day. As an adult in the early 1980's, I was advised by a local policeman to carry, in the open, a hand gun while I was making late night bank deposits. I carried a large revolver and I was never bothered. Previously to that I was accidentally shot by a friend of mine who was “playing “ with a loaded revolver. And yes alcohol was involved. I see that scar every time I take my shirt off. Following that incident, I was robbed at gunpoint. The man stuck a sawed off shotgun in my face and took money and merchandise from the store that employed me. So I understand a little about firearms. I understand the damage that individuals can do with them. I understand how to use them responsibly. I also understand how they can be used during the commission of a crime. Firearms are powerful tools.

So it is with that frame of reference that I find myself incredibly frustrated with gun control advocates who are continuously anthropomorphizing firearms. And in the process they try to assign them some innate evil quality. To me guns are tools. They are no different to me than chainsaws or salad forks. I know this is a cliché, BUT guns do not shoot people. It requires an affirmative action by another person. For some reason this concept seems to be beyond the grasp of some gun control advocates.

I am a Libertarian. As such many would describe my position on firearms as extreme. But the United States Supreme Court has settled the issue of individual gun ownership most recently in McDonald v. Chicago (2010). The U.S. Constitution is pretty clear on this issue.

In an exchange on line, a gentleman asked, “Where should we draw the line legally? What should be the limit? What weapon is too large for an individual to own?” Personally, I don't see any need of a legal limit. Owning a firearm is not inexpensive. Buying even a relatively inexpensive hand gun costs hundreds of dollars. If you want an assault style rifle you are looking at thousands of dollars. And so it goes. I don't know anyone that can afford to own a bazooka or a SA.M. But if someone has the money, I can't really say that I would want to stand in their way. But ammunition is likely to be cost prohibitive. And it has been expressed to me that it usually takes firing 3 artillery rounds to actually hit the target. That would mean really expensive trips to the range. If you could find a range that could accommodate. But on a more serious note, I would be in favor of having most American homes equipped with some sort of assault rifle. And providing the training to operate and maintain that weapon safely and proficiently.

Of course, the control advocates will ask, “Why do individuals need to own assault weapons?” That question itself demonstrates a very different world view from many if not most gun owners. I still consider myself a gun owner even though I don't own one at this very moment. So I feel comfortable responding to that question. The world is a dangerous place. The threats are all around us and distant as well. The police can't and shouldn't protect us from all threats. The job of the police is to investigate and solve crimes, arrest the criminals, and deliver the evidence to the courts for prosecution. If someone breaks into your home, you are responsible for protecting yourself, your family, and your property. Who would you rather have better armed? And given the irresponsible behavior of government lately, specifically how they spend our money, there are likely going to be fewer police officers as time goes by.

I mentioned distant threats. Perhaps you are familiar with the events of September 11, 2001? 19 radical Islamists managed to murder nearly 3000 people. That was not the beginning. And there are still unknown numbers of radical Islamists looking to kill everyone who does not believe as they do. In addition our government has borrowed trillions of dollars from the Chinese. Trillions of dollars that we may never be able to repay. It is predictable that at some point the Chinese would come to collect. And when they do, they could outnumber us 100 to 1. And since our government is about to emasculate the military in an attempt to cut federal spending it would fall to the citizens to defend themselves. Who would you have better armed? It seems like a “no brainer” to me.

The most contentious threat is our own government. The very reason that there is the Second Amendment is so that we have the ability to resist an oppressive government. Obviously as a Libertarian I find our government has already crossed my oppression threshold. But it is not politically irreversible... yet. I would submit that the creation of the “hate crime”, the passing of The Patriot Act, and most recently The Affordable Care Act are just a few examples of oppression. The government has again and again weakened The Bill Of Rights over the years. In short I believe that the government that governs least governs best. If the government is unwilling to protect and defend our Constitution then it falls to the citizens to do so. Who would you rather have better armed?

But back to Colorado. I have heard as few (very few) people suggest that if the service men in that theater had been carrying firearms, that the loss of life and injuries could have been reduced. I believe that is probably true. I would go even further. If it was convention that some or many of the people in that theater had been armed, Then perhaps the shooter might have found it a much less attractive target to begin with. I believe in deterrents. But in the end it comes down to this question. When you think about your personal safety and the safety of your loved ones, Who do you trust more? Do you trust the government more? Or do you trust yourself more? Today you still have the right to answer that question for yourself. If the gun control advocates win, you will no longer have that right. Can we live with that. I don't think so.