Gun Control, Divided We Fall

I am disgusted. After seventeen people lost their lives last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, We lost our collective minds….again. From news headlines to social media posts, pundits and politicians, everyone has something to say. Whether Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal Progressive, most of what’s being posted is nothing more than ignorant emotionally charged talking points, none of it promoting anything truly objective or useful. The Far Left uses every mass shooting as a platform to push their anti-gun agenda. The ultimate, though unstated, goal of which is to eliminate the private ownership of all firearms. The Far Right then pushes back, hiding behind the Second Amendment, to push it’s ultimate, though unstated, goal of complete and unrestricted access to all firearms. Most of us don’t espouse either extreme, but we lean Left or Right. It seems no one is centrist in this debate, though many claim to be. There are valid points and arguments on both sides, but we have dug in our heels, armed ourselves with our favorite talking points and have stopped listening to each other. The sad outcome of this obstinacy will be more needlessly lost lives.

To restore some reason and civility to this debate, both sides must accept some inevitable truths. Those of us on the Right must realize that the majority of Americans support universal background checks. Many also support expanding the minimum purchase age to include shotguns and rifles. It is inevitable that there will be change to gun control policy. Rather than opposing this change outright, we should take control of the narrative. We should support legislation that prevents the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms, without restricting the rights of law-abiding adult citizens to purchase them.

Those on the Left like to hold the rest of the world up as the paragon of virtue when it comes to the possession of firearms. They must understand that the United States is unique in its treatment of firearms ownership. The United States is one of only three countries that has a Constitutional right to gun ownership. It was the first to protect this right in its founding documents, and the only one that has no Constitutional restrictions against it. Second Amendment proponents understand that this amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It has to do with a citizen’s right to protect himself and his property. Whether it is from an intruder or an overreaching tyrannical government. This amendment protects the tools by which we can defend liberty. Liberty for everyone, Right, Left or somewhere in between. The only way the Second Amendment will ever be repealed is with a bloodbath that will forever split out nation in two. Is that what you really want the ultimate legacy of the Liberal Progressive movement to be?

Here are my personal positions on this issue. I’m pretty sure Leftists will hate them, and Conservatives will think I’m selling out, but this is just common sense to me.

I support universal background checks with an exception for guns willed to or gifted to family members. However, the law should hold responsible family members who knowingly buy guns for another family member who wouldn’t pass a background check.

I support increasing the age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from eighteen to twenty one. The law should apply only to the purchase of a weapon. Persons under the age of twenty one should be allowed to posses and use a firearm under the supervision of an adult.

I support training in firearms operation, safety, maintenance and law. I would not oppose this being mandatory for the purchase of a firearm.

I support the banning of “bump stocks”.

I support increased funding to diagnose and treat the mentally ill. While compassion for mentally ill persons is important, when it comes to firearms, the safety of the patient and the public should be the main concerns. However to protect the rights of a patient, a person would have to be declared unfit to possess a firearm by a licensed mental health professional.

I support holding accountable the agencies responsible for performing the background checks for gun ownership. I also support holding accountable the agencies that fail to report dangerous individuals. The inability or unwillingness of these agencies to enforce the already existing gun laws is a great threat to public safety and will render any reform of gun law useless.

I oppose the banning of so-called “assault style” weapons. This is an unquantifiable term that concerns the cosmetics of a weapon rather than its action. It is a term meant to play on the emotions of people unfamiliar with firearms.

I oppose the banning of high-capacity magazines. It places an unnecessary restriction on law-abiding gun owners, and a well-trained marksman can change magazines fast enough to make such a ban useless. Again, it is a knee jerk reaction, meant to play on the emotions.

I oppose any form of gun registry or database of gun owners. To require gun owners to register their firearms and to maintain a database of those persons and their residences goes completely against the spirit and purpose of the Second Amendment.

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5 responses

  1. I fully agree with most of your positions listed in the 2nd half of your article, and I also don’t flat-out oppose any of them. So I’m not arguing with you here…..I’m exchanging thoughts. (I’m an electronics engineer, so I’m analytical to a fault — don’t take it personally.
    🙂 ) As I’m sure you’re aware, some of your positions are problematic to fully realize in a free society. Here are some passages in your article that made me stop and think about how the devil’s in the details:

    “We should support legislation that prevents the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms.” First, obviously there’s no way to ever “prevent” it 100%. Second, it probably already is illegal for a mentally ill person from obtaining a firearm. The problem is with how many mentally ill people there are, who aren’t identified as such. It’s not like humans have a built-in LED in their foreheads that automatically illuminate the moment they become mentally ill, so that everyone around them plainly knows it. So I think what you’re really getting at is, “We should support legislation that promotes a fair process in our society to identify and treat the mentally ill, and to assure their medical status is reliably posted in a database that’s included in background checks.”

    “However, the law should hold responsible family members who knowingly buy guns for another family member who wouldn’t pass a background check.” I would strengthen that statement: The law should hold ANYBODY (family or non-family) responsible…. But what do you fully mean, in a legal sense, by “hold responsible”? How would that be captured in the details of a statute? Should the person who supplied a gun illegally be charged with the crime that the actual perpetrator committed? Or with some lesser charge like “aiding and abetting”?

    “The law should apply only to the purchase of a weapon. Persons under the age of twenty one should be allowed to posses and use a firearm under the supervision of an adult.” You make it sound like all 18-20.999 year olds live with their parents. But what about 18-20.999 year olds that live on their own? It seems like you’re saying they not only can’t purchase a gun but that can’t possess a gun either. But what if they were given a gun by their father or grandfather, within a traditional rural family structure of hand-me-down heirlooms — and the 18-year-old has been fully taught about good gun safety and good morals. If he moves out on his own, he can’t have a gun for the next 3 years? This seems problematic. Also, it seems like there’s an overarching philosophy that would have to be adjusted across our diverse society (rural & urban) about the definition of “adulthood”. The rights of voting, serving in the military, signing up for the draft, and owning a firearm, etc. are all currently bestowed upon reaching 18. It makes things awkward to split those up. Granted, we already bestow driving rights earlier (approx 16) and drinking rights later (approx 21), so there is some precedent, but still it could create some weird paradoxes if the set of 18-year-old rights of passage are scrambled. I don’t know the answers, I’m just saying it’s complicated.

    “I support holding accountable the agencies responsible for performing the background checks for gun ownership. I also support holding accountable the agencies that fail to report dangerous individuals. The inability or unwillingness of these agencies to enforce the already existing gun laws is a great threat to public safety and will render any reform of gun law useless.” In spirit, I fully agree. But OMG, what a quagmire that is. This is not related to gun control, but here’s an example: I’m sure you’ve heard about all the corruption and scandal with the Veterans Administration, with the waiting lists of veterans waiting for medical assistance, and also with the fraudulent and inept management of VA hospital construction (in Aurora, CO for example). It turns out that the VA had no procedures in place for the agency head to pursue disciplinary action against any one of these obvious wrong-doers. None. Laws had to be passed in 2016-17 to create the legal avenue to be able to discipline, fire, or deny full retirement benefits from these scumbags. So you’re talking a huge cesspool of a problem when it comes to ACTUALLY “holding accountable” any government entity or actor. The things you bring up about the agencies responsible for background checks, and agencies that fail to report dangerous individuals, are the teeny tiny tip of the iceberg. Given the shameful behavior of the Broward County (FL) sheriff’s department, you could even add law enforcement to your list. They should be held accountable for negligence. But what exactly do you fully mean, in a legal sense, by “hold accountable.” The details of implementing it are endless, and fraught with the risk of unintended consequences. For example, if a full set of accountability laws and processes were put in place, there could be an unintended resistance for ANYONE to want to enter the law enforcement field, because the risk of getting falsely accused of negligence would make some honest people simply seek a different career choice.

    “I oppose any form of gun registry or database of gun owners. To require gun owners to register their firearms and to maintain a database of those persons and their residences goes completely against the spirit and purpose of the Second Amendment.” I agree with you, but let’s go back to your ideas about mentally ill people diagnosed by medical professionals as being unfit to have a weapon. If their medical status shows up in a background check, this would enable the prevention of gun dealers to sell to a mentally ill person. But what about the guns that person already owns. Suppose a guy who owns lots of guns safely for decades then develops a mental illness when he’s in his mid-40s. How would the authorities go about seizing the guns he already owns, if there’s no gun registration database. I believe the answer is that the law would have to allow law enforcement to search his home and other property (storage rental units, etc.) for all his existing weapons, and seize them temporarily. It’s problematic, because it would be tempting for government to overreach their authority here.

    These are examples of some of the reasons why conservatives resist the beginning of slippery slopes. There are simply no easy answers, and there are very few “common sense & reasonable” gun control measures that are self-contained with no unintended side effects.

    As I said at the end of my article you read & “liked” earlier today, liberty isn’t easy. There may not be ANY solutions to the overall problem of gun violence. Think of this: What if ALL these measures were put into place, even the ones that start us down slippery slopes. Then…..what if 5-10 years later, we’re still having these mass shootings? That could truly happen, because of the basic dilemma that all the laws in the world cannot control a person who’s hell-bent on breaking the law.

    Thanks for encouraging folks to think and interact on this very public issue.

    Respectfully,
    – Jeff

  2. Thank you for visiting my humble little blog. I respect your comments. On a couple of points you actually clarified my position and I appreciate that. I mostly lean right on the gun issue, but I admit that my position has evolved some over the years. I do feel that I need to clarify my position on raising the age to by any firearm. My eighteen year old son is an Eagle Scout, so I know there are thoughtful, mature, and responsible young men and women out there. Unfortunately experience has shown me that they are way in the minority. Very few 18, 19, and 20 years olds live completely on their own. They simply do not possess the life skills necessary. I feel that the legal age of adulthood should be changed to 21 across the board, including the right to vote. From what I’ve seen, very few people under the age of 21 have the maturity and good judgment to choose our nation’s leaders. Heck, if the last election was any indicator, not many people over 21 have that good of judgment either. As far as military service is concerned, any 18,19, or 20 year old that can produce an active duty ID, or a dd214 showing an honorable discharge should be considered a legal adult, entitled to all privileges and responsibilities thereof. As your comments demonstrate, this is a complex issue, with no answer that will please everyone.

  3. “As far as military service is concerned, any 18,19, or 20 year old that can produce an active duty ID, or a dd214 showing an honorable discharge should be considered a legal adult, entitled to all privileges and responsibilities thereof.” I agree. That makes me think of the 1959 Robert Heinlein novel “Starship Troopers.” Besides being a high-quality sci-fi story and a detailed description of warfare strategy that is still recommended reading for the Marine Corps and the Navy , it also contains some provocative conservative political and sociological ideas in it, from Heinlein’s Naval Academy education and years of service in the late 20’s and early 30’s. One of those ideas that he embossed on the future society depicted in the novel was that ONLY honorably retired combat officers should be allowed to vote or run for office. Not merely honorably discharged, and not merely retired enlisted soldiers, and not merely retired officers, but honorably retired COMBAT OFFICERS with at least 20 years of service. His reasoning was that’s the subset of all citizens that is most likely to be incorruptible and most likely to put the well-being of others before their own self-interest, since they have proven themselves capable of making decisions under pressure that likely put their own lives in danger in order to accomplish what is best for the defense of their country and its liberty. I’m not saying this is something I recommend, but it is an intriguing philosophical point. You should consider reading the book, if the intelligent & philosophical sci-fi genre suits you. It has quite a few other observations that are relevant to today’s undisciplined & ungrateful young generations in America.

    – Jeff

  4. I agree, as someone who strongly leans to the right, both sides do have valid points. I believe there are cracks in the current background check system that need addressed, mostly referring to mental illness. The question is, how do you know if someone is mentally ill if they haven’t been diagnosed? After that question, they just keep coming… we can’t ban guns completely, it’s not fair to the sane people who may need to protect theselves from a psychopath on a rampage. I have mixed feelings about raising the age from 18 to 21 for purchasing firearms and I’ll tell you why… A person can join the military at age 18 and be handed combat rifles and handguns almost immediately. Why are those “kids” any different from say my kid or your kid who simply wants to go fill the freezer? Then that brings us to society and how kids are being raised in this day and age… I know plenty of kids who can pass a background check but I’m certain are not responsible enough to own a firearm and it’s scary. I would support a mandatory gun education and evaluation for those between 18 and 21 (or any age for that matter) as a compromise. I could go on forever on this subject, back and forth but no one has time for that. Have a great day! 🙂

    1. Thank you for visiting my humble little blog. I apologize for taking so long to approve your comment. I appreciate your views. Unfortunately there will not be any solution that makes both sides happy, as neither seems willing to compromise.

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