What will we do about Gun Control?
Let’s start, what will hopefully be a more prolific blogging year, with a bang.
Gun Control is a big topic these days. We’ve been inundated with the topic since the school shooting last month. We’ll hear even more about it in the coming days as the government looks to move on the subject.
President Obama has been the single most polarizing person on gun control in the past five years, causing the biggest jumps in gun sales in history. The irony here is that when the subject of restricting firearm purchases comes into the public spotlight, gun sales skyrocket as people fear they will, in the coming days, lose the ability to buy a gun. These fears have been running rampant since it became clear Obama would win the presidency in 2008.
Prior to last month’s massacre, the subject was never mentioned by the President. The only people bringing the subject up were the gun lobby and die-hard gun enthusiasts–exactly the people who would benefit most if people were buying more guns.
There are things the government can do and things the government can’t do and things it won’t do. As to what it will do, I cannot say. We’ll see a taste of it tomorrow in the VP’s recommendations.
We’ll start with what the government cannot do. It can’t outlaw private ownership of firearms with anything short of repealing the second amendment, which will not happen.
It can’t seize existing weapons. Historically, it has never gone well to make it illegal to own things that people already owned. Making ownership of something that people already own illegal only creates criminals. Once people are made into criminals, they might start to think of themselves as criminals and not strive to cross the line back into legitimacy. And it just seems like a bad idea to aggressively try to remove property from people we know are armed. So we are not going to see the government add to the list of guns that are illegal to own.
The government cannot maintain a database on the sanity of every individual. Currently to become disqualified for gun registration for mental illness requires a person to have been committed or declared mentally ill by a court. If we made it mandatory for all psychologists and psychiatrists to submit all of their patients to a federal database, the only result would be fewer people seeking help for mental illness.
The most conservative gun enthusiasts think we should spend more resources on identifying the criminals before they get guns. This is very short sighted. This means they want the government to fully investigate every single individual in the country and classify them as criminals or not criminals–long before these people have done anything criminal. Aren’t these the same people who want the government to be less hands-on with people’s lives? I’m not a fan of anything that creates a government list of people with the potential to be naughty. I have enough problems with the overreach of government powers in the wake of 911. No one should ever be labeled by what they are capable of without any actual history or demonstration of such or similar actions. Once we start pre-classifying potential criminals, its just a slippery slope towards segregating these people from the rest of the population. Then again, it’s not like we as a country haven’t done it before; ask anyone of Japanese descent who happened to live too close to the west coast around the time of WWII. Two more words: Indian Reservation.
Now, that’s not to say we shouldn’t be more thorough in the background checks required for purchasing guns. The problem is that this is expensive. We can make the people buying the guns pay a little more for their own background checks, but we can’t charge enough to cover the cost. Any fee which is too prohibitive is the same, in the eyes of the Supreme Court, as abridging Constitutional rights. Basically we can’t make people pay to exercise any Constitutional right. So the bulk of the cost of any more thorough check system will fall on the tax-payer.
That’s probably going to be part of any solution even if it is at the government’s (taxpayers’) cost.
I mentioned that we cannot outlaw the ownership of what we already own. We can, however, outlaw the sale or transfer of such items. Several laws have failed to restrict the sale of firearms. Test after test has met judgment in the court system, so we know exactly where the line is drawn in accordance with the Constitution. The Constitution says we can own any weapon that fires a single round with a single pull of the trigger and that is not a sawed off shotgun or rifle. The second amendment doesn’t use those words, but that what it says. The courts say so and they’re the ones who say what the Constitution says.
So we won’t likely see a big change in what kinds of weapons people can buy. Some guns will probably be reclassified as machine guns, which are not protected under the Constitution. It’s a bit funny really. Some gun proponents believe that the second amendment is there so the people can be armed to defend against a tyrannical government if needed. These people use that argument to defend the private ownership of assault weapons. They think we should have the means to fight our own army. With today’s technologies, that’s so far from a reality, that the argument is moot.
I don’t think we the people need weapons capable of firing 30 shots in 30 seconds. Spray and Pray is never a good tactic. Without serious experience, most people will be shooting high after the second round leaves the barrel. Heck, I recall a study that says that soldiers tend to shoot over their enemy’s heads simply due to human nature. So, I’d give a machine gun a slight advantage, but not much over any other rifle. Very few of our mass shootings have been done by people with actual machine guns. The worst were accomplished with semi-automatic rifles and lots of bullets.
So we could restrict the bullets, or rounds as gun enthusiasts would point out. This could happen in two places, at the point of sale or in the size of the magazine. For the gun-illiterate, that means restricting how many bullets the gun can hold. So we’ll likely see the VP mention restricting the sale of large magazines. We’ll probably also see a request to track ammunition sales, which won’t go over well with the people who don’t want the government keeping tabs on them. Were these the same people who want the government to keep more tabs on criminals and potential criminals? Don’t these people know that everyone will be a potential criminal until the government examines them closely enough to rule them out?
I’m personally more against restrictions on gun control and more against any more programs designed to build a database of people and what they do or could do. I’m of the opinion that the freedoms we enjoy come with a price and that price is that sometimes people abuse the freedoms.
I’m also of the opinion that since some people already have these weapons with large magazines, and nothing is going to change that, that it’s a bit rude to tell those of us that don’t that we can’t and that we will forever be the under-dogs when the zombie-apocalypse happens. Okay, so maybe not the zombie apocalypse, but any large scale disaster or break down of society. Not likely to happen, but who wouldn’t want to be prepared and not just prepared but on even footing with the other guys?
There is truth to the idea that if we make guns illegal then only criminals will own guns. Let’s not increase the headcount of criminals in our society. In the end, I think we are going to see some kind of compromise that has no real effect on anything other than to make all of our lives a little more difficult.