I have been mulling this issue over for months now. Every time I have tried to sit down to write anything, there it has been – hanging over me like a dark cloud. Whenever a subject came to me that I wanted write about, there it was – leaning over my shoulder like some dark specter, demanding it get the attention it deserves. So I haven’t written much of anything, waiting for the specter to go away. Every time some happy subject came to mind, there it would be – glaring at me. Demanding that I address this issue before I moved on to anything else. It has not gone away. It will not leave me alone. And so I have finally resigned myself to the task at hand. It’s time I talked about gun control.
Where I am coming from…
First let me clearly define where I am coming from. I was not “born and raised in the country” and my parents were NOT your classic red-necks. In fact quite to the contrary, I was born in the city (THE city in fact – New York, NY – the town so nice, they named it twice). I was raised for the most part by my mother, who was about as liberal, anti-gun, pro fuzzy kittens and trees as you could get. Phil Donahue was her God. Leo Buscaglia her Patron Saint.
And I myself certainly did not fall far from that particular tree. In high school and college (during the Reagan years) I was a very liberal, anti-government, pro free-love, hippy. And I loved every minute of it.
It was not until I got married the first time and had children that my feelings began to change. By then I had (in a cosmic stroke of irony) gone to work for the Government, and I began to understand the idea of wanting to protect my family from harm as best as I could. In general my feelings towards firearms softened, and it was around that time that I bought my first handgun – a cheap .45 1911 knockoff.
Over the years my initial interest grew into a genuine love affair as I became a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and gun-owner rights in general. There was even a brief period when I was a card-carrying member of the NRA, but I’ll get back to them in a moment. Now some 25 years later, I own a total of three handguns: a .45, a .357, and a 9mm, and one AR-15 rifle. I own about a dozen 30-round magazines, and keep about 1,000 rounds of ammunition on hand. I also possess a valid Concealed Carry permit, and do so fairly often. I possess these weapons because I enjoy shooting them, because I want to be able to protect my family should the need arise. And because the inner-prepper in me wants to be prepared for anything, because well – you just never know.
Now mind you, I had not become a mindless Conservative either. I like to think that my political ideology settled down comfortably somewhere just slightly left of center. I believe that I (like most of the country) thinks those on the far fringes of the Right and the Left are well, frankly just crazy. For the most part anyway. It has been those of us in the Middle that have been the voice of reason over the years. The ones who were capable of having intelligent discussions about our differences and were able to come to consensus. That is, until Sandy Hook.
Of course Sandy Hook was an absolutely unspeakable tragedy. Words could never express the true horror that occurred that morning in mid-December, and I am sure there is not one person on either side of the gun debate who was not struck to the heart upon hearing the news. But at the same time, I have been quite honestly shocked at the venomous posture that the Liberal Left has taken in regards to gun control since that tragic event.
Sandy Hook has served to so polarize this nation that it seems calm and reasonable discussion of the subject is not even possible. It seems of late that any comment I make on Facebook that even hints of supporting gun-owner rights is immediately attacked by my more liberal leaning friends. It is as if they have “finally had enough” and they have decided they are just going to get rid of all the guns everywhere. So there.
Now I know the NRA has not helped matters any (See? I told you I would get back to them). As I mentioned, I was once an actual member of the NRA. It was back in the early 90’s however that we parted ways. Right around the time of the incident in Waco, Texas. After that tragedy, Wayne Lapierre came out and called the slain ATF agents “Jack-booted thugs who deserved what they got”. I was shocked. I saw them instead as cops – policemen with wives and children. Policemen who had been gunned down, and who deserved better than to be spoken of that way. Me and the NRA parted company after that.
And lately, the comments of Mr. Lapierre and others at the NRA have done more to polarize this discussion and hurt the cause of gun-rights advocates than anything the Left has come up with. Frankly, I wish he would stop helping.
What I believe…
- I do happen to believe in and support the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. I am a little skeptical of the interpretation of it from the Right. I think that bit about “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” pretty clearly is intended to mean that if we needed the citizenry to help defend the country, they should all have their own guns to do so. I disagree with the far-right, and their claim that this clause was “always intended to protect US from the Government”.
- I believe that gun-bans by and large do not work. Since nobody in government has the balls to stand up and say that “all guns everywhere should be taken away”, any ban being discussed would only limit or prohibit the sale of new assault rifles and large capacity magazines. It would do nothing about – or even address at all – the fact that there are literally tens of millions of these guns and these magazines out there already. No ban legislation being discussed would address that issue. To stop the sale of new assault weapons and then say you have made anybody safer, is the same as saying you solved the obesity problem by outlawing spoons.
- I do strongly support tighter controls on exactly WHO can purchase a firearm – of any kind. It is ridiculous that we cannot seem to clamp down on the mentally unstable, or the drug abusers, or the PFA violators. I absolutely agree that while guns should remain legal and available, that should also mean that we are a lot more careful about who we let have access to them. By this token, the mother of the teenager who pulled the trigger that day at Sandy Hook should have and would have gone to prison for not properly securing her weapons. But then again, she’s dead.
- I also believe that the Liberal Left is using Sandy Hook and their cry for tighter gun laws as a salve for their rage. They do not know who else to lash out at. The shooter is dead. His mother (who allowed him access to the weapons) is dead. So now instead, they are going to scream from the rooftops that “enough is enough” without any thought about whether this would actually accomplish anything.
- I believe it is a good idea to place an armed policeman in every single school in this country. To keep our children safe, we have declared school zones to be “gun free” zones, and have placed prominent signage proclaiming the same. You might as well tell every crazy out there that a school is a good place to kill a lot of innocent people, and nobody will be shooting back. Wrong approach.
The fact is that a ban on the sale of new assault weapons would do nothing to stop or slow down the sale of the millions upon millions of “assault” type rifles that are bought and sold in this country every day. Or the high-capacity magazines for that matter. And while we’re on it, the Left cannot even seem to agree on what they mean by “assault rifle”. They have a picture in their minds. An image of this evil black rifle, and they believe that if they make it illegal, nobody will ever be shot with one again.
Of course they don’t want to talk about the fact that the last time they tried this, it did not work. There is a reason the last gun-ban was repealed after 10 years. It didn’t work. It did nothing to stop violent shootings. Remember that Columbine occurred right in the middle of the last ban. And the Virginia Tech shootings were accomplished with no assault rifle at all – just two legal handguns.
And banning “high-capacity” magazines is another joke. As if this would save any lives either. The time it takes to drop an empty magazine from a rifle and slap in a new one is about 1.5 seconds. If anyone thinks making a psychopath take that extra 1.5 seconds to reload is going to save any lives, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’m selling…
The bottom line is that banning “assault weapons” or “high-capacity magazines” is not going to save one single life. It is not going to prevent one crazy bent on homicide from committing his horrific act, or prevent one psycho from killing for no reason. What it will do is prevent law-abiding tax-payers like myself from purchasing these guns, and that will accomplish exactly nothing.
So what now?
So now what do we do? First off, I would like to see the Far Right stop refusing to even discuss some new controls. Obviously, something has to change. The more the Far Right keeps insisting there is no problem, and that they are completely protected by the Constitution, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, the more they will face a growing opposition.
But the Left needs to let up a bit too. I have been surprised at the venom in their attack. As if every gun-owner is now the enemy. It seems that anyone who continues to stand up for gun-owners’ rights is vilified and grouped in with the far-right, Lapierrer’s of this world. If we don’t stop the attacks on both sides, we will never get to a place where we can have an intelligent discussion.
Obviously something needs to change, but both sides need to give a little. Let’s start with much tighter controls on the sale of all guns – not only “over-the-counter” sales, but gun-show sales and private sales alike. Somehow we have to make an effort to make sure that a mentally un-stable person is not able to purchase any kind of gun. Let’s also put a cop in every school. This is something that isn’t that alien a notion here in Maine, with most schools having a particular police officer assigned to the school. This officer makes a point of spending significant time at the school so the kids come to know and trust him or her. Why not just make that a permanent gig?
At the end of the day, I am not sure there is a “one final solution” to this whole debate. It seems most of my conservative friends are digging in, tightening their grip on their guns, and preparing for battle. My liberal friends are seeing this as a chance to finally outlaw all guns everywhere. Somehow we have to be able to come together in the middle. We have to be able to see that some change is needed, but a radical re-defining of our constitutional rights is overkill.
I for one am a gun-rights enthusiast who is willing to discuss the matter. How about you?