Monday, January 7, 2013

More On Gun Control and Gun Violence

The question of how to stop (or at least reduce) gun violence in this country has been around for decades.  With the mass shootings in Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Fort Bliss Army Base, the Aurora theater shooting and the most recent one in Sandy Hook Elementary School, there is more attention than ever on the topic.  But what is the correct answer?

Anti-gun advocates foolishly believe that passing more strict gun laws or banning guns from legal ownership is the answer.  The thing they seem to be missing (or ignoring) is that gun crimes actually increase, in most cases, when legal gun owners are restricted from owning guns.  Let's look at Chicago, Illinois, and Washington D.C., for example.  These two cities have the strongest anti-gun laws in the country, yet the murder rate keeps going up every year.  And anyone who thinks that taking away legal guns will stop criminals from obtaining them is truly naive.  About the only thing more gun laws will prevent is criminals stealing guns from legal gun owners.  If the government does that first then the criminals can't.  But there are plenty of guns to be had on the black market.

Anti-gun politicians and media love to talk about "assault rifles", as if those types of weapons cannot be used for anything but assaulting people.  The truth is - "assault rifle" is a manufactured term invented to strike fear into the hearts of the public.  An AR-15 semiautomatic rifle doesn't assault anyone unless someone is there to aim it and pull the trigger.  Contrary to the current liberal rhetoric - guns really do not kill people by themselves.  Even a gun that goes off "accidentally" goes off because some person was playing with it or mishandling it.  I've owned guns since I was 17 years old, nearly 40 years, and none of them has ever gone off accidentally.  Nor has any of them killed or even wounded anyone.  They sit in their space in the house very quietly, not moving or taking any actions unless I choose for them to.

One of the other solutions being tested is taxing ammunition exorbitantly.  I guess the legistlators who are trying that are trying to simply make it too expensive to buy ammunition.  Again, it's available on the black market and it really only takes one bullet to kill someone.  In addition, gun owners everywhere are buying surplus ammunition out of fear of this new gun control legislation that they are stocking up on as many boxes of rounds as they can.

Large capacity ammunition magazines are also on the chopping block to be eliminated.  The thinking is that with smaller magazines you can't fire as many rounds so you're less dangerous.  Again, what they fail to understand is that someone with a semi-automatic weapon and multiple 10 round magazines (or smaller) with a little training and practice can put just as many rounds out as a person with less training and a bigger magazine.  Even with a cylinder type weapon and speed loaders it can be done.  Granted - they're not as fast as a semi-auto but practice and quantity of rounds make a huge difference.

Vice President Joe Biden has suggested that the penalties for carrying a gun into a gun-free zone (such as a school zone) be increased.  Mr. Vice President, with all due respect to you and your position, do you really believe the threat of increased penalties would have stopped Columbine, Virginia Tech or Sandy Hook?  Do you really believe it?

The one thing about all of the above mentioned shootings, with the exception of the "workplace violence" incident at Fort Bliss (another topic for later), each of the gunmen had personal emotional or mental histories and/or patterns that unfortunately did not completely and clearly show themselves until after the incidents.  There has to be something wrong with anyone who can plan and commit murders of large groups of innocent people.  And taking the guns away from people who are stable and legally own weapons is not the answer to this problem.

I struggle with one part of this entire debate because I can see the good and the bad side of it.  That problem for me is gun registration and background checks.  At the present time it is legal to buy a gun from a private owner without any restriction or screening process.  That means that even a mentally disturbed person or convicted felon can, if he/she desires and has the money, buy a weapon from a private citizen with no paperwork or background check done.  I'm thinking that should change.  Even though I realize it violates the right to privacy of the average citizen, it seems to me if we can make it more difficult for a mentally disturbed person to get a gun it would be better.  Of course, then we're back to the argument that if someone can't buy a gun legally they can find one illegally.  And that is true.  Which is part of my struggle with it.

Bottom line - if a person decides he or she is going to kill a person (or people) he/she will find a way to do it.  At least, at this point Americans haven't taken to wearing bombs and blowing themselves up, along with a bunch of innocent people.  But how long might that take?  The shooters in most of these cases were prepared to die if necessary.  So how long will it take before someone decides to go out in a suicide bombing?

Increased gun control for the average American is a bad idea.  Sure, it might sound good when the politicians and the media say it will prevent another Sandy Hook incident.  But I think most intelligent Americans know that's not logical.  There is information that indicates the Sandy Hook shooter had mental difficulties and his mother was considering having him committed.  Was that his trigger?  We'll never know.  But I think dealing with emotional and mental illness as quickly as possible is one answer.  If the Connecticut mother had dealt more quickly with her son's difficulties (and not told him about her actions) things might have turned out differently.  Then again, they might not have.  As I said - we'll never know.

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