Please click here for Part One of my long but necessary opinion piece about gun control. And here for an amazing article by Garry Wills on our society’ sickening worship of the gun.
So where was I? Oh yeah, guns are bad…
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary (actually, since the tragedy at Columbine High), I have been deeply saddened, angered, repulsed and generally frustrated by arguments I have heard, read and witnessed from the other side of the barrel (pun intended). Some of the head-scratching rhetoric has been directly directed at my own commentary, while a great deal more has addressed other posts on social media sites as well as opinion pieces, essays, pleas and interview answers among countless other media outlets.
Most of the hot air pro-gun honks blow is worthy of nothing more than this classic gem:
But there are some decent common arguments I have read/heard, worthy of a response. I have listed a few of these in bold type below, with a rational rebuttal below it. I am really trying here, because there are lives at stake. And if last Friday is any indication, innocent, young lives at that. I now have a baby girl. I am quite sure all of you with children had a very difficult time dropping your loved ones off at school this past Monday morning (and all mornings after that), if you were even able to muster the strength at all. This madness will, unfortunately, never fully cease, but we can definitely save lives. Even if we save one precious life through our efforts, it will be worth it.
So please read my rebuttals, and agree that it is time to change. There is no way to know if these proposed changes will be better than the current system of anarchy unless we try. But I suspect they will be. And they really can’t make our current state of blood-bath tinged affairs any worse, right?
So please do what you can to help. We need to rise up and protect our children. We need to protect our country. And we need to protect our fellow man. Pro-gun types will argue, “That’s our point.” Well please read below to see OUR logic:
Our Second Amendment rights: Any argument clinging to our Constitution and the Second Amendment is farcical at best. Written nearly 250 years ago, the language and spirit of the Amendment has no relevance or place in today’s society. A) The amendment itself is just that, a change to the original reflecting the dire need, in the time it was written, to allow citizens to bear arms as part of a regulated militia that would combat those attempting to exploit and exert their unwanted will upon the citizens of the USA; B) There is precedent allowing for Constitutional Amendments to be reedited out, just as Prohibition was 80 years ago; C) The times dictate the need for a change to the Second Amendment and its interpretation, as well as the resources and infrastructure dedicated to enforcing the changes made.
As an aside, one potential solution to consider might just be to REINFORCE the language of the Second Amendment, requiring all who would like to bear arms to be required to enlist in the armed forces, where they can get the necessary safety and responsibility training of using a deadly weapon. However, military experience often leads to mental trauma later on in life, so this fix might actually necessitate further action (*see below regarding my plan).
We will basically be arming criminals, and disarming innocent people trying to defend themselves: First of all, I am a realist. As much as I would love guns to be completely outlawed and made illegal, I do not believe this is a viable or practical option. For one thing, there are like 300 million guns out there in the general population of our country, and collecting each and every one of them would be impossible, not to mention extremely dangerous. So what I am proposing is far more stringent GUN CONTROL. My plan follows:
Ban all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, military grade armor and all other assault weapons. Effort to seize, collect and destroy all of these types of weapons already in circulation (this may be difficult and dangerous, but would be worthwhile).
Make it extremely difficult to procure guns going forward: Require written and practical tests, just like with drivers licenses, continuing education, and quality mental health screening up front as well as every three or five years of gun ownership. Require criminal background checks as well as multiple (two or three) character witnesses, notarized, that will basically vouch for the applicant.
*For military personnel returning to civilian life after deployment, require more rigorous mental health screenings up front (consider their return like you would the average driver exiting a freeway. One’s propensity to speed is far greater immediately following an extended period of driving fast…plus, my guess is that the battlefield causes more stress and mental anguish than our highways…just a little more, but more nonetheless). Also, require more frequent screenings (PTSD and other military psychological trauma can lie dormant, like an inactive volcano, until one day…well go visit Pompeii, or read about it).
For athletes and any other professionals who might suffer head trauma on the job, during practice or while training, require the same rigorous and frequent mental health screening as for military personnel throughout their careers as well as after.
Limit the number of guns one person can purchase to one in a three or five year period.
Make serial numbers more permanent.
Account for guns more closely, adding resources to Homeland Security and ATF to do so.
Possibly place GPS tracking capabilities of some type on guns.
And finally, require guns to be manufactured with some kind of password protection or fingerprint activation so that only the licensed gun owner can use said gun (this is obviously to prevent the type of atrocity that occurred in Newtown, where the murder weapons were registered to the mother, but her son “stole” them and used them for unspeakable evil).
If people had guns at the school (or theater, or mall), these tragic events would never have happened, or at least fewer people would have been killed/shot: Variations of this argument are as ubiquitous as awful reality television, and it frightens me to no end believing that proliferation of firearms on our streets and in public places such as schools, malls, movie theaters and amusement parks will create a Cold War-like stalemate that will actually make our world safer. First off, have you ever driven on a public road, or in a parking lot? People are irritable, and honk, cuss and irrationally cut people off all the time. Are these the people you want carrying deadly weapons around 24/7? Second, I do not want teachers and school officials carrying loaded weapons in my child’s school. How do we know we can trust those people and their general mental well-being? How do we know they would act responsibly and safely under duress? And what if they were unable to control their own students, and lost control of the weapon, or had it stolen, and then the students had a loaded weapon in your child’s school? But most important to this ridiculous premise is the safety of our own police and security personnel already in place. How on earth will police who arrive to a scene where a gunman, or multiple gunmen are at large, differentiate between the “bad guys” and the “good guys?” I foresee an incredible number of accidental gunshot wounds and deaths resulting from this vigilante approach.
What if the killer uses a bomb? This argument is certainly germane to our times, and is worthy of concern. However, it has nothing at all to do with the gun control debate. Whether people are armed with guns or not, if terrorists or crazy kids (possibly synonymous) plant a bomb somewhere, no amount of guns are going to stop them. And the same holds true for suicide bombers. Police don’t shoot terrorists with bombs strapped to their chests for a reason: they can still detonate the bomb even if shot, and the act of shooting might actually detonate the bomb on its own.
I don’t trust the majority of my fellow Americans. How can I be sure I won’t run into a psychopath out there? I need my gun(s) to protect myself and my family from everyone, because it seems like anyone, anywhere could be a mass murderer. This is the most hypocritical argument of the bunch. Are we supposed to trust our own children to go play at a friend’s house now? How can we trust NRA members? What if YOUR kid finds YOUR gun while OUR kid is at your home? What if someone gets shot accidentally? I find it totally unacceptable to put even your kids at risk in that scenario, let alone mine, and other innocent children of anti-gun parents. This isn’t a Dirty Harry movie, or Dexter. This is real life, and the more guns out there, the more people trying to be a hero, the bloodier and scarier our society becomes.
If somebody wants to kill people/themselves, they can do it, with or without guns: I heard this argument a great deal following the tragedy in Kansas City as few weeks back, when NFLer Belcher shot his baby mama 9 times and then killed himself in front of his coaches at Arrowhead. And I agree. But I guarantee said person would kill a lot fewer people in the same amount of time, and more importantly, there is a far greater chance of surviving a knifing, a beating or a strangulation, as morbid as that may sound, than a gunshot or NINE. There is also the personal angle some psychiatrists have argued, i.e. using a gun is very impersonal, whereas knives, bare hands and strangulation are very personal murder techniques. This may just give an attempted murderer the time to think/feel a connection and stop him or herself in the act. Unlikely, but possible.
And speaking of the tragedy in KC, many people were quick to criticize Bob Costas for using a national spotlight at a sporting event to wax political (calling for stricter gun control), saying it was neither the time nor place. Well clearly, a mere two weeks before the tragedy in Newtown, it was as good a time and place as any. How dare anyone tell a hardworking man like Bob Costas, who has earned the right to talk to us in our living rooms each week, what he can and cannot talk about. Furthermore, on the heels of yet another senseless murder with a gun, when is a more appropriate time to speak out? Is Kasandra Perkins’ life not as precious as any other victim of gun violence? Is her three month old son, who will now grow up without his mother and father, no less a champion for change than any of the children in Newtown, or Aurora, or Columbine?
For another sports figure using his own limited celebrity to speak out on the issue, unsolicited, but beautifully, please click here. Winthrop Coach Pat Kelsey’s speech is a must listen sound bite for all.
If people really want guns, they will get guns anyway they can, even through illegal means. Look at narcotics as an example: There is no way to prevent this. As I already mentioned, there are nearly 300 million guns already out there in America (and many, many more the world over). Criminals will produce and trade guns in any type of regulated environment, and any tightening of the law will only make their product that much more valuable. BUT – making it more difficult to get guns, coupled with better regulation and expanded resources to track and enforce gun control will definitely deter some, delay some and overall, will reduce gun traffic. Remember, nothing will perfectly eliminate gun murder. But if we can reduce the body count at all, it is a win.
Murder is actually a fraction of what it was, per capita, today vs. in the 1980s: That might be true on an overall basis, but reading Malcolm Gladwell and understanding demographic trends, the crack cocaine phenomenon, better police strategies as well as the effects of Roe vs. Wade explains a big portion of that discrepancy. But this argument is completely made irrelevant when considering the alarming increase in the frequency of MASS gun murder. A rare event in the 1980s, there have been 31 mass murders since 1999 in the US. More stringent gun control can help.
Guns kill people like spoons make people fat: Variations of this gem abound (Guns don’t kill people, people do). And you know what? It’s difficult to argue. But there is no doubt that guns are lethal weapons, killing machines, designed with one primary use – to fire a compact metal object really fast at a target in the hopes of killing, or at least incapacitating said target. Spoons were not designed to make people gain weight, just as a means to convey liquids and loose foods from plate/bowl to mouth. So a disconnect in the logic of this argument stems right from the design table, from the very origins of both utensils. And furthermore, as my cousin astutely reasoned, if you look around at all the overweight among us, it becomes even more apparent that if even a fraction of as many people abused guns as do spoons, we likely have a serious problem on our hands. And we do.
What will we do if our government abuses its power, our military goes rogue or if a tyrannical despot seizes power? Let’s face it. If Orwellian times descend upon us, or even if anarchy runs amok in the US, there is no armory of guns the collective sum of us can have that will render us safe. Our government and military have a stockpile of weapons capable of blowing up the entire solar system, even assuming Pluto is still part of it. Our military has advanced technology, WMDs of varying types, planes, tanks, submarines, boats, choppers and trained personnel. Our Second Amendment rights are not protecting us from evil or tyrannical government anymore. Rambo is fictitious. So are Colonel John Matrix and Robert Clayton Dean. This is yet another reason that Amendment needs to be redacted, or at least, rethought and re-amended.
There are many more arguments and logical rebuttals to appeal to the educated pro-gun, NRA types out there. Unfortunately, reason and logic will be wasted on the frightening segment of that populace that continues to bewilder with comments like “you are gonna have to pry my gun out of my cold dead hand you liberal scum.”
To reiterate: Please help change our nation. Please help save lives. Contact your congressman here.
Or sign a petition here or here.
Thanks again for bearing with me (and not bearing arms).
Have a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and safe new year.
This two part passion piece was paid, in full, by the blood of:
Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, James Garfield, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Sam Cooke, Bill Brady, Robert F. Kennedy, Harvey Milk, Marvin Gaye, Phil Hartman, Jam Master Jay, Malcolm X, Selena, Sean Taylor, Gianni Versace, Darrent Williams, Peter Tosh, Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the victims of Columbine High, Virginia Tech, Red Lake High, the Tuscon Safeway, the Aurora Movie Theater, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, Newtown Elementary School, every other site of a mass shooting, and thousands more non-celebrity, non-publicized (or publicized on a very limited, local basis) names every year.
And partially by: Teddy Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Bob Marley, Larry Flynt, Andy Warhol, Jackie Wilson, 50 Cent, Suge Knight, Greg LeMond, Garrett Morris and millions more.