I am tired of the debate on gun control being sidelined by poor knowledge and the idiocy of “rugged individualism” in popular culture. I cannot sit back while this debate flails, because I have children and I want them to die of old age. I want America to get over its obsession with the gun.
The gun manufactures have an unprecedented place US law and US culture. They own one of the most effective lobbying groups, and manage to maintain the thin visage of a grassroots organization. They are free from any kind of prosecution, safety regulation, or responsibility for the use of their product. More over, the laws actually prevent the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from doing anything to regulate any gun manufactured legally in the US.
The facts are against them, though, and they are up against a wall. People are finally seeing what an unregulated gun industry has done to the culture. We are mad, and now is the time to make sure that we educate the masses, too. To that end, I am now going to try to pull back the sheep skin from the wolf that profits on death.
First, let me address the biggest, most troublesome myth: that the second amendment is absolute and no regulation can exist, because the point of the second amendment is there to arm the people in their eventual rebellion against the government of the United States.
Did you know that the original text of the Constitution only lists one crime? I has lost of rules about how the branches of government divide up power and work together, but it lists only one restriction on the people. That crime is treason. The only crime in the text of the entire document is written: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
That statement makes it pretty clear that the founders never intended to enable the populous to rebel against the agents of the Federal Government. Any armed conflict would be considered a constitutional crime. There is no provision in the Constitution for “defending” yourself against the Federal Government.
All this ignores how silly it is to try and arm yourself against a force that can launch a missile at you from thousands of miles away, from a submarine that doesn’t even need to surface to level your house. You can’t beat the American military. Only the fact that it is sheer overkill and frankly inhuman kept us from turning the whole of Iraq into a sheet of glass. We could win anything if we cared only about the victory.
Next, let’s address the idea that background checks won’t stop criminals from getting guns. This one falls apart pretty quickly when you simply ask, “where are criminals getting guns, anyway?” According to the National Gun Victims Council, “Nearly 60% of the guns used in crime are traced back to a small number—just 1.2%—of crooked gun dealers.” Criminals get weapons from gun shops. They get them from dealers who “loose” thousands of weapons every year, funneling those guns onto the black market, knowing that they will end up in the hands of criminals. The ATF isn’t allowed to do anything about it, being barred from tracking the guns themselves or from keeping a close watch on this small percentage of dealers who create the bulk of this problem. After shady dealers, most guns reach the hands of criminals through family and friends who buy the weapons for them. This is called “Straw Purchasing”, and is a crime unto itself, though one that is rarely prosecuted. Other criminals buy their guns from strangers who are just looking to make a little money off unwanted personal items. These private citizens are generally allowed to sell to anyone with out a background check or any other form of paperwork. These are the purchases that truly universal background checks would solve by making every gun purchase take place through a dealer who would ensure that known criminals and the mentally ill cannot buy guns in this way.
Lastly, for now, let me address the idea of the “extended clip”. No one needs more than 10 rounds for anything other than target shooting, and target shooters may just have to suffer for the safety of the nation. If you need more than 10 rounds to kill a deer, then you need to spend more time at the range working on your aim before you head out to the woods. If you need more than 10 rounds to defend yourself, you shouldn’t be doing it with a gun, or at least not a precision gun; get a shotgun or learn to aim. If your home has been invaded by 5 armed criminals, giving you 2 rounds to scare off or take down each one, then you are already out numbered, even if they came in without firearms of their own. The number of rounds you have loaded isn’t going to stop them without seriously decreasing the value of your home in the process. There is no honest need for more than 10 rounds in a weapon at one time, and this is an easy way to limit the number of people killed in mass shootings and the number of kids killed in drive-by shootings. This is low-hanging fruit in the world of crime prevention, and it is being fought by people who are just too lazy to reload.
These are the kinds of arguments that are derailing the debate on sensible reforms to our gun laws and regulations. We have to do better. No one wants to take away your ability to defend yourself or your home, or to hunt for food, but we cannot allow things to continue as they are. We must start enforcing the laws we have, and we must empower the ATF to do more on our behalf. We have to talk about why you cannot buy a car without an airbag, which saves only the driver, but we cannot require a child-proof lock on a trigger, which could save a hundred children a year. Shouldn’t guns be as secure as cigarette lighters? isn’t it time we demand better form the only civilian industry that engineers human death? That seems like a lot of responsibility to leave unchecked.
Edited to add: I had to write a Part 2 thanks to the comments here and elsewhere.