Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Conversation on Gun Control

I run a facebook page supporting Bernie Sanders. It's outreach is currently small, just below 50 likes, but growing. When I post something, I can see the post gets shared, but no one ever comments. The other day, I posted a video involving Bernie's stance on gun control. People commented.

I don't know if these commenters are people who follow my page or if they saw the video shared and traced it back to the source. In any case, they were very pro gun:
"'...guns are used for recreation - hunting, target practice, shows and collection.' - NONE of these activities are why the 2nd Amendment is in place. Sorry, no 'but'. No 'in the middle' either. It's either freedom or tyranny. The latest buzz words from the gun-grabbers is 'common sense', so the video title is pretty clear where he truly stands. Hint: It's NOT on the side of freedom."
I was interested in forming a discussion, so I asked why the commenter felt they should have guns. The commenter continued to site the second amendment, stating that owning guns is not a matter of "need" but a matter of rights. The Bill of Rights grants them the right to own guns, so they should be allow to have them. End of story.

Thing is, the rights granted by the Constitution are not so simple. Laws are being upheld and struck down all the time based on whether or not they are judged constitutional. Amendments to the Constitution are added. The rights granted to the people in the Constitution have always been and will continue to be open to discussion - as distressing or encouraging as that may be.

And while we are talking about the Second Amendment, here is the text relating to guns:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
The founding fathers had just declared a new independent state and knew they would face repercussions from the British. The people were guaranteed the right to bear arms because it was "necessary to the security" of the State that the people were able to fight back. Americans need guns to fight the British who would soon invade their borders.

What use do we have for this law today? How is owning guns necessary in 2015? The security of the State is under more threat by nuclear bomb than armed soldiers. Perhaps the Second Amendment no longer applies.

I can both make and buy that argument. But I don't stand by it. Why? Because there are good, law abiding citizens who own guns, and I don't believe they should have their possessions stripped from them due to the actions of a few.

And my commenter friend made a very good point:
"The very definition of tyranny is when the government is allowed to have things that the citizens can not." 
I was about to write him off as paranoid when I realized for a blog that has spoken about plutocracy and billionaire control of our government, is it really so much of a stretch to see the dangers of the government having guns when the people don't? Scenes from V for Vendetta played across my mind.

Our government is messed up. That's what this blog and Bernie campaign is all about. Maybe people having guns isn't a terrible thing.

But I was never for taking away all guns, just implementing stronger background checks and banning semi- and automatic guns. That seems sound until you break down the fact that gun control laws don't seem that effective.

The background check on Dylan Roof failed, not because of a loophole but because of shoddy paperwork that meant the investigator didn't find the drug conviction within the three-day wait period. And even then, possession of drugs is not an indicator of violence. The kid had been on white supremacists groups online and he came to the conclusion that he had to act because no one else would. How do you screen for when a person reaches that kind of mentality? How can you judge when person who wants to buy a gun wants to use it to kill? A background check might be able to keep guns out of the hands of suspicious people, violent or no, but if someone with no criminal history is planning a murder spree... we don't have methods to detect that.

Adam Lanza stole his mother's guns. The gun laws in place couldn't stop him from killing 26 people. The Columbine shooters weren't old enough to buy guns, so they had someone else buy the guns for them. While I'm for stricter background checks and banning all automatic weapons, the evidence suggests that this won't solve our problems. And it's been reported that most guns used in mass shooting were obtained legally (though no exact details are given).

It would seem that the only solution would be to ban guns entirely (which I am against). And even then, it wouldn't solve our problems. It would reduce gun deaths, for sure. But would it drop our murder rate? I doubt it. People who want to kill people will find a way to do so, with or without guns.

When I asked my commenter what ideas he had for ending these mass killing, he replied:
"Certainly not to disarm good people. When you figure out how to neutralize evil, please, let me know friend."
Another valid point, though not particularly helpful.

But, I'm reminded of the Patriot Act, which I thoroughly despise. Like Bernie, I understand that terrorism is a real threat to this country. But we both agree there are better ways of combating it than stripping American citizens of their rights.

And that's all gun owners are asking. Yes, mass shootings in this country is a problem, but figure out a way to combat them without taking away the rights of the rest of us. I have to admit I have no idea what that solution would look like.

But that's the point. Bernie calls us to discuss. Peaceful, law abiding citizens like those in Vermont and the commenters on my Facebook page need to understand the plight of those who have been effected by the mass shootings across our country. And the people who have been effected need to realize the validity of peaceful, law abiding citizens who don't want their rights taken from them.

We are all in this together. We shouldn't be fight each other over banning guns or keeping guns or enforcing stricter gun laws. Instead, we should come together in discussion over how do we prevent or protect ourselves from these mass killings? How do we come up with effective measures? How can we achieve our goals without infringing on our civil rights?

Have to be open with each other. We have to listen to the other side. We have to find a middle ground. Because until we do these things, there can be no solution.

UPDATE: If you are interested, there's a useful article explaining Bernie's vote against the Brady Act and his mixed voting record on gun issues.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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