The gun control debate rages again, this time in the harsh light of the Newtown, Connecticut school on December 14, 2012. This shooting is the latest in a troubling series of such acts dating back to the 1997 Heath High School shooting in Paducah, Kentucky.
We have the predictable responses from those who want strict gun control to those who want none. After a week of silence, the venerable National Rifle Association weighed in with its views. As might be expected, the NRA does not view this as a gun control issue. It is, rather, a question of defending the public against homicidal gun owners whose minds have been warped by violent video games and the desire for media attention. To those at the other end of the spectrum it’s all about the guns.
As a lawyer, I prided myself on my ability to digest large volumes of information and distill it into easily understood concepts. In this instance, I’ve opted for a shallow understanding of the issues and flippant set of suggestions. Each, however, is based upon very real suggestions offered by each camp. Understand that I am not making light of the violence which brings these issues to the front now. Rather, it is my analysis of taking these suggestions to their logical (sort of) conclusion.
Few people actually advocate banning all guns or even handguns, but a few people do. Others do so by implication pointing to countries such as Japan as a model for gun control. Let’s just dispense with this one. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents it. End of story.
BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS
If by “assault” we mean “shooting humans,” we have a problem: THEY’RE ALL ASSAULT WEAPONS! Okay, not all of them, but most of them. Handguns, in particular, are made for human game. I know that some folks hunt with handguns. Not many. Gaston Glock designed the popular line of Glock handguns for shooting people. They are an engineering marvel. Lightweight, easily assembled, simple to use and low maintenance. Law enforcement loves them–and for good reason–they are great guns, but they are intended for human targets. That’s the purpose of handguns. Try hunting with a snub nosed .38. Unless you are planning execution-style kills, it won’t be much use in the wild. Stick it in a human’s ribs, though, and it’s damn effective.
If you only own a gun for self-defense, it’s an assault weapon. You only intend to use it to kill another human. If you like target practice, maybe it’s not–unless you use the popular targets that look like–you guessed it!–humans. In that case, you’re practicing for human-shooting should you ever have the opportunity. “Assault” weapon makes as much sense as “stabbing” sword.
There is a small (I hope), but vocal, contingent who see murderous attacks at our schools as a result of the lack of prayer in school. They ignore the fact that the Heath High School shooting in Kentucky, which has the dubious distinction of starting all this slaughter, took place in a prayer group. What was God’s point with that one?
I’ve heard that we prayed in school when I was a kid. I don’t remember any organized prayer, but I prayed. I prayed for each day to end, to never go back, etc. As far as invoking God’s hand as part of our curriculum, maybe we did. I just don’t remember it. Clearly, it made a strong impression on me.
Let’s just leave God out of this one. He gets blamed for too much stuff anyway.
BAN SOME STUFF
This stuff includes items which technically aren’t guns. They are gun accessories. Large capacity magazines, types of ammo, body armor and other items are all on the table. This has some merit, but coming up with a comprehensive list is daunting. At the end of the day, there will be still be guns. Lots of them. By some counts, there are 270 million guns in American. That’s 9 for every 10 people. They can all be used for killing people and most are designed to do exactly that. Banning their accessories is like telling people they can’t eat with forks anymore. It may be inconvenient, but they’ll still eat.
VIOLENCE VS. VIOLENCE
This is the NRA’s position or, as NRA President Wayne LaPierre said: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This isn’t exactly true. A grenade, flamethrower, pack of pit bulls, truck and knife in the back are a number of other ways to stop a bad guy, too. Even another bad guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. Of course, this only creates the problem of how to stop a really bad guy who can stop other bad guys.
Don’t count me among the folks who think the NRA is a cabal of evil thugs. In fact, I am a former NRA member. Former? I enjoyed reading Guns & Ammo Magazine, but I finally tired of the NRA’s lobbying efforts. Understand that this isn’t because I’m against gun ownership. I just thought they went too far on many occasions. That said, I know lots of fine folks who belong to the NRA.
Even the NRA’s staunchest allies know that the NRA’s position will always be more guns, not less. In other words, confront violence with violence. Some may consider this the same philosophy that seeks world peace through killing all one’s enemies. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to attempt to marginalize the NRA. It has a place at the table. In fact, its political power means that it may well own the table.
The NRA sees four causes of school shootings: 1. Lack of security at schools. 2. Violent video games 3. The media; and 4. Crazy people. The crazies are inspired by video games to seek fame through the media by attacking schools because the schools lack security. There is probably some validity to each of these points. The NRA hasn’t specified exactly what should be done but promises to enlist a vast cadre of law enforcement, military and concerned people to come up with something. We’ll see.
So, with all these ideas swirling about, what is the answer? I’m certainly not qualified to come up with a plan, but then again no one else is, either. With that in mind, here is my modest proposal:
Nothing sends Americans scurrying to the local gun store like the word “redistribution.” They imagine hunkering down with their personal arsenals to fight off jackbooted government thugs. These thugs will be roaming house to house to take away our hard-earned stuff and giving it all to people on welfare. I’m a free market guy and would never suggest such socialism.
No, I’m talking about redistribution of our weapons. With 270 million guns floating around, there’s no excuse for people not being armed. The problem–as with wealth–isn’t that there isn’t enough of it. It’s a matter of disproportionate distribution. For example, my father owned 12 guns. That means that there were 10 or 11 people without guns. He was in the gun 1%.
Here’s what we do. Gather up all the guns and distribute them among the public. Make sure everyone has his or her own. Even better, just by my typing this, gun sales will increase, and there will be even more guns to hand out. What if we’re still short? We’ll invoke Obamacare and create a Gun Mandate. If you don’t go buy one, we’ll tax your ass to death.
Once we’re all armed, the playing field will be level. Someone pulls a gun, and it’s the OK Corral. Let’s throw lead. Every man, woman and child will pack iron. Child? If these kids can learn how to use an iPad, a pistol is snap. Plus, real guns will pull them away from the dangers of video games. This is a win-win-win.
TRACKING THE CRAZIES
The NRA suggest that a national database of the mentally ill is needed. No, it’s not because they want a more comprehensive mailing list. They want to keep track of dangerous people. Predictably, this has been met with hoots of derision. Some believe that violating numerous federal laws and constitutionally protected privacy rights is too high a price to pay to protect the Second Amendment. Of course, the NRA disagrees. Hell, they’d trample the Third Amendment and quarter soldiers in our homes if meant we could keep our guns. But, the database (of “Loony Log,” as I call it) could work:
- According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a dizzying array of mental illnesses and an almost uncountable number of related medications. Here’s the deal: If you take one of these, you’re on the list.
- We can use Obamacare to help us tag other dangerous mental defectives. If you have seen a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, clergyman or school guidance counselor, you’re on the list.
- ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, autism, moodiness, PMS, anxiety, angst and prickliness all qualify. You’re on the list.
- If you’re over 65 years old, there’s a good chance you’re not firing on all cylinders. You’re on the list.
- If you dress funny, look weird or are just odd, you’re on the list.
- If you’re not on the list, this means you are in a tiny minority. Clearly, there is something bad wrong with you. You’re on the list.
Once we’ve compiled the list, a crack team of retired police officers, soldiers, militia men and security guards will constantly monitor the list to track your every move. You may ask: Will this affect my ability to acquire a gun? Are you insane in addition to your mental illness? There’s nothing in the Second Amendment stripping the rights of crazy people. Strap down, my nutty friend.
MORE IS BETTER
This is my own idea, and I’ll confess that it’s a bit radical. It is a long-held belief that an armed citizenry keeps the government in check. If they come after us, we’ll fight them off with our guns. The problem–and it’s a really big one–is that they control the military. Now, I know many folks are quite skilled with guns, but this is a question of firepower. No army on Earth can even seriously oppose our military. I’m confident that a disorganized band of the mentally ill randomly firing handguns will fare poorly.
Better weaponry will allow us to even the odds in a civil war. An added bonus will be curbing crime through superior firepower. Imagine the second thoughts which will be caused by the prospect of facing down not only a general public armed to the teeth with guns but also of a grenade or flamethrower being whipped out. If your neighbor builds an unsightly fence on your property line, a little napalm will take care of it. We’ll bring all this foolishness to an end through the threat of mutual destruction.
If a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with one, a good guy with a LAW rocket will stop 20 of them. Of course, bad guys might have the same weapons. But, remember–most of these freaks are loners. They won’t be as organized as we are. Think scorched Earth.
My little diatribe above is all tongue in cheek, of course, but it were printed as an op-ed piece, I am sure that many folks would agree with parts of it. Honestly, is it any crazier than some of the ideas being floated now? If there is a point to any of this it is that these simple answers can create as many problems as they solve.
What is the real answer? Complex problems often require complex answers. Americans like simple answers. Ban guns. Arm school teachers. Pray. These public gun attacks (or “sprees,” as the press says) continue to occur even as crime rates, including violent crime, decline. It is a political, social and even moral issue. Unfortunately, we live in a time when compromise in any of those areas seems impossible.
I own guns and grew up around them. They don’t scare me nor do they give me any particular comfort. I know people who have been shot, including two family members. I also know people who have shot people. Sadly, I know far too many people who have taken their own lives with guns. I know they can easily and legally get into the hands of people who will wreak havoc with them. THAT is serious issue which should be addressed with all the urgency of the response to 9/11. We’re a bright people. We can explore answers that don’t require stripping rights or just admitting defeat.
The NRA, the anti-gun lobby, politicians and the public have common ground here. No one wants to read about mass killings at schools, malls, churches or anywhere else. Addressing that concern would seem to be in everyone’s interest.