Someone, in the comments of a diary somewhere on this site, asked why there is no reasonable discussion from the "RKBA" contingent on this site. While I don't consider myself much of a member of the RKBA contingent, I do find myself commenting on diaries here and there mainly out of frustration over what I interpret as a massive experience gap between gun owners and non-gun owners... and even between subsets of gun owners.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that my experience very closely resembles the experience of the vast majority of gun owners. These are the folks from whom you will never hear. These folks think nothing more of the gun locked safely away downstairs than you do about the tennis racket you take out twice a year. They don't kill other people, they don't do stupid things with their guns. Everything about their experience with guns is boring and non-sensational. If we got rid of every gun owner but these folks, you would still have a shit-load of gun owners, but nothing much to talk about with respect to guns in this country.
So you can probably imagine that it can be a touch irritating to be a member of this site and read things that just don't make a ton of sense, or are simply not true when it comes to gun owners in general.
So rather than try to follow the diaries of others and mount a defense comment-by-comment, I'll simply spell out my thoughts here and then leave well enough alone.
I hunt. I've hunted for over 30 years. My family hunts. We have a bunch of guns, each with its own purpose and each locked away. I have a handgun, given to me by my father, and it stays locked in the safe as well. The firearms come out when it is time to sight-in, target shoot, or hunt. There is no "play time" or show-and-tell. They do not come out for 4th of July, New Year's or St. Urho's day.
It is not my wish to delve into a constitutional argument about the intent of the second amendment. I believe that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" means just that. The District of Columbia vs. Heller decision found that "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." I agree, and I would obviously include hunting. But I also agree with the finding that "Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." This means we have some wiggle room, that this is not a no-holds-barred proposition, that we need to have reasonable, rational discussion about who can have a gun, what it takes to obtain a gun, how and where that gun can be used, and what happens if you abuse the right.
That being said, I don't stockpile ammunition. I don't think an organized para-military group in the mountains of Utah has a chance in hell against the military forces of a tyrannical U.S. government. But neither would I wish to deny them the right to at least make that defense... any more than I would wish to deny anyone here the right to speak out or demonstrate against tyranny. Quite frankly, I don't spend any of my time dwelling on the subject of tyrannical government takeovers. I've heard there are forums for that.
But the reality is that we enjoy our freedoms by virtue of force of arms. We became a country by killing British soldiers in sufficient quantities... we helped liberate Europe by killing German soldiers in sufficient quantities and the only thing that stands between the freedom of people in a multitude of places around the world is their ability to inflict violent death upon their would-be oppressors. There are one or two examples throughout history in which unarmed, peaceful people were taken advantage of.
As I ponder the raging debate over guns in this country I wonder what we are really talking about. Are we talking about gun control or are we talking about people control? I truly believe that we are talking about the latter and this is the well from which every argument for or against gun control springs.
Here's what I think; There are bad, crazy people. There are stupid people. There are people with poor judgement. When a person from one of the above groups gets a firearm in their hands terrible things can, and often do, happen. So the question boils down to a couple of possibilities:
1. We simply ban all firearms (manufacture, sale, possession) with the hope that it keeps them out of the hands of people in the these groups, or
2. We establish a set of controls that minimize the ability of people in the above groups to do harm to others.
Option 1 might very well curtail the number of firearms in the hands of the undesirable groups mentioned above, but it would also violate the second amendment of the Constitution.
That leaves option 2, which I think many here already see as the logical path. As I said above, I agree that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited. To me there are a couple of things that should be no-brainers:
- Firearms safety certificate required to purchase a firearm. This means that you have completed a course from a licensed instructor and have been registered with your state and have been issued a card. You don't get a gun without the card. The card can be taken away.
- Criminal and mental health background checks required and a national database established for this purpose. If you have committed a felony, sorry, you've shown poor judgement. So poor that you should not have a gun. I'm not a mental health expert, and I'm not sure how this would even be recorded, but if there is any way to determine that someone has a history of a mental illness that would make gun possession a sketchy proposition... no gun.
- Establish laws identifying violations that result in the loss of a firearms safety certificate and guns. Go look at the GunFAIL diaries for examples of such violations.
These things are very basic, simple and clear. If we could just do these things well and do them consistently I think we would reduce a great many tragedies.
The rest is not so clear and I waffle on these issues myself. Among them:
- Assault weapons ban. Speaking strictly for myself... there is no such thing as an "assault weapon". Every firearm can be used for assault or not. There are single action pistols, double action pistols, semi-automatic pistols, lever action rifles, bolt action rifles, semi-automatic rifles, single shot shotguns, double barrel (one shot per barrel) shotguns, pump action shotguns, and semi-automatic shotguns. Every single one of these types of firearm can kill. So why do we want to get embroiled in the minutia?
- Magazine capacity. Yeah. I'll simply tell you this; nothing I own has the capacity to deliver more than six shots without reloading. Now, I have to admit, if my home were surrounded by a large number of armed individuals wishing to do me and my family harm I would certainly not turn down the use of a semi-automatic rifle with several 50 round magazines at-hand. It would allow me to deliver death to several targets without the need to pause to reload. I'll leave it to an ambitious reader to dig up the stats on which is more likely to happen... defense against multiple armed intruders, or use of weapon with high capacity magazine by bad person against innocent people. I'm guessing neither number is very large... but one will be bigger than the other.
- Conceal and carry. Really tough one for me. Here's why: I don't even like to hunt around people I don't know. How capable is that person with the gun they are holding? Are they an idiot? I avoid it like the plague until I am completely certain that I can trust that person to behave in a manner acceptable to me in terms of firearms safety. So the idea of having to walk amongst large numbers of people carrying guns in public makes me nervous. At home or out in the field I make that conscious choice and don't force others to have to be near me if they choose not to be around a firearm... this is the difference. I also do not live at that level of paranoia. But that's just me and my personal feelings. There are people who have very valid, non-paranoid reasons to carry a firearm for self protection. How do we make that determination? I won't argue that it should not be allowed, but it should not be unlimited... and should be tougher to obtain with a strict set of conditions that, if violated, would result in the loss of the privilege.
Anything beyond this is likely devolve into incoherent rambling. I think I've probably equally pissed off some RKBA folks and some anti-RKBA folks, which seems about right. At the very least I have said my piece and will refrain from further comment unless such comment is intended to help understand rather than disagree with a particular viewpoint. I hope it at least gives hope to many here that all gun owners are not built the same and that reasonable discussion is possible.