Update: I clearly failed at generating a productive conversation on how to slow the carnage or even how many deaths are acceptable to defend the 2A rights perceived by gun enthusiasts. I changed the title to make it clear that it is not an RKBA diary and apologize to all that found the diary offensive. Hopefully better diarists that me that don't have a history of confrontation with a certain group can take up some of these ideas and help start a conversation that will result in action.
The last few days have been trying, but for the majority of Americans life is getting back to normal. The one question I have is how much longer do we have to continue to bear RKBA, no not the Group, but the definitions of RKBA that have come up right here among comments:
Right to Keep Blasting Americans
Right to Keep Bearing Assaults
Right to Keep Bullying Anyone
Right to Keep Burying (little) Angels
and, in my opinion, the one that best expresses the despair of so many (hat tip to JMcDonald who posted it):
Right to Keep Bringing Anguish
There are surely more variants (please post in the comments), but you get the gist. What matters most is how we define everyone's rights and how we define sensible regulations that will save many lives without infringing on anyone else's rights.
Terrorism is the only word that can describe when a parent can't even send a kid to kindergarten without fearing that someone will show up with semi-automatic weapons and kill that kid, when a parent can't take their kids to the movies, when a parent can't even go shopping; no other word that describes what's going on better than terrorism.
We have heard plenty of apologists say that mental health issues, movies, video games, etc. are what cause these mass shootings. Sure we have to address many of those issues, but even people without mental health issues should have these common sense regulations as their mental health issues may have not surfaced yet or, more likely, their rage at someone (spouse in divorce, boss after firing, etc.) could easily make them go on a killing spree - it happens to reasonable persons.
We really have to find a way to balance the rights of everyone (see teacherken's diary "Your rights end at the point of my nose"), but the right to live is most important of all because without life we cannot enjoy any other right. In my view the right to live without fear is also very important and when we can't go to (to name a few) a grocery store, a movie theater, a house of worship, a mall, or even send our children a freaking grade school without fear that our life can be shattered in an instant there is no way that we can live without fear.
Firearms are very easily available with very little regulation (virtually none that are meaningful at the federal level). In addition the last few years have seen an increase in the sale/manufacture of high capacity (call it what you want: semi-automatic, assault weapons, whatever) firearms that deliver dozens of bullets in a very few seconds; these were available for the military before, but thanks to the NRA and the politicians that they own (in both parties) they are now commonplace among civilian gun owners.
The reasons for the large number of gun deaths and the seemingly regular mass shootings are:
1. Too many of these high capacity weapons
2. that are unregistered
3. in the hands of untrained/unlicensed individuals
4. without clear and sensible federal laws/standards
Sure we know that most gun owners are responsible and would not do wrong with their firearms, but a minority of gun owners are out there with firearms that have a capacity that they cannot handle, nor are they trained for using them, and they are not responsible. As guns have proliferated, and continue to do so, that minority is becoming larger in absolute numbers, and more, deadlier guns are closer in proximity to every American - whether we want it or not. I agree that it's not fair to say that all guns should be taken away from everyone just because of an irresponsible minority, but I want to know how many deaths are reasonable to protect the irresponsible minority of the minority of Americans that own firearms?
We cannot legislate stupidity or irresponsibility, but we can regulate how we allow responsible adults to own firearms. While there is always a lot of screaming about "taking away my rights," I think we should focus on what are sensible gun regulations that should be passed and whether these violate the US Constitution. In my view a good starting point is to propose simple regulations that address the four causes listed above (sure mental health, video games and a culture that considers violence glamorous play a part, but many countries have those as well and the rates of gun deaths are significantly lower - the only difference between those countries and the US is the exceptional availability of all types of guns and especially the high capacity ones). To the people that think that nothing short of outlawing all firearms, and to the people that think that any regulation on firearms is an unacceptable violation of their constitutional rights, there is nothing that can be suggested that will be reasonable. For the rest of us I propose reasonable, national (it has to be federal/national because the mish-mash of laws that exist is exactly what makes it impossible for any state to truly regulate firearms) regulation.
Here are what I consider reasonable regulations:
1) People that want to purchase and maintain firearms must obtain training and be licensed.Now I don't see how any of the above points infringe on anyone's Second Amendment rights, but the gun absolutists always insist that any restriction infringes on their rights. The NRA counts on the absolutists to assist them in terrorizing our Country. No parent should have to fear sending their kid to school and going to work because their kid might be shot. No kid should be afraid of going to school because they might get shot. No teacher should ever have to put themselves in front of kids to save them from getting shot. The atmosphere that the NRA and the absolutists have created is terrorizing us every day. Because guns are so plentiful, because the technology has improved so that it is legal to sell guns that can fire dozens of bullets in seconds (coupled with the AWB that was allowed to expire), and because there is no meaningful regulation (other than a mish-mash of laws that make it just about as easy to get a gun in a state that has strict gun control as doing it in a state that doesn't, OK perhaps it is more expensive as there are middle men to pay) these mass shootings are going to become more frequent and more deadly. It is shameful that our politicians admit that their fear of the NRA is what does not allow them to even talk about this issue. I sure long for a day when we again live in a Country where we can go out without fearing for our safety or that of our loved ones. Some people think that exposing the NRA as terrorists is out of line, but, when their only proposal/solution in the face of the carnage at Newtown is that we must live in a police state with armed guards watching over our children, I don't know what else to call them. If living in a police state, and this giving up so many rights, is the only way to protect the one right they "defend" so staunchly then we know that their terrorist demands do no really consider any of our freedoms, just the profit motive they have in proliferation.
2) All firearms must be registered by the manufacturers and every time they change hands as this is the only way to trace the paths that legal guns take to becoming illegal guns.
3) All purchases need criminal background checks. I have a hard time understanding how this is in any way an infringement for law abiding citizens, but I' love to hear the arguments as to why a criminal background check is such an infringement (I have to get a criminal background check - that is kept on record and renewed every 3 years - to volunteer to assist in the classroom at my kids' school and it never occurred to me that could be a violation of the Constitution, rather I always saw it as a way to filter out most, if not all, criminals from being around our kids - sure it is a nuisance, but the additional safety brought to our children is well worth it).
4) Pass the assault weapons ban permanently and outlaw any clip/magazine/semi-automatic that can be used to turn many guns into practically automatic weapons (in terms of capacity and speed of delivery). What the limits are is one item we should discuss: number of rounds? speed of loading/firing? caliber?
As onerous as the absolutists will consider these points proposed above, I do not see how they affect a responsible gun owner but, sadly, I don't think any of the points will ever pass Congress (perhaps a watered down AWB at best so that Congresscritters can say they did something about it, and even that will probably be written by the NRA). I understand that the majority should not oppress the minority, but isn't it time that the minority stop terrorizing the majority?
Guns certainly don't kill people by themselves, so perhaps it's not guns that should be regulated, rather the people who own guns; therefore we need to regulate what kind of person can own/carry a gun (felons? violent offenders? AZ Senators?) as well as have a set of minimum rules required for those people that want to own guns (safety training, registration, licensing in order to show that one knows the safety rules, etc.).
We must defend the right to bear arms, but only with enough sensible regulation that so many innocent people do not get killed and this is why I want to dig deeper into how many deaths are acceptable. True that it's usually irresponsible people, but we can't legislate gun regulations for irresponsible people, we need a common set of laws for all and they need to be uniform laws nationally in order to have an impact. This will be opposed by many in states like Massachusetts, where our current regulations are strong and will certainly get weakened; in my view a reasonable tradeoff as anyone can go into certain neighborhoods with a few hundred dollars and buy a gun that was legally bought in GA then brought here (of course untraceable to the buyer/importer because there are no registration requirements).
How many gun deaths are acceptable in the name of defending the Second Amendment? In my view anything over 1-2 thousand annual gun deaths is way too many (some argue for zero, a great goal, but I want to be realistic). When we average over 30k annual deaths it is way too much. How many deaths are acceptable to responsible gun owners and to the rest of us before the exceptional amount of guns is addressed and some common sense regulations (licensing/training/registration) are carried out nationally? 50,000 more? 100,000 more? How many? Ezra Klein has a great piece looking at facts related to gun violence; here's part of his opening commentary (worth reading, link above if you want to read it all):
If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.Some will insist that the "few" violent deaths by firearms are a price we must pay for our freedoms, but over 30k deaths annually does not sound low to me. [Sure here they will also say that over half don't count because they are suicides (last time I looked suicide by gun is still a violent death, just ask the families of those that did it).] We live with basically the death toll of more than ten 9/11's every single year. How is that tolerable?
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.
As that wise ben masel, great defender of the First Amendment, once noted, there are plenty of regulations/restrictions to the First Amendment (context was an argument about whether any regulation of firearms is a violation of the Second Amendment).
If we do not find a way to agree and pass reasonable regulations on firearms, we will be faced with choosing between maintaining a civil society or the ready accessible firearms, we really can't have both. The current state of terror where sixth graders bring guns to school because they are afraid is not sustainable. We can either be more like Australia or like Somalia, but we cannot be like both.
Comment below and suggest how these many be improved on to make the outcome better for all Americans. I'm sure it will get heated, but we must try to be civil and ignore the baiting that some will surely try instead of reason. We probably will end up with some complaining about "the abuse being heaped upon responsible gun owners by this community," so please do be respectful and not abusive, and hopefully we can use this as a way to find common ground.
Perhaps I am wrong and these regulations are the wrong way to try to address the carnage. There is a growing movement among us to repeal or amend the Second Amendment. Within that context there was a great comment by hestalcontemplating limits to our rights and changes to the Constitution to improve our Country. Perhaps there are other solutions we can consider, I mean other than installing armed police everywhere we go, that will respect the rights of the minority and stop the anguish that the object of those rights keeps bringing so frequently.