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The Blue & Gray Press | August 15, 2018

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Gun Control Restricts Constitutional Rights

By DREW FREAKLEY

In my mind, nothing says America quite like “guns.” In recent news, there has been a lot of talk about gun control.

This argument has always been a hot-button issue ever since the fatal Columbine shootings, but it has once again started to gain momentum due to many recent events.

Just in the last two years, there have been major occurrences of gun violence, such as Jared Loughner’s rampage in Arizona in 2011 and James Holmes’ shooting at a Batman movie screening earlier this year. It seems to me that, now, with all this national media attention, it is time to seriously discuss our gun laws.

I, like any other American, want to be able to walk city streets safely and feel secure in my home. We Americans also want our Constitutional rights protected, and to have the ability to defend ourselves against the erosion of our civil liberties. In particular, everyone wants free and equal treatment under the law, as our Constitution guarantees. In that sense, we must remember that America’s millions of gun owners are people too. Those of us who don’t own firearms don’t understand this restriction of liberty like those who do own firearms.

Law-abiding citizens do not and should not need to ask anyone’s permission or approval to engage in a peaceful activity. Gun ownership, by itself, harms no other person and cannot morally justify criminal penalties.

All this talk of restriction and “stricter” gun laws reminds me of the same rhetoric that was thrown around during the prohibition era. Those who argue for gun control are much like the prohibitionists of the early 20th Century.

Their attempt to outlaw liquor did nothing but make bootleggers go outside the system to obtain their goods, resulting in a rise in criminal activity. The same would happen to those looking to obtain a firearm. By adding a criminal element, gun restriction would actually make firearms exponentially more dangerous. By making liquor illegal, the government spawned organized crime across the country and corrupted the criminal justice system. Today’s war on drugs has had exactly the same results.

Prohibition didn’t stop liquor use, the drug laws don’t stop drug use, and making gun ownership illegal will not stop gun ownership. When we start restricting this constitutional freedom, the only victim is the honest citizen whose civil rights are thrown out the window.

We must always remember that people must be held accountable for their actions. Gun ownership goes hand in hand with personal responsibility. If an individual acts responsibly, then what cause do we have to restrict their constitutional right to bear arms?

If a person commits a crime with a gun, then I too support the severest penalties for them. It is the role of our judicial process to hold the perpetrator of a crime responsible for their own negligence.

That is why it is important that, rather than banning guns or putting restrictions in place, our government and local police encourage gun education and training programs. A responsible, well-armed and trained citizen is the best protection against domestic crime and the threat of foreign invasion. America’s foundering fathers knew that, and it is still true today.

 

Comments

  1. eb

    Replace ‘gun’ with ‘marijuana’ and you have a legitimate argument for federal legalization of marijuana via lack of harm. But much of the logic falls short for guns. Gun violence stands 40 times higher in the US than Britain, Germany, and other advanced nations that do restrict guns. Clearly gun ownership causes harm. Guns were designed to kill. Should grenades be legal? snipers? automatic weapons? Of course! They’re great for self-defense against gun carrying perpetrators.

    It seems a simple issue. The constitution did not foresee the amount of gun violence we have today. Is the solution to ambivalently put guns in the hands of more people, or regulate who can own a firearm?

  2. eh

    Such a simple issue to fix!

    First of all, there are already some regulations on who can own a firearm. The majority of people, including gun owners, are supportive of regulations on gun purchasing.

    Second of all, it’s misinformed people like you who advocate on behalf of gun control that harden gun owners against your arguments. Liberals love to catch conservative pundits and politicians when they slip up on basic facts. It works the other way around too. A sniper is a person, not a weapon (technically). I suppose you’re calling for trained marksmen to be banned? The amount of misinformation in the mainstream media is ridiculous. For example, I’ve seen front page articles on major newspapers report on “automatic weapons” and “machine guns” carried by riot police while dispersing crowds during the height of the Occupy movement while in fact they were carrying semi-automatic weapons in one instance and a riot gun (to launch tear gas canisters). No one who is informed about firearms would make that mistake. My point is that if you really want to take part in a discussion, you have to know what you’re talking about. So you’re going to go into a fight not knowing what you’re talking, both legally (the Constitutional right to bear arms is a lot more complex than most, on both sides of the argument, usually admit), and not knowing what you’re calling to be restricted and regulated. You’re going up against not regular, everyday citizens who happen to have a gun at home for self defense that they almost never touch or those who own dedicated hunting rifles or who participate in target shooting for sport, but against people who are nicely referred to as “gun nuts,” who know the ins and outs of their “hobby,” who are going to rip you apart for not knowing the facts. So please educate yourself before you throw yourself into the fray if you want to be effective.

    On another note, although it may not be a dedicated machine for killing, automobiles kill far more people in this country and gun violence. The same goes for heart disease, cancer, and any number of things that should take precedence over gun control. But they don’t. Because Americans are scared. Gun violence is in your face and abrupt and scary. So we demand that it be regulated, banned, restricted. You know how well it works out for America when we react based on fear? We get the TSA. We waste trillions of dollars on homeland “security” instead of making improvements to our infrastructure. More people have died from bad roads, bad bridges, exploding gas mains and broken levees than from gun violence, terrorist attacks or what have you, but we don’t pay attention to that in America. Because improving real safety, improving infrastructure, isn’t fancy and visible. It’s not sexy for a politician to say, “I fixed that bridge over there, that’s what your money went to” when he/she could say instead, “I built this multi-million dollar stadium.” Americans want something they can see. So we demand security theater instead of improving relationships with countries around the world. We spend billions of dollars hunting down one man instead of using that money to help thousands at home. We clamor for gun control instead of a restriction on cigarettes. You want real gun control? How about calling for a change in American attitude where we turn violence into a spectator sport? Start there. Or how about taking the money we’ve dumped into the TSA for a look of safety and investing that in better public schools, and for rehabilitation programs instead of prisons, housing for the homeless instead of temporary shelters? If we want REAL gun control, you have to address the issues underlying it first. Listen to what gun rights’ advocates are afraid of–robberies, home invasions, rape–address the issues underlying those fears and you take away the power of their arguments for less gun control. Until you do that they will always have legitimate reasons for owning guns. But that’s too hard. It’s easier to simplify the matter and say, oh, let’s just regulte it more, let’s just ban it! I take it you’re pro-legalization of marijuana? How well did prohibition against that work? How well do you think prohibiting gun ownership going to work?

  3. eb

    Sadly, it’s an appropriate time to continue this debate. You first accuse me of being ignorant of guns. It’s irrelevant but true, I am a gun rookie. But just because I know nothing about nuclear bombs doesn’t mean I don’t know nuclear proliferation threatens the safety of people or that nukes should be restricted. Similarly, because guns cause harm and take lives they must be restricted with appropriate severity based on the damage they cause to society.
    Your second point is a fallacy, You list other admittedly larger problems and then say because of these, we shouldn’t care about the problems cause. But like Australia (probably the country most similar to America), the US can implement responsible gun policies focused on the well being of American citizens, not a misinterpreted clause in the Constitution. There’s no practical reason for allowing ownership of automatic or assault weapons.
    The US lost 9,000 people to gun violence last year. Austrailia lost 350. Austrailia instituted new gun policies after a major tragedy in 2006. It’s time to learn from our mistakes.

  4. eh

    Part of the success of the NRA and other gun lobbies is due to the fact that their opposition has been misinformed and under-educated about the issue at hand. Yes, I am accusing you of being ignorant, and you’ve admitted as much. How do you expect to effectively argue against something like the NRA when you can’t effectively articulate your point of view? Other than “guns harm people?” I agree that it’s time to learn from our mistakes, but that doesn’t just mean calling for better regulation of gun ownership/sales/what have you. It starts with better organizing and bringing a better argument to the table, otherwise you’re going to lose, and this country is going to lose. There was a similar outpouring of grief and outrage after the Tuscon shooting last year. Even more recently there was Aurora. But nothing came of either of those, and if we don’t figure out a way to educate ourselves and bring not just tragic stories, but facts and figures and statistics and studies to the table, the NRA is going to beat you down into the ground and the public is going to forget about this until the next time, and then the next time.

    Did I say that we shouldn’t care about gun control? No, I said that we should address the kinds of issues that drive people to buy guns. Fear of crime, fear of home invasions, and so on. Crime, home invasions, and yes, mass shootings, are at their lowest point in most of US history, but we don’t feel safe. We feel less secure, and less safe. We need to address the reasons why we feel that way, otherwise people are going to continue to buy guns, and oppose sensible gun control regulation and restrictions.

    Also, there may not be a practical reason for allowing civilian ownership of automatic or assault weapons, but I’m going to assume that you don’t even know what those terms mean. Before you call for the ban or regulation of either of those weapons, you need to learn what they are, otherwise you’re going to get another ineffective assault weapons ban. The shootings in Tuscon, Aurora and Sandy Hook did not involve automatic weapons. The shootings at Tuscon and, closer to home, Virginia Tech did not involve assault-style weapons. The term assault weapon should NOT be used to define any kind of weapons platform for any future regulations because it is a political term, not one that is actually used by firearms manufacturers to describe their products. Also, the term restricted a lot of features that in reality are little more than cosmetic and do little to restrict the lethality of a weapon. Sure, there’s no practical reason for allowing civilian ownership of an automatic weapon, or an assault-style weapon, but using those kinds of terms is just going confuse people and allow loopholes for manufacturers.

    The US has a population of over 300 million. Australia has less than 23 million. That’s 13 times more people. 9,000 is quite a bit more than 13 times 350, but you have to take into account that the US has a much, much higher population density.

    Yes, we should learn from our mistakes. Yes, we need stricter gun control and regulations, but you’re not going to get very far with an argument that is based on “guns cause harm.” The NRA makes a living tearing arguments like that apart, based on much more than the things that I’ve cited, and in much more detail. If we really want change, we’re going to have to put forth a lot more effort into how to effect that change.

  5. eb

    67% of murders in 2008 in the US involved firearms (FBI), [f]or every intruder stopped by a homeowner with a firearm, there are 4 gun-related accidents within the home (Supreme Court DC vs Heller). Neither the NRA, nor any sane human can deny the role guns play in violence, intentional or not in the US.

    You equivocation over terms is devoid of meaning. You continually say my argument is weak, but offer no counter arguments or clash. Your point about addressing the reason violence occurs I agree with, but not to the exclusion of gun control. The most effective method for ending the violence guns cause is to reduce gun ownership and gun availability.

  6. eh

    1. Your use of the word “sane” isn’t going to help you win this battle. You’re painting the “other side” as “insane” when you use language like that and where is that going to get you? Is that going to bring them to the bargaining table? Or is it going to entrench them further in what they see as someone who doesn’t know the details of an issue railing about something they don’t know about?

    2. Your argument is weak because, as you admitted, you’re underedcuated on the issue. And throwing statistics that only bolster your argument that “guns cause violence” isn’t going to get anyone from the other side of the issue to defect to your cause. For every statistic that you find that supports your argument the NRA and gun lobbyists will find another five where guns have “saved lives,” or something to that effect.

    Your argument is weak because you haven’t presented an argument. All you’ve said is basically “guns are bad” and “we need less of them.”

    Your argument is weak because you’re not trying to persuade anyone who isn’t already on your side. And a big reason why I haven’t offered a counterargument is that I AGREE WITH YOU. I agree with you that a reduction in gun ownership and availability will reduce gun violence, but I already thought that way. You don’t need to convince me, or probably most of the UMW community. Go have a talk with the College Republicans. I stopped going to SDS because it was just a big echo chamber. You want to effect change? Go have a talk with what you would probably label as the “enemy.” Because they are the ones you need to convince. And good luck with that if you don’t educate yourself, because they’re going to know all the statistics about gun violence–one thing I learned when talking to College Republicans is that, perhaps because there are so few of them and they have to make up for that lack in numbers with something–is that they know their issues inside and out. That might not be the impression when you encounter your run-of-the-mill Republican voter, but that’s the kind of person who’s going to be lobbying for the NRA, and those are the people you need to convince to give concessions. Not me.

  7. eb

    1. I use ‘sane’ deliberately to marginalize the other side which holds dangerous and harmful opinions in the face of evidence: insane.

    2. I am uninformed about gun design. Relates in no way to gun policy. The best marksman in the world is no better positioned to say whether guns should be regulated than me.

    You agree with the same argument you call both weak and nonexistent. To clarify, it’s this: The well being of conscious creatures (us) ought to be preserved. Guns reduce well being via enabling a culture of violence, enabling and causing harm and death. Thus we should strive to reduce gun ownership rates and gun availability.

  8. eh

    By marginalizing the “other side” nothing will get done. Even if laws are passed that strengthen gun control and restrict gun ownership, it won’t last unless the other side which you vilify agrees to come to the table and compromise.

    Your lack of knowledge about gun design shouldn’t lessen your argument, but it does in the eyes of the “other side,” which is who you have to win over, or at least enough of them to reach some sort of compromise.

    You continue to couch your argument in the language of us vs. them. As long as you do that, no gun control policy will be passed, and if it is, it will be overturned sooner rather than later.