Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Final thoughts (for now) on the Second Amendment

One of the more compelling arguments, the one that generates the slick bumper sticker slogans like "When guns are illegal only criminals will have guns", is the thought that no matter what laws are passed restricting certain guns or types of magazines for guns, criminals will still violate those laws.  Certainly, that logic makes sense.  After all, there are guns laws on the books today that restrict felons from buying weapons, laws that build barriers to separate those who wish to own a gun legally from those for which a law, any law, does not matter.

To put it succinctly, only law abiding people obey the law, so no law will hinder a criminal from an act of crime or violence.  Assuming these definitions are always consistent, that law abiding citizens always obey the law and criminals do not, then it makes perfect sense to believe that only law abiding citizens are hindered when new laws are created which restrict access to guns or types of guns. 

So, if I am wrong on this account, that new, stricter gun laws are useless in the struggle to control gun violence, perhaps there are other laws just as pointless. 

For instance, all the various driving laws such as how fast you can drive, when you should stop or go, where you can park, why you must have a license and register your car, etc.  I know there are many people who violate these laws.  These criminals clearly have no respect for them, and many, even when caught and fined, perhaps even when they lose their license through repeated violations, still disobey the laws.  The only way to prevent them from driving safely, which is the intent of the laws, is to physically remove them from the street.  Ah, yes, but how to do that if there aren't any law?  Hmmm.  So, one of the functions of the law seems to be a way to punish those who do not observe safe driving practices to the point that if they continue to do so, they can be jailed, for the safety of the community. 

Or take rape.  Clearly, we would prefer that rapes never occur.  But, despite the law and severe punishment associated with this odious crime, there are still criminals who rape.  I would imagine that if a politician or political pundit claimed that rape laws are ineffective because rape still exists, still occurs thousands of times a month, there may be some outcry.  If that same person voted against further anti-rape laws because "when rape becomes illegal, only criminals will rape", he/she would be scorned, perhaps even recalled from office.

The question, the serious question we should be debating about gun laws, or any law for that matter, is whether its passage makes us safer.  Does making assault weapons illegal, making multi-clip magazines illegal, make us safer?  If you think that less weapons of this type in the hands of anyone, law abiding citizen or criminal, will reduce the chance of a law abiding citizen having his/her weapon stolen from them and used illegally, or will reduce the chance that a law abiding citizen will cross the line to criminal and use that weapon to kill, or will reduce the chance that a criminal will be able to purchase a weapon with such violent capability, then you should support such laws.  Then, if someone violates the law, there will be a legal method of punishment and justice. 

It is hard to know if gun control laws work because it is hard to know how many people who might have purchased a gun and used it for nefarious means have been stopped from doing so because of a law.  I read an interesting statistic on a gun advocacy website that claimed that a majority of criminals said they would have avoided robbing, burgling, etc, a specific home if they knew the owner was armed.  What was not asked these same criminals was if they would have avoided that home if they saw an ADT or some type of home security system in place.  Or if they knew the owners had a big dog.  I would also want to know how many criminals who did not use a gun would have used one if they knew they could get one more easily or if they knew the law against using a gun was less severe? 

As I said in my last post, America is a violent nation.  Guns, owning guns and using guns reflect our belief that might makes right.  We love stories where the oppressed rains justice done on the oppressor through vigilante violence.  Unfortunately, violence is most frequently used for reasons not so justifiable or inspiring.  We need a cultural shift that recognizes that just as might, in the form of the bully on the playground, does not make right, so having the biggest gun does not lead to right acts either. 

Assault weapons and multi-clip magazines will one day be considered weapons for killing.  Killing people.  Killing many people, all at once, quickly.  Children as well as adults.  Once it is perceived that this is their only purpose, they will be banned, and then the cliché will be true:
"when assault weapons are illegal only criminals will have them". 


  1. You need to change your masthead to better reflect your real views.

  2. Anonymous

    What changes do you advise??