Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Here a gun, there a gun

I was recently taken aback by the news that my local borough council is considering the enactment of a second amendment resolution that would, in effect, say that any new gun control legislation passed by the federal or state government would not be recognized by my little town.  I am still trying to understand if that includes universal back ground checks, but I am sure it includes a ban on assault weapons and large magazine clips.

Additionally, I recently read a letter to the editor of a paper I occasionally read in which the letter writer posited that we need more guns in the hands of good guys, so that we could counter the effects of guns being wielded by those in the bad guy category.

Obviously, I will never understand the logic that states the more guns there are, the less crime there will be.  I do understand that a rationally thinking criminal will avoid a house or victim if they know that home or victim has a loaded gun aimed and ready to shoot them if they intrude.  And I do know of potential victims who avoided being victimized by fighting back, either by the presence of a gun, a big bat, or a vicious looking dog.  I do not discount that that there is a certain amount of protection that is granted if someone is known to carry a loaded weapon.   

But how does the gun know the shooter is a good guy or bad guy?  I have seen futuristic movies in which a gun will not work unless it is fired by the owner's whose palm prints have been recorded in the gun's memory.  But even then, what if the good guy up until now gets really pissed off and shoots his wife?  It is not uncommon for the victim of a deadly shooting to have known the killer.  Do we assume that they deserved to be shot because they know bad people, or is it possible that good people make poor decisions, including when and how to use deadly force.

I have heard it said that if someone wants to kill you, they will, so assault weapons bans are not needed.  But if someone wants to kill a bunch of people, why do want to give him/her the perfect weapon to do so?  I would much rather be attacked by a maniac with a knife then someone with an automatic weapon.  In fact, I just read of an incident where a crazy did just that, and he wounded a bunch of people.  Wounded.  Not killed.  I am sure if he had the same weapon as the Sandy Hook Elementary attacker did, the number of hurt would be higher and the wounded term would say killed.

And then there is the concept of death by friendly fire.  This is the awful event where a soldier is killed by one of his own troops.  Happens very frequently, not because the accidental killers are bad guys, but because war is hell, as they say, and under the stress of the intense activities of an actual battle in war, mistakes happen, decisions are not always well considered, and good people die at the hands of other good people.

What is ironic about my town council debating the second amendment resolution, is that about a year ago a police officer in our area killed an unarmed man in the middle of the day.  The man was certainly not innocent, and was certainly perceived as a threat to the public at the time.  But many wondered why deadly force had to be used, if wounding or even stunning the victim might have been more appropriate.  That perhaps, the officer, a suburban officer who may have never, and might not ever fire his weapon again in the course of his police career, might have acted in the heat of the moment.  A good guy who got caught up in a moment that ultimately cost the life of a man who was not bad as much as mentally unstable.

Finally, if more guns make us safer, does that apply to the ultimate gun, a nuclear weapon?  Should we supply all our friends, all the good nations with a nuclear weapon?  If so, who are our friends and which are good?  We trade openly with Saudi Arabia and China, are they friends who we trust with a nuclear weapon to not use on us, or just acquaintances who we are OK to give our money to but not a nuclear weapon.  How about Germany or Japan.  Friend?  Just 60 years ago, they were certainly not our friends but I think we trust them now.  But what if 60 years from now they are no longer our friends?  Do we get back the nuclear weapon under some sort of return policy once-friendship-is- dissolved waiver?

I know, I am moving into the realm of the absurd.  But frankly, the idea that only good guys should have guns seems as absurd to me. 

Bad guys get guns and use them against the innocent.  Let's do all we can to keep guns out of their hands by enacting universal background check legislation, and requiring all gun owners to register their gun upon purchase and loss, to wait at least 5 days before getting a gun permit so good people are less likely to make poor decisions in the heat of the moment, and require all gun owners to attend a safety class so they know how to handle, store and fire their weapon safely.  It is no more than we do to get a driver's license.

As for assault weapons and multi round magazines, make them illegal as soon as possible.  Their only purpose is to kill large numbers of people.  Add them to the ban on grenade launchers, flame throwers, tanks, and all the other weapons of mass destruction that, frankly, shouldn't be allowed anywhere but which are grudgingly accepted to be necessary for war.

And, for those who believe that the second amendment is at stake, wake up.   There are no proposals, no laws in consideration that will prevent Americans from owning a gun.  The second amendment is not under attack.  As my brother likes to say, follow the money and you will find that it is big munitions companies that are filling the airwaves with these stories, this entire red herring of Obama taking away our guns, while they rake in obscene profits; and while American citizens, including the innocents at Sandy Hook, are killed.         


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