Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some Thoughts on Guns ...

Bear with me, I don't have this altogether worked out in my head, and I'm using this space to play with it a bit ...

I've always been a 2nd Amendment kind of guy, but within certain limits. The original notion was, I think, that a populace not be disarmed, so that they could resist a government turned tyrannical; which was, at the time, a good idea.

Of course, when we were all using muskets and Pennsylvania long rifles, and the local blacksmith could cast small cannons, if he wanted, that idea was more viable.

Hardware parity, vis a vis the feds versus the general populace, went away shortly thereafter, and has been installed in our customs and laws since before all of us were born. Yes, you can, with the right permits, get a decommissioned tank to park on your lawn; you cannot fuel it, load it with ammo, and take it to the drive-in theater. You don't get over-the-counter 20mm nose cannons for your Cessna at the Walmart.

You can own a fully-automatic assault rifle or subgun, but you have to have the proper licenses, and in those states that allow it, the feds and your local law will know who you are and where you live. Folks who do this seldom, if ever, run amok at the mall, leastways not that I can tell. 

But you aren't supposed to have a rocket launcher in the trunk of the Volvo, nor tactical nukes in the garage, and that doesn't bother me at all that you can't. Because I don't trust you, frankly.

There are plenty of guys who think they should be able to do that, and they scare me a lot more than the idea of the government going completely rabid and slaying the citizens wholesale in the streets. 

The fantasy that a bunch of West Virginia hillbillies are going to duke it out with the United States Marines, the Rangers, the SEALs, and win is, far as I am concerned, fueled by too much beer, too few brain cells, and DVDs of Red Dawn, either the original or the why-on-Earth-did-you-do this?-remake.

Parity isn't going to happen. Nor should it. 

So we accept some limits, most of us, on the hardware.

Now I do believe that the farthest left of the anti-gun folks would indeed melt down Grampaw's squirrel rifle and make saute pans out of it. No guns, period. And that is a slippery slope; however, since we accept that we don't get to take a bazooka to church, there is a line most of us will mentally allow. Those of us who aren't frothing at the mouth on the far left or far right, at least. 

If I had to guess, I'd offer that if the no-guns crowd wins one, it'll be a repeat of one they already had and allowed to lapse: High-capacity magazines and nasty-looking semi-auto civilianized assault weapons. Those won't solve a whole lot of problems, but it's like the metal detectors at airports, there is some feel-better attached to it.

It's a band-aid. It won't even slow the bleeding.

Frankly, I'd let those go, but it's a delaying tactic. Once they realize that outlawing black rifles and twenty or fifty-round magazines doesn't stop people getting shot, they'll come back for the next set of shooting irons, and hope to eventually whittle those down to zero.

They have said as much, this isn't a secret agenda. I don't think it's likely to happen any time soon, but it's what they are–pardon the pun–shooting for. 

No, I don't have a black rifle. Have no need for one, and if the Red Dawn scenario comes to pass, I don't think it will help.  Civilians buy these because they want them, they surely don't need them. I'd rather have a deer rifle, because if I have to shoot it out with despots who can't be outgunned, I'd want to be a long way off, and assault rifles are not tackdrivers at four or five hundred meters. 

What to do about so many gun deaths?

What I'd like to see is what Dan Moran and some folks on his Goggle+ page have suggested:
Hard qualifications for carry, then the right to do so anywhere; education, including having the schools offer classes about guns and what they do. Show them bodies like they do in Driver's Ed, make it real. Make such classes mandatory until they can pass a test demonstrating they know it.

Oh, yeah, and reinstated civics classes, too. So people have a fucking clue how the Republic is supposed to work. 

Eventually, education must be the key. Civilized people don't shoot each other.

The shooter at our mall recently? He supposedly had an off-duty security guard lay sights on him with his concealed Glock. The guard didn't take the shot because he didn't think he could make it without hitting a civilian. That's what he said, anyway, and if he didn't freeze, that was probably a good thing. I was taught that if you cannot make the shot, you will not take the shot. Miss and kill somebody else, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

More access to mental health, and an ability to keep somebody who is about to go postal locked up until he is not likely to do so, might help. 

Some kind of quid pro quo when it comes to legislation.

I know there are compromises that can be made. Back when Oregon didn't issue carry licenses, the NRA and the most liberal Speaker of the House got together and cut a deal: Carry licenses, in exchange for a waiting period. Both sides got something from the trade, and if we are going to do this, that's probably a smarter way to go. 

Like a lot of people, I have more questions than answers. But I do agree we need to do something to keep our classrooms and malls and streets safer. 


Shady_Grady said...

This is a pretty good post. The problem as I see it is that nobody who believes in gun rights really thinks that most gun-control people REALLY believe in private ownership of guns.

Arguments that start with "why does anyone need X" get people's hackles up immediately.

I'd like to see what can be done with earlier intervention about people with mental illnesses but in the Sandy Hook situation I don't think any law could have prevented that atrocity.

Jay said...

Excellent post, Steve. Surprisingly, I don't own a gun and have never even fired anything beyond air-soft. Never really made the time, nor had the need for one. That being said, I am closer to purchasing something (narrowing it down to shotgun or getting my CCW and a handgun - not sure I could afford both). I have a neighbor down the street that borders on the far right crazy that wants everyone to know how to shoot - I need to take him up on that when it warms up again. He starts you out small and moves you up through the calibers to find what fits. That'll be fun.
As for the the comment about showing images of bodies riddled with bullets compared to car crashes in driver's ed, 'round these parts, they stopped showing the images of mutilated cars and parts (auto and human) strewn about back in the early 90s as studies showed that instead of acting to prevent an accident, the brain flashed back to the gore and froze. Considering that most people don't train themselves with their holstered weapons they way they should, I'd imagine a lot of, "oh, shit," moments that don't end the way they would like.
Just my 2 cents.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward said...

Estacada High School has an unused gun range in its basement, left over from the era when schools had rifle teams (heard this from a former administrator from Estacada).

I lean toward the training and certification piece, myself. As a hunter I don't hunt the West Side of the state much any more unless I'm going out with a friend. Just too many idiots in the woods who haven't learned basic muzzle discipline and waiting to take the safe shot.

And civics instruction went out the window with No Child Left Behind and now Common Core. Basically, as an 8th grade US History teacher, I was told I need to teach Causes of the American Revolution, Constitution, and Civil War. Westward Expansion if there's time. Social Studies teachers are now primarily literacy teachers using content materials.

Sigh. I do sneak some civics in.

Steve Perry said...

Most of us aren't all the way to the left or right in our political and social beliefs. Those who are tend to make the most noise, so each side tends to believe that the other side is bonkers.

Politics is the art of compromise. Without some middle ground where both sides can find room to dicker, nothing gets done. We're probably as polarized about this as we've ever been, and the result is ugly.

In a civilized world, we wouldn't need guns. Nor would we need many laws to control them because civilized people wouldn't kill each other. But we still have the pointed teeth and the great ape rage and we are short of where we might otherwise be.

Until the Messiah comes, I don't want to unilaterally disarm because that's just not very smart. At the same time, I recognize that public safety does require rules. You can't have Typhoid Mary working as a short order cook, nor can you smile as crazies and psychos get their hands on hardware that makes it easy to kill.

Recall that President Kennedy was shot with a cheap rifle bought through the mail. (Unless you are a conspiracy theorist who doesn't believe that Oswald did it.)

We live with gun regulations now, and it's a patchwork of stuff that ranges from none allowed, to you can carry one if you want, no paperwork needed.
Calling a school a gun-free zone doesn't seem to help much. I'm not sure giving the teachers Uzis would do the trick. I don't have the solution, but I do believe we have to raise the questions and start looking for the answers.

Kris said...

"I don't have the solution, but I do believe we have to raise the questions and start looking for the answers."

The hell you don't: spetsdōds. :P

William Adams said...

Steve Perry wrote:
>In a civilized world, we wouldn't need guns.

I don't want that much civilization, thank you.

I _like_ to walk the woods and wild places, and I accept the (potential) danger implicit in it, and the responsibility for my own safety and the need to have a firearm to protect myself if the situation arises.

I also believe in responsible hunting.

Anyone who doesn't believe in firearms should feel free to move to where the 2nd Amendment doesn't apply.