Thursday, December 20, 2012

Drawing the Line on Gun Control


It’s pretty clear we’re at a watershed in our national debate about gun ownership. 

The majority of the people in the United States are fed up with seeing their children murdered in public places by deranged individuals using militarized firearms. Arms manufacturers, gun lobbyists and their Congressional lobbyees have discovered an unsuspected capability for silence.

Fundamentalist interpreters of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution are forced to consider the possibility that Constitutionally guaranteed “right to bear arms” may not include the right to own semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines. The Constitution doesn’t specify what is meant by “arms,” just as it doesn’t define “a well organized militia.”

In the absence of Constitutional direction, Congress decided long ago that the right to bear arms does not mean the right to bear any sort of weapon manufactured by the global arms industry. Citizens of the United States already may not possess fully automatic weapons, explosives, bazookas, cannons, tanks, battleships, F-16s, nuclear weapons or B-1 bombers to deliver them. 

So the question or whether or not to have gun control is moot. Gun control is already on the books. The only thing left to discuss is the degree of gun control desired by the people. Where do we draw the line? 

As long as there are guns of any sort, deranged people will use guns to kill other people. Where do we find the risk balance in public ownership of guns between guns with legitimate civilian purpose and those that result primarily in public mayhem?

It must be noted that the children of Sandy Hook were murdered by guns that were legally and legitimately purchased on the open market. Would the outcome have been different if the only guns available to the murderer were single action, six shot revolvers and bolt action rifles? Perhaps not. Perhaps to a lesser degree. 

The possibilities must be weighed against the legitimacy of militarized weapons in the hands of the general public. Is there any overarching justification for the general public to possess semi-automatic firearms and extended capacity magazines? Can the desire for personal protection be equally served by less than semi-automatic weapons? 

Is there any reason why we cannot extend already existing gun control legislation to include all militarized weapons? 

12 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:48 AM

    When guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. You know those words, don't you, Michael?

    Is that really the direction you want this country to move in?

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  2. Note that I did not propose "outlawing guns," only militarized weapons such as assault rifles and automatic pistols.

    I want this country to move in the direction of rational discourse, away from emotional arguments based on economic interests.

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  3. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Define an 'assault weapon'. Define a "militarized" weapon. Are you really concerned about firearms with features such as a bayonet lug?

    Your post mentioned that American citizens cannot own fully automatic weapons. That's incorrect. They have to be registered under the 1934 NFA and the owner has to comply with the rest of that law, but there are over 200,000 machine guns in civilian hands.

    I'm curious: what specific firearms do you want banned? Do you support the 1994 AWB which left banned weapons in the possession of the owner at the time and allowed the legal transfer of those weapons, or are you jumping on the confiscation bandwagon as well?

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  4. There's no need to repeat what is already said in the original post.

    There is no rational reason for the general public to own semi-automatic firearms with extended capacity magazines. There is no reason why the sale of such weapons to the public should allowed.

    The general public has amply demonstrated an inability to responsibly care for weapons with a capacity for killing great numbers of people. Any sane society would control access to any object that is used to create such public mayhem.

    It is for the greater good.

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  5. Anonymous1:04 PM

    Millions of Americans already own millions of semi-automatic weapons along with millions of high-capacity magazines. They aint magically going away. If the federal government passes legislation or issues executive orders demanding the confiscation of these weapons and accessories, perhaps half of the effected citizenry will comply. Of the remainder, perhaps several thousand will resist, violently.

    I find it hard to believe that turning millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals, along with the attendant increase in dead LEOs and citizens, will somehow further the country along your road to the greater good.

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  6. Careful readers will note that I did not say anything about "turning millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals."

    In addition to outlawing sales of the above described firearms, a registration and buy-back program would take care of those already purchased.

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  7. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Be careful what you wish for. The line in the sand for many will be an attempt to register firearms at the federal level. As far as buyback programs, I don't think you'll find many AR-15 owners willing to swap a $1500 tool for a $200 gift certificate to Toys R Us.

    "There is no rational reason for the general public to own semi-automatic firearms with extended capacity magazines. There is no reason why the sale of such weapons to the public should allowed." The reason for this is the original intent of the Second Amendment-armed citizens as a protection against tyrannical government.

    "The general public has amply demonstrated an inability to responsibly care for weapons with a capacity for killing great numbers of people." The general gun-owning public has shown great responsibility in using the arms they possess. You got 80 million gun owners in America and how many crimes committed with guns?

    " Any sane society would control access to any object that is used to create such public mayhem." Huh. Like alcohol perhaps? The mayhem caused by firearms pales in comparison to fatalities and health risks caused by alcohol, but there you go.

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  8. I'm not concerned about any potential response from NRA aroused gun nuts. If they want to go on record as supporting crazed mass killings of school children, so be it.

    No one says a buy-back program has to consist of "a $200 gift certificate to Toys R Us"

    The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does not say "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear any and all firearms they want to shall not be infringed."

    In addition to gun-owners, there are millions of unstable, drug-crazed, insane and otherwise irresponsible people who have ready access to those guns, a la Sandy Hook.

    This thread is not about alcohol. For that go to AA.

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  9. Michael, I apologize for being Johny come lately to this post, but I wanted to give you my perspective on this issue.

    Your quote: "Is there any overarching justification for the general public to possess semi-automatic firearms and extended capacity magazines? Can the desire for personal protection be equally served by less than semi-automatic weapons?"

    My response:
    1. The only legitimate purpose of the RKBA is the civilian need for exactly those types of weapons. Do you sincerely think that any other type of "small arm" would be effective in helping us preserve our liberties if/and or when our benign overseers decide to start rounding us up into gulags? (And I am not interested in debating whether that scenario is possible or not, and no I don't wear tin foil hats.) I'm thinking that a Mauser model 98 would be a bit less effective than an AR 15 if one were inclined to start shooting back at our future "brownshirts". Someone sorta famous but I forget who, once said, " you don't take a knife to a gunfight".
    2. As to every day personal protection, I'm pretty satisfied with my 8 round 1911, but then I live in the desert Southwest. If I were a resident of Detroit, I'm thinking a high capacity polymer pistol with a few extra mags on the hip would be in order. As to using an AR for everyday personal protection? I reserve the right to make that choice, but it does have its practical limitations, doesn't it? ;)

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  10. Circular reasoning. No small arm would be effective in helping us preserve our liberties if/and or when our benign overseers decide to start rounding us up into gulags. "They" have tanks, flak suits, grenades, helicopters, drones, prisons and people willing to kill us. We have only our desire to be free.

    So the answer to the question is: No. There is no overarching justification for the general public to possess semi-automatic firearms and extended capacity magazines

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  11. Hello Michael,

    For some reason I have been missing your Blog.

    I would be interested to know what your thoughts are now on gun control. Why have Obama and Congress completely failed to initiate any progress in gun control whatsoever?

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  12. In a word: money. The NRA is a powerful economic force. They swing hundreds of millions of dollars in front of Congress critters and the President. They have the backing of the military-industrial-congressional complex.

    It's not just about hand guns and assault rifles. It's abut tanks, and planes and ships and weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the muscle under the global economy.

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