Monday, October 9, 2017

What The Actual Gun?

WARNING: This post will most likely have little to do with the internet or the Internet of Things or technology or any of the usual nonsense that I spout.

Instead, I feel the need to get something off my chest:

Why The F@#K haven't we done something about the access to guns in the US?

In the wake of this latest (and only unique in the details) gun related tragedy, why do these events keep happening and why aren't people doing something about them?  Why is the US less than 5% of the world population, but has more than 30% of the mass shootings?  I'm sure that it has something to do with having nearly 50% of the civilian owned guns.

I know that I'm not really qualified to discuss the deep legal issues involved here, much less the psychological side, but I do like to think that, as a compassionate human living in a supposedly enlightened society, I can feel for the victims.  From that perspective, the only conclusion is:

This S@#T has got to stop.

So why hasn't it? I'll answer my own question: the Second Amendment and the NRA.

The Right

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Twenty-seven words written over two hundred years ago by people who had just successfully lead an armed insurrection against a larger force.  With that context, these words make sense.  But they also leave a lot of room for interpretation.

What is a 'militia'?  Is that the government run military?  The police?  Or is it the right of citizens to rise up against awn unjust government?  All of those can be read into that word.

How about 'Arms'?  What do those constitute?  Does it mean that the government can not restrict access to any weapons?  Great.  I want a M1A3 Abrams Tank because I don't have room for a Reagan Class aircraft carrier in the backyard pool.  Or is it only some weapons?  Who decides?  The government?  That all seems kind of circular: the government can't restrict access but is the only body capable of deciding and enforcing the definition of 'Arms'.

As long as these ambiguities exist, the legal debate will continue and nothing will get done at the street level.


So, let's stick a bunch of smart legal scholars and ethicists in room for a few days and tell them that they can't come out until they have a solution.  We'll run the result past congress for a few months of arguing, then get a law suit or three past the Supreme Court and, a couple of years later, all will be good.

If we had started this process back at the Columbine shooting, then there is a good chance that Aurora, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Las Vegas and countless other similar events might have been, if not stopped outright, then significantly reduced in their damage.

But that has not happened.  Mostly due to the lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association.  Backed by the gun manufacturers.  Instead, they have used a broad definition of the Second Amendment to stop any attempts to control gun ownership at any level.

Because everyone who wants one should have access to weapons designed for battlefields.  Not hunting or sport shooting or home defense.  Battlefields.  And we wonder why our streets are turning into exactly that.


I am not (quite) egotistical enough to think that I can, with the wave of one blog post, solve all of this.  What I can do is offer some directions that might be explored.

Define 'Arms' for Civilians

One article that I read prior to typing all of this up built a distinction between what people need for armaments and what people want.  You need a single-shot rifle for big game hunting.  You need a double-barrel shotgun for bird hunting.  That is if you need to go hunting at all.  For home defense, maybe a pump-action shotgun or a medium caliber handgun.  I find it hard to justify semi-automatic weapons using armor piercing rounds for any of the above.

If you are into the sport of shooting, then renting gear from licensed gun ranges might be an outlet for this.  If you own a fifty-caliber sniper rifle, where else are you going to shoot it anyway?


I know that we already have this for handguns.  But an easily got-around background check is not what I'm talking about.  Instead, I'm talking about something closer to a driver's license.  Training on use and safety and storage.  Expiration dates.  For the weapons and the people.  For all gun types: rifles, shotguns, hand guns.  Inspections.

The difference between cars and guns is that cars are not protected in the bill of rights.  Because they did not exist when the Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights.  Also, driver's licenses are not handled b y the Federal Government, but by states.  This would need to be a Federal all-in kind of thing.  Does requiring licensing and inspections impinge upon the right to bear arms?  Only if you fail to get licensed.  And then there is probably a really good reason.

I know that they NRA will shoot all of this down.  They will threaten Supreme Court cases and re-election funding to people they support.  They will have deep pockets to do these things thanks to the 'Arms' manufacturers who want to sell more weapons to people who want them but don't need them.

Action Steps

If you are tired of these mass shootings, regardless of whether or not you agree with my potential solutions or not, then there are some things you can do.

  • Don't buy guns.  It is what the NRA wants you to do.  As personal protection, all they do is raise the number of gun violence incidents.
  • Vote for people the NRA hates.  They make this easy for you, rating politicians on a A-F scale.  Use this against them and vote for the F people.
  • Protest.  Peacefully.
Change in the government is no longer something that can be reasonably accomplished through armed insurrection.  In the industrialized west, those days are gone.  Instead it needs to be Selma style protests.

Use the media as a weapon in this struggle.  Not guns.

No comments:

Post a Comment