Gun policy gone crazy

Published 11:24 am Friday, June 17, 2016

Can we just acknowledge that gun policies in the U.S. are a topic of discussion that brings out the worst of our reasoning skills?

On one side, we have the extremists who would somehow turn back time and make the 300 million guns already in the hands of our citizens simply disappear. To argue that any new regulations could now magically keep guns out of the hands of the criminal and the insane is reason-free and does little more than make impossible a responsible discussion.

On the other side, we have the extremism of the NRA and its more radicial members, who might argue for the right to arm children with tanks in order to make us all “safer” in some imaginary world where the American Wild West was a model for the perfect society.

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The gun advocates will argue that the Second Amendment protects the rights of citizens to bear arms without limitation or reservation. The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to bear arms does not prohibit the right to regulate arms.

The most extreme gun advocates would also argue that armed citizens are the buttress against a government that may need to be violently overthrown. And, ultimately, this is the argument for citizens to be justified to buy, own and use guns with the capabilities to take many human lives in only seconds.

It is a false argument, armed citizens are neither needed for this imaginative revolutionary purpose, nor suited to accomplish government overthrow by force. We do not need the threat of force against government as long as elections function to hire and fire those in government service. Nor would our military, comprised of citizen volunteers, turn against its own citizens to preserve fascism in government. And the facts stand against such “revolution” as a counterweight against government ran amuck.

According to a NORC survey in 2014, 31 percent of American households own the total 300 million guns (Congressional Research Service) in the U.S. These hunters, collectors, and target shooters are not trained in the art of warfare. They are the pot-bellied watchers of Red Dawn, imagining themselves as heroic figures defending their world against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The fact is, they could not stand against the U.S. military and offer meaningful resistance.

So the facts that underlie any meaningful conversation about guns in America undermine any argument to take, collect, or otherwise withdraw the 300 million guns already in circulation. Those same facts make impossible the argument that Americans must have access to rapid fire weapons justified by some fictional argument of the everpresent necessity to be ready for revolution.

Then what can we do as a society plagued by gun violence and deaths of so many innocents, but also a free society that will never accept the prohibition of an armed citizenry?

The US Senate this week experienced a Democratic filibuster that resulted in Republican agreement to hold a Senate vote on two possible gun legislations. First, to refuse gun purchases to those on the no-fly list or the terrorist list. The second proposal is the expand background checks to private guns sales and all other venues not yet covered by current law.

It is likely both measures will fall short of Republican votes for passage.

But what common sense measures can pass in a congress that has rarely seen any gun control restriction it could embrace?

How about an end to sales of the semi-automatic weapons that now clearly appear to be the choice of mass murderers? Hunters do not use such weapons, they are of little value to target shooters, and they are without merit to would be survivalists. The ending of sales would gradually diminish the number of such weapons in circulation. Additionally, the ammunition for these guns could be made far more expensive and the clip size limited to 10 bullets per clip.

Also, implementing Smart Technology, where guns can only become functional when matched to an owners thumb print, would reduce the accidental deaths of children and others that take place in gun owners home each year.

There is no solution that will end gun violence, and there is no way to ensure that there will be no more individual acts of terror. But that does not mean that America should turn away from measures that discourage the worst of how guns infect our society.



Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.