Gun Control or Constitutional Infringement?
I learned new information about your careers when you were both featured on the Military Success Network web-site that had not come up in your Guidon column profile. I’m curious about how you see the gun control debate and what the real impact of such legislation would be. Since you both have over 25-years on active duty and you were both CID Special Agents, you’ve no doubt investigated hundreds of homicides and other violent crime. Every mass shooting breaks my heart and I think we as a society should do something; I am just not sure what that is. Should we have an assault weapons ban, high capacity magazine limit, universal name checks? What do you think we should do?
SHE SAID: Great Question. It gives me a chance to wax philosophical or visit the “tree of thought” as one of my oldest, dearest friends would say. My greatest concern about our country is ironically one of its greatest strengths.
We are the most diverse country and in many ways, it makes us the most divisive. I think debate is a good thing. Disagreeing about how to approach an issue can, and should, lead to a level of compromise that both sides can not only live with, but also be happy with.
Enter the lobbyist groups. Enter the special interest groups. Enter the extremists, and this all goes out the window. And typically, when a right is challenged or we look to put safeguards in place, what these groups argue is the “slippery slope.” With this, comes that. We must stand our ground.
I am broken hearted that there are children, little children that have died at the hands of evil. And yes, I have seen it all too many times in my career, but not at the magnitude we saw in Sandy Hook. I watch the parents of these children on television and I want to give them what they want. I want to ban guns. I want to give them peace. I want to give them their children back. But at the end of the day, I understand that is an emotional response. It’s the argument people use to end the death penalty.
It’s the argument people use to keep the death penalty. It’s the argument people use to stop abortions.
On the other hand we have the groups that demand our rights not be infringed; that they be absolute. The Westboro Baptist Church stands on their first amendment rights no matter how much we despise what they do. And the NRA supporters ask if those rights can be absolute, why can’t theirs? Why can’t we own whatever gun we want with as much ammunition as we want and carry them wherever we want? If you infringe any of those things, how do I know you won’t use this argument to take something else away from me?
It’s the slippery slope argument, and I hate it.
There is something in criminology called the “latent function”, which is an unanticipated or unintentional outcome to a law or policy.
We will use the Volstead Act as an example. Back in the 20s, this country made the production and consumption of alcohol against the law. What happened? Bootleggers started making alcohol and selling it, tax-free. “Speakeasies” became the place to be if you wanted to drink. The government did not get rid of alcohol; they handed it to the mafia to run; a result they did not see coming.
Years later, prohibition was lifted because the latent function of making it against the law was far worse than alcohol itself. Abortion is another example. We want to make abortion against the law. Back when abortion was illegal, the rich went to other countries and the poor died in back alleys. Do those who oppose abortion not think we will go back to that if abortion is again made illegal?
I noted all that to say this: I am a gun owner and I carry wherever I go. I feel it is my right as a responsible citizen of this country.
I also think there should be a mandate that keeps guns out of the hands of those who are less responsible. Regulations that prohibit medical personnel from sharing information about the mentally unstable should be lifted. Individuals who purchase guns for other people, for WHATEVER reason, should be held criminally liable for whatever act the armed person commits.
Gun owners should not be allowed to transfer ownership without the recipient having the requisite name check. Individuals who own guns should be required to safeguard them. I know many will argue that if my gun is “locked up” I can’t get to it when I need it. I would say that some common sense needs to be applied. If you have small children at home; your gun should not be accessible to your children without your supervision; there are multitudes of locking devices that allow rapid access to a loaded gun while keeping them out of the hands of our children.
There has been a lot of discussion about assault rifles. To me, this is a red herring. Most firearm-induced murder victims die as the result of handgun injuries (actually blunt objects, body weapons and knives are collectively used to commit violent crime substantially more than firearms as they are weapons of opportunity).
Nationally, handguns were used in the vast majority of shootings as opposed to rifles or shotguns. Handguns are small, concealable, and easy to use. Many believe that the children at Sandy Hook were shot with an assault rifle. The culprit never took it out of his car because he couldn’t figure out how to use it. Most of those children were shot with a handgun.
As far as “high capacity” magazines are concerned, whoever decided what is considered high capacity doesn’t know much about handguns. Most semi-automatic handguns hold 10 -16 rounds. I would not consider that “high capacity” and I’m not sure what the rationale is with the limit.
And I guess that’s the problem with most of the arguments. There is no rational thought. It is simply one side saying, “Because it’s my right” and the other side saying, “Because it’s not safe.” I would like to see some logic applied.
Here’s some food for thought: History has shown us a box cutter in the hands of the wrong person can kill thousands of people, yet we sit and argue about restriction on gun types because it creates an emotional argument people can relate to. Too much focus on what kind of gun we can own is not productive. We should focus on who should be allowed to own a gun.
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