Monday, January 28, 2013

Ready, Aim... - Part II

Another snappy quote from the guy on TV who tells stories from history, but avoids words like "historian" at all cost: "The first Thanksgiving was no picnic."

As you recall, last week I listed some arguments often given by those who oppose regulation on guns and gun ownership. But somehow I forgot to cite the most common (though not the most logical)  argument of all, "Hey, people get killed in CARS, don't they? And you can get killed by a knife or a club or a falling piano, right? But we don't make any of THEM illegal, do we? Ya think we should?" If you haven't actually USED this reasoning, you are no doubt familiar with it.
Here are the arguments cited last week, with opposing views added. First, there's the simple claim that gun ownership is in the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has lately clarified that it's an individual right and not tied to any "militia". True enough, but in practice NO right is absolute. Freedom of Speech does not allow public threats on the president, and Freedom of Religion excludes the ancient practice of human sacrifice. These things are hammered out in the marketplace of ideas every day. Should we, for instance, treat every type of gun the same just because there were very few types in existence when the Constitution was written? Our current practice is NOT to treat all guns the same. You cannot, for example, legally own fully automatic weapons.
The second claim is that guns help us to be safe when threatened from outside OR by the very government we helped put in place if it should be turned against us by domestic tyranny. No doubt many dangerous individuals have been turned away, wounded or killed by gun owners in their homes, but studies have concluded that a gun in the house makes it MORE (and by a wide margin), not LESS dangerous, because of the new danger from THAT weapon. And America is NOT the safest nation on earth despite owning the most guns.  As for arming to prevent invasion by OUR OWN armed forces, let's admit that, over time, our taxes have gone into the creation of the mightiest defense establishment the world has ever known. They have the power to kill us all fifty different ways from miles away before we even know we are under attack. Hold THEM off with a collection of hunting rifles, clay pigeon shotguns and handguns wielded by unorganized, non-combat trained civilians? Puh-leeze.
The manufacture of guns and ammo, together with the functions of sales, marketing, accounting, etc. no doubt employs thousands of people. SOMEONE had to make the efforts needed to arm our nation with three hundred million guns, highest per capita in the world. You could make the same case for the alcohol, tobacco or pornography industries, all of them mostly legal. Sure, it's great to collect taxes from industries of all kinds, but is that ENOUGH to simply wave off thousands of deaths annually coming directly from use of a "product"? Gun deaths to the industry are evidently just "collateral damage", like torn ligaments are to the NFL.
People are known to ignore gun laws, particularly when committing other crimes. But that in itself isn't a good reason to toss away the law itself. The effectiveness of a law shouldn't be whether it is always obeyed, but whether the TREND is toward MORE or LESS public lawfulness. After all, we didn't toss out laws regarding Ponzi financial schemes just because Bernie Madoff broke them. Nor do we grant Wall Street every deregulation they wish following some new scandal.
True, people die in cars, and there is no shortage of ways to kill people, including attacking them with falling pianos. But knives, clubs and solid concrete have other uses, and cars AND driving conditions can be and ARE made safer over time. I don't recall the last mass stabbing, but I can guarantee that someone at the scene said, "Thank goodness he didn't have a gun."
There isn't room to analyze proposals from the Obama Administration to try to make people safer from guns. Not all proposals will pass, not all suicides will be prevented, nor has the door been shut on future mass shootings. The one aspect largely (and often deliberately) ignored is that there are NO proposals to confiscate privately owned weapons, no matter their firepower or future legality. The thing people scream against the loudest is not even being proposed. That's the most important single fact a person can take away from this blog entry. NO ONE IS COMING FOR YOUR GUNS.        


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