Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Gun control in the United States of America

If you ask me what gun control is, I'm going to tell you that it is how well you handle your firearm.  Are you shooting on target?  Or are you missing it altogether?  Now, you might be thinking that I'm missing the mark on what gun control really is, but am I?  Or are our legislators in Washington, DC missing the mark like you think I missed the mark?  Think about that for a minute or two...

I understand the current outcry for more and stricter gun legislation.  Guns are bad.  They are evil.  They kill people.  They take loved ones prematurely.  Assault weapons are the epitome of all the evil guns in the world.  They are loud and they look mean and menacing.  Just the very appearance of them brings fear and trembling into the hearts of the masses...  Whatever.

First of all, guns are like any other dangerous tool or instrument.  They must be treated with respect.  I have a Husqvarna 371 chain saw (it is a 71cc, two stroke motor with a 24" bar on it that will run chainsaw chain at 10,000 RPM).  The thing is a beast.  I cut down and limbed a tree in my back yard in 15 minutes with this saw on Saturday.  It took me longer to load the tree into my pickup truck to haul it off to the dump than it did for me to take it down and cut it up.  That saw is a freaking awesome machine.  If you are stupid, it will maim or kill you.  If you don't have respect for it, it doesn't matter who you are.  It will eat your flesh faster than you can say, "Ouch!".  Yep.  Its dangerous, but it doesn't mean it isn't a useful and helpful tool.

Guns are evil.  No, they aren't.  Guns are, well, guns.  They are highly precise machines that shoot metallic projectiles from their barrels.  There is nothing bad or evil about guns.  There are evil people who do bad things with guns.  There is the press and others that wish to villainize guns so that we can outlaw the guns so that we won't hurt ourselves.  No, guns aren't bad.  The people who use them maliciously are bad.  The press and legislators that villainizes them are bad.  But guns in and of themselves are not bad.  When used properly, they are like my chainsaw, useful instruments.

Guns kill people.  Nope, they don't.  People kill people.  If someone gets stabbed with a knife we say, "George killed Mary."  We don't say, "The knife killed Mary."  That's just stupid.  The knife can't do anything on its own.  Neither can the gun.  Someone has to pull the trigger and the person pulling the trigger is the person responsible for the bullet that comes out the end of the barrel.  The gun cannot think.  It cannot act.  It only does what someone else wants it to do.

Guns take loved ones prematurely.  Nope, wrong again.  It isn't the gun's fault it fired a bullet when someone pulled the trigger.  It is doing what it is built to do and that is to fire a bullet and send a projectile down the barrel and out the end of it.  The person who pulled the trigger is responsible for the premature death, not the gun.

Hopefully by now you are realizing that I'm not a real big fan of gun control.  I look at the legislation that is in Congress right now and honestly, I'm not impressed with what I see.  Let me explain why:

Banning high capacity magazines:  Would a ban on high capacity magazine have prevented the tragedy that happened at Columbine High School, or Sandy Hook Elementary, or the shooting at the movie theater in Colorado?  The answer is a resounding, "NO!"  But why not?  Because if you ban the sale of high capacity magazines, you still have millions of magazines in circulation that people can buy.  The only thing the magazine ban will do is cause the price of high capacity magazines to go up because the supply will go down and demand will increase.  Those that don't have will want and they will be willing to pay good money to have what they cannot have.  The only way a high capacity ban will actually work is if the United States government actually bans the sale, manufacture, and ownership of those magazines and then goes door to door to confiscate those magazines from its citizens.  Do we really want the police to go through our houses to search for high capacity magazines?  Do we really want to make felons out of people who are currently law abiding citizens?  Anyone heard of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution?  Because we the people are protected from unreasonable search and seizure.  Our legislator know this.  They know that if they ban the high capacity magazines now, sooner or later the ones that are in circulation will wear out and go away.  This will take many, many, many years to happen.  This feel good legislation with little or no substance.

Banning "assault" weapons:  Assault weapons are those weapons that are used by the military.  The types of guns that normal, everyday people can buy are not assault weapons.  Why is that?  Because real assault weapons are machine guns.  The average person cannot simply buy a machine gun.  Real machine guns are extremely expensive and you have to go through a six month background check in order to buy one.  The AR15, M&P15 and all the other M16 style rifles are semi-automatic (one shot is fired for every pull of the trigger).  The way that they fire is like any other semi-automatic firearm out there: one bullet fired for every time the trigger is pulled.  The reason why legislators want to ban these is they are scary looking.  They look like their military inspired cousins.  They are used in movies to mow down people.  They are dangerous.  Yep, my chainsaw is dangerous.  My car with a drunk person driving it is dangerous.  My razor sharp kitchen knife is dangerous.  Alcohol is dangerous.  The item itself in and of itself isn't dangerous, but how it is used.  Banning one type of gun is just feel good legislation.  Gun manufacturers will find ways around the legislation and still manufacture guns that are just as lethal as they were before.

It is getting late and I must go to bed so I can go to work tomorrow.  But I want to make one last point. Alcohol is abused much more than guns are.  Alcohol kills more people through drunk driving fatalities, disease, cirrhosis of the liver than guns do.  Alcohol is bad stuff.  But you don't hear the drum beat of people wanting to bring back Prohibition.  Would we be better off if we were a dry nation?  Probably.  But we went through that experiment once and it failed miserably. We had our assault weapon ban from 1994 to 2004.  It really didn't do anything for us.  It didn't make us any safer.  We still had Columbine.  Regardless of what we do, we will always have Columbine, Sandy Hook or some other place.  Today, at the Boston Marathon finish line, someone got a burr in their bonnet to kill a bunch of innocent bystanders with bombs (no guns, but bombs).  The guns here aren't the problem.  The problem is with the people.  The people have to be fixed, not taking the guns away from the people.

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