by Charles E. Kunkle Jr. (aka fraterchaos)
We've all been very saddened and shocked at the latest round of mass murder which has taken innocent lives in yet another American City. The deaths in Colorado are horrifying to say the least, and I am sure we will be hearing all kinds of back and forth arguments about it in the days and weeks to come.
It's really a very tough issue and one that I believe we SHOULD be looking at, but at the same time, I also believe it's time for a little more calm, a little more consideration, and a lot more logic.
The right wing, and NRA and those who support gun rights will argue strenuously that there is no need for stronger laws, and even argue that if the law was less strict, there would be less gun violence. I think I have to come down on the opposite side from that extreme point of view.
On the other hand, I have no wish to see people have their hunting rifles, and even handguns that they might own for personal protection to be taken away. We DO have a constitutional right to bear arms. But I also tend to agree with those who now say that none of the founders ever intended such a law to cover high powered assault weapons. I highly doubt George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin or any others intended people to be carrying these weapons.
But just for a moment, let's table to entire idea of banning any type of gun or any type of ammo, and look at something else.
We could institute a policy which simply monitors who is buying weapons, what they are buying, and in what quantities. That would in no way infringe on any legal owner's rights, but would allow the authorities in charge to have a much better idea of the possibility of these sorts of tragedies. The ATF SHOULD have a means to monitor all gun sales, and all ammunition sales, and when any person who is not a registered dealer purchases guns or ammo above a certain limit, that person would be "red flagged' and could then be watched. if we were talking about prescription drugs, nobody would say monitoring that would infringe anyone's rights... if it were dangerous poisons, nobody would be complaining. We already monitor many other things less dangerous. Hell, we have agencies that monitor whether or not products could be misused by the public and cause unintended harm, why can't we watch who's buying something that has only one purpose, to kill?
Perhaps this person has a valid and legal reason for buying four guns in a one month period, and if the ATF becomes aware of that valid reason, the watch could be ended. But if, like the shooter in Colorado, he's buying these weapons for the purpose of participating in a mass homicide, then the fact that he's being watched might stop him before he can achieve his nefarious ends.
Now, personally, I would favor a ban on these high powered assault weapons, as there is no valid reason whatsoever for an average person to have one. They have one purpose, killing humans... no sane hunter would use a semi-automatic assault weapon for hunting.
The only argument I have ever heard that tries to validate the reason for allowing these weapons is the "protect us from our own government" argument... but that argument is plainly incorrect. I do not care if you have a barn filled with these guns, and another barn filled with ammo for them, you will not be able to threaten the government or resist them if they truly wish to "take over" as so many thoughtless people seem to think.
Unless you also have a constitutional right to own Apache helicopters, F15 Fighter jets, Stealth Bombers, Drone Aircraft with Sidewinder missiles, and yes, nuclear weapons, you are no match for the government should they decide to suspend or abolish the constitution and turn the USA into a totalitarian state. If the people in power decide to take away all of our freedoms we cannot resist that, we simply do not have the capability!
So what can be done? Well, first and foremost, we need to be able to discuss this without having some special interest group dictating the contents of the conversation. As long as fear of the NRA controls politicians, and as long as they can set the terms of the debate, nothing will ever change. People will keep being gunned down by crazed lunatics with access to the wrong kinds of guns.
I would also like to add one thing. I think that, in many ways, it is shameful of all of us that we need to see things like this before we even consider taking some action... each and every day, people are killed in ones and twos all over this country by gun violence, and it seldom gets more than a simple mention on local news... we might hear, "two killed in altercation overnight" in such and such a section of the city... and we say "oh that's terrible"and move on with our daily routine... but there are probably more people murdered every single day than this one killer killed in that theater. I do not mean to take anything away from the horror of that event, or belittle the pain of the victims and their families... but what about the victims and families of each and every random killing? If there are 20 people killed on average each day in this country (I do not know what the real figure is, but if it is as low as 20 I'll be surprised) why is that any less a tragedy than 12 being shot at one time, other than the fact that the 20 happen scattered all over while the 12 happened all in one place?
First and foremost then, I would say, we really all need to look into our own hearts and stop allowing some other entity decide things for us. Instead of simply accepting what the NRA, or anyone else says about this (or any other subject really) all the advice I can give is the same advice I always give: think for yourself Schmuck!