Friday, December 14, 2012

Gun Regulation is Pro-Gun

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Let's be clear. This is what we're talking about. One side can debate the merits of personal liberty and security while the other can cover horrific gun death statistics. At the end of the day, we're really talking about what this sentence means. I'll tell you right up front, I do not have a stance on gun control. I think both sides make very good points.

American citizens enjoy a fundamental right to own a gun. It's the second amendment, after only the right to free expression, and before the ban on quartering soldiers. Anyone who lives a short drive from their local police station needs to take a second before calling gun advocates a bunch of uneducated red necks. A close friend, who I will not mention by name, lives over an hour from the closest police officer, and he protects his land with a gun. He is also a professor at a prestigious university, that I will also not name. It's hard for us city folk to understand why he needs a gun, but believe me, he does.

Gun owners, on the other hand, need to accept that their right to protect themselves is not worth letting crazy people have guns. Gun violence is out of control, and while it's not fair that you have to go through a background check just because others can't be bothered to learn to respect guns as you do, you also can't ignore statistics. Gun control works. Violence is violence, and guns make violence easier. Guns are lethal at a distance, and automatic weapons make it way too easy to kill lots of people without trying all that hard.

After the first Virginia Tech massacre, I heard the best arguments for both sides. On a call-in show, one caller pointed out that VT was a gun-free zone, meaning the shooter knew no one would be armed. First responders take time, and an armed bystander could have ended the incident sooner. Then a vet who served in Pakistan called in. He pointed out that in Pakistani markets, everyone is armed, and every minor argument devolves into someone pulling a gun. I agree with both. We can't leave people defenseless, but we can't just give a gun to everyone.

I don't take the gun control side, but I do side very much against the basic pro-gun argument, that gun regulation is anti-gun. When the second amendment was ratified 221 years ago, we lived in a very different world. Come on, the third amendment is about quartering soldiers, and when's the last time we dealt with that one? The world has changed, and our view of the second amendment needs to change too. Guns are more advanced. We are packed far tighter together. The mentally ill seem a lot more ill.

By standing in the way of responsible gun regulation, gun rights people are making the out-right ban on guns seem a lot more appealing. They are blocking the viable option half way between gun bans and a free-for-all. If you're really pro-gun, start thinking about a gun control law that makes you feel safe with your own gun.

In 1847, Senator Lewis Cass (who ran for president in 1848) wrote of Abolitionism:

"...if the relation of master and servant may be regulated or annihilated by its legislation, so may the regulation of husband and wife, of parent and child, and of any other condition which our institutions and the habits of our society recognize."

I'm sorry, pro-gun advocates, that is your argument. This is not a slippery slope. It's just not. We got rid of slavery, and the country didn't devolve into facism. It is okay to open yourselves up to gun regulation. I would take a guess that most gun control advocates support your right to own a gun, assuming you are a well-trained, well-adjusted person. I support your right to own a gun too, but I'm sorry, fella, you are on the side of murderers and psychopaths if you're against keeping guns out of their hands by power of law. James Madison wrote,

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

I agree it's not fair. You should not have to worry about your gun rights just because other people can't handle the responsibility of gun ownership. It sucks, but that's just the way it is. If everyone was as responsible as you, none of this would be necessary. There is a way to get this done without infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners. We can protect schools and streets and movie theatres without imposing our views on hunting. This does not have to be an us vs. them argument.

Gun owners: No one is trying to take YOUR gun.

Gun control advocates: Start listening to the other side, and maybe they'll start listening back.

There has to be a way we can move forward from today, together.



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