Gun Control

I find myself in an interesting position. On one hand I want to go to war, on the other I find myself wanting to find common ground, to educate.  That is probably why I am having such a hard time writing an introduction to this post.  I have written on this subject many times in the past, so I am not without previous works upon which to draw inspiration. The problem that I have is that none of them really strikes the proper tone that I wanted for this post.  There is enough anger and hatred out there in our country to spark a second civil war.  Tempers are flared,and emotions are high so anything written on this subject must be able to convey my message, and at the same time not enflame an already divided nation. 

America is a special nation, a nation that at the time of its founding had no contemporary.  It was based on a concept that had not been seen in over a thousand years.  It was a nation striving to achieve the goal that all men are created equal, that a government should be set up so one man need not fear another.  We are not a nation under a king, but rather a nation of kings.  A government of the people, for the people, by the people, a strange concept in a world of monarchs.  Our founders wrote the constitution over 200 years ago, and the fact that it is still in effect is a testament to their intelligence, and the will of the American People. When asked what sort of government the founders had given to the American People, Benjamin Franklin responded “ A Republic, if you can keep it.” I think that we have met this challenge. America was and still remains a grand experiment.  It remains a golden example to the world that a man can rule himself, that man does not be of noble birth to leave a mark on history.

The founders understood that an elected legislator can trample an individual’s rights as easily as a monarch can, so they created a federal system with checks and balances. Then with the addition of the 10th Amendment they limited the government’s powers to those outlined in the Constitution.   That brings me to the point that I want to discuss. The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution denies the government the ability to rob the American People of their right to own and bear arms.  For the majority of this country’s history this has been an assumed of life, that we have the right to own and bear arms.  Recently however, there has been a movement that has challenged many of the traditional values of our nation.  One of their targets has been the right of the people to own and bear arms. We are far removed now from the founding of the Republic so it is easy for people to lose sight of the reasons behind the way the founders set up our nation. So it has become easy for people to give up on rights, for the greater good. We must understand that once we lose a right, it is almost impossible to get it back. So before we rally behind a banner to surrender our rights, I feel it is important that we examine the issue fully.

I am without a doubt certain that all of us have heard about the recent shooting in Connecticut.  27 lives, many of them young children snuffed out by a mad man.  There exists nothing in the global vocabulary for this sort of insanity.  In this time of sorrow, those who seek to do away with our right to own and bear arms have once again reared their heads and are using this tragedy to fan the flames of the gun control debate once more.   When this tragedy first took place I asked for both sides to hold off, to wait for the dust to settle before they began the inevitable debate.  To allow for time to grieve before they muddied the waters with their political squabbling.  I will admit that I am not a perfect man, and that it is not all that hard to push my buttons.  I am sorry to say that I have been involved more than I should have been in this debate up until now.  It has become clear to me that the two sides of this debate will not wait, will not avoid trying to politicize the death of these people.  So I have decided it is time to wade into the fray, make my opinion known, and hopefully bring some sanity to this debate.   I doubt that my words will reach any deeply entrenched in this battle. Most of them will just write off what I have to say and continue their assaults any ways.  This post is not for them, but rather for those out there who are trying to make up their minds, trying to make sense of which way to go. I hope this debate can get information out before the narrative is established. I cannot, nor do I want to force you to believe as I do.  All I can do is spell out my beliefs and show you the reasoning for them.

To begin, I fully understand why some would think that gun control is the answer. It is easy very easy to see the reasoning behind it. In the case of the Connecticut massacre, 20 innocent children’s lives were just snuffed out by a monster wielding a gun. In this time of high stress, anger, and sorrow we tend to look for something to place the blame on. In today’s day and age of quick fixes, and the desire for instant satisfaction naturally people look for the answer to be right there in front of them. We sane minded human beings find it impossible to believe that someone could just massacre 27 innocent lives. So we look past the human element and look for something that is easy to blame. The man shot his victims with a gun;we all think we know what guns can do, so it is easy for us to understand how a gun killed a person. So many of us support the quick fix that gun control will prevent not only these massacres, but murders and violent crimes as well.

The problem however is that the idea that gun control will reduce crime rates is a conclusion looking for facts,rather than facts forming a conclusion. There is no evidence to support the claim that gun control will reduce gun violence.  There is actually more evidence to support the fact that gun control only leads to higher crime rates.  Now this is where I will lose many of those reading this. Most will assume that because of my past, that I am just toeing the party line.  However, I have come to this conclusion based on three key issues statistical facts, common sense, and personal experience.  I encourage all of you to please hold off on forming an opinion until you read the entirety of this article.

Part 1

I am a student of history; I believe that the past holds the answers for the problems of today, if we are smart enough to find them.  In the case of gun control history grants us many examples of past attempts to stem violence by limiting or eliminating the public’s access to fire arms. If gun control is a viable method to reduce or eliminate violent crimes its implementation will result in lower crime rates. The following are examples of those attempts.

Example: In 1976 Washington D.C. passed a law generally prohibiting private citizens from possessing guns, as well as requiring guns in private homes to be kept unloaded and inoperable via disassembly or by a trigger lock. The law went into effect on September 24, 1976.

Result:
From the time the trigger lock law was put into effect, until it was overruled by the Supreme Court in 2008, the murder rate in Washington D.C. averaged 73% higher that it was at the outset of the law. While the murder rate in the nation averaged 11% lower.


Example:
Chicago passed a hand gun ban in 1982.

Results: Now at first it seems as though this ban was effective, as the murder rate in Chicago dropped 17%, while the U.S. murder rate was 25% lower. However, sense the outset of the handgun ban in Chicago, until it was deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, the percentage of murders committed with a hand gun rose by 40%. In 2005 96% of all murder victims in Chicago were killed by a man using a hand gun.

It appears as though the evidence does not support the theory of Gun Control. However there are many people who will say that the gun bans referenced above were ineffective because the criminals could go a crossed state boarders to acquire a firearm. Therefore, they claim, a gun ban will only be effective if it is done on a national scale. History once again blesses us with a passed example of just such a ban. This time it comes from Europe. However, sense the countries in Europe are the size of states in the United States it would seem that a national gun ban there would suffer from the same weaknesses as a statewide ban in the United Sates. However, one European nation is separated from the rest by a large body of water, the English Channel. I of course am speaking about the United Kingdom of Great Brittan. The U.K. is obviously on an island, so bringing firearms into the country would be a very difficult feat. So a national gun ban here would be an excellent example of their effectiveness.

Example:Great Brittan passed a gun control law in 1967 that made it so that civilians had to get a license from their local police chief in order to purchase a firearm. You also had to provide id numbers for all the guns you owned. In 1997 Great Brittan passed a law that required the surrender almost all privately owned handguns to the police. More than 162,000 hand guns and a million pounds of ammunition were confiscated. Using the records the government began mandating in 1967, the government knew they had all but 8 legal handguns in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Results: Sense 1967 the murder rates have averaged 52% higher than before the law took effect, Sense 1997, the murder rate has averaged 15% higher than before the ban.

Even in the case of an island nation such as the United Kingdom, a gun control law was ineffective at stemming the rising tide of violence. The United Kingdom is an island nation, connected to the mainland only the euro tunnel. That makes it incredibly hard for criminals to smuggle guns to the nation, seeing as they have limited points of access. The data though shows that violent people are committing violent acts, at a much faster rate than before the gun ban. Using the lessons of history it is easy to understand that banning the public from owning firearms will not prevent criminals from acquiring them, or committing evil deeds.

Gun control proponents will rightly point out that Gun Control does not only mean banning the sale of firearms, but it could also mean limiting the sale, or placeing more controls on the sale of fire arms. Many call for longer waiting periods, so the government can do background checks to prevent criminals from acquiring guns. They say that limiting the ability of citizens to carry firearms will lower the crime rates.  Once again history shows us the answer.

In 1976 Georgia and Wisconsin tried two very different approaches to lower crime rates.  Wisconsin tried a gun control style approach. They imposed a 48 hour waiting period to purchase a hand gun. It was thought that this way the government could conduct a background check and prevent criminals from purchasing firearms. Where as in Georgia, the government passed legislation that would make it not only easier to purchase firearms, but also easier to carry them. If the gun control theory worked, crime rates would be higher in Georgia, and lower in Wisconsin. The results of the two plans are quite clear. In Georgia homicide rates dropped an amazing 21%. Unfortunately for those who support the idea of gun control, Wisconsin did not share Georgia’s good fortune, as their murder rate rose 33% in the same time frame.

It should be clear by now that the data does not support the theory that Gun Control will put an end to violence in this nation. However, evidence of gun control failure is not enoughto disprove a theory. So far I have proved that past attempts at gun control have failed, but I have yet to disprove the concept behind gun control. That brings me to a controversial topic, and that is Concealed Carry. If the concept behind gun control is a valid one, then allowing people to carry firearms will only lead to increased crime rates.  Once again we must turn to history to show us the answers.

Example: On October 1st, 1987 Florida’s right to carry law became effective. Florida has issued 1,825,143 permits, with 746,430 active.

Result: Sense the law took effect, Florida’s murder rate is down 36% from what it was prior to when the law went into effect. To put that in perspective, during that same time frame the United States murder rate only dropped 15%

Example: In January 1996 Texas’s right to carry law became effective. In 2009 Texas had 402,914 active permits.

Result: Sense the law took effect Texas’s murder rate has averaged 30% lower than it was prior to the law taking effect. To put that in perspective, during that same time frame the United States murder rate averaged 28% lower.

Example: On July 1st, 2001 Michigan’s right to cary law became effective.

Results: Sense the law took effect Michigan’s murder rate has averaged 4% lower than it was prior to the law taking effect. To put that into perspective the United States murder rate averaged 2% lower than.

What does all of this show? It shows that in states that returned the right of their citizens to bear arms, the murder rates went down. In two of the above examples the decrease in the murder rate actually doubled the decrease in the national average. So thus showing that rather than banning guns, or limiting access to guns, that by actually allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves crime rates went down.

This brings up a valid point worthy of discussion. It is one that naturally would cause some to scratch their heads.  If criminals use guns, how would putting more guns in the market reduce crime rates? The answer can befound by analyzing not only criminals and their behavior, but also the time frame around a crime, and of course history.

To understand how allowing private citizens more access to firearms, rather than limiting them,lowers murder rates we need to understand the time frame surrounding a crime. Such as how long does a criminal typically interact with their victim, how long does it take for police to arrive. The Department of Justice reports that the average criminal interacts with their victim for 90 seconds. Only 90 seconds, a minute and a half, that sounds like a short time, but for a victim those will be the longest 90 seconds of their life.  So while the criminal is only present on the scene for 90 seconds, the average police response time around the country is over four minutes. So odds are that by the time the police show up the criminal will be long gone. So the question that always pops into my mind is what does the criminal have to fear, when seconds count the police are only minutes away.

Before going on, I need to address something that I hear far to often. Many people ask why do we need guns, all we have to do is call the police. While the above information should be enough to demonstrate why you cannot rely soley on the police, many still will believe that we do not need to own firearms, we have the police. It is important to understand that the police are under no obligation to protect you from violent crimes.  In 2005 the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Police have no constitutional duty to protect individuals from harm.

Now, we understand the time frame surrounding a crime, and we have discussed the police’s obligation ssurrounding crime intervention, it only makes sense to look into some of the data surrounding Firearms being used, not by criminals, but rather by people defending themselves.

In 1982, a survey done for a book called Armed and Consider Dangerous: A Survey ofFelons and Their Firearms went to 11 male state prisons acrossed the United States and found:

•34% had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”
• 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun”
• 69% personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”

Then there was the a survey conducted in 1994 by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention that found Americans use firearms to frighten away intruders that are breaking into their home 498,000 times a year.

More recently in 2000 a survey published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology found that U.S. Civilians use guns to defend themselves and others from crimes at least 989,883 times a year.

In 2008 a survey from the Department of Justice found that roughly 5,430,000 violent crimes were committed in America.These included simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, rape, sexual assault, and murder. 430,000 or about 8% were committed by a person who was visibly armed with a gun.

We have above evidence showing that guns are not just the tools of criminals, but are also the tools of everyday American’s who just want to be able to defend themselves from violent crime. 

I know that this is a lot of information to digest, especially when you are reading a blog, so I am going to try to sum up what I gathered from this information.  We know that on average a crime is done long before the police are going to arrive, this means that the police are not an effective means of defense from criminals. We know that the police do not have a duty to protect us, again making us greater targets for criminals.  We have seen how criminals can be deterred by armed victims.   We have seen the records of past gun control laws, and compared them to concealed carry laws. It is clear to me, that from the evidence it is impossible to support this idea that passing gun control legislation is going to some how reduce crime rates.

Part 2

I would like to discuss some common sense aspects surrounding gun control. Basically I would like to look at the idea that passing another law is going to stop someone from committing a crime. 

If preventing robberies, rape,assault, or murder was as easy as passing a law, why then haven’t we made these acts illegal? Well, as any child can tell you, it is illegal to steal, illegal to kill someone, hopefully they don’t know what assault and rape are but you get the point.  These horrible acts are already against the law. So why would someone worry about breaking a gun law if they are already prepared to commit another crime.

In the case of the Connecticut Shooting, the shooter was a 19 year old male. He had with him an AR-15, and two hand guns.  He used these weapons to kill 27 innocent people, and himself.  Now let us examine this.

In Connecticut it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to own or posses a hand gun.

The shooter had two.

He stole two hand guns and the AR-15 rifle from his mother.

          It is illegal to steal

He took the guns to the school.

          It is illegal to have a fire arm on school property

He broke into the building.

          It is illegal to break into a building

He gave up his humanity and killed 27 people.

          It is illegal to murder.

It was illegal for him to have two of the guns, it is illegal to steal, it is illegal to have guns on school property, it is illegal to break into a building, it is illegal to murder, yet he did all of those things.  It did not matter that he was breaking the law, he was dead set and determined to commit mass murder. One more law would not have stopped him, in fact gun control laws did fail to stop him.

It is a tired old cliché I know, but if you ban guns the only people who will have them are the criminals. Everyone has heard this at some point in time, and most people I think don’treally think about it.  But it brings up a good point, criminals do not care about society’s laws, one more is not going to stop them.  Law abiding citizens agree to follow our laws, for the greater good. Criminals break the laws for their own good.  

Remember earlier how I stated that when seconds mater the police are only minutes away. Those who advocate for gun control misunderstand the purpose of the legal system. It is not there as an active method to prevent crime. The legal system cannot arrest someone before they commit a crime, if that is a world you want God help all of us. The legal system exists to punish those who break our laws.  The legal system prevents crimes not by finding criminals before they act, but rather by demonstrating to the public that actions have consequences, if you break the law you will be punished. What I am saying is that laws do exist to keep us save, but they can only be enforced after a crime has been committed, meaning that someone prepared to commit mass murder will not hesitate to break a law.

I would also like to take the time to consider the government’s success at banning something.  When the government passes a law banning something, the vast majority of these bans have only succeeded in moving the item out of the main stream, driving it underground, and creating a black market to be exploited by criminals. Some examples are:

          Prohibition: banned the sale of alcohol. If my memory serves correctly alcohol did not disappear from the streets of our city. It led to the rise of speak easies, a golden era of moon shining, and organized crime.There was a demand for alcohol, and that demand did not go away just because the government decided that we should not have alcohol. So those who wanted alcohol went to underground to get it. The government then spent millions trying to stop the illegal sale of alcohol. They never did end the illegal sales, and the violence didn’t end until prohibition was repealed, and people could by alcohol legally.

          The War on Drugs: The government made drugs such as weed and crack illegal. They declared a war on drugs, and we are living in that ban right now. Is the use of illegal drugs going down because it was banned? No, people are just going to criminals to acquire it. The government is spending millions upon millions trying to fight the underground drug industry.

          Prostitution: Prostitution is illegal in 49 of the 50 states.  We all know that around the nation there are woman who are being sold for sex.  The industry has gone underground and is in the hands of criminals.

I am sure we can list more, but my point should be pretty clear.  There is no reason to believe that if the government bans firearms that people won’t still be able to acquire them. History shows us that they have failed consistently in the past.  What would be different this time?

Part 3

Whether you are a progressive, conservative, or something in-between we can all agree there is a problem in our country.  The progressives, as is typical, believe that the problem lies in our country granting too many liberties to its citizens, and that more government control is needed.  Conservatives believe that the problem lies not in us not having given the government enough power, but rather in the crumbling of our society.  I am of the second group.  Our country is sick, and I am not talking about our politcal system, I am talking about us as a people. 

We have lost sight of what made our nation great.  We have forgotten what it means to be a nation.  In the past America was a beacon to the world. People came from around the world to come be a part of the grand experiment, to become an American. We were a melting pot where societies collided, were forged together, and emerged stronger than they ever were apart.  Now we exist not as one people, but as a conglomerate of micro-nations, creating mass tensions within the country’s boundaries .

Violent movies, video games, and music glorify violence and murder. Many see this violent entertainment as desensitizing our nation. Blinding us to the true horror a man can unleash with a firearm.  Desensitizing us to the heinous act of taking another’s life.  But blaming video games and violent movies is no different than blaming guns.

The problem goes deeper than simply banning or blaming violent entertainment. The issue as I said is the crumbling of the American Society. The basics of right and wrong are not being instilled in our children. Why? The answer is simple the family is crumbling. The family is the unit that used to raise children, teach them right from wrong. But for some reason that unit has crumbled.  There have been bad families in the past, but back then there was a community to help the children caught up in the chaos. If parents were doing their jobs, then kids would know that a video game or movies aren’t real. That what is happening in those games isn’t real. They would be taught that killing is wrong.

When I was growing up I played first person shooters. I thought they were fun, and I know that they are just games. I should point out that I don’t feel like going out and shooting a bunch of people.  That is because while I was allowed to play video games, my Dad made sure to teach me from a young age the difference between right and wrong.  My Father told me that if I was ever got in trouble at school for fighting there were two things that might happen. If I was defending myself, or someone else, he would not be mad at me, he would be proud. However, if I was ever sent home for picking a fight, there is no punishment the school could cook up that would be worse than what was waiting for me at home. He taught me that there was a difference between justice and getting even. He taught me it was wrong to pick on someone because they were different than you. That if I saw someone picking on someone else and did nothing, then I might as well join in as I was no better than they are.

The other issue is that parents have failed to properly educate their children about guns. There was once a time in this country where guns were not a taboo. They were not some mysterious force, seen only in movies and video games. There was once a time when guns were a real thing to the youth of this nation. My Dad, Uncles, my Scout Master, and many others all told me that they used to take their guns to school all the time. They’d leave them in the trunks of their car. They didn’t bring them for defense or to wipe out their classmates. The reason they brought them was because they went hunting before or after school. Guns were not seen as a way to inflict mass pain and suffering, but rather tools of a trade so to speak.

It has been said that one often meets his destiny on the path they take to avoid it. In this progressive society there has been a push to keep guns a scary issue, a taboo subject that you don’t talk about in public. Guns are supposed to be kept away from children, now I am not talking about keeping them were kids can’t get to them, but rather keeping education about firearms from kids. When I was growing up I was introduced to guns at a young age. I knew where the guns were, how they worked, what they were for, and what they could do.  I was taught about guns before I saw my first PG-13 movie, I knew about guns before I ever played a first person shooter.  I knew what a real gun was, and so while playing games with fake guns, or watching movies with fake shooting I knew that there was a huge difference.  I was taught never to point a gun, even a fake gun, at something I didn’t want to kill. With all of this education, I never thought of shooting someone who wronged me. I knew that was wrong.  I truly think that by parents keeping guns a secret from kids, only introducing young people to the power of the firearm in a situation where you use it to shoot other people, has led to monsters thinking so little of shooting someone with a gun.  So by sensitizing us to guns, and desensitizing us to violence we have created a perfect storm for terror to erupt.

Conclusion

The attack in Connecticut is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to those who lost someone. I could not imagine what they are going through.  However moving forward we must keep our heads not let our emotions drive us into make a poor decision.  The plain and simple fact is that Gun Control will not prevent violent crime. We must fix the problems that have lead to this tragedy, but guns are not one of them. Our crumbling society is the cause. We must once again become members of a strong family. Reach out to those around you who need help. Be a role model for those around you.  It doesn’t matter what you ban, what you limited, unless we fix the root of the problem, the government can steal every right they want, and it wouldn’t fix the problem.

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4 comments
  1. We must understand that once we lose a right, it is almost impossible to get it back. So before we rally behind a banner to surrender our rights, I feel it is important that we examine the issue fully. Glock Night Sights

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