Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gun Control Debate: Two sides protecting their interests

Trends and talking points
The anti-gun population will have you believe that gun control is the answer. They rail against automatic weapons, which were not used in Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Arizona, or Colorado. Automatic weapons are highly regulated and not available to the general public. There are only 250,000 allowed in the country for non-police and non-military collectors. It is expensive in order to buy the permit and the application process takes six months to one year.

Those that don't understand firearms are lumping the weapons in with those described above. True, the look like assault weapons, but mechanically they are the same as popular hunting rifles made by Remington and Browning.

There's a reverse trend in America. The amount of crime is trending downward while the number of gun sales is trending upward. The anti-gun people would have you believe the opposite is true, that we're living in the Wild West, and that it's harder to buy Sudafed than a gun. None of which are true.

NRA response
I completely understand how the media and the left have said that Wayne LaPierre's statement about having armed guards are crazy, unfounded and dangerous. But understand that his function is to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans; it is not the purpose of the NRA to keep idiots from walking in and shooting up schools.

That falls to the politicians and school administrators, does it not?

There are many school districts that employ uniformed police officers. Their superintendents and mayors have not been dragged through the media painted as an ideologue.

We must find compromise in the gun control debate.

The Gun Control Debate: Logic, facts and data are on our side

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has pushed the gun control debate into the national spotlight. President Obama and his administration are taking this opportunity to politicize this tragedy and push their anti-gun agenda.

By the numbers
I'll make this quick. Here's some data from the FBI concerning guns used in the commission of crimes. The rates are per population of 100,000.

Murders       2.75
Robberies  39.25
Assaults     43.77
Total           85.77

The population as of the last census is 311,592,000. Divide by 100,000 and that's 3115.92. Then multiply that by 85.77 to get the total number of gun crimes in America - 267,252.

At last estimate, there are 300 million  guns in America. Let's figure the percentage of guns used in the commission of a crime. 267,252 divided by 300,000,000. We get 0.00089084. Round it up and we've got .09% of guns used in crimes.

Said another way:
99.91% of firearms in the U.S. are owned by law-abiding citizens. 

I'm not OK with taking away their rights because less than 1% are mentally unstable psychopaths or criminals. President Obama has said he'd use any means necessary to solve the problem. Obama's opinion on gun control shouldn't matter: he's motivated to take away rights and he's already shown his hypocrisy on the issue.

The Gun Control Debate: Why Obama's opinion shouldn't matter

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has pushed the gun control debate into the national spotlight. President Obama and his administration are taking this opportunity to politicize this tragedy and push their anti-gun agenda.

He said "Any means necessary"
Obama has made it no secret that he hates guns. He railed against gun owners during the 2008 campaign when he described rural people as bitter clingers, holding tight to their religion and guns. (It's only the first two of the Bill of Rights; no big deal.)

They've even gone so far as to manufacture a crisis called Fast and Furious in order to push for new policy to regulate gun store owners. It backfired when one of the 2,000 guns they provided to Mexican drug cartels was used to kill a U.S. border agent, and probably more than 300. The story has been pooh-poohed by the media.

Attorney General Eric Holder was subpoenaed to testify. President Obama claimed executive privilege on many documents that the Oversight Committee requested as evidence in order to save himself and his friend from testifying as to the level of their involvement.

Until he rescinds executive privilege and speaks about his involvement in Fast and Furious, for Obama to speak about gun control is hypocritical. His opinion does not matter until he accepts blame for the operation, and lets the AG go down for perjury.

The Gun Control Debate: Compromise is necessary

What do most of the mass killings in the U.S. have in common? There are a few things, actually.
  • They were carried out in gun-free zones
  • The weapons were purchased legally
  • The weapons were not assault weapons
  • The assailants had a history of mental issues
To me, the last seems to be the one that both sides are mentioning as a problem, but it seems that neither side is trying to find a solution. Why?

Because hardcore 2nd Amendment believers don't want to give up their rights. And I don't blame them at all, because I know that the hardcore anti-gun advocates are trying to get as much as they can in the wake of the tragedy.

By addressing this issue, I think we can satisfy both sides of the debate and make our country safer, while violating the rights of fewer Americans. I'm sacrificing a little of my personal beliefs, but not giving up the farm. I don't expect you to, either. But I expect you to give a little ground to help me feel at ease. So here is my opening salvo.

Prohibiting purchase
Anyone who is undergoing counseling for depression or any mental disorder must be registered in a database. The therapist should be required to report it. For those of you who argue that this violates doctor-patient privilege, I don't care. The anti-gun people say they want to limit access, so let's get serious about doing it. Name a better way to prohibit those with mental issues access to firearms.

Yes, this includes anyone on medication. Here's why: I think those medications dull perceptions and emotions. I've watched people on anti-depressants who couldn't grieve when there was a death in the family. For others, it could make smudge the line between right and wrong because they are not completely in tune with the fact that there are consequences. I think removing their ability to purchase weapons is a good idea. Would it have stopped the Virginia Tech shootings? Maybe. Maybe not.

Restricting access
Anyone who is undergoing treatment cannot live in a house with guns. If they live with parents, their parents must remove their firearms from their home. Have a relative store them so they can still be used. But there is no exception to this rule. Not even one for self-defense. If the child is in treatment, there are no guns in the house.

Furthermore, if they visit a house with firearms, all must be locked in a gun safe with trigger locks. (Seriously... this is a good idea anyway.) Could this have prevented Columbine and Sandy Hook? We'll never know. But I think it's a wise move.

Restoring rights
I would not say that those who have addressed their issues should be forever ineligible. Just as in other areas, rights can be restored. In order to buy a gun, they have to be cleared by their therapist and one other, along with their local police department.  I would also suggest instituting a six-month waiting period. Yes, it's a pain in the ass, but I think it's warranted.

Confiscating weapons
Anyone who has been convicted of a violent crime, including domestic violence, becomes ineligible to purchase a gun. At the time of arrest, it will be determined if they own firearms. They must be turned in. If they are not convicted, the firearms will be returned. If convicted, they will be sold through police auction and applied to their fines. Any sold will at auction will, of course, have background checks, which could has the added bonus of putting more firearms in the system. If they are not sold, they will be destroyed, which has the added bonus of taking more firearms out of the system.

Expanding what's in place
Criminals are already prohibited from buying firearms. Adding the names of people undergoing treatment expands on that. Because their names will be entered into the database, background checks will immediately flag them as ineligible in the future.

Debating the issue
I wrote this to open a serious debate. Don't play "what if" with me. I'm sure you can think of scenarios where something bad happens. So can I.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I also believe people need to feel and be safe. If you have a better solution, where both sides can be happy, where both give a little ground, let's hear it. Let's find a solution that doesn't violate the rights of 99.91% of the population. One that can take a step in the right direction toward helping to prevent these tragedies.