A response to questions from my earlier post http://mlpforums.com/blog/1004/entry-11356-gun-control-does-not-work/
There are already laws that state that a person can be denied the right to own guns if they are declared, by a court, to be mentally incompetent (or whatever the proper legal term is). The point is, they deserve their day in court. I'm not against a mentally ill person, having proper legal representation, having certain of their rights curtailed to protect themselves and others. But, as I said, it is unconstitutional to deny someone a right without a trial, or to make sweeping laws that deny rights to entire groups of people.
Most of the time, a friend or family member or someone close to a person knows if there is a problem, and can report the person. That person can then get treatment, and in some cases can get a court hearing. But it is not right to deny everyone the right to self defense just to keep a few dangerous people from getting them. This doesn't address the real problem.
Requiring a mental examination before getting a gun is declaring someone guilty until proven innocent. How do you prove a negative? How do you prove you aren't crazy? It creates a slippery slope whereby the government can create arbitrary criteria for mental illness. It evokes memories of the Soviet Union where criticism of the government was declared a mental illness.
The government has been amassing databases on us. They know our emails, what we read at the library, who we call, and what we had for breakfast. Doctors ask kids if their parents have guns at home. Maybe you think guns are bad and should be banned, and so you don't have a problem with this. But is this a society you want to live it? It's all fine and good when the government uses its overwhelming power to enforce laws you like. What happens when they do things you don't like? Internet censorship, anyone? It's for our protection, after all.
It all goes back to fundamental morality. People are sovereign. They have the right to determine their own lives. As such, they have the right to defend their lives. The government, as constructed in the USA, does not have the authority to abridge the right to own guns. In that sense, it does not matter what the consequences of gun banning is, good or bad. The government does not have that authority. We have the right to have access to the best tools to defend our lives.
I said in my last post that the type of gun used in a crime has little affect on the outcome of the crime. The logical conclusion of this is that, if you want to ban guns, you have to ban all guns. You cannot ban “assault rifles” and allow hunting rifles. Plenty of crimes have been committed with hunting rifles. A deer rifle is just as capable of killing a person. Most gun banners do in fact want to ban all guns. They just aren't honest about it. In the 1980s and 1990s, the talk was about banning hand guns and not rifles. Now it's all about “assault rifles” and “high capacity” magazines.
If there was another mass killing and hunting rifles were used, would anyone say, “well, the assault weapons ban worked. Good job, no problem.” Basically, I'm forcing the issue: Either you ban all guns and hope it works, or you admit that there isn't much difference between guns and focus efforts differently. The gun banners know that they wouldn't be successful in trying to go after all the guns at once. But they can chip away at gun rights, little by little.
Gun banners want to put the second amendment in a box. Then they want to make that box smaller and smaller. Most politicians are smart enough to declare that they believe in the second amendment. But they answer the question, almost word for word, this way:
“I believe in the second amendment, for purposes of hunting, sporting, and self defense.”
A focus-grouped response, well-rehearsed. But why the qualifier on a basic right? What if politicians were to say:
“I believe in the first amendment, for purposes of news, art, and entertainment.”
Um, no, I believe in the first amendment. Period. In Diane Feinstein's latest attempt at a gun ban, she listed some thousand or so guns that were specifically protected from a ban. I didn't check the list, but I would guess they are hunting rifles and shot guns. I doubt there was any AK variants on that list. During questioning, she mentioned the list of protected guns and said, “isn't that enough?” I'd like to know what would happen if someone wanted to ban several hundred books, and said, “there are tens of thousands of protected books in the Library of Congress. Isn't that enough?”
Getting back to “... for the purposes of...,” let's look at it piece by piece. For the sake of illustration, I will take the point of view of someone wanting to ban guns.
Hunting: You can, in fact, hunt with an AR 15 or AK style gun. You can hunt with “assault rifles.” Restrictions on hunting have to do more with the type of ammunition you use. I'm not a hunter, but I did take a hunting safety course in Wisconsin. The law states that you must use a shoulder fired gun and use soft point bullets. Soft point bullets do more tissue damage and are more likely to kill, rather than would, and animal. Requiring a shoulder fired gun means that I could not use my Browning 1919 belt fed, bipod mounted 308.
Even though you can use a black polymer, semiautomatic, AR 15 with 100 round drum, it is not necessary. You can hunt just as well with a wood grain, rifle stock, bolt action rifle. If you miss with your first shot then the animal will run away and you don't get a second shot anyway. That being the case, you really don't need the 5 rounds that a hunting rifle usually holds. A single shot will do just fine. Therefore, a ban on everything but single shot, wood grain rifles with no pistol grips would satisfy the second amendment.
Sporting: In Canada, you can get a hand gun but it can only be used at a range. You can't even shoot your hand gun on your farm. Hand guns are to be used only for sporting purposes. In the USA, people shoot any and all guns for all manner of sporting: paper targets, clay targets, bottles, cans, old cars, just about anything can be shot up in one's back yard, at a range, or at competitions. People shoot everything from 22 lr to 50 BMG. People even get together to shoot machine guns. So the question is, what is a legitimate sporting purpose? Is is a government licensed gun range, or can it be in your back yard?
Clearly, you don't need a 50 BMG to shoot a target. A rim fire will do just fine. Therefore, we can ban everything except bolt action and revolver, rim fire guns. In fact, you can hit a target with an air rifle. But we'll let you have your rim fire. Thus, such a ban is consistent with the second amendment.
Self defense: Vice President Joe Biden said that the best way to deal with a home invasion is to fire two blasts into the air from a double barrel shot gun. What if you live in an apartment in the city? What if you are in your bedroom and the invader is in the living room? Do you run past him in order to get outside to fire the warning shots?
There can be a hundred different self defense situations. It is not possible to have a response method that will work for all of them. But, since I'm trying to take the point of view of someone who wants to ban guns, I will do just that. I could say that a shot gun or revolver is the best weapon for self defense. Pump action shot guns are not necessary. As Uncle Joe says, a double barrel will work just fine. If you want a hand gun, a 38 Special revolver is all you need. Therefore, a ban on semiautomatics is consistent with the second amendment.
Taking the three situations, we can ban all guns except hunting rifles, rim fire rifles, break action shot guns, and revolvers no bigger than 38 calibre.
There is also the issue of how difficult it can be to get a gun. In some states or cities in the US, it can be very difficult to get a permit to buy a gun. Forget about how hard it is in certain countries. But what usually happens is that punishments for minor gun infractions get stiffer and stiffer. “Zero tolerance” policies mean that judges don't have the ability to look at a situation and use common sense. It might make good political headlines to declare that police will “crack down” on illegal gun ownership. But does it make sense to arrest someone who inadvertently violates a technicality?
In New Jersey, it is illegal to stop for something to eat on the way home from the gun range. You must take your gun directly home. According to New York's ironically named SAFE Act, you can own a high capacity magazine but you can't put more than 7 rounds in it. A judge ruled this provision arbitrary and capricious. Some states require weapons registration. What purpose does it serve for the government to have a list of your guns? Most guns used in crimes are stolen. Even if the gun is used by the owner, the police will say “yep, it says on the list he owned the gun.” What purpose was served by that?
Do any of these laws really stop a criminal from committing a crime? Does it make sense to arrest a man who stops to use the bathroom on his way home from the range? Does it make sense to arrest someone who has 8 rounds in his 10 round magazine?
Here is a fun exercise for you. Go to your state's website and read the gun laws. Unless you are a lawyer, you won't make heads or tails of the mind-numbing legalese. I researched Wisconsin's gun laws when I lived there. I wanted to know what the limits on open carry were. But there is a fundamental problem with researching laws: You cannot prove a negative.
Navigating state statutes is very difficult. Is it legal to carry a loaded hand gun in public? If it is, then maybe you can find the law stating such. But what if you just didn't look hard enough? My research said it was illegal to take a gun within 1000 feet of a school. But people had told me that the law was thrown out. Do I trust that advice or take my chances? 1000 feet is a long distance. What if there is a school a block away from me? What about that office building used by the school, is that considered school property? Can you carry your gun in a place that serves alcohol? What if you go to a family restaurant that has a liquor license, have you violated the law?
A short search on line will reveal many cases of good people falling afoul of the law due to violations of stupid technicalities. Again I ask: Do criminals really care about these laws? How can they be, when chances are that you yourself don't even know what they are, let alone have the intent to violate them.
Nobody but a lawyer is going to read state and federal statues. Most gun owners find out what the law is by talking to dealers or taking a concealed carry class. It is also a fact that legal gun owners are very law abiding. Most of us don't know what the law actually says, on any issue. We just use common sense and don't do stupid things.
For example, in your state, is it illegal to steal from a store? Are you sure? Then tell me what the statute is. Is it a misdemeanor or a felony? What class felony? There is a 99.9% chance that you have no idea. You simply assume that stealing is illegal. You live your day to day life without ever knowing what the law actually says. We use common sense to know the difference between right and wrong.
So why not apply those standards to gun ownership. There are some 80 million law abiding gun owners. There are a lot of people who have a lot of guns stored safely in their homes. These are people you know and even trust. If someone already owns a gun, then there is nothing anybody can do to stop them from using that gun to commit an act of evil. So what is the point in this “security theater” of having these gun laws that only punish good people? If you trust a person to keep his gun locked at home, why wouldn't you trust that person to have it strapped to his hip? The truth is, millions of people legally carry their guns in public, every single day. There is a good chance you walked by someone carrying a gun. You might have even talked about the weather with him or her.
Gun banners talk about “gun safety” and “common sense” gun laws. Nobody knows more about gun safety than the NRA, which has the Eddie Eagle program designed to teach children to not touch a gun that they find. Yet the NRA is enemy number 1 for the “gun safety” groups. That's because it's not about safety. “Safety” has been used an excuse by governments to violate many rights. National security, safety of our country, and so forth. To me, common sense says that if we can trust a person to own a gun, we can trust him to carry it. Common sense says that if I don't want to rob that store, then carrying a gun doesn't change that. Common sense says that you need a very good reason to deny someone of their rights, and “safety” isn't good enough. Common sense says that if someone breaks into your home, the police are 15 minutes away but your gun is right there. Common sense says that an “active shooter” can best be dealt with by several “armed responders.”