I believe in the importance of the Constitution with it’s Bill of Rights to the proper functioning of our democracy. I also believe Second Amendment. Without a new amendment directly annulling it being being ratified, the government cannot take away the guns of law abiding citizens.
On the other hand, I do not believe that reasonable legislation intended to keep criminals from getting and using guns to commit crimes or to keep innocent civilians, particularly children, from being killed by guns necessarily infringes on 2nd Amendment rights.
Most of all, I believe facts are facts, and that looking beyond the biased, skewed rhetoric of entrenched sides to the actual facts, we may stand a much better chance of coming up with good policy on the matter. That is clearly illustrated in the graphic at the top of this post that appeared on a friend’s Facebook page today. There was an emotional assertion made as a hearing that is contradictory to the facts. The emotional assertion was repeated a lot in the media. I didn’t hear it challenged until at least the next day.
I am tired of the false dichotomy that has been created and is stoked every day that the discussion over what to do about guns in America as a clash between people who hate all guns and want to surrender all of them to the state, and the rest who love them more than their own children and who would never give them up, least of all to the government, which they hate more than anything.
The media, press and politicians all contribute to the myth of these clearly drawn sides. The truth is that for once the proverb is wrong. We can have our cake and eat it too. I believe passionately in the defense of our constitutional rights, but they are no means absolute. Obviously we give up certain rights we commit a serious crime, at least for the duration of our imprisonment, and under certain conditions even longer. The example of a person being arrested for shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater when no such fire exists is the cliche everyone calls up to prove that the right to free speech is not absolute. We have freedom of assembly, but we know we can’t exercise it anywhere at anytime, and most groups are willing to get permits when required.
It is not a simple question. In most cases I tend to advocate for as few limitations as possible, and that includes on the sale and ownership of guns. But the ease with which guns circulate in this country has reached the point to absurdity. It reached it a long time ago, in fact.
If there is one argument I find ridiculous and unhelpful, it is the assertion that if any kind of restrictions are placed on the free circulation of firearms, criminals will still find a way to get them. This is the only criminals will have guns argument. Why does this argument not apply to illegal drugs or, for that matter, over the counter drugs?
Every time millions of people in this country go to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions for certain medications, the pharmacist asks for an ID, and checks to see that they have not filled another prescription for that medication within the past 3 weeks or so. Rules vary from state to state as to what kind of information they must have documenting their need for the drug. In some states they may have provide an actual paper prescription on tamper resistant prescription pad, in some states the prescription must be dropped off and/or picked up by the person to whom it is written. In some states you may need a separate, specific prescription for syringes if they use medications they inject themselves. Most states now even require an ID if you want to purchase over-the-counter medications like decongestants.
It can be a major pain in the neck! Why do we accept these inconveniences? We do this mostly because we have a problem with too many Americans abusing these drugs or using them to make even more potent, more addicting drugs that they sell on the streets perhaps to our children. We also do it because most people believe the drug epidemic leads to more crime and more violence.
These laws can be a major inconvenience, and might even put some people’s health at risk from time to time. Yet by and large most people accept them as something to be endured. Have they helped? Do we still have problems with drug abuse in places where such measures are in place? Of course we do. Criminals still get the drugs they want. And yet I’ve not heard any legislator, professional group or manufacturer advocate getting for rid of these laws!
Contrast this to the way we deal with the problem of gun violence and accidental deaths caused by guns. In most states one can find legal ways to buy guns, all kinds of guns, without any kind of identification, background check, certification of ability to use or knowledge of safety practices. I’m not aware of any state that allows a person to obtain controlled medications that easily, even if the need is obvious and a prescription has been provided by a legitimately licensed medical professional!
The media and the fiercest partisans tends to paint the gun control debate in such a way that it seems like we must make a difficult choice between a country with no gun regulation at all and every man armed, and a world with no guns at all! That is not the only choice. We can have reasonable gun regulation without comprising the second amendment.
Pass reasonable gun control measures and it will not be only the criminals who will have guns, it will be only the criminals who have illegal, unregistered guns, the mere possession of which will help law enforcement in their efforts.
But how will we determine which proposed laws are reasonable and which are, in fact, unwarranted infringements on Second Amendment rights? We need a reasonable, informed debate based on an objective review of facts. We cannot have it unless both sides stop maintaining that just because a fact supports their conclusions, the facts are true.
Check out some facts from objective evaluators here at these sites:
Concealedguns.Procon.org-Educational, nonprofit website that attempts to outline both sides of controversial current issues, this URL deals specifically with the question, Should adults have the right to carry a concealed handgun?”
Pew Center for the People & the Press, Gun Control-When numbers are thrown around reflecting public opinion, it’s good to remember most pollsters have a horse in the race, directly or indirectly, even if it is only a need to report the results in the most sensational manner possible for ratings. Pew surveys the public regularly and reports the results objectively and in a fairly straight forward manner.
Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health-This Center “is dedicated to reducing gun-related injuries and deaths through the application of strong research methods and public health principles.” Its webpage states that it, “examines the public health effects of guns in society and serves as an objective resource for policy makers, the media, advocacy groups, and the general public.” It’s mission is clear an thus its objectivity is arguable, but it is an excellent source of information.