“Last Thursday, August 21st, Richard Plotts walked into the psychiatric unit Mercy Fitzgerald Wellness Center in Darby, Pennsylvania, alongside his caseworker. The two went into psychiatrist Dr. Lee Silverman’s office and an argument erupted.
Moments later, shots were fired.” (CNN Story)
If I could make a rule that guns would magically disappear forever, then I would do it in a heartbeat. Guns are made for killing living beings. Guns do not care who is pulling the trigger. Guns do not care who or what they are being pointed at. Bullets do not consider the moral implications of boring through the skull of a rabid raccoon or a curious child. Guns are heartless. Bullets have no conscience. I don’t even like hunting. I don’t understand how killing an unarmed creature with a high-powered rifle is fun, challenging, or sporting.
If you couldn’t tell, I hate guns. I hate the gun culture. I don’t find it fun or macho to compare firepower with buddies. I lose sleep at night worrying about having guns and kids under my roof.
There is something that I hate more than guns
I hate gun control more than I hate guns.
Guns are a fact of life. No law will ever make guns go away. No law will ever persuade criminals to give up their guns. Therefore, no government bureaucrat is going to tell me that I can’t own a gun.
The 2nd Amendment is not about self-defense from criminals
I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Although self-defense from criminals is a nice byproduct of the 2nd Amendment, I am more of a purist. The intention of the 2nd Amendment is to balance the power of the people with the power of the government. “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
I love how Penn and Teller tell it.
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.
The 2nd Amendment is clear. The historical context of overthrowing the British is there. Our right to bear arms intended is to keep power with the people. “When a government betrays the people by amassing too much power and becoming tyrannical, the people have no choice but to exercise their original right of self-defense — to fight the government.” (Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 28).
I wonder if our forefathers could not have foreseen our advancements in killing technology (machine guns, fighter planes, atomic weapons, drones). Our ability to kill large numbers of people with relatively little effort is frightening. People levy this argument to support gun control. “We are not killing each other with muskets anymore”. I reject this argument outright. The sentiment of the founding fathers remains clear. The 2nd Amendment is designed to balance power for the benefit of the people, not the government. If the government has high tech killing equipment and citizens were only allowed six shooters, then the balance of power is unfairly shifted away from the people. Therefore, I firmly believe that gun control, such as limiting citizens from acquiring assault rifles, violates the 2nd Amendment.
Please understand this: I do not fear that President Obama would turn into a violent, oppressive totalitarian dictator if the citizenry were to be disarmed. However, we need to evaluate laws based on their merits, not by who happens to be in office today. We could surrender gun rights today and not have immediate negative governmental recourse. However, a day could come when American political power becomes so consolidated, and we have let our Constitutional protections slip so far away, that the people will be powerless to stand up against oppression. This is why we fight to keep the 2nd Amendment today and every day.
But if you want to talk about the 2nd Amendment as it relates to self-defense from criminals….
Notwithstanding my purist affection for the 2nd Amendment, I am willing to entertain the self-defense angle of gun rights. Below are four gun control scenarios. I am sure you can think up more. I am going with these four.
1) Guns are banned
2) Guns are legal. Concealed carry is forbidden
3) Guns are legal. Concealed carry is permitted
4) Guns are legal. Open Carry is permitted
Option #1 is a scary scenario. When guns are totally banned, law abiding citizens surrender their arms. The criminals keep their guns and can buy more on the black market. This emboldens criminals and puts law abiding citizens at a dangerous disadvantage.
As I consider options #2 through #4 it is clear that less restrictive gun laws enhance my safety. With #2 I am the least safe and with #4 I am the most safe.
When I am sitting in a crowded movie theatre, my first wish would be that nobody could have a gun. That is not feasible. Guns are here to stay. Therefore, my next preference is for me to have a gun but nobody else has a weapon. Again. Not reality. My next preference is to wish that several people in the theatre also have weapons. In the event that I am caught at a random attempt of mass killings, I have a greater chance of surviving if I have a weapon and others around me have weapons too. Otherwise, I am a sitting duck with my survival dependent upon the arrival of the nearest police officer, which may take several minutes. I don’t have several minutes. I have seconds.
We protect trucks of money with armed men. We protect the President of the United States with armed men. Heck, the USDA has a SWAT team. How many gun control
advocates think that a truck of money is more valuable than the life of one child? Why the cognitive dissonance? Why do we protect our kids at school with a “no guns allowed” sign and a truck of money with two or three armed men?
And what of these well-intended campaigns to end gun violence against women? Does anyone really think that making a law to deny guns to domestic abusers will keep guns out of their hands? Alternatively, can’t a domestic abuser use a knife? Or even his bare hands? Guns are the ultimate equalizer for women.
The woman in this gun control ad needs a gun. No gun control law can keep her safe from a man intent on causing her harm.
Denying guns to the mentally ill
Denying weapons to the mentally ill is a no brainer. We need to do this. My concern with this… Who gets to determine if somebody is mentally ill? If “the state” gets to make the determination, then I see room for concern. From a 2nd Amendment fundamentalist view, the state is the body politic that we are arming ourselves against. It is a conflict of interest to give them such authority. I am not proposing a solution here. I leave it like this: We need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Of course, the mentally ill can buy guns illegally just like anyone else. Legislatively, however, we have an obligation to come up with a transparent public/private solution for gun control for the mentally ill.
How many mass killings were prevented because somebody had a gun?
To me, this question pinches the nerve of the gun control debate.
Gun control advocates have stats. We know how many people have needlessly and violently died at the hands of guns.
Gun right advocates have no stats. How do we quantify lives saved by gun toting civilians? We will never know. The stats may show a single or double homicide. In reality, maybe somebody with a gun prevented the needless killing of 30 more people. Or perhaps the presence of private gun ownership served as a deterrent altogether from criminal aggression. We will never know.
Everyone should know this story
Remember the story above that I used to open this article? Did you hear about it in the news? Probably not. Plotts, a mentally ill career criminal, shot his caseworker. The other person in the room, Dr. Silverman had a handgun. He used his handgun to (non-fatally) take down Plotts. Dr. Silverman may have saved his own life. Considering that Plotts had 39 more bullets with him, Dr. Silverman may have saved the lives of many other people. How many people? Happily, we will never know.
Guns don’t just take away lives. Guns save lives.
This won’t show up in the stats.