Gun control has vanished without a trace

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Elvert Barnes/Flickr

OCALA, Fla., July 25, 2014 — Not many people are talking about gun control these days.

Things seemed to have quieted down in the wake of Colorado recall elections which retired two sitting state senators last September. Both of them supported highly controversial firearm control measures that year, when the Sandy Hook shooting was still fresh in America’s memory. One senator, John Morse, was serving as the president of Colorado’s upper house at the time of his defeat.

While these were just state races, and the electorate in each was surely skewed toward highly motivated voters — in this case, anti-gun control advocates — a message was sent loud and clear on the national stage.

It seems likely that fewer legislatures will take up firearm safety bills in the future, especially if in states where recalls are constitutional.


All of this begs a simple question: What is gun control’s purpose? Or, more specifically, who is the intended target of gun control policies? Perhaps this is the basest, yet most prescient, question of all: Who should be allowed to own a firearm?

It seems obvious that early American senators and congressmen secured the right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense or hunting game. They did not intend to give Constitutional protections to violent criminals. Therefore, is it not in the spirit of the Second Amendment to say that anybody should be given a gun for any purpose whatsoever.

This is where firearm control comes in, as well as where it ends.

Decent people should not have their rights infringed on account of a troublesome minority. Surely, most of those who want to purchase a gun through the legal process are concerned about protecting human life or catching a few pheasants, among other wildlife.

Indeed, the sons and daughters of the Second Amendment are urban businessmen who walk to their cars late at night every night, battered housewives who fear that their estranged husbands might murder them, deer hunters who are trying to feed their families, movie stars who fall victim to the terrors of a violent stalker, convenience store owners who are at risk of being held up, and many more.

While the gun grabbers would not like to admit it, these Americans are the rightful inheritors of the Second Amendment’s legacy.

The Second Amendment fundamentalists, on the other hand, make no distinction between concerned citizens and homicidal maniacs. They believe that there should be no regulations of any kind insofar as the sale of firearms is concerned. They think that everyone has the irrevocable right to buy a gun just for the sake of it.

Their ideology is rooted not in the concept of self-defense, but self-identity. Radical anti-gun control activists evaluate their own personal worth on the basis of firearm ownership. In this regard, they are no different than the nouveau riche fellow who can’t stop talking about how much his new Mercedes-Benz cost, and why it is so much better of a car than yours.

For the radicals, owning a gun is not a precautionary measure, but a status symbol. This is why they tend to lose their marbles when any mention of firearm control is made. If practical restrictions are passed into law, then their race to own the biggest, most dangerous gun will be halted.

Perish the thought.

Hopefully, more Americans will come to recognize that the Second Amendment is not to be trampled upon, yet ought to be interpreted in a reasonable fashion. While the political debate over gun control is unlikely to improve during the foreseeable future, if enough people search for common ground and ignore extremist voices, then a new generation of legislators might come about.

If nothing else, this is a solid start.

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  • R T Deco

    “The Second Amendment fundamentalists, on the other hand, make no distinction between concerned citizens and homicidal maniacs. They believe that there should be no regulations of any kind insofar as the sale of firearms is concerned.”

    Pure nonsense! Federal law currently prohibits convicted felons (whether homicidal or not) from owning (much less purchasing) firearms. Please show me one so-called “fundamentalist” who is trying to overturn that law.

    • Dont Tread on Me 1776

      The closest I have seen to somebody trying to “overturn” the felon restriction is the argument that if you are too dangerous to own a firearm you are too dangerous to be out of prison as just about anything can be used as a weapon. I have to admit that I can see how some would agree with that – if you are too dangerous to own a firearm I don’t want you out near my family.

  • Anonymous

    This article is dishonest. We disagree on how criminals should be barred, it’s just our side believes in innocent until proven guilty, and the gun grabbers believe in guilty until proven innocent (or payment tendered). This is how you can tell a true defender of freedom from a grabber.

  • Trey Brakefield

    At least the article attempts to give balance to the topic. I give the author credit for that. It’s actually very rare to find someone that actually tries to see both sides of this topic.

    However, the implications the author makes about Second Amendment Fundamentalists and the laws they do and do not support is incorrect. No one I know of has said violent felons should have access to guns. There are already laws against that as well as over 22,000 Federal, State, and Local laws regarding firearms so the idea that we “believe that there should be no regulations” simply because we are opposed to additional ones is flat out wrong. Stating that being opposed to additional regulation means we support no regulation is an exaggeration often used by the gun control crowd. Given that the author seemed to be trying to find the middle, he should avoid these types of exaggerations if he wants to be taken seriously.

    • Trey Brakefield

      Also, the “common ground” has tended to focus on so-called “universal background checks”. The problem with that common ground is that those making the laws imply it’s only to keep prohibited persons from obtaining guns. However, dig past the surface implications and you find more laws that simply cast as big a net as possible on almost all changes of possession involving firearms. If “universal background checks” to prevent sales to prohibited persons was really the goal, you’d think they’d make it as easy as possible (like making the NICS system available to the public). They obviously really want a paper trail as well as making the process more complicated and expensive to either discourage the buying and selling of guns overall or to trap those that go around it.

      Especially when these “universal background checks” cover even transfers (temporary changes of possession). Since I am very active in firearm training and often train with others in their safe use, we often run into cases where I or others are prohibited from transporting our legally owned firearms (due to gun control laws prohibiting possession where we plan to travel before or after training). Fortunately, we are free enough in our state to temporarily “transfer” our firearms to whomever can transport them to/from the range for us. Putting another barrier on us as legal firearm owners would just further burden our ability to practice regularly.

      In the few cases where these laws make exceptions to transfers or transport to attempt to appease legal gun owners, they are usually extremely narrow (making it easy to accidently violate the exceptions) and will likely later be called “loopholes” by gun-controllers in the future. Whether or not the actual intent of these laws is to trap legal firearm owners, these laws often do and often result in felony charges that then prohibit (for life) firearm ownership (as well as international travel, voting rights, professional careers, etc.).

      • Trey Brakefield

        Transfer case in point: A former Virginia police officer was convicted of a felony because he bought a firearm for his uncle (a legal firearm owner who could have purchased himself but his nephew had access to a discount). At the end of it all, someone used their status as a former police officer to get a discount for a family member on a purchase. Because it involved a firearm (even though the final recipient was not a prohibited person), felony charge.

        Transport exception case in point: Look up Brian Aitken (comments with link kept getting pulled by moderator). Basically, New Jersey has a few narrow exceptions to transporting firearms that includes moving. However, despite this exception (and even the fact that he had his guns unloaded, locked, and buried under personal items due to the move), he was convicted of a felony anyway.

        Another more recent case of very generalized gun control catching an otherwise innocent person: A single mother, Shaneen Allen, from Pennsylvania with proper training and a valid carry licence (she obtained after being robbed twice) was recently arrested in New Jersey on felony charge for illegal possession of a firearm. What good is it for society to strip her away from her children, bankrupt her in court costs (not even to mention the tax payer dollars being spent), and possibly (if convicted) jail her for at least 3 years, and punish her for life as a felon?

        Those are but a few examples of people’s lives ruined by gun control laws that some people would describe as “common sense” or “common ground”. That’s also the reason any new gun control law that can be applied as a wide net is resisted by gun owners that are aware of these laws being unjustly used against us.

  • Willbill

    “The Second Amendment fundamentalists, on the other hand, make no distinction between concerned citizens and homicidal maniacs.”

    This is not true. We know that there are violent criminals, and the best way to keep them from doing harm to society is to keep them locked up. A rigorous three strikes you’re out law would do a great amount of good as well as not plea-bargaining violent felony charges.

    “They think that everyone has the irrevocable right to buy a gun just for the sake of it.”

    That is like saying that civil libertarians believe that people have an irrevocable right to speak out even if it is just for the sake of it. I have a Constitution right to keep and bear arms for any lawful reason, so if I wish to own a firearm even if it is just for the sake of it.

    “Their ideology is rooted not in the concept of self-defense, but self-identity.”

    “For the radicals, owning a gun is not a precautionary measure, but a status symbol.”

    I know a great many firearms owners, and I have attended several NRA conventions, but I have never encountered a firearms owner that meets these descriptions.

    “If practical restrictions are passed into law, then their race to own the biggest, most dangerous gun will be halted.”

    Which firearms are the “Biggest and most dangerous?”

    To citizen disarmament zealots, their organizations, their media allies, and their apologists all firearms are the “Biggest and most dangerous.”

    “…if enough people search for common ground and ignore extremist voices, then a new generation of legislators might come about.

    The only “Common ground” citizen disarmament zealots, their organizations, their media allies, and their apologists are looking is total citizen disarmament in increments.

    • Tim Kern

      Well put. Which is it — biggest or most dangerous? Does size matter, when the act is what’s important? The tiny .22 has killed more civilians than any other caliber. Does that make it the most dangerous, or is it that criminals are opportunistic?

  • MenotYou

    “If practical restrictions are passed into law, then their race to own the biggest, most dangerous gun will be halted.”
    What is practical about banning firearms that are used in less than 400 murders a year. All rifles combined are used in less than 400 murders a year. “Assault rifles” are a subset of rifles.
    “Assault rifles” are not the biggest(that would be hunting rifles used for big game) or the most dangerous(that would be shotguns).

    Get a clue.

  • spencer60

    It’s half-truths like these that are the real danger. They lead from apparently ‘reasonable’ conclusions to unreasonable demands in very short order.

    The facts are simply, a right that isn’t jealously protected will be trampled. There is such a thing as the ‘slippery slope’, we’ve seen it work in the UK and Australia, just to name two examples.

    The gun control strategy has always has confiscation as an end-game (see quotes below), and as such the revocation of the 2nd Amendment is a major step along the way.

    However to get there they need to regulate law-abiding gun owners out of existence, since they are the natural political opposition here. Massachusetts presents a great example of this process.

    Through decades of harsh, repressive, and convoluted firearms laws, they have reduce the firearms owning population there from 1.5 million in 2002 to under 300,000 today.

    These laws have made no difference in criminal shootings, in fact that rate has actually climbed a bit over this period.

    What they have done is discourage law-abiding people from even attempting to own a firearm. This leaves pro-rights groups in MA with little or no ‘base’ to resist further infringements, or outright bans.

    The ‘slippery slope’ has come to completion in the UK, where guns are essentially illegal for civilians to have. In Australia, only single-shot rifles and shotguns are allowed, and even then the new ‘push’ is to ban them as well and make Australia one, big ‘gun free zone’.

    Articles like this try and split gun owners into factions, to weaken their political power. It also tries to lay the blame on ‘radicals’, something Sen. Joe McCarthy would have been proud of.

    The 2nd Amendment is clear, the right of the people to keep and bear arms “…shall not be infringed”. Pretty plain their that the people who wrote the Bill of Rights, and all the people who approved it, in every state, all believed that this right was central to American civil liberty.

    Being in support of it’s original intention, not some watered-down ‘interpretation for todays world’ is hardly radical.

  • Tim Pearce

    I was with you until you strayed into a bigoted and uninformed rant.

    Here’s how to determine reasonable and unreasonable gun control: reasonable gun control targets misuse of firearms exclusively. The more it targets mere possession, the less reasonable it is. The overwhelming majority of gun control being proposed is extremely if not purely unreasonable by this simple test.
    I.E. Having a gun is not a problem. Harming people with a gun is a problem.

  • jr

    “anti-gun control advocates” Well, there’s a new one. This is such a schizoid op-ed, I honestly can’t discern the author’s position.

  • Tim Kern

    So many controversial thoughts! The primary item at issue isn’t who owns a gun, but what kind of behavior is acceptable. As for felons’ owning guns, we have a perverted prison system in which we (society) has no idea of a purpose. Is it to punish crime? Then why the kid gloves? Is it to rehabilitate the offender, so he can reintegrate into society? Then why post-release restrictions? In fact, why release them if they’re not safe to release?

    As for the Second Amendment, it affords no protection whatever to those who are incarcerated, nor should it. But when an offender is released, that is the State’s way of saying he is no longer a danger. (The State has an obligation to the citizenry to do this, and it’s the basis for the arrest in the first place.) Which other of his constitutionally-protected rights are stripped, because of his felony? Can he no longer attend the church of his choice, or speak out in public? Can “the authorities” just go rummage through his house without a warrant? Then what the hell is this, about not letting him defend himself and his country from active criminals and despots?