The horrific tragedy that has befallen Newtown has not only brought mourning to that beautiful town, but it has also brought the 'gun control controversy' back into the public mind. On both sides of this issue there are pros and cons. Instead of knee-jerking any emotionalistic reaction to this issue, either for or against, let's take a breath, sit down, and talk like reasonable adults. This is our Nation, and we need to speak openly now.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am a US Army Infantry Vet, a registered Independent (Conservative rightist), a husband of one, and the father of two.
Now then, let's get started here. I'd like to simply make statements and ask questions for your perusal and response if you wish to jump in. I shall endeavor to present both sides of this issue as best as I am able, but I will of course rely on others to help me fill in the gaps with their acumen, opinions, and reasonings.
1. Private and legal gun ownership in America is a Constitutional right.
We have the right to keep and bear arms. This has been modified, of course, to prevent Americans with criminal records or record of having been committed to a mental institution from being allowed to have private guns. But the main Constitutional right still remains. No criminal record, no history of being institutionalized, good to go. Some people purchase guns to hunt. Some to do target shooting/skeet shooting. Some are collectors. Some buy them for home/personal defense. Do you agree or disagree that guns are a Constitutional right for all law-abiding citizens who have no record of mental illnesses? I'm not asking if you like or dislike guns. I'm asking if you believe in the Second Amendment as I have presented it here.
2. Guns are used too frequently these days to commit mass murders.
There is no denying that guns, both legal and illegal, have been used to commit murders in our Nation. Illegal guns take that credit more than legal guns. One needs only look at Chicago's homicide rate to verify ths. I don't need to present any stats on this, now do I? Nope. But let us consider this: when a drunk driver kills innocents, is there a public outcry to regulate or ban vehicles? Or is there a public outcry to impose stricter regulations on alcohol sales? Vehicle ownership and alcohol consumption are not Constitutional rights. They are luxuries. (It could be argued that in these modern times it is imperitive to own transportation, but even then, that doesn't make it a Constitutional right. It merely makes it a practical need.) If there were no guns, it is said, then there would be no gun-related deaths. Since the removal of all guns in America is impossible, the next argument states that we should impose severe regulations on gun ownership, even more so than what the Federal government has and what many individual States have. Okay, so say we do impose near impossible regulations and legislative restrictions on private gun ownership. Will that deter criminals from acquiring guns? Will it bring an unspoken sense of justice to the victims of Sandy Hook? Will it prevent another Sandy Hook horror from becoming reality? Again, one needs only look at Chicago, (or Washington DC), and its harsh gun regulations compared to its gun-related homicide rate to get an idea.
3. People have the right to firearms, but do they really need semi-automatic rifles?
This is a question even now that I am mulling over. A handgun for personal protection, a shotgun or rifle for hunting, and perhaps a shotgun for home defense are acceptable to many citizens. While they might cause a bit of a nervous flinch with those outside of gun culture, they are tolerated and not viewed as over-the-top egarding the Second Amendment. However. Once we get into semi-automatic rifles or full-automatic machine guns, people get downright rabid against them. The argument is that such weaponry is simply not needed for normal, everyday citizens to own, and that these particular weapons, specifically the semi-automatic Bushmaster AR 15, made it easier for Adam Lanza to cause such horror, and for the Batman shooter in Colorado to do what he did. But is this a fair presumption? Like the car that goes over 180 MPH with little effort, that car is legal and well within the right of a person to own and drive one. So it is with these weapons. I would ask a person with a hot rod why they needed to go so fast, and they might say to me, "Because I can." Maybe if I were to ask a person with a weapon that hasa rapid rate of fire why they would need such a weapon, they might say, "Because I can." Does the legal availability of such weapons somehow prompt or tempt others to go on killing sprees? Is it similar to giving condoms to teens to prevent them from getting females pregnant, (just in case, wink-wink), but knowing deep down inside it will only give them the impression we are encouraging such activity? What say you? (And I am not aksing about your opinion on condoms and teens, so stick to the issue here.)
4. Adam Lanza and other mass killers have the common thread of being mentally/emotionally unstable.
A discussion has begun that examines the need for mental health screenings for weapn ownership. In the case of Adam Lanza, however, this is moot since he was not legally able to buy a gun due to his age. But we're going to pursue this anyways, regardless. Reports are coming out that Adam Lanza was within the Autism Spectrum, falling into Asperger's Syndrome. He also had a deep desire to avoid physical contact, and it is said he didn't feel pain like you and I. I have heard conflicting reports on whether or whether not he was on psychtropic drugs to keep him balanced, so I cannot comment on that, since I am unsure. The Batman shooter in Colorado was proven to have been on prescription meds, however. Coincidentally, many of the murders done by teens/early 20's are linked to Ritalin, Luvox, Prozac, Zoloft, and Praxil. Anti-depressants. The take-away here is that we have a culture of kids on heavy meds who then commit heinous murders. All because they were diagnosed with one or another kind of emotional/mental disability. I am thinking that medical records should be submitted when one wishes to purchase a firearm of any kind, simply to screen for anti-depressant usage. That would be a regulation that makes sense, without infringing upon The Constitution outright. If you don't qualify, then no gun for you. Period. What say you? Again, the issue here with Adam Lanza is not that he personally owned any weapons of his own, but that he used stolen weapons to commit his crime. I wanted to clarify that.
So what should we do, then? I mean, it is not as if you can look at a person and discern some kind of mental/emotional disability from their appearance. If they are on prescribed meds, they might act completely normal, save for perhaps a bit of phsical lethargy or minor mental slowdown. Were you to interact with me after being without proper sleep for several days, you would see the same thing, and I have no record of mental/emotional disability. You might be the same way.
No one I know of is arguing that people on prescription meds should be allowed to have guns. No one. No one I know is arguing that people with autism or Asperger's are within their Constitutional rights to own a firearm. So is the case of mental illness and gun ownership even an issue here, or is this merely a talking-point to use for gun control by the anti-gun group, since Adam Lanza had Asperger's? What say you? Help me out here.
5. What about our schools? Should they have armed staff or armed personnel on site? Is that what we are coming to as a community and as a Nation?
Too many debates have taken place, (and some I have been involved in), that center around the 'what if' category. They go like this: Well, what if there had been armed personnel on site in Sandy Hook? Would that have changed anything? Would that have stopped Adam Lanza? ...and so on... I will be forthright and say that I believe armed personnel on site would have made a difference. I do know that schools are 'gun free zones'. I get that, I do. I have every intention of teaching my children about guns so they will respect them and be able to properly use them. The word 'guns' around my House is not a dirty word. But that's my gig, and I do not expect any parent to follow in my footsteps. Moving on.
Would it have made a difference in Sandy Hook? The problem is, we can only speculate. We have seen what happens when crazed madmen open fire in environments where weapons are not maintained. We know it all too well. That, right there, is what I would wish to avoid ever happening again. What say you? Yes or No to armed personnel in our schools?
6. Lastly, do you honestly believe, taking yourself out of any emotional whirlwind, that either removing, or strictly regulating, private gun ownership will have a positive lasting effect?
I am sure I am missing other key talking points here. I would ask for your assistance and insights into this issue, regardless of whther or not you are for or against guns in America. This particular blog posting is not intended to stir anyone up. I am actually sitting here, typing this, much like I would sit at a table with someone, perhaps over coffee, discussing issues that are relevant. In simpler terms, I am not looking for an argument or a shouting match. I honestly desire your thoughts.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to any responses.