Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Letter to a Friend about Gun Control

"I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I kind of lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and could blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" –Dirty Harry Callahan

I worked as a reserve police officer on weekends, usually late at night to early morning; I drank a lot of steaming black coffee and taught high school students during the week a long time ago. I have always believed in non-profitable and stressful public service.  Furthermore, I have always believed in the theories of deterrence and retributive justice. I am for self-defense (I used to prefer Taekwondo in my younger years as a Black Belt, but I’m getting too old; besides, someone with a gun has a distinct advantage).

The 2nd amendment – established in 1791 – has been debated and re-interpreted quite often. The question disputed about gun control is whether it is a collective or individual right to own a weapon.

According to Silveira v. Lockyer (2002), a federal appeals court in California ruled that the 2nd Amendment does not protect individuals' right to possess firearms but does protect states' rights to protect themselves. (Note; this case was essentially a ban on assault weapons). In a subsequent court case, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the federal appeals court ruled that the District of Columbia law prohibiting handguns violated the individual’s right to possess firearms under the 2nd amendment. The Supreme Court granted certiorari (a writ issued by a higher court to obtain records on a case from a lower court so that the case can be reviewed), nevertheless.

So what rights does the 2nd amendment protect? According to Supreme Court Justice Joseph Scalia, the 2nd amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm “unconnected with service in a militia” and to use that weapon for traditionally “lawful purposes,” such as self-defense within the home.

I can imagine that many people believe that their right to "keep and bear arms" is a sure-fire method for impeding immediate bodily harm and robbery.  However, the problem is that Weapons of "Individual" Destruction (WID) and their facile availability are also in the hands of felons and the mentally impaired (the borderline deficient, bigots, morons, imbeciles, and idiots); the substance-induced (alcoholics and drug addicts); the schizophrenic, psychotic, paranoid, delusional, depressive, anti-social, and other disturbed personalities.  There's nothing you or I can do to change the depraved genetic pre-dispositions, or the unfortunate environmental influences of mentally-ill people, especially those who are armed with WIDs.

Thus, I am going to view the 2nd amendment's declaration that “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” as a guaranteed right of the State as well as an assured right of an individual.

However, although I agree with background checks for private and gun show sales, and “gun control legislation [that mandates] prohibitions on concealed weapons and possession of firearms by felons and the mentally-deranged, and laws imposing conditions and qualifications on a [specific] commercial sale of arms [such as high-powered assault weapons]…” (District of Columbia v. Heller – Case Brief Summary), gun control legislation that will affect responsible law-abiding citizens will never deter the everyday robber or the potentially-deranged terrorist from obtaining illegal weapons, despite the government's feeble attempt to require states to automate a list of past felons and other mentally-disturbed individuals in the federal database (after the carnage at Virginia Tech). Why? It is impossible to predict who will become the next assassin.

-Glen Brown

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  1. We learned how to detect mental illness in the veryvery young and give them consultation, care, education and helpful tools to keep themselves & society them, acquire skills to stay important citizens in life, become educated to hold jobs, love themselves & life. Because of greed & graft in govt [& ignorance and denial on OUR part], we take away this assistance via closing mental health facilities, unfunding them, taking away teachers & staff that can give these young people the time and help they need. WE have the people in our society that are mentally sick for various reasons, but mostly because we deny their existence, don't use the tools we KNOW we have to hlep them..... and then blame THEM for their behavior. A sick society produces.....sick people.

  2. Laws and their restrictions will never apply to deranged criminals. Moreover, the fact that there are an estimated 300 million firearms already in circulation make it impossible for gun control laws to have any effect on reducing violent crimes. Because gun control laws also prohibit people’s self-reliance and self-defense, they can also cost the lives of more innocent victims.

    Nevertheless, I support background checks for anyone purchasing a weapon, especially at gun shows and private sales; I support banning high-capacity magazines and modifications on semi-automatic weapons; I support banning semi-automatic and fully automatic assault rifles; I support banning anyone from owning a weapon on no-fly or watch lists; I support legislation that will mandate prohibitions on concealed weapons and possession of firearms by the mentally-ill and people convicted of violent crimes. However, I do not agree with legislation that will affect responsible law-abiding citizens.

    Instead of more gun control laws and worrying about responsible citizens who own self-defense weapons for protection and may conceal and carry those weapons, legislators should focus upon and address the causes of violent crimes: racism, economic injustice, poverty, unemployment, gang activity, drug trafficking, inefficient law enforcement in high-crime areas, and mental illness.

    Instead of more gun control laws and worrying about responsible citizens who own self-defense weapons and may conceal and carry them, let’s pursue a policy goal that shifts “the distribution of gun possession as far as possible in the direction of likely aggressors being disarmed [e.g. those people who are on social media espousing hatred and violence], with as few prospective victims as possible being disarmed. To disarm non-criminals [through more gun control laws] in the hope that this might indirectly help reduce access to guns among criminals is a very high-stakes gamble, and the risks will not be reduced by pretending that crime victims rarely use guns for self-defense” (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control).

    Let’s also pursue a policy goal that eliminates so-called “corporate personhood” (Citizens United): this corrupt, unlimited campaign spending from moneymaking, mendacious powers like the NRA and the Koch Brothers, et. al. that coerce legislators and the media to ingratiate them.