Gun Control Or GTFO

imageSo there was another school shooting, and more people are dead and more families are in mourning. In times like this, we have to come together as people, hold each other close and appreciate the lives we still have to live. Or, if you are a militant gun advocate, it’s time to be a massive piece of shit that continues to value a deadly weapon over the safety of your neighbor. At this point, it is unfathomable and insane that mass shootings are still a problem in the United States, or that anyone will argue that the liberty of gun ownership is more important than the lives of innocents. Everything the President said in his speech the other night is completely true, and hopefully history can look back on those remarks as the start of real change, and not just useless flailing against monolithic entitlement and greed and selfishness. In the meantime, for those that might need some convincing, I would like to throw in my perspective on the morality and necessity of gun control, so get your anger ready.

Politicize: As President Obama acknowledged in his speech on Thursday, people did indeed criticize him for “politicizing” this tragedy to get his point across, a criticism of gun control advocates so old and expected that The West Wing used it in an episode from 2001. The thing is, that criticism assumes that all liberals hate gun ownership on principle and that we pounce on these shootings as a chance to justify our disdain. The truth of the matter is, for most of us it is the shootings themselves that motivate our calls for regulation. We can’t NOT politicize these shootings, because these shootings are the core of our political perspective on this issue. We argue for gun control specifically to stop things like this from happening, so how could we not bring up the issue when these things continue to happen?

Background Checks: Perhaps the most common-sense of all the common-sense regulations that gun control advocates ask for is universal background checks for any potential gun owner, preferably with a waiting period before the gun can be sold. Despite the sensibility of this measure, it is repeatedly dismissed, seemingly from the perspective that it would inconvenience non-threatening gun owners in the process. Meanwhile, all 651 million air travelers in the United States last year had to pass through TSA whole-body scanners, despite the fact that the vast, VAST majority of them (quite possibly all of them) are not terrorists and had no weapons on their person. All of these normal, non-threatening people were minorly inconvenienced to protect the GREATER GOOD of everyone involved, so if we can do that with air travel we can certainly do that for guns, can’t we? 

Licensing: ”But wait!” cry gun rights activists, “CARS kill people, why don’t you regulate THEM???” Um, we do. A LOT. You need a driver’s license to drive a car, and you need to be tested in order to receive a license. The cars are required to have numerous safety features to protect the occupants and limit accidents. We have laws regulating speed, seat belts and drunk driving. And furthermore, while cars are utilitarian tools that have the potential for personal danger, guns are EXCLUSIVELY and EXPRESSLY designed to inflict harm on other living creatures, and should therefore demand regulation on principle. So with all of that in mind, why shouldn’t every potential gun owner be required to have a license and training at the absolute very least? And why shouldn’t we limit where guns can be brought/kept?

Automatic Weapons: It is also important to note that for the most part, nobody is talking about confiscating or banning guns altogether. I for one have at least some understanding for people who would like a handgun for home protection, or a rifle for hunting/sports shooting (despite being a New York Librul I have family that go hunting). HOWEVER there is absolutely no reason for any private citizen to own an automatic weapon. I do not think anyone goes hunting with a MAC-10, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a story about someone fighting off a burglar with an AR-15. These are weapons designed for military use and have only ever been used by civilians for mass shootings or criminal action. Allowing private citizens to own assault rifles is akin to allowing them to own an M1 Abrams tank or an F-15 Eagle fighter jet: regardless of their qualifications THEY DO NOT NEED IT and they are too dangerous to be left in the hands of unsupervised individuals.

2nd Amendment: Of course in the battle over gun regulation and control, the core value at stake is the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads in full:

“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.”

Now I’m just going to say this plainly: Chris Harper Mercer, Dylan Storm Roof, Elliot Rodger, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Jared Lee Loughner, Seung-hui Cho, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not members of any “well-regulated Militia”. In fact I would bet good money that the vast majority of gun owners in America have no association with any militia of any kind, nor is their gun ownership regulated in any meaningful fashion. Yet this is the clause that is used to justify a lack of gun control in the United States. It’s actually ironic on some level, as I’m sure many of the conservatives that argue against gun regulation are generally strict constructionists regarding the Constitution (i.e. they view the law through the prism of the Founding Fathers’ intentions, which I’ve always thought was a nonsense approach) but they take the loosest possible interpretation of this one piece of it. Also, to be clear to the strict constructionist right-wingers out there: if you’re gonna read the Constitution through the Founders’ eyes, when they wrote “gun” they would’ve been thinking about just muskets…

So, yeah, more shooting, more death, more debate, and I’ve contributed my share this time. One thing that is worth noting about the President’s speech is that this isn’t really the fault of the average American gun owner. The lack of regulation is due to the Republicans in Congress and the efforts of the National Rifle Association, and they should be challenged in every way possible. I do hope that the reasonable gun owners among us are willing to argue for what’s right; in the meantime, I’m going to reset the “__ Days Since Mass Shooting” sign, hope for the best, and take solace in the righteous rhetoric of CJ Cregg:

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