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Please note: These essays and editorials are firmly based in my own opinions. You may very well be offended by some of my views, or you may nod profusely in agreement and hurt your neck. Either way, read at your own risk. :)

These views are my opinions, and mine alone. You are free to agree or disagree. You have the right to be offended, however you do not have a protected right not to be offended. It's a subtle but important distinction that many people in our society tend to forget. In this day of eroded personal responsibility, we must not forget that the freedom of speech is one of our most vital and precious rights, especially when you disagree with what is being said.

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Ed's Views on Gun Control

"If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." --Unkown

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(Last revised: July 04, 2006)

My home security system

Before getting into the discussion, let me first put a thought into your head. I heard this phrased similarly on a mailing list, and I think it's pretty succinct...

In order to fully stand by an anti-gun sentiment, you must be willing to do the following:

  1. Post "gun free house" signs on your home and/or wear "gun free person" signs on yourself, showing to the world you're unarmed, and be willing to accept the consequences that may arise as a result.


  2. Be willing to publically state that it is better for a woman to be raped & murdered than to defend herself with a gun.

Guns are one of the only objects that people seek to limit, restrict, or ban based on what you might do, completely regardless of any and all lawful uses. You don't see cars and alcohol banned simply because you might drink and drive, or commit a hit-and-run. It's easy to drum up emotionally based arguments against them, since unlike many of their counterparts, they are weapons. But being that this is America, freedom is supposed to come first, and restricting your rights and activities is only supposed to happen after conviction, in front of a jury of your peers. The gun-grabbers seek to limit you before you even have a choice.

Often you'll hear the excuse to at least partially limit weapons that go along the lines of "why would you need .50 caliber?" or "why do you need an 'assault rifle'?" But remember, we live in a land of excess, and a land of freedom. No one needs a $100k sports car that can easily travel at 120 MPH, when the speed limits rarely rise above 65 MPH. But the point of freedom is to allow people to do what they want, and own what they want, and choose what's right for them, so long as they don;t harm others. That last part is the key, in that it's the actual criminals that should be restricted and punished.

I've been asked why I choose to carry a weapon. Well, I'm an American, and a law-abiding citizen... It is also my duty to protect my own life, if it ever came to that. What other reason do I need? None.

A well-known self-proclaimed geek, Eric S. Raymond has his own Firearms Page with some great links and information.

Anyway, on to the discussion...

Guns. Very few topics stir up quite the same level of controversy as this in today's society, with a few obvious exceptions. In today's world of political correctness, people tend to either avoid such controversial topics, or if they speak, they err on the side of being liberal to avoid 'looking bad'. The odd thing about this is that guns weren't a topic of controversy in quite the same way prior to the 1960's. It's a very recent phenomenon. Weapons in general have been a part of daily life for as long as human culture has existed. Personally, I'm a pacifist by nature--   I tend to believe that conflict and violence should be avoided whenever possible, but I also acknowledge that such measures are sometimes necessary and justified... In fact, people are often surprised at my interest in weapons, since I'm generally seen as a very gentle calm person, which I am.

The Constitution is clearer than many think. Let's take a step back and look at the Constitution of the United States. There's a lot of disagreement as to what the second amendment actually means. Many feel that it only grants the states the right to form a militia. But a legal precedent has actually been set (in a court in Texas) that states that it is an individual right. A textual analysis was done to reach this decision. The second amendment states "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." If you look closely, it says "the right of the people". The need for a militia is the reason for this right, but it is a right of the people. Everywhere else in the consitution, and in all of the amendments, whenever "the people" is used, it refers to individual rights, and therefore this amendment should be treated the same. If you infringe upon the freedom to bear arms for defense, what's next to go? The freedom of speech? The freedom to peacefully assemble? The whole point of the second amendment is to keep this country in the hands of the people, and to avoid it becoming a police-state.

To put it another way, the rest of the bill of rights is commonly accepted to be protecting individual rights and freedoms. So why is it that people can't count to ten without skipping two? People read into it what they want to believe. But the fact that it was the second amendment should tell you something about it's importance. Since the power of government is derived from the people (you know, the whole "of the people, for the people, by the people" sort of thing), the goverment isn't supposed to have an elitist level of access to equipment beyond the populace. Thomas Jefferson said that it is not only our right, but our duty to overthrow an oppressive goverment. How else can you do that if you can't defend yourself? Besides, the whole point is to protect and acknowledge the right of people, as a group or otherwise, to protect their lives and property. This is what ensures the right to arm soldiers, police officers, security guards, body guards, outdoorsmen, and so on.

Let's also not forget what a militia is. Generally, it's defined as a group of armed civilians. Yes, that's right. It's "the people", like you and me. In fact, at the time of the Constitution's inception, it was common for the vast majority of able-bodied young men to be members of local militias. The fact that this practice has faded does not diminish the intent behind the second ammendment, which was to protect the right of individuals to arm themselves, not only to protect themselvesm their families, and their proprty from criminals, but from a government gone bad, should it happen.

This intent is clear in the Federalist Papers, and other surviving documents and publications from the period. In fact, there was great debate over limiting the provisions of the second ammendment to clearly relate to only militias, or only individual rights. The wording that we have today was chosen to appease both sides, and protect both rights.

People don't learn from history. Something that is often forgotten is that the whole reason that the United States exists as a seperate nation is because the American people used their weapons to resist British tyranny. Because the citizenry was armed, and was able to support a local army and militia, the means existed to declare independence and back it up. In 1799, President John Adams deployed a federal army into Pennsylvania (to enforce new tax laws), which promptly began to mistreat the local populace. Americans were already wary about an armed goverment after the British oppression that they had fought so hard to break away from, and once again it was demonstrated that such power could be misused. The use of the army as such in 1799 cost Adams his re-election the following year, and thus Thomas Jefferson won, who continued to champion the second amendment. People felt then, soon after the inception of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that the power starts and stays with the people, as it should today. An armed population was widely agreed upon as one of the many checks and balances in the American system, since an armed society is the first line of defense against a tyrranical government.

My ammo hoard
The present day. Everyone agrees that violent crime needs to be combatted and reduced. But what no one can agree on is how to do so. The problem is that simply creating new laws doesn't necessarily solve the problem. For instance, in the case of Columbine High School, the kids who perpetrated the crimes there broke 17 different laws, last I heard. If we add a few more to the books, will that really prevent such a tragedy? Hardly. It just adds more ways in which to punish someone after the fact. Clearly this isn't very effective, particularly if the perpetrators are killed before the incident is over. Deterrants that will actually prevent crimes in advance are very hard to design.

Most of the gun control restrictions that are put into law have little to no effect. By definition, criminals break the law. That's what makes them criminals. Most of the gun-control laws only serve to inconvenience (or completely trample the rights of) law-abiding citizens. More laws won't prevent crime, but perhaps better enforcement of the existing ones will.

Unlike many other pro-gun individuals and organizations, I personally feel that even though bearing arms is a constitutional right, some limitations and restrictions are necessary. Clearly we don't want just anyone packing heat (and this is already covered quite well by current law, which attempts to prevent ownership by convicted felons, and mentally unstable people, to name a few). And going all the way to the extremes, we don't want just anyone carrying certain kinds of weapons, such as explosives, nuclear devices, artillery, etc. Lines need to be drawn somewhere. But the use of low-caliber weapons (i.e. handguns) for self-defense actually reduces crime. As far as restrictions go, I feel that some of the existing restrictions are considerably too harsh, and that others are potentially too leniant (though the latter is uncommon, IMHO).

"The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90 MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20." -- SAM COHEN
Many people feel that if they can reduce the number of guns in the world, that gun-related crime will fall. It sounds logical on the surface, but there's more to it than that. The first problem is that the criminals are already armed. If you take away guns from the law-abiding citizens, you turn them into easy prey. Secondly, the criminals will continue to be armed. They will always find less-than-legal means to obtain weapons, via the black market, or through unscrupulous dealers, or theft from legal owners, or illegal import, etc. Thirdly, even if you could wave a magic wand and make all guns vanish, murder and armed crime will not vanish as well. Instead the weapons of choice will be knives, swords, baseball-bats, crow-bars, and any other commonly available object that can serve as a weapon. In fact, knives and tools already account for more murders than guns do.

The simple threat of getting caught and/or jailed is not a sufficient deterrant. Criminals still commit crimes. They usually don't excersize enough forethought for legal issues to become a factor for them. But one thing that can work is an immediate deterrant. Criminals will often be scared away when faced with a shiny new handgun, or if a warning shot is fired. And in some cases, lethal force is the only choice, since not all criminals actually fear for their own safety. Some are irrational in nature, some are stupid, some are so drugged-up they're not in touch with reality. You can't know in advance who or what may attack you.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." - Thomas Jefferson, quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in "On Crimes and Punishment."
Bad legislation doesn't help. It's amusing to have seen the various political commercials for the presidential and senatorial election candidates in which they scathe one another for issues around the "assault weapon ban", conceal carry laws, etc. As with so many other things, some of it sounds good on the surface--   ban deadly asault weapons, and lives will be saved or crime will fall. Too bad it doesn't work that way.

The so-called "assault-weapon ban" is a very poorly written law with no teeth, and like a poor marksman it misses the target. If it banned weapons that could be easily converted to full-auto, or if it restricted weapons that were particularly deadly or dangerous, then it would make sense. But the way the law is written, it doesn't make sense. There are some good points, and some details that if put to use in a better form, might be useful, but in general it misses the point.

First of all, the "AWB" doesn't do what most of it's supporters believe it does. It's amazing how few people have actually read it or understand it. It does not restrict fully-automatic "machine guns". Those are already heavily restricted at the Federal level, and require licenses, paper work, and large fees to be able to own and operate. They are tracked closely and registered. The weapons affected by the "ban" are hunting rifles and handguns that fire one shot with one trigger pull.

Secondly, the ban is written ambiguously, and targets the wrong issues. It bans weapons by name and appearance, not effectiveness or lethality. If it looks like an AK-47 or is called an AK-47, then it's banned, whether or not it really is an AK-47 or functions like one. Let's take a good example, the Tec-9. This is a weapon that is technically a hand-gun since it has one-handed operation. The Tec-9 is notorious for having problems with jamming, and are very unreliable--   They've been known to shake themselves apart during use. They're also large and unwieldy, making concealment difficult. The only reason to own one is that it's inexpensive and looks cool. So why is it banned? It's no more lethal than any other 9mm handgun, and is exceedingly unreliable. But aside from being specifically banned by name, this also is considered an "assault weapon" because it has a removable magazine that doesn't insert through the grip, and has a more military appearance. "Assault weapons" are defined by a list of features, of which having 2 or more makes it illegal, even for private collectors.

The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance
These features that were singled-out don't make much sense from a crime-fighting standpoint. For instance, it restricts bayonet-lugs. I hear what you're thinking... "Why does anyone need a boyonet?" The more correct question to ask is why would anyone need to ban them? Collectors of antique firearms might have a lot to say about you wanting to restrict what they can own. I've never heard of inner-city drive-by bayonettings, have you? I don't think I've ever heard of a single bayonet-related crime, so it seems to me that this is completely superfluous to legislate.

Another feature that is limited by the ban is folding-stocks. They don't make the weapon any more or less dangerous, or any more or less attractive to criminals. Hunters want them for the same reason the military does-- It's easier to put the rifle in a case for storage and transport. Same thing with pistol-grips. They're easier to use in confined spaces or if you're on your belly. Just because a weapon shares many traits with a military weapon does not mean that it's existence will have any bearing on murder rates.

Another part of the ban restricts magazine capacities to 10 rounds. Since the criminals are already armed with pre-ban weapons, and larger capacity magazines are still available on the black market, and through illegal import, and private sales of pre-ban magazines on the secondary market, and home-brewed modifications, this restriction only inconveniences the law-abiding citizen. In the case of my own SigSauer, I'm restricted down to 10 rounds from the design capacity of 12. Removal of 2 rounds is supposed to reduce crime and save lives how? You only need one shot in many cases, and if you need more, the restrictions in my magazines are risking only my own safety.

Additionally, the existing ban also unfairly targets weapons from specific manufacturers, and still allows sales of equivelent weapons with identical features from other companies.

The impact analyses that I've looked at have shown very little, if any, impact on crime rates. In fact, a good ban often puts more of these weapons on the market, at least for a while, since they become instant collector's items and the manufacturers ramp up production while they can before the bans go into effect.

My home security system
Here's what one document had to say: "'As enacted, the assault weapon legislation does little for crime control. While perhaps sinister in appearance and labeled the "guns of choice" for criminals, especially gang-members and drug dealers, these guns represent no more than one percent of the firearms in circulation in the United States. In addition, surveys conducted by big cities indicate that assault weapons constitute no more than three percent of the total firearms used in crimes. The weapons banned under the Crime Bill are not "the weapons of choice" of drug dealers and gang members. The guns predominately used are the semiautomatic pistols and the Saturday Night Specials which are not covered by the ban. Criminals do not want long assault rifles-they are more interested in sawed-off shotguns and handguns.'" [link] To illustrate the point, two of the weapons I personally own -are- on the list of the top-10 weapons recovered from crimes (the Jennings J-22 pocket pistol, and Mossberg 500 shotgun). These are difficult to restrict because they're simple in design, don't stand out in any sensationalized sort of way, and especially in the case of the shotgun, no one can deny it's designed for hunting birds and deer. Why are these so popular for crime? For the same reason they're popular for private citizens- they're inexpensive and abundant.

The same document goes on to say: "'Stricter gun laws in themselves cannot solve this country's crime problems. Restrictive laws regulating the ownership and possession of certain types of guns cannot singly transform a nation with deeply rooted patterns of social violence resulting from economic, education and cultural problems into a peaceful society. Nevertheless, gun control advocates and politicians alike fail to cite these other, often more dominant, factors when discussing the crime control problem in this country. The reasons being that it is much easier, and socially more acceptable, for them to place the blame on guns rather than on failed government programs.'" ... "'One solution to achieving a resolution is to educate the public with regard to the value of life, the proper use of guns and the consequences of their actions when they fail to follow society's laws.'" [link]

I should also point out that last I checked, murder is already illegal. So is intimidation via brandishing a weapon, reckless discharge of a firearm, assault, etc.. Adding more laws to the books doesn't cut it. These things are ALREADY ILLEGAL, regardless of the means used to perpetrate them.

"If it weren't for the killings, Washington would have one of the lowest crime rates in the country." -- Mayor Marion Barry
Armed citizens are not a danger. Statistics show that armed law-abiding citizens reduce crime, not add to it. Violent crime has been dropping in Virginia ever since the current conealed-carry permit laws were instituted. Now look at Washington DC--   Why are there so many shootings? The violent crime rate is soaring there, and guns are outlawed. Makes you think.

Statistics and estimates show that in our country, each year there are roughly 400,000 gun-related crimes committed, however there are significantly higher numbers of defensive uses (by some estimates, over 2 million per year). Guns are used far more often by private citizens to defend themselves than for actual crimes. Let's look at some other statistics--   Only 2% of defensive uses involved actually firing a shot. 98% of the time, brandishing was sufficient to scare off the attacker. And of the shots fired, only about 2% of those hit an innocent person rather than a 'bad guy'. This is a surprisingly better track record than the police, who manage to hit innocent people 11% of the time--   more than 5 times the percentage rate for civilians. And when civilians actually do fire, they don't always have to actually fire at their attacker. Often a warning shot is sufficient to end the crisis. Part of the reason for this disparity is that civilians generally have a very good idea of who is threatening them, whereas when the police arrive on the scene, it may be very ambiguous and difficult to discern quickly who is the actual criminal.

The police can't help you. A common misconception is that the police will protect you. This is not so. It has been supported in court time and time again that the police are under no obligation to save or protect you. They exist to serve the community, not the individual. If you call them and request help because there's an intruder in your house, they're under no obligation to even show up! And when they do, do you really think they'll get there in time to help? The vast majority of the time, they get there after everything is over with, and take reports and attempt to catch the perpetrator later. Very rarely can they intervene in a crime in progress. In general, if someone wants to kill you, they will. You will die. It takes only seconds to be killed, and the police frequently take 30 minutes or more to arrive when called. The only way to significantly increase your chances of survival is to have the means to defend yourself. In today's world, where we mostly see crime on the news and don't witness it first-hand very often, we get lulled into a false sense of security. Danger is out there. You have only to turn on your TV or look in the newpaper to see it. If you're not concerned enough with your own safety to think about self defense in some fashion, you're being foolish.

In fact, I've heard the argument before (and I agree with this), that you have not only a right, but a moral duty to rescue yourself if you have the means to do so. Otherwise, you're selfishly relying on resources that could be devoted to people in greater need than yourself.

You can save your own life. Criminals usually don't have much skill with the weapons they use. They don't have many opportunities to practice. They either buy or steal a weapon, and in a short time frame end up using it for crime. If you buy yourself a decent handgun, and practice often, you will develop skills superior to most would-be attackers.

Concealing is a good thing. Personally, I agree with most of how Virginia's carry laws are set up. Open-carry is legal, and so is concealed-carry with the proper permit. VA is a "shall-issue" state, meaning they must issue the permit unless there's a specific reason to deny you (such as being a drug addict, or a mental patient, or convicted felon, etc). However, to get the permit, you must first take a class that exposes you to the current gun laws, teaches you basic gun safety, and demonstrates that you have at least some basic proficiency in handling a weapon. For the most part, this ensures that only the 'highest class' of gun-owners actually carry concealed weapons. We're the good-guys. These are people who care about the law, and are willing to work within the system to defend themselves and abide by the laws and operate their weapons safely. Concealed carry makes a lot of sense for several reasons. For one, criminals can't tell who is armed and who isn't. In many cases, this is enough to make them less likely to attack in the first place. Secondly, seeing a gun on your hip tends to make people uncomfortable. I can understand this, as I've felt it too--   but what they can't see doesn't upset them.

I can understand people's personal distrust or dislike for guns. To some degree, I used to share it. But in many cases, the people who are making blanket "I hate guns" statements are falling into the same trap as racial bigots and their ilk--   People tend to hate what they fear, and they fear what they don't understand. I used to do the same thing in regards to guns that most anti-gun people do, so I have a hard time completely faulting them for it. But as I've handled weapons more, and learned about them, and most importantly--   learned about gun owners, I've started to see that there really isn't much to it. There isn't much to fear. Guns are tools. Gun owners are, for the most part, responsible rational people who care about their own protection, as well as constitutional freedom. Obviously though, there are a large number of people who don't learn proper safe handling, and for that reason I'm very much in favor of education, and perhaps requiring education before being permitted to purchase.

I realize that this may not sway your thinking. In fact, if you're in favor of gun control and are against guns in general, you probably stopped reading before getting to this paragraph. If you were undecided, then I hope this will at least give you food for thought. In any event, whoever you are, I thank you for reading this far. It's not easy for me to put 'my ass on the line', but I feel I just needed to speak on this subject. Freedom of speech--   I'm excersizing another constitutional right, whether you agree with me or not. :)


Organizations worth looking at:

Relevant Documents:

"This year will go down in history! For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!"
--Adolf Hitler
, April 15th 1935.

(A very compelling quote, one that illustrates a point very well, since an armed populace is the first line of defense against an oppressive government or ruler... but there's also evidence to support it's fabricated, which I feel I must acknowledge if I am to have this quote here)

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