|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:
- 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.
- Be willing to publically state that it is better for
a woman to be raped & murdered than to defend herself with
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
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.
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.
|My ammo hoard|
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).
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 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
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
|The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance|
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.
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.
|My home security system|
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.'"
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
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.
"If it weren't for the killings, Washington would have one of the lowest crime rates in the country." -- Mayor Marion Barry|
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
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. :)