What else did you think might land here in the wake of a lone-gunman terrorist attack that left 49 dead and 53 wounded this past June?
First reactions among politicians were swift and often sensational, as they always are. Elected officials and front-running candidates never miss an opportunity to heap their opinions onto us—no matter how poorly timed or insensitive they may be.
So here’s the deal. One side blames the guns and wants them more closely controlled. (As if FBI background checks were somehow insufficient.)
The other side, mine and probably yours, continues to politely remind gun-control advocates that guns can’t load themselves, aim themselves or pull their own triggers. And gun laws—hard as it might be for their side to understand —are not obeyed by criminals.
More on that later.
Not to utter a cliché, but guns can’t independently kill people any more than can cars or knives or explosives. If you toss a knife, a gun and a bomb into a car and park that car somewhere, anywhere, absolutely nothing will happen and nobody will be hurt—unless you add to the equation a person hell-bent on hurting others. Then, and not a moment sooner, do you have problems.
I watched a television discussion, just a few days after that act of terrorism in Orlando, between two national talk-show hosts. One was for and the other against gun control. The “pro” talker, on whose show the conversation took place, banged the predictable tambourine for stricter control of all firearms and especially those that hold high-capacity magazines; he was absolutely convinced, as were the clapping “sheeple” in his audience, that tighter regulations were certain to reduce gun violence.
His guest listened patiently, waited for the applause to fade, and then calmly raised Chicago as an example of how gun control, no matter how strict, predictably fails. That city has some of the tightest restrictions on firearms in the nation and, quite sadly, one of the highest murder rates.
Since Australia enacted strict gun laws years ago, its gun-related crimes have come down. That’s good news. In our country, where gun ownership never has been higher, gun-related crime has dropped all the more, and significantly so.
Rather than continue playing point-counterpoint, the two hosts agreed to disagree in principle and then contemplated solutions to the problem.
The gun-control side went back to gun control, potentially so far as a call for gun forfeiture, as the one and only solution. That, the man who more represented me countered, only takes guns away from the people—read as: smaller, weaker, slower—who would need them most if attacked.
Our side’s representative offered this idea—How about we make it a federal offense, in addition to all applicable state, country and local laws, to produce and or discharge a gun in the commission of any crime. It would be a federal offense with mandatory sentences of years, and not months, if a gun is involved in anything from murder to purse snatching.
The good guys—that’s us—are still allowed to own weapons and to carry them as outlined by state and local guidelines, and we’re still allowed to use them to defend ourselves, our loved ones and our property as prescribed by law.
My hunch is that the thought of federal time, where a day equals a day and a year equals a year behind bars, just might have an impact. It would diminish the comfort level criminals have about carrying, showing and/or discharging their guns. By the way, they’ll still have those guns no matter how many new gun laws are passed.
In the same-week, related news that got swept aside by the Orlando mass shooting, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld restrictions used by some California county sheriffs to restrict concealed carry.
The 7-4 decision handed down by the court says, in a nutshell, that self-defense is not sufficient to justify the concealed carry of a firearm. Instead, those who seek permits to pack weapons must demonstrate some immediate threat to themselves, such as an active restraining order against someone.
I saw a quote that championed the decision, claiming that it would keep thousands of guns out of the hands of “dangerous people” in California. Ummmm….no. Taking away the right for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from bad people will remove exactly zero guns from dangerous people.
Outside Texas, and a teensy bit now inside this state, we’re becoming less capable and even less interested in self-defense. Instead, we’re increasingly reliant on our telephones and the police, as if the former somehow could save us in a dark alley or the latter could appear in a split second.
Gun control is thinly disguised (if at all) people control. If we allow ourselves to be regulated to the point of giving up any hope of defending ourselves from bigger, stronger, vicious people, we haven’t given up freedom or any particular right. We’ve simply given up.