There are some perceptions that are so incorrect, so wrong-headed, that they must be addressed. Let me be clear… the government is not coming to seize your guns. If they wanted your guns, they would have come and taken them already. Do you know why? Because the government has tanks, and fully-automatic weapons, and jets and missiles and drones and all kinds of weapons we as citizens do not have. If the U.S. government actually wanted to become a tyranny over this issue, it could have done it any time. And it could do it easily.
No, what the government, and specifically the President, wants, is to reform the unmitigated disaster that is current gun regulation. How do I know it’s a disaster? Because while the NRA claims guns don’t kill people, the truth is that people with guns do, and they do it very efficiently and in breathtaking numbers here in the United States. I am not naive enough to believe that making certain kinds of guns illegal will end violence. But I do know that extremely permissive regulations are a complete and tragic failure. And yet, the political arm of the NRA still insists that it is not the number of guns and the lack of background checks and tracking that is an issue. Apparently, we need MORE guns. Yeah, that didn’t work during the Cold War and it isn’t working now.
The Executive Orders that Obama signed are not ground-breaking, nor do they threaten, in any way, the rights granted in the Second Amendment. The idea that background checks should be necessary before purchasing a firearm is not prohibitive. Inconvenient, yes. But then, so is standing in line at the DMV. Yet, we deal with it. The fact the ATF is operating without a director is appalling. And what exactly is tyrannical in calling for increased emphasis on safe and responsible gun ownership? These are common sense ideas, aren’t they?
Speaking of the Second Amendment, here is what it actually says: “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.” Regulation is part and parcel of the Amendment! The government is well within its scope to regulate the commerce and possession of firearms. That does not mean it is trespassing on the right to own them. And as for the idea that an armed citizenry is the last defense against government tyranny… well, I’ll leave that for another post.
Here is a question – if you want to own firearms, should you be required to have a license and purchase firearms liability insurance? And should you be required to take every possible step to ensure the safety of everyone else? That is what we demand for car ownership, so why is it such a radical idea to demand that for firearms ownership?
Why is it so scandalous to demand that the government, gun shops and gun owners do everything in their power to make sure guns do not end up on the black market, or end up in the hands of those struggling with mental illness? A national database would aid law enforcement in tracking guns. Of course, there are those who fear that will become a means for the government to easily seize all weapons.
The truth is that there is no simple solution to address the violence that has made the US one of the most dangerous places in world to live. But the larger tragedy would be to allow that to continue without making any effort. I believe that it will take sensible and enforceable gun regulation and a dedicated commitment to make mental health services available to everyone. Unfortunately, the NRA has preached and misinformed so vehemently against any kind of gun regulation, and has buried its head so deeply up Congress’ backside via lobbyists, that even sensible gun regulation appears to be a pipe dream.