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Do Guns Suck?

July 21, 2012

What happened in Colorado is a tragedy. People’s lives have been changed forever. There is nothing so life-changing in so many ways as the premature loss of a loved one. I lost my 16-year old niece earlier this year to cancer. It sucks, it hurts, it will always hurt. You want to rage against the machine, punish someone or something or anything, all the time knowing that it won’t matter. Gone is gone. Eventually the anger subsides leaving only the hurt and the loss. That will always be there, it is our way of remembering the lost one. My heart goes out to the families and friends in Colorado that have suffered such a loss. Embrace the ache in your hearts as a way to always remember their faces.

There is, of course, the expected immediate call to pass laws so that this specific thing, whatever it might be, never happens again to anyone. We have so many specific little laws on the books from this kind of emotional jerky reaction to a tragedy it is hard to imagine anyone knows them all. Our desire as a humane civilization is to prevent anyone anywhere from suffering anything that in any way ‘might’ have prevented a tragedy had we only had one more law to prevent it from happening.

Let’s not do this. America is a melting pot of 330+ million people, all unique, all human and all capable of doing really stupid things but for the thin veneer of social behavior. We will never be able to change this because we are both human and free.

Governments have gone to extraordinary lengths to attempt to control social behavior. Take China. If you remember the images from the 2008 Olympics of tens of thousands of Chinese citizens all holding a banner or chanting something or waving something, en-mass, it created a very spectacular image. When the camera would capture a close-up of one of these waving marching chanting citizens, what you say was a blank bored face, an individual who’s life was so completely controlled that all spirit had left the body. When you work really hard to control every possible human behavior, this is what you end up with. Yet, China has crime. Murders, burglary, assault, it all happens there in spite of the government’s control because at the end of it all, we are dealing with humans.

I very much prefer our more free and chaotic version of life. We are an emotional people because we are allowed to be. While there are individual events and situations every single day that make my teeth ache in frustration, this is far better than the alternative. At the micro level, we get personal tragedy, pain, loss, destruction and stupid acts. At the macro level, we have freedom and expression. You unfortunately can’t have one without the other.

There is an immediate call today for ‘GUN CONTROL’, as there invariably is after any local tragedy that involved a firearm. Those that call for an immediate ban of all things that might hurt us never want to see the big picture, they only want to solve the immediate problem. In this specific case in Colorado, the gun is the bad guy.

In America we have 50+ different sets of gun laws in 50 States, spanning the range of Alaska (if you don’t have a gun, get one now) to Illinois (if you have a picture of a gun, you may have a legal problem). In most States, it is possible to legally obtain a weapon if you are willing to go through the process. It is possible to illegally get a gun in about 30 minutes almost anywhere. Because we are a Federalist system, every State is allowed to have whatever controls they wish to pass and can make it as easy or as difficult to obtain a gun as they wish. The problem, of course, is that you can go to one State and obtain a gun legally with limited hassle and take it to another State that has gone to extraordinary lengths to disallow any citizen access to weapons. Such is a free society.

I own guns, all legally registered. I have a concealed carry permit, which required a complete background check, fingerprinting etc. Because I have passed these checks and have this permit, I can go to local gun shows and purchase things. The Washington Arms Collectors (WAC) organization runs the gun shows in Washington State. If you are not a member of WAC, you cannot buy or sell anything at the shows. If a vendor is caught violating this rule, they are banned for life, no exceptions. The shows are full of ATF and local authorities and WAC badges are required to be worn visibly by members. Other than completely banning gun shows and driving all this activity underground, the controls are in place to control access to just those that are willing to go through the process. The gun show is not where the bad guys get their guns. All the gun laws anyone could imagine will not prevent the bad guy from obtaining a gun.

The one thing a State cannot do is outlaw ownership of guns outright. This is, of course, because we have the mostly revered, often scorned and usually misunderstood 2nd Amendment to the Constitution:

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.

There is a faction of our society that believes this amendment is outdated, dangerous, immoral and downright wrong. While at the micro level they always have very specific situations, like Colorado this week, that they directly blame on the existence of the 2nd Amendment, at the macro level they are mostly missing the point the amendment is making.

Simply put, the 2nd Amendment is not to protect us from each other or from crazy people. The 2nd Amendment exists to protect us from our government. The 2nd Amendment is the ultimate check-and-balance from the temptation of Power to control.

How many countries have the problem of the military dictating who has the power and who doesn’t? North Korea just made that fat kid the ‘Supreme Ruler of All Things’ or whatever it is. What keeps this kid in power? The military goes along with it, and the citizens are powerless to do anything about it because the State controls every weapon.. What keeps Iran under the control of Ohwhatawackjob or whatever his name is? The military is on the side of the supreme rulers. The citizens have to face legions of armed solders with rocks and sticks because they have been completely disarmed.

Only the bad guys have guns. The bad guys can always get guns. Gun laws are designed to prevent the good guys from having guns. There is a reason that crime statistics again and again show that the cities and States that have the most liberal gun laws have the lowest crime. The best home alarm system one can have is an NRA membership sticker in the front window declaring ‘A GUN LIVES HERE‘. This always trumps your neighbor with the security system from Sears.

Proof in point: modern day Chicago. Illinois has the tightest gun laws in the country. If you have a gun in Illinois, which I doubt, you can only have it in your house and it has to be unloaded and possibly in pieces. You can’t have it on the porch. You can’t have it in the garage. You certainly can’t carry it around anywhere. So, dear left-leaning gun control wacko, why is Chicago the most gun-violent city in the nation?

Because all of the good guys have been disarmed.

What happened in Colorado was a tragedy of enormous proportions. No argument. At the micro-level, the pain and loss will never heal. We may find that the wacko obtained his guns legally. There will be those that will want to make it harder ‘so this never happens again’. It simply cannot work. We will, in a free society, have lunatic behavior. We can have the most onerous gun laws possible (as does Illinois) and the lunatic will still be able to get a gun and do tragic things.

One has to wonder if that kid in Aurora would have been as willing to go into that theater and do what he did if he had known for a fact that at least half of the audience were caring concealed weapons?  Turns out that the theater chain in question outright bans people from carrying guns into the theater, permit or not. Would the kid that shot up the university last year have been as willing to walk around shooting as he did if he knew for a fact that half of the students and teachers were going to shoot back?  This is probably a more likely deterrent than a bunch of additional gun laws.

In downtown Seattle, at any given point of a typical day, there are probably a dozen concealed weapons with 50 feet of you. Yet, when someone is senselessly gunned down, it is never someone with a legal carry permit that does the gunning. It is a bad guy that obtained a gun in spite of the gun laws we have.  Every time.  Check the stats for yourself.

The only real solution would be to repeal the 2nd Amendment and disarm the entire population, following the lead of North Korea, China, Iran etc. Those that might call for this action need to stop and think about what they are really asking, if it would actually change anything for the better, and whether the complete destruction of what makes this America is worth whatever local tragedy might be averted as a result.



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