More thoughts on guns and America

I have sat back and watched the debate rage on over the last month since my last post and find myself shaking my head at so many things. It has been said that this Congress is the worst we’ve ever had. Their excuse is that they are simply doing what their constituents want. I can believe it, since the discussions I have seen on responsible gun control and violence in America have been so ridiculous its embarrassing. It’s troubling to see  just how ignorant people become when it comes to global politics and the interpretation of our Constitutional freedoms. So I embark on a task that I know will cause some people to get upset, some to laugh, some to scratch their head and hopefully most to ask themselves some questions. I’m also pretty sure some will just scoff and call me stupid. That’s ok, I’ve been called stupid by the best of them (stupid people, I mean). I would like to examine some of the arguments and solutions that have been offered up by those against responsible gun control. These are not the recommendations of learned groups, politicians, activists or other “experts” in the area. I’m talking about the solutions and arguments made by people I know or am just a click away from on Facebook. Because as we all know, Facebook is where the real voices of America are heard. So here we go……..

The picture of the Israeli teacher with her machine gun under her arm and the caption about how we need to arm teachers like they do in Israel to protect our children. I like this picture a lot. Nothing shows just how backwards the line of thinking is in amongst gun advocates. Israel is a country that is surrounded by hostile enemies and has been at war protecting it’s borders since the late 1940’s. ISRAEL HAS MANDATORY MILITARY SERVICE FOR ALL CITIZENS. This is in caps because its that important. Everyone is trained in combat weapons safety and techniques because they have a real issue with hostile combatants who invade and conduct terrorist attacks on their citizens (a lot). They are bordered by Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. Real hallmarks of stability. If the US was constantly being bombed by Canada and terrorists from Mexico were blowing up busses on a regular basis in Texas, you might have an argument to arm up our teachers like Israel. Which leads me to point number 2, while clearing up the lead in to point 1…….

We must protect ourselves from tyrannical government.  I couldn’t agree more and there are certainly a number of 20th century examples of how tyrannical governments took guns away from people to secure power. And in keeping with the spirit of our founding fathers this is probably the most pure interpretation of the amendment. However, it’s the most unrealistic approach as well. Nazi Germany is one of the most cited examples of what happens when a government takes guns away from citizens. What people fail to realize is that the Nazi’s were elected to office by a willing population. They happily ceded their way of life at the time because the National Socialist Party pledged civil peace, radical economic policies, and the restoration of national pride and unity. Nazi rhetoric was virulently nationalist and anti-Semitic. Hell, they won 107 seats in the legislative, democratic government that existed at the time. This sounds dangerously similar to what is happening here is the US. We don’t need a military coup or change in fundamental government philosophy to suspend any of our “God given rights” (Really, Jesus wants me to have a Bushmaster?). We gladly piece meal our rights away in the name of security and safety. We have the suspension of civil liberties and due process of law under the Patriot Act, FISA courts and expanded surveillance powers. They don’t need to use force when we have our elected officials dismantling the Constitution with our blessings. Yet asking for some regulations over how guns are purchased is going to far? The same people who scream about keeping their guns are the same people who think FISA, detention of suspected terror suspects without due process and expanded surveillance is good for America.

How does this relate to Israel and teachers you may ask? Well, the vast majority of teachers in America work at public schools. They are, in other words, government employees. So in one breath I have Joe Bob screaming about how government is too big and dangerous while also supporting the plan to arm our teachers. How contradictory is this line of thinking? The people who think they are somehow expanding our individual civil liberties are actually backing a plan to put more guns in the hands of government employees who will be trained on how to use them properly. Again, logic escapes these people and is the subject of another blog. 

Point 3 is simple. The stats and cartoons people put out about comparing the “tools” of homicide. 30,000 gun deaths is a simple number to handle. This includes murders, accidents and suicides. But what about the 30,000 people killed by vehicles? What about the estimated 2000 deaths by knives? Or the blunt force trauma inflicted by bats, hammers, or people jumping like fools from a rock or hill? We don’t want to outlaw those instruments do we? Although almost everyone agrees it would be nice to outlaw stupid, even if we would all be guilty at some point in life.  I respond simply by saying that these instruments lack two major factors when being compared to guns. They were all designed for another specific function that has little to nothing to do with inflicting death, therefore they are ineffective at being tools of death on a consistent basis. Guns are instruments of death and have no other purpose. This is the first and most basic concept of responsible gun ownership. If you cannot understand and differentiate between the purpose of a firearm and the purpose of a chef’s knife, baseball bat or a truck them I suggest you go to the nearest gun show and sell your guns before the aforementioned idiocy law kicks in. Guns were designed and refined over the years to kill people and to some extent, game. But killing is their only function and they are really efficient at it.  Many will argue about non lethal shooting (hit them in the leg) but any combat trained person will verify that you shoot for center mass and most center mass shots are kill shots. We are trained with handguns to triple tap and shoot controlled, 3 round bursts with automatic weapons for a reason. Guns are the most efficient way to kill a lot of people in a hurry, especially by a well trained group. Blackhawk Down is a great example of how a small group of well trained combat purveyors were able to contain and minimize a better armed, larger group of “citizens” who were on their home turf.  While knives, bats and other items are used to kill people, they are oftentimes weapons of convenience and certainly not their primary function. Bringing in vehicular deaths without distinguishing between accidents and DUI homicides vs other type of vehicular homicides is misleading. Cars used as a weapon is so minute a statistic I can’t even find any numbers that aren’t DUI related (it is estimated half of all traffic fatalities are the result of alcohol related crashes, while other numbers are closer to 25%).

Lastly, I just need to touch on the criminal element, who is after all, our other feared entity in this need to defend ourselves. Criminals don’t buy guns from dealers and gun shows. They buy them from other criminals.  Some are procured through an organized ring of people who buy through gun shows, where no records are kept. This makes the person selling the guns criminals as well. But the vast majority of criminal trade of guns in America is, surprise, stolen guns. Mostly stolen from irresponsible gun owners who leave them in the car, or don’t lock them up when they are on vacation, or leave them under the bed while they are at work during the day. Some are stolen from gun shops and pawn shops who don’t lock secure their stock in a safe and effective way. Let me repeat this most important point; criminals do not buy weapons from legitimate sources, they’re criminals they can’t get them. They steal them from so called responsible gun owners or dealers and trade them amongst themselves for drugs, televisions, X-box games, etc. Stolen property is like currency in the criminal world and guns are near the top of the currency chain. Maybe the next time a gun gets stolen from a “responsible gun owner” and shows up at a homicide, the gun owner should get charged with a crime as well. It’s sort of like charging parents whose children are truant in school, isn’t it? Maybe then mentally disturbed, underage children won’t have access to 3 semi automatic guns, high capacity magazines and 100’s of rounds of ammo when they have some sort of mental break. Of course if we had used the money that paid to arm and train our teachers on mental health care instead……? 

The underlying theme for me in my limited explorations so far is responsibility. This word and concept seems to get lost in the discussions regarding any aspect of the issues facing our country. “Responsible gun owner” is an extremely misunderstood term. I am in complete favor for the fundamental right to defend myself by bearing arms. But I am not representative of the majority owners of guns. I have been trained to be responsible and effective with my weapons. Most people who exercise their right to bear arms are not. Most shoot their gun like a fad, a lot at first and then it gets stuck in the closet, forgotten about for months or years on end. Hunters use their rifles and shotguns a few times a year. Most people are using outdated ammo (didn’t know ammo had a shelf life did you?). Many gun enthusiasts read about concepts of close quarter combat, some go to a range and shoot their guns a few times a year and a limited few engage in some form of regular weapons practice. They use gun safes, locks and other safety measures because they understand that GUNS KILL PEOPLE; THATS WHAT THEY WERE DESIGNED TO DO. These are responsible gun owners. They take the time to understand the function of their weapon and gain the confidence to use it appropriately in high pressure situations. They represent a vast majority of active/former military and law enforcement and a vast minority of all gun owners. Is it too much to ask citizens to show as much proficiency as the military and police in the use of guns? After all, aren’t they half the threat we use as reasoning for the Amendment to begin with? 

Next up I’ll explore the topic of responsibility in America and how it relates to “gun control” and how the gun industry is a reflection of the greater issues affecting our country. See when I see you.

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