Ben’s brother, Matt, wrote an interesting post on the “gun conversation” and I liked it so I thought I would share it along with a couple of thoughts of my own.
I don’t necessarily believe we need more government or less government in most of these controversial topics, but that we do need smarter government & smarter regulation. I consider myself a moderate/pragmatic – I am registered as a Republican but have voted for both Democrats & Republicans at times, and wish people would try harder to come up with smart solutions instead of just bashing the other side, often without really understanding the other side.
As far as guns go, I understand that “people kill people not guns”, but guns make accidents too easy and make mass killings too easy. I believe it is true that if someone really wanted to murder their ex they will find a way with or without a gun. But in countries like the UK where guns are pretty much outlawed (even many police officers there do not carry a gun), they have very very few mass shootings – unlike the US. In China, where guns are banned, on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting, there was a knife attack at an elementary school by a mentally ill man. About 22 people were injured but no one was killed. So yes people can still find weapons but they are less likely to kill 26 people before they are stopped. Also, like Matt said for every incident of someone with a gun stopping a crime there is an accident of someone being killed with a gun.
Now, I’m not for banning guns – I understand some Americans really like to own guns and it is a constitutional right, but we should find smarter ways to keep accidents from happening and keep the wrong people from easy access to guns. I like Matt’s ideas of requiring people to keep their guns in a safe when not used, and required background checks and a wait time before someone can purchase a gun. Ben also had an idea that I really like – fingerprint locks on guns. This way only the gun owner could shoot the gun – not their child or someone who steals it. A friend told me he thought handguns (more than assault rifles) should be highly regulated – because more crimes are committed by them, probably because they are easy to hide. I’m sure there are other good ideas out there – do you have any?
Thoughts from Matt Munyan:
“I’m going to add my two cents to the gun conversation, which is this – gun owners as a group are not responsible enough right now and they as a group are refusing to take responsibility for their collective failure to use and store their guns correctly. I know many individuals do a fine job, but according to a RAND-UCLA study (that and lots more here: http://www.med.umich.edu/
The further irresponsibility of gun-owners as a group to properly handle and store their guns accounts for about 600 accidental deaths every year (http://www.usatoday.com/story/
I firmly believe people have the right to protect themselves and that guns can be a wonderful tool in the right hands, that being said I do not believe everyone should be able to own a gun unregulated (and I’m curious if anyone actually does, since that would mean they think children and felons should be allowed to buy and own guns). To create some truly useful regulations though maybe responsible gun owners could actually propose some ideas that would help keep guns safe and in the right hands, rather than just assert that nobody can take their guns away.
I believe I could find an accidental discharge story caused by a negligent or moronic gun owner for every story about a crime being prevented by a brave and responsible gun-owner. Here is a start from a 10-second google news search where in the past month we have a young child’s death, an irresponsible owner “checking if it was loaded”, and a “responsible” concealed carrier accidentally shooting his wife while checking his pockets:
Legislating against stupidity may be impossible, but refusing to try to do anything about this is also stupid.”
Thanks for this post. I enjoy hearing from moderate individuals who aren’t into bashing! I read an interesting article that made me think about some improvements that could be made in mental health care (http://www.robisonwells.com/2012/12/how-close-are-we-to-more-killings/) and heard a suggestion on the radio to increase the availability of mental health services in schools in addition to or instead of having more police officers on school campuses. I think mental health is a huge piece of the puzzle but I also agree that gun owners could definitely be more flexible in their views.
Thanks for the article! I agree it does sound like we could use better mental health care, and that does sound like it is a large part of the problem in many of the mass shootings. Hope you and Stephen and Seth are doing well! I checked out your blog today and it looks like your anniversary was fun!
In his comprehensive book, the Samari, Mounti and the Cowbow, David Koppel gives us a detailed history of gun ownership, and why the United States is different from other nations. In ancient Japan, only a very select class of warriors could owns swords. They were royal guards known as Samari. Only after one proved his skill with a sword and his loyalty to the Emperor, was one allowed to own a sword. And no one else could legally own one. This historical precedent has translated to a modern Japaneese culture where almost no one owns a gun, and where private gun ownership is not considered an element of citizenship.
Mounties were agents of the British Empire. In Canada, during the 18th and 19th Century, the Western Migration in that Nation was conducted by Mounties, not private citizens, and only they were allowed to possess fire arms. Only Mounties were allowed move westward and claim land for the Crown. No one in Canada was allowed to move Westward and claim land for themselves.
During the 19th Centrury, the United States developed a policy of encouraging private citizens to move Westward and possess the land. Under the Homestead Act of 1862, an American Citizen could claim title to 540 acres of land if they lived on it and farmed it for five years. The Americans who went West to claim these lands were not agents of anyome but themselves. The tools they used were their own, and one of their most valuable tools was their guns. Guns were used to hunt food and protetect ones self and family from criminals and vicious savages.
In the landmark case of McDonald v. Chicago, 561 US 3025 (2010), the Supreme Court of the United States determined that the Second Amendment applies to the individual states. The Court held that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states. All other rights set forth in the Bill of Rights had been previously applied to the states. Meaning that the states could not deprive individuals of the rights without due process of law.
So here in the Unted Stated, indivicual citizens have a Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. The fundamental basis of this right is that soverignty in the United States does not lie with the Goverment, but the people. And so it is the Government that must face a citzenry that is armed and ready to defend themselves against tyranny.
Any gun control laws must be balanced against the Constitutional Rights of indivudals. Like freedom of speach, freedom of religion, freedom of assmbly, freedom from unlawful searches and siezures and all other rights protected by the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and bear arms must be respected.
Even though one has the right to free speech, one does not have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded movie house, nor does one have the right to exetend freedom of religion to the right to smoke marijuana as a religous sacrament. So too, the right to keep and bear arms is and will be subject to its limitations. What those limitations will become in the future is up to federal and state legislatures, and the Courts.
I honestly believe that no gun control legislation will be able to prevent tragedies like Newtown. What we should focus on instead is school saftey. There are a number of saftey measures that can be taken to protect schools and students, without infringing the rights of citizens to bear arms. And the money we spend on such security measures will be must better spent, and much more effective at protecting our children.
Thanks for the comment Dad – increased safety at schools is a good idea.