Sunday, April 7, 2013

What are we headed towards?

What is “Gun Control”?

        Gun control, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is "the regulation of selling, owning and using guns". The first known time that the term was used was in 1964. So it would seem that “gun control” is a fairly recent topic. This isn't really the case though. The Second Amendment states “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”. This is the exact statement that appears on the Constitution. Congressman Paul Gosar claims that the Second Amendment is a "fundamental right". A landmark case in the gun control debate was Heller vs. District of Columbia.. This case upheld the idea that the Second Amendment allows citizens to bear arms and that right shall not be infringed. It also upheld that handgun ban and trigger-lock requirements are unconstitutional. This case also determined how the Second Amendment is to be understood. Mark  Tushnet writes, “The reason people have an individual right to keep and bear arms is that it makes it easier to provide a militia as the security to a free state.” 

   Yard signs, such as this one, are being sold in many places.

Gun Control in the United States and Abroad:

        The second amendment is found in what is known as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791. That was obviously quite a few years ago, so what has changed between now and then? Guns. In the the seventeen and eighteen hundreds, guns were much different than they are today. According to Kevin Sweeney, guns were used for self defense, but more importantly, for national defense.
        As for gun control across the world, the facts I found are a bit scary. In 1911, the Ottoman Empire banned its citizens from possessing guns. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million, out of a population of 2.5 million, were murdered by “Young Turks” in the ruling class. This event is known as the “ Armenian Holocaust”. In 1929, the Soviet Union banned private gun ownership. This happened just prior to Stalin’s regime, but he was already in leadership positions during the time the gun ban was created. Stalin ruled from 1941-1953 and he ruled one of the most repressed regimes in history. From 1929 to 1953 (the year Stalin died), millions upon millions of Soviets died due to murder, being forced to work in work camps, and famine engineered by Stalin. With no guns, the citizens did not have the power to fight back against the government. In 1935, the Chinese government instituted a complete gun ban. From 1935 to 1952, roughly 20 million citizens and politicians were murdered. In 1938, Germany imposed a gun ban. This was just before Hitler began his campaign to clear the country of Jews. By the time World War 2 ended, roughly 6 million Jews had been killed and about 5 million more people during the war.  During World War 2, Hitler made the following claim; “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing”. Could events like this happen in the United States.
            During World War 1, the Ottoman Empire had a sultanate government system. This means that the power was in one person’s hands, sort of like a dictatorship. China, in 1935, the government was the Nationalist party. Typically, one person held most of the power.Germany went from a parliamentary representative democracy to what we know as Nazi Germany in 10 years. The Soviet Union was under dictator control when the gun ban was put into effect, and in 1941, Joseph Stalin was put in power. Of course, here in the United States, we are not under dictator control, but could we be on our way there? According to Bryan Fischer, we are definitely headed that direction. He claims that California and Detroit are already falling into dictatorship. “Hitler was voted into power by a fiscally desperate people blindly willing to give almost total power to a savior who would deliver them from the mess that politicians had created, the politicians they themselves had elected to office”. Is it a coincidence that 47% of people who voted for Obama in 2012 are dependent on the government for assistance?

  Many other powerful (and deadly) politicians have enforced gun control.

Gun Control and Crime:

        Many people believe that if we have strict gun control laws, we will have less crimes committed with guns. Although this makes logical sense, the facts disprove this idea. A study done by Harvard University claims that gun control is counterproductive. They found that "nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those who do not." An example of this claim is obvious in Russia. Russia has a murder rate that is four times higher than the murder rate here in the United States. Russia has laws that practically ban private ownership of guns. Another example of gun control and high gun crime rates is very apparent in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but yet it also has one of the murder rates in the nation. Charlie Vidal, author of the article "Gun Control is Why Chicago Murder Rates Are Skyrocketing, claims that because citizens are not able to own guns and protect themselves, the criminals end up getting the guns and killing innocent people. Vidal compares Chicago to Houston, a city that is similar in many aspects, except in gun control. In Houston, citizens are able to carry concealed weapons and legally own guns. Houston's murder rate is two thirds of what Chicago's murder rate is. Coincidence? I think not.

The Gun Control Debate:

        In the debate of gun control, there are multiple viewpoints. I will present only three, to keeps things more general. First, we have the group of people that believe ALL guns should be banned. This means rifles, handguns, shotguns, etc. They believe that citizens should have no guns, whatsoever. Secondly, we have the group of people that want NO gun control. If a citizen wants a gun, they believe that person should be able to get the gun, no matter what type of gun it is. These are the two extremes. There is a third group that falls in between these two and that group believes that we should not ban guns completely, but rather ban certain guns, such as assault rifles. Each side has it pros and cons, but the bottom line is that the middle ground is VERY hard to find. The United States has yet to find it, obviously. Instead of trying to find the middle ground in this debate, maybe we should look for alternatives to gun control.


  Ammunition Control: Instead of banning or needing to license guns, ban or license the ammo needed to shoot the guns. The only ammo that a person could legally keep is the ammo that is in the gun. All other ammo would only be found in gun stores. A special license could be obtained by people, such as hunters, who need more ammo than the ammo in the gun.
 Education: Instead of just letting anyone have a gun, create an educational program that, once completed, allows an individual to possess a gun. David Kopel claims that Sweden, the only country with a higher per capita rate of gun ownership than the United States, has virtually zero gun crimes. This may be due to the fact that every man is required to serve in the military at some point. The military teaches them how to properly use a gun, and thus, less “accidents” happen. ()
Banning certain guns, such as automatic and semi-automatic guns: This idea is a popular one. Many people believe that semi-automatic and fully automatic guns, such as the .50 caliber machine gun should be banned. In a blog by Jay Bookman, he quoted a recent interview of Newt Gingrich on CNN news. Gingrich claimed that the Second Amendment allows for a ban on automatic guns, but not on semiautomatic guns. “But where does he find that constitutional distinction between automatic and semi-automatic?... The truth is that no such distinction exists in the amendment text or in any other writings of the Founding Fathers”. He goes on to say that Gingrich makes the assumption that the second amendment allows us to ban automatic weapons, based on his own "gut-level feeling". 
These are the basic alternatives that have been considered in the gun control debate. Although they are good ideas on paper, they would be much harder to put into effect in the real world. Of course, many more considerations need to be made in these cases, but this could be where gun control is headed.

Personal Opinion:

                I, personally, do not believe in gun control. I believe that this country was built on freedom. We are free to say what we want, print what we want, believe what we want and own whatever guns we want. I understand that guns, in the hands of wrong people, can do damage. But whether or not guns are illegal, criminals will still get their hands on them. Gun control will do nothing but take guns out of the hands of good people and put them in the hands of bad people. The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I do believe, however, that we should increase gun education. Too many people don’t understand what a gun is capable of, or how to handle a gun. I believe with a solid education system, we could drastically decrease the amount of gun violence, or even accidents involving guns.

"You know nothing about what it means to handle guns, but you presume to make judgments about my ability to do so" (Baum).

Images, such as this one, are popular on sites such as Facebook.

Print Works:
Tushnet, Mark. "Interpreting the right to bear arms-gun regulation and Constitutional law." The New  England Journal of Medicine 358 (2008): pg. 1424. Print.
Sweeney, Kevin. "All Guns Are Not Created Equal." The Chronicle of Higher Education (2013): Newspaper.