Wednesday, December 19, 2012
What To Do About Guns Now
The president announced today that he's going to put VP Joe Biden in charge of an effort to make us all safer; an effort which will include consideration of returning so-called 'assault weapons' bans from by-gone days. The VP is an experienced politician, but is probably more well known for his unarmed assaults on English grammar than his knowledge of assault weapons. VP Biden has previously been given a rating of 'F' by the National Rifle Association for his gun control regulations stance, so we can be sure that he will be taking an aggressive position on this new assignment. There's no doubt that semi-automatic and automatic weapons can dangerous tools in the hands of madmen with a will to use them (something that Joe has proved he can do with nothing more than a microphone). Before we seek to take away those tools or define those madmen however, perhaps we would be best served to look at the historical record.
After all, if you really want to see madness and the use of guns, you have to turn to .... governments. Joseph Stalin is credited with the quote, "A single death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic." Stalin should know, since during his reign of terror in the Soviet Union, he apparently had some 20,000,000 Soviet citizens eliminated. Joe is not unique in his pursuit of it however, though most of those of a like mind did so in regulation-filled, totalitarian regimes where the private ownership of guns was restricted and the use of a gun was incidental to much of the killing going on. When these kinds of governments are not killing their own citizens with guns, they normally try to amuse themselves by killing their neighbors with them. This inevitable result is called War, and in War even good nations find themselves killing people with guns in order to protect themselves from these evil ones. No one seeks to deny ownership of such weapons to these governments for such self-protection.
One of the other things that governments like to do with such weapons when not using them on their own citizens or those of nations they're at war with is to sell them to other nations for similar purposes. Should we then be concerned that the government that would like to create additional language to restrict gun ownership in this country is the one that has a history to handing not only guns, but far more sophisticated weapons to people like Mao Zedong in China, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; only to see those weapons eventually turn up and be used against us. In fact we've yet to be given a reasonable explanation for the government's recent effort to sell similar guns not to an allied government, but to Mexican drug cartels in an infamous escapade known as 'Fast and Furious'. Some or all of this might lead a reasonable person to conclude that taking gun restriction recommendations from a group of people with a huge and consistent record of epic failure might be ludicrous at best. It's also interesting to note that many of the same politicians now calling for denial of such ownership to citizens in this country have access to armed security details using these very weapons to protect themselves.
Of course the other component here is the madness involved with someone who takes up a gun (knife, axe, or homemade bomb) and thinks it would be a good idea to end people's lives. The cries are going up already for society to be more diligent in identifying these people early on, and stopping them before they can commit their heinous acts. I don't know about whether such a "Minority Report" world can even exist, but I do know that it's one that I would be afraid to live in. It's a world of George Orwell's 'thought police'; a world full of government watchers and of even more government regulations on guns than there are now (currently some 20,000) from well-meaning politicians and bureaucrats attempting once again to prove in their misguided efforts, that they are incapable of defeating the law of unintended consequences. Knowing all this, one can't help but wonder why those involved are attempting to get us into another situation in which we need to wonder both 'who gets to decide' and 'who watches the watchers'.
The Framers of the Constitution understood that the danger from weapons comes not only from bad men who would seek to use them for evil deeds, but from bad governments capable of doing evil in the denial of what they called 'inalienable rights' and attempted to protect themselves and future generations. They experienced such denial at the hands of what many considered to be a madman at the head of the government in England, and experienced how the use of arms almost exclusively held by that government (even to the point of bringing in foreign mercenaries) could be used to pursue evil intent. They understood that like madness, Government too is a form of power; and that it can only be judged by the tools it uses and the ends it seeks. While the tools may not be judged as good or evil, the ends pursued must be; and must be constantly guarded, lest they turn to evil.
It's strange that I, who have not only never owned a gun, but have never fired one in my 57 years of existence (cap, water, and BB guns excluded of course) should seek to defend against additional ownership restriction. Perhaps it's because I'm a reader of history however, and understand that the worst depredations of history come in societies that restrict ownership of guns exclusively to their government. History likewise shows us that areas with additional restrictions on gun ownership does little more than take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens while leaving them in the hands of criminals. So what do we do about guns now? Perhaps as little as possible. Finding a way to protect the children in our schools at least as well as we protect our politicians is an obvious goal. Finding a way to understand and to protect ourselves from the irrational behavior of troubled individuals should also become a greater priority. Allowing those politicians to place further restrictions on law-abiding citizens attempting to protect themselves from things that government cannot and will not ultimately be able to however is unwarranted and unnecessary.