I normally take Saturday off, but was driven by a statement made on the news this morning. There is a man in Philadelphia armed with a fully automatic AK-47, randomly opening fire on people on the street at night. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey stated in an interview “This case underlines why these weapons have no business on our streets”.
I wonder which weapons Mr. Ramsey feels are suitable for our streets? Perhaps this is a case which underlines why we need these people off our streets. I’m not suggesting this as a solution, but if everyone had an AK-47, this guy wouldn’t be opening fire at random. There are thousands of solutions to the gun violence issue, but the ones that have any hope of saving lives address the violence issue as opposed to blaming an inanimate object.
I like firearms, I have owned several, and even made my own ammunition. I was a member of the NRA for several years. Sometime back in the early nineties, the NRA stopped representing me, and became the “gun lobby”. The people who invented the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” stopped representing people and started representing guns. I, along with what I hope are most gun rights advocates, am in favor of what is being called “common sense gun laws”. The problem is there isn’t a great deal of common sense floating around. 31,672 people were killed by guns, mostly handguns, in 2010, but when 20 died in a mass shooting at a school (in which a rifle was used) the nation exploded in a cry for gun control.
Following the shooting, everyone wanted to do something. Anything. Our President suggested armed guards at schools among other more restrictive measures. The NRA issued some suggestions for common sense solutions as well, placing a great deal of the blame on behavior and media influences. One suggestion the NRA made was training school staff in defensive weapons use, and arming teachers. Since the NRA represents guns, and guns are the problem, the idea of placing more guns into the environment was ridiculed, even by the President.
Immediately New York rushed through a gun law prohibiting weapons that are almost never used in crimes, and allowing only weapons that do not exist. Despite the fact that Governor Cuomo had absolutely no idea what his law was, he defended it as a common sense gun law. Is it me, or is understanding the effects of the law you sign common sense?
Our President, who is a master of vague statements that mean whatever you want them to mean, grasped hold of the phrase “Common sense gun laws”. Who can argue with Common sense? When congress failed to write a law on a cocktail napkin that would affect each and every citizen, our President issued Executive Orders concerning guns. Executive orders are essentially meaningless paperwork, which few people read and no one follows, including the President. One of the orders was to appoint a director to the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, something our president had failed to do during his entire first four year term in office. As of today, three months after his executive orders, he still has not. Another order was to provide for “School Resource Officers”, AKA Armed Guards.
The gun lobby, not to be outdone, successfully defeated a group of bills earlier this month. One, the Toomey-Manchin act, written by two “pro-gun” Senators, would have required the same background checks for private gun sales as apply to commercial sales. This was when I lost faith in the “common sense” mantra. This had been a totally common sense bill, introducing no new limitations, just eliminating a loophole in the standing law.
As Americans, we cherish our constitution, as long as following it is easy. We’re all for free speech until someone says something we don’t like. We’re all for not establishing a state religion until a religion we don’t like builds a temple on our street. The simplest amendment to our constitution, the second, has people who would never own a firearm threatening to shoot people who would defend the right to own firearms. The amendment reads:
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.
Much has been made over the placement of a comma after the word militia, and the meaning of the term militia, and whether the application is for hunting rifles or assault weapons. Most of these arguments come from people who couldn’t tell an assault weapon from a hunting rifle were they to hold each in their hands. The interpretation has become more and more convoluted as our society moves away from firearms being a tool used on a regular basis to one in which they are a symbol of self reliance. Our government, rather than adress solutions, feeds the fires of arguments, protecting them from actually having to do something.
The fact is a hunting rifle IS an assault weapon, the muskets of 1776 were the assault weapons of the day.
As the arguments proceed, gun owners become increasingly frustrated with the ignorance of non gun owners. I have been frustrated by both groups. I am annoyed when people speak about a subject such as firearms of which they have no understanding. I am annoyed when my fellow “gun rights” activists fail to show any common sense, because there are people who should not have guns. Like the guy in Philadelphia.
Criminals will get guns, as they by definition are not following laws, and were some magic wand to eliminate guns, they would find another weapon. Until the issue of violence is solved, there will be the need to be armed equally as well as the attacker.
That’s common sense.