In the wake of a Mass Gun Massacre/an Act of Domestic Terrorism, we always see these arguments come up:
- We need new gun law
- We need more done on mental health
- We need to ban guns
- We need more guns
- We need to call it a mass shooting
- We need to call it an act of domestic terrorism
In all of these cases, we never make any progress or settle on what to do. The cycle is now benign, and goes like this:
- The shooting happens
- Everyone calls to remember the victims and to pray
- The President makes a response
- Democrats call for more gun laws
- Republicans call for more mental health
- Gun control laws are proposed
- Gun control laws are rejected
- People go to the extremes
- No one listens to the arguments
- We forget about the issue and move on to something else
- The shooting happens, and the cycle starts again
The problem, as you can see, is that we never get anywhere because we always wind up arguing. The arguments get more and more extreme, yet the actual legislation either gets or stays moderate. For example, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Shooting, they tried to pass a law banning the “gun show loophole”. This loophole allows people who go to gun shows or have a private sale the ability to purchase their firearm without a background check. This was something that the NRA was in favor of until the last 15 years or so, and in the wake of that tragedy it still couldn’t pass.
This time around, we tried to pass a law saying that anyone on the No-Fly List pr the Terrorist Watch List should be banned from having a gun. Again, fairly simple and common sense, but it failed. I’ve felt conflicted about this because, not only were we passing sweeping legislation that could limit freedom in the wake of a tragedy (the USA Patriot Act comes to mind, let alone the legislation passed in France in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks), but also because both lists have innocent people on them. The No-Fly List alone came under fire for having Cat Stevens on it, and I doubt problems of people having similar or the same name being on that list haven’t been resolved. At the same time, I also understand the need for a law like that in general. But, again, we failed to pass that.
Extremists on both side, though, are the issue.
If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter lately, I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of what I mean. Half of your friends are now saying things like, “Ban guns!”, and the other half is saying things like, “More mental health and more guns! No new gun laws!” The truth is, both extremes are absolutely nuts.
I’m going to tackle the “ban guns” line first, because frankly, I think that’s the one people are saying the most.
Look, you can’t ban guns, and more importantly, going on and on about it pisses off the people you’re trying to convince in the first place to go along with you. The truth is, the vast number of people in this country who own guns actually are responsible and law-abiding and they’re in favor of most reasonable concepts about gun control. They don’t want to see these gun massacres happen, either, and they want something done, but they may not like “gun control” because whenever they hear it, guess what they imagine? Right, “they want to take my guns away!” And that feeds into that narrative!
Even more so, you can’t ban guns on a 100% practical level. “But England and Australia banned guns!” Yes, they did, and guess what they both have in common other than English? They’re both islands! They are not, in any way, shape, or form, connected to a larger land mass! They banned guns, and the only way to get them in is through ships or planes. Now, mind you, there are obvious issues there and they still get in, but the larger point is that it works so well there because, well, where are you going to get a gun? You have to go off the island/continent completely to get one, and unless you’re good at it and rich, you’re not pulling it off.
Enter America, a country with over 300,000,000 guns and is connected directly to two countries with large amounts of guns as well and the largest border in the world. Are you going to tell me that, compared to an island and a continent that’s completely cut off from any easy way to get in, that illegal guns aren’t going to get in with ease? And prohibition worked, too, right?
So lets talk about the other side for a moment, the “mental health reform” people who think we don’t need more gun laws. First off, mental health is an issue in America, but that doesn’t mean helping people get help won’t prevent this type of massacre. From 1999 to 2015, nearly every gun massacre happened because the perpetrator was a loner who wanted attention and fame in one way or another. After every mass shooting, the media does the same exact thing: They plaster the photo of the killer, talk about their lives, their body counts, and make them a star. They “focus on the victims” as much as you focus on your bills; a little, but not enough to actually mean much. So they shooter is idolized in a sick way, and clinical psychologists have said for years, if not over a decade now, that because of this, the fact the news is so focused on making these shootings into national tragedies, we have so many mass shooters.
Yes, you need to be a sick person to idolize these people and may need mental health services, but that also means you’ll never get the gun you want, and even though they may be nuts, they’re smart enough to know that.
And no new gun laws? The short response I have to that is this: While there is a burden on legal gun owners, I think its safe to say that straw purchases are an issue and why some of these mass shootings may have happened; someone bought a gun from someone else who got their gun legally.
Finally, I want to point out the use of the word “mass shooting”, because the term has been thrown around a lot lately. The biggest thing has been this: “There have been more mass shootings in America than days of the year.” The problem, though, is that a “mass shooting” doesn’t mean the person died. I only say that’s a problem because of the fact that when we look at these Gun Massacres we call them “Mass Shootings”, which they are, but in these actually rarer occasions (we’re looking at over 20 this year so far), a lot of people died. A mass shooting, defined by the FBI, is when more than 4 people are shot. No one may be killed, but they are shot.
In that context, if a mass shooting sounds not all that shocking to you, you most likely live in a major city. In places like Chicago and Detroit, a mass shooting is an almost weekly occurrence, another blip on the nightly news that’s mentioned at the top of the A-Block for 2 minutes. We see families cry, we see the police ask for help, and we never hear of it again. No one is caught. This is the gun violence problem in America. But sadly, like most of the American Media and news, I won’t be going into this right now and it will have to wait.
Gun Reform – What can we do?
This brings me to the obvious: What can, and should we, do about guns in America?
As I mentioned before, we have a mass shooting (not a gun massacre) in this country on a daily basis. We always hear that no new laws would prevent the tragedy. At this point, I am willing to concede that point. Nothing we do will be the “magic bullet” that will stop these tragedies overnight.
But we can do something now that will reduce them in a fairly fast method.
First, lets close the gun show loophole. “But the criminals don’t buy their guns at gun shows!” So what? It still allows for straw purchases, and who’s to say none of the people involved in a mass shooting hasn’t used that? Just because none of these gun massacres have involved one doesn’t mean that these incidents where there is no suspect don’t have one because, again, there is no suspect because no one is arrested.
Second, lets make a simple federal law: If your gun is stolen, you must report it within 72 hours. Again, common sense law. These “mass shootings” are happening in inner cities in part because people “lose” their guns. They make a straw purchases where they buy a lot of guns, and then they… “lose” them. They’re “stolen”. They never report it. The gun winds up in the hands of a criminal because there’s no longer a paper trail, and now its easier to have an illegal gun.
Now, we’re saying you need a background check at a gun show and that you need to report a stolen gun. That seems reasonable, right?
How about we ban people from the Terrorism Watch List and the No-Fly List from getting guns?
You’ll remember that I said this was a bad idea to pass not that long ago (just go near the top of this post), but I also said that the vast majority of people on that list should be on that list. In other words, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” I think Jesus said that… or Kirk in Wrath of Khan, but what’s the difference?
If we did all of this, we would see a nice dip in gun violence on a whole over a fairly decent amount of time. But what about long term? In fact, what about some other ideas for short term solutions that have long-term effects?
One idea is to require gun owners to have liability insurance. To me, that sounds entirely reasonable and not a massive burden. Its similar to when you own a car and you need insurance. “But cars are a privilege, not a right, unlike guns!” True, but what about the “well-regulated militia” part? Or, at the very least, the fact that you’re almost as likely to be killed by a car as you are a gun seems to mean that liability in case you use it or, at the very least, “loose it” or “have it stolen”, could mean less stolen guns not being reported. Is it a burden on the “poor”? I sincerely doubt it. It’s only as much of a burden as owning a car and paying insurance on that.
Or what about mandatory gun training? Again, we’re talking about something as deadly as a car, and you need a permit and a license to get one of those. Yes, guns are a right guaranteed to us, but unlike nearly every other right, this one requires… well, money. Of all of the Amendments, guns are the only one you’re required to take upon yourself to do. No one said, “okay, you’re 13, here’s your free gun.” It’s basically the only right you have to elect to have IF you want it. Plus, this is actually the only right I can think of that they can actually take away from you. No one goes around banning you from speaking if you talk too much about people, no one forces you to have the army in your house for free. It’s not like they can go around and go, “no, you have to be a slave, you lost your right to not be one by being too free!” No, they are allowed to revoke your right to have a gun.
Plus, lets realize this: You need a LICENSE TO CARRY. You don’t just get to do that, you need a permit or a license!
So, again, gun training sounds fair. Learn how to use the thing. In terms of mass shootings it won’t do squat, but it does mean that you could have less people shooting themselves. How often do you hear about someone shooting themselves in the leg or worse?
And that’s it. So gun reform, what would I do?
- Close the gun show loophole
- You must report a stolen gun
- Anyone on the Terrorism Watch List or the No-Fly List is banned from owning a gun
- You must have liability insurance
- You must have gun training
The burden on law-abiding legal gun owners is basically ‘nil. Most gun owners are responsible and do things legally. Closing the loophole for gun shows and private sales means a slightly longer wait for a gun, but not much. Reporting a stolen gun isn’t a problem for people on the up-and-up, and again, most people are well trained in using their gun. Liability insurance means a slight increase, but if its like most things you pay for you may have a one-time fee you pay over the course of the year that varies on the type of license you have.
Look, lets put all the hyperbole aside and focus on the fact that, yes, we have a problem with the way we handle guns in America. It isn’t just guns, of course, but also the fact we have a culture that encourages people not to report crimes. We idolize domestic terrorists on the news, and then argue about what to call them. By focusing on simple, almost common-sense solutions other than these “all-or-nothing” arguments and reducing everything to hyperbole, we need to at least listen to the other side and try and work on a real solution.