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Gun rights advocates offer only non-solutions

Michael Abraham

Special to The SWT

 

James Peele’s recent commentary McAuliffe and gun control is just another predictable screed of threadbare arguments from gun rights advocates as to how our nation can become a safer place by increasing the number of guns in circulation. But Peele offers nothing of substance presented to remedy our epidemic of gun violence, one of our most serious problems and a national disgrace. What is needed are real, workable solutions that reduce that carnage.

The magnitude of problem of gun injuries and deaths cannot be exaggerated. Our United States has more guns and more gun deaths, per capita, than any developed nation on earth. Americans die from gun deaths at a rate 165 times greater than Japan, 40 times greater than Great Britain, seven times greater than Italy, and four times greater than Canada. Mass murders in particular are on a steady, 30-year upswing. Solutions beg for development and implementation.

The basis for gun ownership law arises from the Second Amendment, which 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.”

Gun rights advocates are fixated on the “shall not be infringed” phrase, but conveniently gloss over the “A well regulated militia.” What is meant by a well regulated militia?

Militias in the colonial era were volunteer units with self-chosen leaders that formed when needed for communal protection. The militia system that existed when the Amendment was written no longer exists. The modern equivalent is principally our state National Guards, along with various police departments and law enforcement agencies. We should infer that the Founding Fathers, in recognizing the need for public safety, felt compelled to add the words “well regulated,” not merely suggesting regulation but mandating it. So in absence of the proper training and registration implied by “well regulated,” then the right to keep and bear arms must be infringed.

Constitutional scholars continue to debate whether the Second Amendment grants weaponry rights solely to organized, trained groups or to every Tom, Dick, Harry, (or Seung-Hui, Adam, or Jared Lee) who wants one. The word “security” is typically overlooked in the discussion, but the Founders clearly intended for public safety to be a stringent responsibility.

Why would anybody need or want a gun? There are three arguably legitimate reasons:

* A hedge against a tyrannical federal government

* Personal protection from other citizens

* Hunting

Let’s discuss individually.

Peele argues correctly that in the Federalist Papers (28 & 29), Alexander Hamilton notes Americans of that era were wary of a national government using its military to oppress individuals. However, the weaponry by our federal government possesses now was unimaginable in Hamilton’s time. Our military can put a laser-guided missile in any window in America in 20 minutes and a single submarine carries enough firepower to obliterate a continent. Individuals or groups stand no chance. Our safety now is dependent on the government restraining our military, not in our individual ability to defend ourselves against it.

Regarding personal protection, I understand that some people feel that their personal protection is enhanced through gun ownership and carry. The reality is that people are statistically MORE likely, not less, to be injured or killed owning a gun than not. Nevertheless, if someone feels compelled to own a gun for protection, he or she should be “well regulated” in the sense of affirming such a need publicly, obtaining proper training in ownership and use, proving competency, and becoming insured for losses resulting from improper use, as a needed acquiescence in the spirit of public safety.

By illustration, I am a motorcycle rider. In Virginia in order to own and operate a motorcycle, I must get a driver’s license including an eye exam, then a specialty license, then insurance for myself and the bike, along with periodic re-licensing and re-inspection. Why? Because driving otherwise is deemed a public safety risk. Why should the ownership and operation of a device – a gun – designed to kill others, not be equally regulated? More to the point, why would any caring citizen willingly submit to regulation and training for automobile ownership and use, yet be unwilling to do the same for gun ownership and use?

Regarding hunting, the same rules should apply. Hunting is a time-honored tradition with many avid adherents, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. However, hunters should also be subject to stringent rules on eyesight, competency, and mental acuity.

Peele’s final point is also one that is often used by those advocating for no gun control. Eviscerating his own rhetoric with this closing, logically bankrupt claim, Peele says, “The argument that escapes this writer is a simple one. Gun control laws target those who obey the law.” Since when do we ask our legislatures to only pass laws they think people will obey? Should we eliminate laws forbidding bank robbery because some people will ignore them and rob banks anyway? Gun control laws, like all laws, target everyone. Law abiding citizens will obey them and law breakers will suffer the consequences. Always.

The problem I have with the gun rights advocates is that either they don’t see gun violence as a problem or they do but are devoid of solutions. The only modest solution Peele proffers is better mental health intervention … while his ideological mates are often the first to slash government programs that fund mental health care services!

It defies logic, reason, and statistics to argue that putting more guns in our schools, stores, sports venues, and other public places makes them safer. Can we not find common ground in enhancing enforcement for gun trafficking, extending mental health resources, and making background checks and licensing integral parts of gun ownership?

I am realistic enough to know that gun violence is not going away tomorrow and that one or two laws will not solve the problem. But I am optimistic that reasonable people will agree it is worth solving and will support candidates, like our new Governor McAuliffe, who devote themselves to meaningful solutions. Every legitimate solution should be scrutinized and implemented until positive results happen.

*Michael Abraham is a businessman and author who lives in Blacksburg. He recently ran for the House of Delegates in the 7th District. 

Comments

comments

37 Responses to Gun rights advocates offer only non-solutions

  1. Herman Nace

    January 20, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Bravo Mr. Abraham. Thank you for writing an opinion piece that not only addresses an issue that has needed attention for years, but one that should be at the forefront of modern political debate. Unfortunately the NRA and the gun lobby have effectively mislead the average gun owner to believing the diatribe of the teabagging radical right on this issue. By the way, how did you get the Editorial Staff of the SWT to publish a progressive viewpoint when it seems as if they only allow the conservative Republican view on all issues? Don’t we have enough of that crapola with The Patriot?

  2. Spencer60

    January 21, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Wow, Mr. Abraham, you somehow manage to jam every single piece of gun control propaganda and misinformation into a single article.

    Quite an achievement.

    To start with, as soon as I see the words ‘gun deaths’, I know I’m being lied to.

    In the UK I’m sure they have far more ‘cricket bat deaths’ than they do in the US. Should they ban cricket bats?

    You have to look at overall violent crime rates, and what you fail to mention is that the UK has a violent crime rate almost 5 times that of the US.

    Your statement that the ‘militia’ mentioned in the Second Amendment is related to official organizations is wrong. The Supreme Court has recognized that that meant the general citizenry, and that the right to bear arms is a ‘personal’ right we all have.

    Nor does ‘well regulated’ mean what you say. In the 1700s ‘regulated’ meant ‘orderly’ or ‘skilled’.

    What the Second says in more modern terms is that a citizenry skilled in using arms is the basis of a free society, and that no law should be passed infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.

    On your ’3 reasons’, you manage to be wrong on all 3.

    First of all, there are an estimated 100 million firearms owners in the US. No military in the world is large enough to fight that way.

    Secondly, there would little chance that the individuals in the military would accept an order to attack their own citizens.

    Third, lets not forget that armed citizens beat the strongest military power in the world to win our country’s freedom, and the same happened to us in Vietnam. Look up ‘David and Goliath’.

    As for your screed on personal protection, you are simply wrong.

    Several studies have show that there are around a million legal uses of firearms a year to defend against an attack. The vast majority without firing a shot.

    The myth that you are more likely to hurt yourself than use a gun defensively springs from one study, sponsored by a gun control group.

    It completely ignored ALL the valid defensive cases that came up and only looked at shootings that were accidental or domestic violence related.

    You talk about all the things you had to do to get a motorcycle license as if that was a lot.

    Try getting a carry license. Or purchasing a firearm anywhere in the US. I’ll bet you never had to get an FBI background check when you bought your bike.

    And that is the fundamental flaw with the reasoning of gun-control supporters.

    Whatever laws are already on the books restricting firearms (and there thousands) are ignored.

    The gun control lobby constantly say that we have ‘loose gun laws’ in the US, even though they have spent the last 50 years adding one anti-gun law after another.

    They always say that ‘if we just add this one law, we’ll be safe’, yet when they get their way, they immediately push for a new law as if the one they just got passed didn’t exist.

    The truth is that the gun control industry as a whole will not be happy until firearms are completely banned here in the US, just like they are in the UK.

    Gun owners are fighting back though, through membership in civil rights groups like the NRA (the oldest in the US) and the 2nd Amendment Foundation.

    Rather than ‘compromise’ on a bad law this time, firearms owners literally took to the streets and protested.

    They wrote their representative by the millions and told them in no uncertain terms to stand their ground.

    Even with the political leverage of the current administration, the propaganda power of the media, and the financial resources of billionaires behind them, the gun control lobby couldn’t overrule the voice of the people.

    The gun control lobby propaganda that makes up your article has failed. While the media may regurgitate ‘facts’ like yours again and again, it still doesn’t make them true.

    Gun control is provably wrong. It’s core tenet is that ‘more guns = more crime’.

    Yet here we have more firearms in law abiding peoples hands than at any time in US history, and crime is at one of it’s lowest points in US history.

    Gun control is simply incorrect, and any justification of it it literally propaganda.

    But as long as there is still money and votes to be made in supporting it, I’m sure people like you will keep trying.

    • Jordan

      January 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      +1

    • Texas TopCat

      January 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you for your statement. Good response, I was going to try to respond, but it is really hard to determine what was the most hurtful lie in the article.

  3. PC citizen

    January 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Wow! It’s a wonder you ever lost the race for delegate with all of your informed information.

  4. Carl

    January 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I fully agree with Spencer60, Mr. Abraham just repeats old falsehoods . Driving a motorcycle on public roads is a privilege and not a fundamental human right as codified in the 2nd amendment of the constitution.

  5. SamAdams1776

    January 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Lord, so much mis-information( liem the Natonal Guard is the militia)

    The NG is part of the professional army (the organized militia, covered in Art 1 Sec 8 of the Constitution. Also, tacet in the assumtion of the article is that the subordinate (prefatory) clause is listing the sole reason for the right existing.

    In realtion to that:

    1. The right is an assumed right, being a natural, pre-existing right abd belongs to the people as individuals. The 2A is simply forbidding government from ANY form of infringement on that right. In other words, it is protecting that right.
    2. The prefatory clause mentions not the sole reason that that right is being PROTECED, but rather just one reason. Listing one reason is not tantamount to being the only one.
    3. Since the organized militia is already covered in Art 1 sec 8, the “militia” of the 2A is the unorganized militia. Please refer to modern law describing this militia in Title 10 United States Code, Ch 13, Sec 311b

    Finally, there is not a recent epidemic of gun violence, certainly not according to the USDOJ. The number of “mass” shootings has been constant for decades (nearly always in gun-free zones (hmmmmm–might be interesting to explore that relationship)but gun violence over all has been dropping fr years and years. There is no suddenepidemic of violence!

    SamAdams1776 III Oathkeeper
    Molon Labe
    Qui tacet consentit
    Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
    Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset

  6. Jack

    January 21, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    “Mass murders in particular are on a steady, 30-year upswing.”

    I don’t find any statistics that support this statement. A lot of things are presented as facts that aren’t really facts in this article.

    NRA – protect your rights

  7. Jim Smith

    January 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    In 1934, 1968, 1986, 1993 and 1994 I suspect similar arguments were made for “common ground” when more restrictive gun laws were passed. Since all of the regulations promulgated from these laws are apparently not enough, maybe you can understand the reluctance of gun owners to entertain the idea of accepting this latest barrage. The problem is the real agenda of progressives is to ban all guns except for the government and governments (unlike individuals) have the track record for killing people that don’t agree with them. The reality is banning semi-automatic rifles (like the AR) or standard capacity magazines has nothing to do with keeping the people safe – its about using a horrific crime like Sandy Hook to whip lawmakers into an emotional frenzy in order get them to advance the agenda of gun control in more incremental “progressive” steps in order to set a new baseline and move the goal posts to the point where an unscrupulous government could do what ever they please.

  8. Jim Smith

    January 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    “The problem I have with the gun rights advocates is that they don’t see gun violence as a problem”

    The facts are in 2010 there were about 8775 people murdered by firearms in the US which works out to about 24 people per day (See http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl20.xls). These are the “word doctored” figures the news media and anti-gun folks like to publicize because people relate to the magnitude of those numbers and it sounds like a lot of people until you realize this is out of a population of 310 million Americans. In that context, it works out to about 1 person out of every 35,000 people being murdered by a firearm. Dwell on the magnitude of your individual significance next time you are in a stadium with 35,000 people. To me, 1 in 35,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a firearm that has harmed no one. If 1 in 35,000 is too high, how about 1 in 860,000. That’s about the number of people that can be accommodated by 10 Dallas Cowboy stadiums. Would that be acceptable? That is the equivalent number of people (358 out of 310 million Americans) that were murdered with a rifle in 2010 (The AR15 is considered a type of rifle for you non-gun folks). To me, 1 in 860,000 is an acceptable cost to help ensure the security of a free state and the right to own a semi-automatic AR15 rifle with a standard 30 round magazine that has harmed no one. If that is not an acceptable cost, than what is? Given the fact that murderers are an intrinsic part of the human race, what number would ever satisfy you? If all the guns were banned, do you really think that would stop a person who is determined to kill a lot of people? Human beings adapt to situations and constraints – it’s called tactics. The Sandy Hook killer probably chose the rifle (AR15) because it was available and met his needs. Ban all the guns and a determined individual could have used something else and there are a lot of other options thanks to the Internet. If you think this was a horrific crime, imagine the carnage and suffering if he had used a homemade flamethrower and accomplished the task in half the time. What would you do then? Ban gasoline?

    • Va Girl

      January 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Don’t forget the gun deaths include suicides and accidental shootings (i.e. cleaning a loaded gun, hunting accident, etc.)

    • Anonymous

      January 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      FYI. Good common sense article on the true problem of gun violence. Mostly mental health issues.

      The bits below are paraphrases of a long story.

      ********************************

      More than 19,000 of the 31,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, far more than the number of homicides or unintended shooting deaths.

      *********************************

      “The conversation needs to change. We need to have a discussion about people with mental health issues and how we get them into treatment to lead more normal lives. In turn, I believe, there will be less acting out, less violence by definition,” Wolf said. “Think about it: someone who is mentally stable doesn’t walk into an elementary school and shoot little children between the eyes. It just doesn’t happen.”

      Carolyn Reinach Wolf is a New York lawyer who runs the nation’s only mental health legal practice that works with schools to identify “red flag behavior” among students. She lamented that “Washington is missing the big picture” by attempting to stem violence without addressing mental health as a standalone issue.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/guns-suicide_n_3240065.html

  9. Jim Smith

    January 21, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    “What is meant by a well regulated militia?”

    In the 1700’s well regulated meant “to make regular” or “be in good working order” which in today’s military is often referred to as maintaining good order and discipline. See

    http://constitution.org/cons/wellregu.htm

    Also, according to US law, there are 2 types of militias – see 10 USC 311
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/311

  10. Jim Smith

    January 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    “Our safety now is dependent on the government restraining our military, not in our individual ability to defend ourselves against it”

    Tell that to the Indians to include woman and children that were slaughtered at Wounded Knee or the Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II and lost all of their property except what they could carry. In the Wounded Knee case, rather than apologize for the actions of the military, the government awarded more medals of honor that any other battle in US history.

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