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. 



37 Responses to Gun rights advocates offer only non-solutions

  1. Anonymous

    January 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    it isn’t a gun problem…it is a parenting problem.

    • Kathryn Farrish

      January 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      The article states that gun advocates offer only non-solutions. From your response we can infer that you are a gun advocate. Now to decide if you are in effect, proving the article correct by simply shifting blame of gun deaths from the individual who used the gun to the parents and not offering a solution, or are you in fact suggesting we now implement stronger regulation on how one parents their child as the solution to the problem of gun violence?

      • Will

        January 27, 2014 at 4:57 pm

        Well said.

        Anonymous is just using that as a straw man to deflect the target of the argument somewhere else.

  2. jb1776

    January 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    My I propose something to stem the tide of “Gun Violence”? Go after all the violators with all the laws currently on the books. Then when you put them away make them do their whole sentence. If they violate again double their sentence. You see this is a people problem not a gun problem. The vast majority of gun crimes are committed by criminals so shall we go after them and fix the root of the problem?

  3. AJ Jensen

    January 21, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    There are so many logical holes and assumptions made here, let’s pick the most glaring: that the proliferation of guns is the cause of more violent crime. Violent crime has gone down, not up, in the period between 1994-2004, to nearly half, while private gun ownership doubled over the same time period. While I hate to lean on a statistic, it’s hard to ignore one that neatly and completely contradicts the base assumption of this entire article.

    • Kathryn Farrish

      January 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Where did you find this statistic? Not being antagonistic, just curious.

      • Interested

        January 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

        One can start by reading these:
        Research paper titled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?,” first published in Harvard’s Journal of Public Law and Policy, Don B. Kates, a criminologist and constitutional lawyer, and Gary Mauser, Ph.D., a Canadian criminologist and professor at Simon Fraser University, examined the correlation between gun laws and death rates and
        “Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown,” is a definitive study on the so-called extreme problem that guns present. Northeastern University criminologists James Alan Fox and Monica J. DeLateur examine existing research and data to refute 11 common assumptions about mass murder. Fox and DeLateur found that the rate of mass shootings has remained steady from 1976 to 2011, at about 20 incidents per year, and that “the facts clearly say that there has been no increase in mass shootings and certainly no epidemic.”
        There are many more peer reviewed articles that support the Second Amendment.

        • Will

          January 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm

          First: Don B. Kates is hardly an unbiased source, he’s a lawyer who defends self-defense cases.

          Second: Comparing mass murder statistics to gun control is an apples to oranges comparison. You’ve singled out just one aspect of crimes committed with guns and claimed the result applies to all crimes committed with guns.

          Peer reviewed or not, those are no more unbiased than anything that I could quickly dig up using a Google search that is slanted to find what I want.

          • Interested

            January 30, 2014 at 8:50 pm

            Although given the chance, you never seem to be able to produce a peer reviewed article that supports your claims.

          • Amused

            January 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

            So far you have done a lot of attacking but very little in the way of backing up your attacks. I see Interested challenged you to provide some factual information but you have not done so. We can surmise that you don’t have any and, besides that we are all tired of your baseless attacks on other’s comments. Mr. Peele’s article quoted several news articles published in widely read mainstream papers, dissected the original document that many use to promote gun control, and Interested provided some peer revirewed papers for another reader. What have you provided besides attacking those who disagree with you?

  4. 2 Tom

    January 22, 2014 at 9:52 am

    When I see the term renegade Indians in a movie description it sickens me.

    Having reneged on their treaties the renegade government proceeds to euthanize the subhuman non citizen non constitutionally protected aboriginal peoples indigenous to the continent.

    I mean no slight to any native Americans.

    There were NO gun control laws in the US until after the un Civil War. Laws were enacted In the Democrat controlled South to keep blacks (imported subhuman non citizen non constitutionally protected slaves) in their place.

    The NRA was formed in 1871 because the marksmanship of the citizen soldiers in the newly mustered militia units was deplorable. The NRA was the first national organization to allow blacks in its membership.

    American-Niponese (citizens constitutionally protected) rounded up and imprisoned for nothing more than having different looks than their Germany and Italian extraction fellow citizens. Forbidden to fight in the Asian theater of operations while at the same time their Italian and Germany fellow citizens served in the European theater with distinction.

    No,our government will never (again) suppress it’s citizens.

    Do you really believe that Obama would use nuclear weapons on our own continent? Wellllllll.

  5. Supreme Court Case Law

    January 23, 2014 at 12:26 am

    This is the conclusion of the Heller Supreme Court decision, the supreme law of the land on the 2nd Amendment:

    “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”

    You know what ‘unconnected’ means, right? The writer still wants to imagine there is a debate about the militia clause. There isn’t. Within the law, the militia clause doesn’t exist anymore. Sadly for the writer, the lower courts apply the Heller decision, not the writer’s imagination.

    • Adam

      January 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      So the Supreme Court decided it was more important than the US Constitution and the clearly worded and devoid of ambiguity Second Amendment. That being the case, I don’t see the gun advocates problem with the idea of that same Supreme Court (assuming it comes to this point) ruling that stronger gun controls are “constitutional”. You cannot eat your cake and have it still.

  6. Will

    January 24, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I’m impressed. I never thought the ‘times would run a piece that opposes Peele’s paranoid misrepresentation of facts. Finally an article that can back up it’s claims with actual, provable, facts, and not gerrymandering. Bravo!

    • Interested

      January 24, 2014 at 10:03 am

      How about pointing out one of those facts with a peer reviewed citation that you are so impressed with.

      • Will

        January 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

        How about you do the same and disprove the facts you are certain are incorrect? Wait… You can’t. The article gave its sources.

        • Interested

          January 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm

          There are no facts or citations or sources whatsoever in this article. You are the one who was impressed by the “actual, provable, facts”. I asked you to detail those facts with the writer’s citations as Mr. Peele did in the original article. Otherwise it is just an opinion, a faulty, biased opinion as is yours unless you see some fact or source in the article that has a citation of some sort that can be verified. I already know your answer, just like the one above. One cant disprove opinions or made up facts with no citations to research. So point out those sources and I will disprove them. Most all the mail on this article cite sources to disprove this factless article, maybe you should read them as well.

          • Will

            January 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

            Any I post you will “disprove?” That seems very narrow-minded and arrogant. I shall toy with you no longer. Perhaps Mr. Peele needs your help?

        • Interested

          January 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm

          “I shall toy with you no longer” that is a real hoot. By that I take that you mean it is tough to defend your comment when you can find no provable, reliable facts as Mr. Peele did in his original article. Since neither you nor Mr. Abraham quoted a reliable source or even one fact, I can predict that Mr. Peele does not need my assistance and that you have no substance to support your comments.

          • Will

            January 29, 2014 at 10:36 am

            I mean it as in you’ve provided no facts to prove me wrong and are only trolling at this point. The facts in Mr. Peele’s article are not facts and do not come from peer reviewed sources.

  7. Mark Dickinson

    January 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

    If there is a disaster all of us with guns have a better chance of keeping our families safe. Look at what happens when natural disasters strike. I’m not going to rely on government to protect me and I believe those who do will wish they had not.

    I hope I never need to defend anyone in a life or death situation, but if I do, I’ll be glad I have my guns.

    • Interested

      January 28, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      I agree with you. I am completely prepared to defend my family.

  8. burman

    February 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Sure people have guns for hunting purposes and that’s as it should be, but the real reason the Constitution of the United States gives its people the right to own firearms is so we can protect ourselves from the government. And today more than ever, we certainly need protection.

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