Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tackling the Issues: Gun Control

Statement:
Now, gun control. I hate the argument, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Of course that is correct in meaning that guns could not kill anyone unless someone pulls the trigger. However, guns provide a more lethal (and accessible) weapon than any that have been in existence. Biological warfare is even worse, but the average Joe can’t get his hands on it. You can’t argue the fact that the number of firearm homicides is more than double that of non-firearm homicides: In the US 64% on average over the last 30 years. (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/weapons.htm). Guns just make it easier for murderers to murder. Conclusion: If there were no guns, there would be far less, up to 12,700 less murders per year (based on averages since 1974). True some people would reach for a knife if they had no gun, but it takes a different kind of psycho to stab someone to death, not to mention more strength.

I know that taking firearms away from people by making them illegal would not get rid of all the guns. There are plenty out there that are not registered, due to the black market. But over a long time, if you start with the guns we know about, and then collect and remove guns being transported in the black market by taking them when they are used in crimes, slowly the number of guns will decrease and approach zero. Also, if you stop selling bullets, the guns in the black market will be useless to everyone who cannot make their own.

I have a plan that probably won’t work although I think it is striving for the very best scenario. Remove guns as described above, including all legally owned handguns, assault rifles, and any gun not used in hunting. As for the hunting rifles, those should be stored in “gun banks” which would be secured locations at entrances to hunting lease properties. Hunters can keep their own guns, stored in a locked secured safe at a “gun bank”. They must return their gun to the “gun bank” after their hunting trip is over. This should limit hunting rifles to hunting, and prevent them from being used in a homicide.

I know this will never happen. There are too many selfish people who would rather keep their weapon and allow the 12,700+ people on average per year to die. It is kind of like a selfish child. Telling the child to share and the child responding, “You can’t have it because it is mine.”

I also don’t buy the argument that guns make people safe. I can’t prove it, but I’ll bet having a gun makes people less safe at least as often as it makes them more safe. My reasoning: If an intruder enters your house, they usually are after your possessions. They don’t want to kill or hurt anyone. If you run downstairs with a gun after hearing them break a window, you are risking the lives of yourself, your family, and the intruder. You better hope you are “the fastest gun in the west” or he could shoot you before you even figure out where he is. Or if you are successful and shoot him before he shoots you there is a chance he does not die instantly. He can then shoot back at you and kill you or shoot wildly and hit your two year old son in his bed upstairs. Not worth the risk. Let him take your TV, call the police and everyone lives.


Argument / Response:
To start this off, you must understand that overall, I am fairly moderate in my political, social and spiritual viewpoints. What this means is two fold: 1) I believe in gray area and 2) I don’t believe that I have all the answers nor will I in this lifetime, so I leave room for a margin of error. I work very hard to keep my mind open to the varying degrees of life and I believe that things, on the whole but not entirely, are circumstantial. What may be a good solution for guns today, may not be the best solution for guns tomorrow or in the same fashion.

There are several things one must consider when looking at issues such as the one we are examining. To be frank, someone once told me that wisdom never includes statistics. Oddly enough, this came from a sociology professor whose class was peppered with statistics. Anyway, we must proceed with caution when using statistics. They are fine if they are treated for what they are and that is biased. An unbiased statistic is the essence of an oxymoron. Further, it is a rare occurrence when statistical sources notate the make and model of the focus group or collaborative sampling from the outset. It takes a great deal of motivation and research, in most cases, to find out the differential characteristics of those polled and then to look at the psycho-social, social and psychological factors that played therein and that were determined based on such factors as gender, race, socio-economic status, education, etc.

With that said, I have great respect for the fact you sourced a website that is probably as credible as one can get even though it is a government run agency. I tend to be a bit skeptical of motives behind certain agencies. As does most of the country these days. Pretty hard not to be that way with the economy in the status it is and governmental officials skirting the system. What are you going to do? There is corruption everywhere…just another reason to make sure you’re reading between the lines.

I come from a long line of card toting NRA members. I myself have been through hunters training courses and own my own gun. My husband has 8 guns, most of which he inherited from his grandfathers and great-grandfathers. These guns are used in two ways: 1) hunting and 2) for the simple enjoyment of skeet shooting and accuracy competitions. Some people choose to box for enjoyment and stress relief. Others enjoy going to a gun range and shooting clay pigeons. I, for one, like to shoot the gun target practice…meaning; I like to work on my accuracy…not so I can become an amateur sniper shooter.

My father enrolled me in a hunter’s safety training course that was extensive, when I was 13. He did this for two reasons: 1) to help me understand the nature of guns and learn respect for them and 2) to attain my hunting license. In my home, it is a personal choice of mine not to obtain handguns. The sight of them scares me. It’s odd, but just my personal quirk. All guns have trigger locks and are kept in a locked and secure gun cabinet. If someone where to break into my home, even if my first thought was to protect myself with a gun, it would be a mute point because I would never logically have the time to run to Michael’s office, find his key to the gun cabinet and then find the right key (of 9) for one of the guns. And to be honest, I would probably end up defending myself in other ways. Nothing scares an armed robber like an inflatable bat from my son’s room.

Now that you have a little info on my history with guns, we can discuss my feelings towards gun laws.

I know you don’t like that line, “gun don’t kill people, people kill people,” but its true. It’s one of those stupid little “duh” lines…like no kidding. So I understand your reaction to it, but where is the inaccuracy? It’s the same thing with cars. Cars are dangerous. Look at the number of people killed every year in automobile accidents. Now compare that number to the number of deaths caused annually from gun incidents. The reality is, because statistics are skewed, that I have been able to find several sources claiming that gun deaths are higher but I’ve also been able to find stats that say auto deaths are higher. So, let’s say hypothetically that they are even. Should we outlaw cars because of their inherent risk? What about planes, buses, boats, trains, motorcycles?

Being a mother, I have had to learn really fast, that there is only so much I can protect my son from. I can roll him up in bubble wrap, but that’s not going to protect his feelings. I can dope him up on depression meds, but that’s not going to protect him physically. I can ban him from all sports, all physical outdoor and even indoor activities, refuse to let him watch any movies or television, limit the books he reads to foamy soft ones, cover my home in rubber…but what happens the minute he steps outside of my house? The best tool I have is to teach him how to be cautious, what ‘danger’ signs to look out for, raise him to be responsible for his actions and to always consider the well being of others in all that he does.

My problem is that I found many stats saying that gun violence is down, so we can argue that point until we’re blue in the face. The bottom line is that removing guns from the situation, is not fixing the situation. Do you not think that people outside of our “home” will get them in somehow? Further, we risk a much greater danger because now we’ve made them even MORE black-market than they are now. Look at the extreme violence currently taking place in Tijuana, Mexico. Guns are being illegally shipped in and out at a constant pace.

Another important factor is that we must look at the bigger picture. That is, guns will never go away. Whether this country ever agrees to banning them or not, is yet unseen. But if that day comes, violence will escalate exponentially. People will find a way to get them regardless. I also believe we are fools if we fail to learn from our history. So, lets take a look at prohibition. The outlawing of alcohol was mainly a moral issue that became a political issue that then became a national headache. For a little fun, take a look at crime statics during the time of prohibition. I think you might be shocked to see that violent crime (especially thanks to large mafia activity and grass roots cartel) increased.

I think we’d be making a huge mistake by banning guns and that is not a Republican position or a conservative position, but a Tiffany position. I’m not drinking anyone’s Kool-Aid…just researching and reading and then making my own educated opinions.

If we want to see a dramatic change in violent crime, its time we walk the talk. That doesn’t mean banning, it means teaching. We have to be intentional in regulation and in punishment to violent crime, and frankly, crime in general. If we compare the number of repeat offenders to the escalating degree of crime they commit, we shouldn’t be shocked. We arrest people for violent crime and though they may get sentenced to prison, they rarely serve out their entire sentence, or even close. Psychologically, most of these criminals have very telling psycho-DNA profiles, which show patterns to crime and violent behavior. Most criminals of violent crime come from violent family lives and lives of poverty. Even for those who did not come from poverty, there is almost always a history of violence, fear and abandonment in that person’s life.

So, we take this criminal and throw them in jail on a 20 to life murder sentence. With good behavior, our criminal is now back in society after only serving a 10-year sentence. The odds are unmistakably in their favor that they will commit another crime to bring them back to prison within 1-3 years. Why? We fail them. Yes they got themselves there, but then what did we do with them? We put them in a cage with a bunch of other animals and let them attack each other, sometimes kill each other. We don’t, with all the money we put in our prison systems, give attention to rehabilitation. Why are we not rehabilitating our prisoners? That’s the outrage. They came in criminals, where trained through survival techniques how to become even more violent and then without another word, we set them free on civilian society. That makes absolutely no sense. Rather, if we would rehabilitize the inmates with social skills, intense (and regulated) therapy, trades, education, etc., one’s release back in society could be a win/win. The criminal would have been taught life skills. They would have been dealt with in a manner that is stern but is one of grace.

I have two brother-in-laws in civil service and almost every man in my family and my husband’s family is a part of the military in one branch or another / one way or another. I have spent considerable time talking with these men about their views, their thoughts, what they’ve seen. My standpoint comes not from imagining what I don’t really know, but from the words of those who have been in times of war including several currently serving and those who are on the streets protecting the rest of us as police officers. If we created and properly regulate laws that mandate appropriate training (as I went through) in order to own a gun, that would be step one. To keep your “license to operate” (which could be created for all, not just those who are licensed to carry) you must attend a course on continuing education once a year or every two years. Guns can only be legally sold to those who have meet certain requirements, like those above and other requirements currently in effect in relation to criminal history, etc. Any violators must be disciplined and not let off the hook. Those put into the prison system, are thereby rehabilitated and now you’re devising a completely different cycle into mainstream society. Most gun owners would agree to this kind of compromise. The right to own a gun should be seen as a privilege for citizens, one that will be indefinitely revoked if laws are broken.

The problem is that you have to be very careful with how much control you give to the government. I’ll talk more about this when I answer your statement on the health system. The government was never created to ‘control’ those who live here. In fact, that’s why there is a U.S, because people wanted to escape from that. The governments roles is to serve, lead and protect. We need to seek justice in all its facets. If we were more concerned about achieving justice in areas of poverty, we would see a substantial decline in crime. Proven fact…what is the crime rate in an upper middle class suburban area compared to inner city Los Angeles? Ask any expert…poverty often leads to crime. And if the poor and poverty stricken can manage to get their hands on guns my husband and I couldn’t dream of affording, then what good is a ban going to do. Case in point – drugs. They’re illegal and banned. It hasn’t changed a thing. Where there is a will, there is a way. So we must stop focusing on this nonsensical ideology of banning guns…it won’t change the situation. Guns don’t kill people, people do. So if you take the guns away, you have only eliminated one weapon. But you haven’t done a thing for the violent mind.

Sorry this is so lengthy, but it’s simply not a two-sentence issue. With all do respect to you, I get it. Truly, I’m right there with you. I hate the way our world has become. I loathe the violence, the injustice, the environmental wasteland…the muck we’ve made of things. I’m in ministry because I have a deep love and respect for God, but also because I really, truly want to help make the world a better place. I want to feed the hungry, deliver medicine to the sick, comfort the lonely, house the homeless…and give hope to a world that often feels so lost. I know that most of my brothers and sisters in the Democratic Party, who include Summer (my best friend and godmother of my son) and several members of my family (who I love and respect), are wonderful people. They have huge hearts, are well educated and have only the best intentions for this country and our global community. What we face is a world of people who are inherently good, as we have been created to be so, who want to heal this world of the constant pain its in, but who disagree on how to go about. I care about violence as much as you do. I feel deeply the pain of people I know and have had the honor to have met who have suffered horrible acts of violence (rape, physical abuse, slavery) and even those who have suffered in the Rwandan genocide. Guns were the major weapons of choice in Rwanda and around the world. If we ban guns here, how does that change anything or help those in Bosnia and Rwanda avoid disasters in the future? We have to think bigger and globally. We can’t just safety proof our house…we have to make the world a safer place.

Ok…you get the drift. I’m exhausted. ☺ But I’m grateful for your ear and your open mind.




4 comments:

Darryl said...

For a historical example of the type of gun control described by the first statement, just read about Nazi Germany in the 1930's

http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/law_review_articles/nazism.nra.pdf

We'd save more lives by banning motor vehicles, unhealthy foods, cigarettes, and laziness-- all of which kill more people in the US than guns.

Yes, I am a gun owner. I quit hunting years ago, I have a concealed carry permit, and I have yet to kill anyone.

The gun control argument listed above is one of unrealistic idealism that forces the law-abiding gun owners of society to sacrifice their rights due to the evil, greed, and stupidity of criminals.

I've got a better idea. Let's just ban crime and let law enforcement protect us against criminals -- then we'd have no need for guns, right? To see how that has worked out for us, just check the local crime log . . .


Keep it up, WoaM! Good post.

friedmsw said...

Thanks for your post! Appreciate it! I believe more in gun education than gun control. People need to learn gun safety and the appropriate way to handle and appreciate a gun. Hey, I have worked the emergency room and have seen first hand what a gun can do. So, I do not feel that I am talking out of turn on this one.

Anonymous said...

I was raised in the south and could shoot a gun before I could ride a bike.So I understand the neccesity and joy that comes with fire arms. A cousin of mine had a 4 year old son, very bright little boy.One day during "nap time" while his mother was in the shower. He got a chair unlocked the lockbox on the top shelf of the closet using the key on his moms key ring. He dug out the right box of bullets.Relocked box left it on the floor. Then pushed the buttons on digital gun safe until it open, managed to find the right gun,load it,close but not lock the safe.He took the had gun in to the bathroom and said mommy look what I did!Then the gun went off shooting her in the knee.She has a prostetic leg now.What are the odds?I say why play the odds?Think about it......

Woman on a Mission said...

Anonymous - thank you for you comment. However, that seems like an extreme case. I think we need to be careful of absolute's no matter what side of the fence we are on. Nothing is ever absolute. Removing guns from homes will not give an absolute that no harm will ever be done by a gun. In fact, at that point, the only ones left with guns will be the criminals who have them illegally and then they will know they have all the power.

Like seat belts, taking the safety measures alone will not ensure 100% safety. That's why living in a country where we have freedom of choice is a blessing.

I think there is a problem when God gave us free will and man keeps trying to take it away.

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