Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Final Word on Guns for 2012

Going into 2013, its interesting to reflect back at this past year. A year in which the theme was curiosity, exploration, and advancement, a glaring tarnish must be discussed. With all of the good things that happened in 2012, what cannot be overlooked is how guns and gun violence have left their permanent stamp on this year. From the shootings in an Oregon, Aurora, and Sandy Hook, it seemed as though each month or at least every other month there was a major shooting which rejuvenated the “gun” conversation. It is an issue that seems to divide the country so emotionally and definitively, that no solution is ever achieved. No one ever seems to empathize, or consider each others arguments and while we argue people keep dying, guns sales increase, and the problem just gets worse. In our arrogance as a society we refuse to listen to each other, we become so emboldened by our positions, we forget that words meant to inspire one group could be painful to another. 

Wayne LaPierre (Executive Vice President of the NRA
No one was exactly surprised by the reaction of the NRA to the shooting in Sandy Hook. Did any one honestly think that Wayne LaPierre was going come out and say anything that wasn’t a full throated defense of firearms? No. LaPierre said “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”. The problem I have is this, he has people he needs to represent. The NRA, represents an idea, a right, and an American way of life. There are a lot of people out there good, bad, and indifferent who believe in everything the NRA has come to represent. Just like the president and vice president must represent their side by creating new, stronger, and more aggressive gun  control laws. The problem with both responses is that they are knee jerk reactions, one side is digging their heels in deeper, and the other is only reacting to an horrific massacre that could make anyone question their stance on the second amendment. 

Although it maybe self serving for me to say common sense is the solution, common sense is something that we all need to use when discussing gun control. To pass and make legislation now would only be a reaction to the situation at hand. Never in the history of the world has that been a good idea. It is also not a good idea to blindly defend something that is one of the main reasons why twenty children are dead. I am not taking credit away from the shooter, but the sheer amount of ammunition and weaponry owned and purchased by the shooters mother is certainly a key factor as to why the massacre committed by Adam Lanza was so brutally effective. 

The first question that needs to be asked, what role should guns play within our society?  A gun is a tool, like any tool it serves a specific purpose. Ultimately the purpose of a gun is to kill. Now the times in which you use this tool can be different every time, but when you use it, you are using it to kill. A gun is useful for hunting, which not only can be used for food and supplies, but as a tool for population control, for animals whose numbers can spiral out of control. An excess amount of certain animals can damage livestock, land, and threaten the lives of people. For this guns play an essential role. 

In terms of personal protections, guns can and do protect people everyday from home invasions, burglaries, rape, kidnapping, and murder. The idea of calling the police and having them be at your home very quickly is a luxury that is only had by people in highly populated city areas. Once you get to areas of the state and country that are open and less populated the appeal of having personal protection greatly increases. Areas of the country where the average police response time could be upwards of eighteen minutes and your nearest neighbor could be miles away, protecting yourself, your family, and way of life can only be achieved with a firearm. So in this case, guns play an essential role.

The next and most important question is this, what types of guns should be legal or illegal? For some this question is easy to answer, others it is much more complicated. To me, it is complicated. Many people think that no matter what, the second amendment and the constitution entitles any american the right to purchase any firearm, because the constitution doesn’t say "specific arms", it just says "arms", meaning guns. In this day and age that right can be, but is not limited to, cannons, grenade launchers, high capacity magazines, high caliber long range sniper rifles, and specialty grenades. To me it all comes back to common sense. For personal protection I feel you should be able to purchase whatever firearm you feel is necessary to protect yourself or your family, as long as that guns intention is to do that, and is not modified beyond its purpose to do so. For example, I have no problem, with a person purchasing a standard AR-15, with a fifteen round magazine, that fires a semi automatic .223 round. However I do have a problem with someone purchasing a fully automatic AR-15 that fires a .223 round. Furthermore I don’t think that person should be allowed to purchase that same weapon with a fifty to two hundred round magazine, and a grenade launcher. Is that an extreme concept? Yes. With proper licensing can a person attain such a firearm in the United States? Absolutely. If you are going to preach that personal protection is the reason to keep assault rifles, then consider using common sense because, you aren’t going hunting with a rifle that fires two hundred rounds, and the day you can logically and realistically justify the use of a grenade launcher in a non-war scenario, is the day I change my position on outlawing the legal purchase of grenade launchers. 

Getting rid of guns completely is not the answer. It just doesn’t make sense, because all you do is take the guns away from the people who would actually use them to protect themselves, and the people who would commit a crime with a gun will ultimately find a way to get them anyway. So all you effectively do is disarm and make vulnerable the innocent who would only use their guns for “good”. For every situation that you can make in which a gun can hurt people, there is another situation that can be created or cited, in which the gun has saved people. So for that reason guns serve a purpose in society, and you cannot get rid of them. The reasons why some people are so passionate about threats against their guns are not because they are stupid, or uneducated, or ignorant, stubborn, etc. Those are not the reasons at all. They are not threatened because you are taking their toy away, they are threatened because you are taking their security away, their way of life. For that reason and that reason alone they deserve to be heard from and not dismissed as arrogant because their reasons to have guns are just as important as your reasons to outlaw them. 

All I really have to say is that we need to talk to each other. We need to listen to each others arguments and not feel self righteous about our positions because of written words or use an unspeakable atrocity as propaganda for a cause. Again, as self serving as it maybe, common sense needs to win the day, and all that requires us to do is listen to each other, overlook political and personal ideology, and just look at the facts. 

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