Gun control – for some, it has become the antithesis of liberty-loving Americanism and a consuming threat to the Second Amendment – that last and official stronghold of a citizen’s right to bear arms and protect oneself.
The gun control debate is an emotion that runs deeply not only in many gun owner’s hearts but also in the broken hearts of loved ones who have lost relatives and friends to widespread gun violence.
And therein lies the problem – of how to maintain a BALANCE – between safeguarding the liberties of many while protecting the safety of all.
Unfortunately…here we go again.
In Oregon last week, the deranged actions of another psychopath have brought the controversy of gun control to the forefront of the political arena and evoked human emotion.
Like the debate on abortion, the subject of life over death and how to manage it rips the country apart.
Will enacting broader background checks on firearms guarantee that there will be no more school shootings? Will it increase the odds that the mentally deranged or criminal element will not get their hands on guns? Will longer waiting periods guarantee that a peaceful and sane gun applicant will not become mentally unstable a year later and go on a shooting rampage at the local elementary school?
Of course not, none of us have a crystal ball and no law rushed into Congress will be able to control the unforeseeable future. It seems, though, that half the country is willing to make that bet while the other half is not willing to risk what they claim could become an even bigger liability.
When you take guns away from the good guys – the bad guys get the home court advantage.
Opponents of stricter gun control also say that tighter gun laws will make it harder or even impossible for a law-abiding citizen to purchase and license a firearm. They say that is exactly the government’s and President Obama’s true intention.
Ironically, advocates of stricter gun laws themselves, agree that stricter gun laws and background checks offer no guarantee, but only increase the unavailability of firearms to the less resourceful.
And that is a good thing.
But then, what about the avid and resourceful, gun seeker? Certainly, the stricter gun legislation will only increase the desire to secretly and illegally obtain a weapon.
Look at the city of Chicago. A city with the strictest gun laws in America is a documented hotbed of gun violence, mayhem, and murder. Buying a gun on the street is as easy as buying a loaf of bread at the grocery store.
Let’s not forget what happened the last two years after the issue of gun control became a heated debate. Immediately, gun sales and ammo rose to a feverish pitch, putting even more weapons on the street in record time.
That’s how human conditioning works – when it’s told it can’t have something – it seeks it out and desires it even more. And undoubtedly, this latest tragedy and uproar will have the same effect.
I’m not a gun owner myself, but the thought of not being allowed to have a gun to defend myself or my loved ones (at home) makes me think about going out and buying one as a precaution – before that option is quickly, chipped away by overzealous legislation.
Surely, new bills will quickly be introduced to congress that will extend current waiting periods for existing background checks. I support them, but only if they don’t become abused to the point of thwarting or discouraging new gun ownership for the law-abiding citizen.
Background checks should be used only to rule out mental illness and past or present criminality and nothing more.
But, we have to be careful. Delving too deeply into an applicant’s past history searching for even the most minor offense (for political gain and denying a gun license) will erode the background check’s original purpose.
Have we forgotten the murder of 39-year-old, Carol Browne from New Jersey, who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend while she waited for her pistol license to be approved? How tragic it was that the killer himself was the reason why she had purchased a gun.
Let’s not punish the innocent or endanger their lives for the crimes of the criminally deranged. Getting arrested for a minor domestic dispute and having it dismissed decades before is not a reason to deny gun ownership twenty-years later.
There has to be a BALANCE. Everyone’s liberties and safety must be safeguarded.
Should we take everyone’s cars away to prevent drunk drivers from committing vehicular homicide? Are we going to demand mental and psychological profiles before issuing new drivers licenses?
Some people argue that the gun deaths versus DUI deaths comparison are a statistical anomaly. But is it really? Aren’t both guns and cars both licensed and able to be used as weapons?
How about knives? Are we going to stop a murder – by stabbing – by taking away everyone’s kitchen cutlery?
The analogies are endless and an important tool for seeking logic and initiating an intelligent solution. The temptation to use tragedy and its immediate emotion to enact new gun laws is foolish, can have even a greater, negative effect and should be protected against.
The gun control debate should continue, but not at the cost of taking away one of America’s most important founding principles – the right to defend ourselves.
We all want to save lives and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally insane and the criminal, but let’s not tip the balance of law, liberty and common sense by rushing to an unfair and ill-conceived judgement.
Law-abiding gun owners and applicants are not pre-conceived, potential killers…so let’s stop treating them as one.
Joseph E. Rathjen is a freelance writer and Opinion Writer/pollster at 1World Online – America’s Fastest Growing Social Research Engine