Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Why the Far Right is Wrong on Gun Laws

By Dale Bowling

As I read the Far Right's reaction to the idea of tightening some firearms laws in the wake of the
Newtown shooting, I encounter the same objections over and over. And not surprisingly, they are all
full of malarkey. Let's go through some of them.

I saw this meme today yet again- Stalin took all the guns, Hitler took all the guns, Ataturk took all the
guns and that led to genocide.

Gun control in the US would not mean taking all the guns away. It would most likely mean closing
loopholes in existing laws (like the one that lets people buy guns at gun shows without a background
check). Private sales between individuals are not subject to the same laws as gun dealer sales and
one study showed guns from private sales are used in up to 80% of gun crimes. Why? Because the assailant wouldn't pass the background check to get a gun through a dealer.

US gun control would probably mean the Federal Government would keep track of how much
ammunition you're buying- like they do when you buy certain over the counter medications that can be also used to cook meth. No one ever says their right to fight cold symptoms has been infringed upon by those laws.

The Assault Rifle Ban would likely be reinstituted. This prevents non-military personnel from buying
military type weapons. It would not "take guns away" from anyone who owned one already. We had this ban during the Clinton Administration without transforming into a Police State so I think we might risk it again.

Likewise, high capacity magazines would likely be banned. Did the Founding Fathers think you had a
constitutional right to fire dozens of rounds per second? I don't presume to know what they intended,
but high capacity magazines are one of the things that make mass shootings easier. Losing the right to
own them would be a very small price to pay for having fewer Newtowns.

I hear frequently that no matter what you do, there will always be gun violence because criminals will
still get guns. The Far Right is saying that there shouldn't be a law because criminals would break that law. Is there any law that has totally eradicated the crime that it forbids? If so, I am unaware of it. Does that mean we shouldn't have laws of any kind because they are not effective? Probably not.

I also hear about how many drunk driving deaths there are and how "we haven't banned cars or
alcohol". But the Far Right misses its own point here. Cars and alcohol are both heavily regulated.
There are strong penalties for violating drunk driving laws and underage drinking laws. Have we totally elminated alcohol-related traffic deaths? No. Have these laws reduced drunk driving deaths
significantly?- yes.

And that is the point, isn't it?

Lastly is the Rights issue. The 2nd Amendment is in the Constitution and gives Americans the right to bear arms. But all arms? Really? One doubts that Wayne LaPierre for example, would uphold his next door neighbor's right to collect biological weapons. Or even large amounts of explosives.

And Constitutional Rights are not absolute in any case - there is a long history in American
jurisprudence that limits the rights of the individual when they begin to infringe on the rights of others. One has the right to whatever religion one wants, but not to practice human sacrifice as part of that religion. One has the right to free speech, but can't yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater if there's no fire.  My kid's right to not be trampled to death at a theater, trumps someone else's right to be an idiot in this case.

Ultimately the question is how do we balance the rights of lawful gun owners with the rights of
society? Would any of the above proposed measures seriously impede most gun owners from
exercising their constitutional right? Not significantly. Would these laws likely reduce the number of
gun-related deaths? Yes.

And that's what we want.

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