This is an easy topic, don’t you think? Yes, sarcasm is a major part of my life. Seriously, this is a topic that divides our country like none other.
We’re at a point where we have adults completely bashing high school kids because they have an opinion on gun control. We have people who want all guns banned, we have people who want all guns legal, we have those who don’t know what they want but they’re sure that something needs to change. Are there any right answers in this situation? Sadly, no. That’s the truth. There is no perfect answer.
This is a big country, with a lot of people, and that means completely different lives for a lot of different people. What’s good for someone in Brooklyn, NY isn’t going to be what’s good for someone in Bearcreek, MT. Some people in very rural areas pretty much need a weapon, preferably a gun, to fend off animal attacks against their livestock or even themselves. There’s people who need guns to hunt for their food because they don’t have the luxury of having a grocery store just down the block. Granted, hunting rifles and shotguns aren’t typically the hot topics during the 6 o’clock news. The most common phrase used when gun control comes up is “assault rifle”.
Assault rifle is a scare tactic phrase that makes for sexy headlines and sounds scary enough to be used in correlation to military style weapons. Overall, it’s just a semi-automatic rifle that can be made to look scary and can carry high capacity magazines. Do some people use these for hunting? Yes, actually. Most, from my experience with friends who have them, use them for target shooting and recreational use. So why do we need them? Technically we don’t.
I know, there it is, I just made everyone who is a staunch believer in the 2nd amendment hate me. Now wait it minute, we don’t need a lot of things in this country. Most of the luxuries we enjoy every day aren’t necessarily needed, but they are nice to have. And if I’m going to use things responsibly then I should be able to have them. I believe that should apply to AR-15s as well. There, now those opposed to anyone having an AR-15 can hate me, too.
I’m not going to go in to all the stale arguments that we all know. I want to start looking for ways that we can constructively address gun control. I’m not for banning all guns. I am a gun owner myself. I love hunting and target shooting. I have a shotgun and a rifle that I use for hunting. No, it’s not an AR-15, it’s a bolt action 30-06 that holds 4 rounds of ammunition. I have pistols as well. Three are used for home or personal defense, one I won in a gun raffle that I’m not really sure what to do with, and one is my only “splurge” purchase for a gun that I don’t need. It’s a ridiculously high powered revolver, the most powerful handgun in the world actually, and I have it because I wanted it so I bought it. None of the guns I own have what are considered high capacity magazines. Although, my 9mm pistol does have a 19 round magazine that some might consider excessive. It’s not anything that I bought separately, it’s literally what you get when you purchase that type of pistol. So I’m not against guns or gun ownership. I’m against uneducated people having guns because it’s our “right”.
It is our right. It’s right there clear as day in the 2nd Amendment. However, as time goes on and the world changes, the population increases, and things evolve, we need to think about adjusting our mindset as well. We’re not needing to hunt for food every day. We have a military that protects our country. I understand that we are supposed to keep our government in check by having guns so that they don’t turn the military against its citizens and allow what happened in Nazi Germany to happen here. That being said, if the US Military wanted to wipe out 90% of the country it could. It won’t because those receiving those orders have friends and family scattered all across this great land like the rest of us. They’ll disobey those orders, that is one thing I’m sure of. I do believe that one of the biggest reasons that the US doesn’t get invaded by a foreign country is because so many citizens own guns. Looking at it from the perspective of another country you’re looking at the very difficult task of dealing with the US Military. On top of that you the have to deal with over 80 million gun owners who know the area of which they live better than anyone from the outside looking at a map. It does add an element of protection to our country.
I know I know. Get to the point you want to make about actual gun control. Fine. Here’s what I believe should happen. I find it interesting that we take something like driving a car, motorcycle, tractor trailer, or heavy equipment and require people to take many classes over the course of months to years in order to obtain a permit that says an individual is well versed in this equipment. It allows them to use such a vehicle as recreation or for their profession. Big rigs and heavy equipment licenses require a yearly physical, they also require re-certification over time. Why? Because these are deadly pieces of machinery! Wait. What? These are deadly pieces of machinery. Much like a gun. It’s a deadly piece of equipment that can be used for good or bad. If you’re not well versed in using a 40 ton front end loader you can cause serious damage and even death. If you’re not well versed in using a deadly weapon you can cause serious damage and even death.
Why can’t we have tiers of gun ownership? I shot my first real gun when I was 8 years old. It was a .410 gauge shotgun. It was a great time to start learning about guns. My dad was in the Navy and did a couple tours in Vietnam. He was well versed in teaching his children about guns. There was one rule. Don’t you ever point a gun at someone whether you think it’s loaded or not. Every gun was treated as if it were loaded. Any time you were handed a gun, even if you were told it was unloaded, you were to immediately check to make sure it was unloaded. This included checking the chamber to make sure there wasn’t a live round hiding in there. Every. Single. Time. If you hand a gun back and forth 5 times between each other you check every time. If not, there was absolute hell to pay. We were educated from a very young age about gun safety. Not everyone has that luxury growing up. People who want to use certain types of guns should be required to prove they’re educated enough to use them.
I think there are some inalienable guns that people should be allowed to buy provided they can do so legally. Shotguns, hunting rifles that are bolt action or single shot, and revolvers should be able to be purchased legally without any special permit. Here’s where it’s time to make a lot of people mad. I believe semi automatic rifles and pistols should require a training course and a permit to use them. The same training course should also entail concealed carry permits. Get ready for fireworks…the training course should be a minimum of 6 months with written and hands on testing which includes how to properly tear down, clean, and reassemble your firearm. Sounds a lot like the military doesn’t it? Glad you brought that up. Because if you do 2 years of military service, or police training, then you should be allowed to forego said course. You should be at least 20 years old at the beginning of the course. That puts you in the same age bracket as those who served their 2 years in the military. The course should also cover in great detail the risks that come with carrying a gun in public. It would also qualify you to use the weapon of choice in mass shootings, the AR-15. During the course you should also be required to have a psychological evaluation. All this should help you answer some very important questions. Where are you going to secure it in your vehicle? Are you going to carry it all the time or sometimes? When is it okay to draw your weapon? How are you going to properly store your weapons at home? Do you have children in the house and what is their access to the gun safe? And hundreds of other details and scenarios.
I have my CCW. My 4 hour course is the exact reason why I think there needs to be significantly more training involved in obtaining the permit. I heard questions asked by people who “passed” the class that were absolutely terrifying to me. One lady asked, “If someone is at my door and I don’t know who it is can I shoot them through the door?”. No ma’am! Never! That is never a thing! I had 28 people in my class. I heard at least 15 questions that made me sick to my stomach. That’s just one class. There are a lot of people who are obviously severely uneducated when it comes to carrying a weapon. Four hours isn’t nearly enough time to educate people on the responsibility that comes with carrying a deadly weapon in public. That 4 hours doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on how fluent you are with your weapon of choice, either.
I can hear it now. That’s not what the 2nd Amendment says! This is easy for you to say because you already have your permit! Both items are true. However, I would void all CCW permits, unless you were military or police, and make everyone take the longer course if they’re interested in having a CCW. As far as the tiers of gun ownership, that would fall under Grandfather law. You already have them so I wouldn’t expect everyone give them up and obtain the permit to own the aforementioned weapons.
The 2nd Amendment says that we have a right to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed. I’m not suggesting infringing on that right. You can still have your shotgun or revolver. When the Constitution was written they weren’t worried about 350 million people. I don’t think they could even fathom that many people in one country at the time. We do have to evolve as a country and that means the Constitution has to evolve with us. There weren’t cities of tens of millions of people that we had to be concerned about. Things have changed in this country and a document written a couple hundred years ago needs to be updated as well.
I like to use the example of the different licenses to operate equipment because so many people try to trap others by saying, “Drunk drivers kill way more people per year than guns.” Ok, great, that driver needed to get a license to drive the car they used. Then they have to be 21 in order to legally drink. So they went through that and will now be in prison for a long time on a list of charges and only the driver is to blame at that point. That’s where I would like to see permits for certain weapons go as well. The person went through the class, waited until they were 20 or had proper military or police training, they went through their mental health evaluation, and if they still go out and kill someone or a bunch of people then it’s only the person to blame.
I can guarantee you that James Holmes, Dylann Roof, Nikolas Cruz, and many more would not have taken the time or spent the money on the course. Even if they did I don’t think these guys pass the mental health evaluation. Have you seen the latest news about Dylann Roof’s sister? I would put her on a watch list right now and as part of that watch list not allow her to purchase any firearms of any kind. There’s some serious mental issues there. We have to pay attention to how the narrative changes between these shooters as well to prove a point that the media is only going to report what’s going to get the headline. Dylann Roof wasn’t about the gun, it was about racism. The news hammered away at how racist an act that was, and it definitely was. They didn’t dwell on the gun control narrative because it was the “wrong type” of gun to attract headlines. Racism controlled the headlines instead. He used a semi-automatic pistol to kill 9 people. He had limited targets, there weren’t many people in the room in the first place. Nikolas Cruz killed 17 when he had hundreds of targets, but there we blame high capacity magazines and scary AR-15 rifles. One murder is too many, of course, but if you look at the damage that can be done with a simple pistol in the right situation it becomes less of an issue of the weapon that was used and more of the motivation as to “why”. We forget about the person using that weapon. They all had very apparent mental issues and should have never been able to access these weapons in the first place. Sure, Roof could have done this with a revolver, but you’re looking at 5 or 6 shots and a much longer reload time. The people would have had a better chance. Remember, my semi-automatic pistol holds 19 rounds.
I’m going to turn this over to your comments in a moment, but there’s just one more thing I want to address before I sign off. Let’s say dad takes the course and he qualifies for, and purchases, an AR-15. His son gets his hands on the gun and takes it to school and shoots up the school. What then? This is harsh, but I think we’ve reached the point where harsh has to be reality, but dad and son should serve the same prison sentence. Yes, I actually believe that. The gun should have been properly locked away to where the son could not have access to it.
Unfortunately the old saying of “one bad apple spoils the bunch” is absolutely in play here. People want to argue that just because some deranged people shoot up a school, or theater, or nightclub, that it shouldn’t take away the rights of the law abiding citizens. I agree with that, I’m not taking away that right. I’m just suggesting that you are properly vetted and qualified to have that right. People also have a right to be safe. I don’t want to see any of your kids shot at a school. I don’t want anyone to worry about going to a movie theater. Of course, this isn’t going to completely get rid of the issue, but maybe it will help reduce it to the point where it’s not the norm.
2 thoughts on “It’s not guns, it’s people.”
Taylor, this is a deeply thought out piece with a lot of merit. What you say is a sane, rational way to serve both gun owners and those who want gun control.
The only exceptions I would take would be the following: While I personally know many, many people who advocate for stricter gun control, I know of not one person who believes that all guns should be taken away from people. That belief is seriously overexagerrated (and promoted by the NRA) and that’s what scares a lot of gun owners and has them believe that any gun control at all would inevitably lead to all guns being conficated. That’s what leads to people being unwilling to compromise in any way.
The other is that many gun owners believe that gun ownership is what stands between them and a government that runs amok. Aside from the fact that there is zero possibility that the US government could ever turn into something that people would have to prevent themselves against, the truth is that no amount of guns can prevent any group of people from being harmed if their government wants them to be harmed. You could have given every single Jew a gun, and the military might of Nazi germany would have still prevailed. People who are preparing themselves for a possible standoff with the givernment are simply wasting their time.
I’m personally hoping that, at the ballot box, we can start electing representatives who believe that our current system simply isn’t working. There should be stronger background checks, a raise in age for gun ownership, and, as you said, penalities for improper gun storage and the other points you mentioned. An aside: I once had a five-year-old point a rifle at me because the gun owner left the gun propped up in the corner of his living room.
A last thought: I’ve had many gun proponants say that it does no good to limit gun because the “bad” guys will still find them. I would ask those people if they locked their doors at night, when, if someone really wanted to break in, they could certainly do so in another way. The answer is, while that is true, locking one’s door makes it a lot more difficult for someone to get in. That’s exactly what we want to do, to make it a lot more difficult for people who shouldn’t have guns to get them.
Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I really appreciate that. Sometimes I wonder if I’m off base with my line of thinking, but I am starting to believe that my idea would be a nice compromise.
No big deal, but my name is Greg. Nice to meet you. Lol. I did write an article about Taylor Swift that you’re welcome to read.
Enjoy your day! Thanks again for responding.