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How Do You Define "Common Sense?"
The following is a real conversation with a well-meaning liberal friend of mine, only the name has been changed to protect the clueless:
"Fran": "Mike, you of all people- you're a retired fireman/paramedic, ex-Sheriff's Deputy, you're in charge of security at your apartments...hell, you been in a gunfight, for God's sake- you know damn well we need some 'reasonable, common sense' gun laws in this @?*!%$ country."
Me: "Okay 'Fran,' what do you consider 'reasonable?'"
"Fran": "Uhhhh....well....I'm not sure, but we gotta do something."
Me: "Okay, whaddya call 'common sense?'"
"Fran": "Hey man, common sense is common sense."
Not All Gun Owners Are The Embodiment of Evil
You know what....I'm a gun owner, support the 2nd Amendment, and like 96.9972% of gun owners, I obey the law.
I've carried a gun in the performance of my duties, and unfortunately, I've had occasion to use it.
I also know people that, to my way of thinking, have absolutely no business owning or handling guns. Some from ignorance, some from stupidity, others are mental cases, convicted felons, gangbangers and wannabes.
All of us, gun owners or not, do.
So, like you, I want to keep guns out of the hands of certain people.
Unlike many of you, I can't justify punishing- or restricting the rights of- the many because of the actions of the few.
And unlike those on the other end of the spectrum, I don't think it's within my rights to own a fully functional .50 cal M-2 heavy machine gun or an M-249 SAW. I have no use for a fully-automatic weapon, even though they're fun as hell to fire.
I do, however, firmly believe it is well within my rights to own the firearms I do own, and the one I'm planning to purchase.
This may come as a surprise to the more radical of you, but not all gun owners are potential mass murderers. We don't fantasize about going around town shooting the place up.
Further, unlike the really far-out among you, I do not equate any of my firearms with my penis. My penis is just fine on its own (just ask my wife), thank you very damn much. And I have no feelings of sexual inadequacy soothed by gun ownership.
86 that theory.
I fail to see how my owning firearms can possibly come close to violating your rights as a non-gun owner.
If my owning guns is causing you some form of emotional distress, may I suggest the appropriate counselling?
Like most gun owners, gun safety is foremost with me. We all agree there have been far too many firearms accidents. But there are more auto accidents in a single day than there are firearms accidents in a year. Nobody's calling for car-control.
We Don't Have A Gun Problem, We have A Crime Problem
Another little vignette for your consumption:
A lawyer friend of mine tells me he once defended a guy charged with attempted aggravated assault for trying to mug a woman late one evening in a mall parking lot during the Christmas season.
Seems the guy got a very nasty surprise: his intended victim, a 52 year old grandmother with a Texas Concealed Carry License, shot him twice when he attacked her.
He told my buddy from his hospital bed (after he convinced him to take the plea deal), "If Id'a known that old b*tch had a f****in' gun, ain't no way in hell id'a tried it."
Bet it'll be a while before he tries that stupid stunt again, huh? Fifteen years, anyway.
But think about that: "If Id'a known that old b*tch had a f***in' gun, ain't no way in hell Id'a tried it."
Certain types of crimes are down significantly in Texas since the state's Concealed Carry Law went into effect and the "Castle Doctrine" was instituted.
Believe it or not, Texas law used to require a homeowner to retreat or make a "reasonable effort to do so" within one's own home first rather than defend self or property. In other words: let the criminal have his way, try to get out, call 911 and hope for the best.
It was a particularly stupid statute and it cost more than one homeowner his/her life. And more than one homeowner was prosecuted under the "retreat first" statute for defending his/her life, home and family. Like I said: stupid.
In the public setting (i.e., a mall parking lot) law enforcement used to tell us, "don't fight, do what he tells you." As a result, muggings went unchecked, rape went up. So did murder.
It may come as a surprise, but for every unarmed potential victim, there are 3.35 criminals just waiting for their chance.
With the possibility that potential victim may be armed, that ratio drops like a rock, to about .75, according to surveys taken inside the penal system.
Just over half the firearms used in crimes were illegally obtained by the criminal (there goes your background checks), either through theft or "black market" sales. If criminals want a gun, they will get their hands on one and it won't make a tinker's damn to them whether it's legal or not.
Get this straight: Criminals don't give a damn about the law. Never have, never will.
Now, while gun crimes are generally speaking the most serious or violent, accounting for the most fatalities, other types of violent crimes actually outnumber gun crimes. There are more stabbings and beatings.
I don't know of anybody calling for knife-control legislation, do you? Know of any anti-club lobbyists? Me either.
I will not argue that gun crime isn't a major concern. It most assuredly is.
But violent crime in general is the real problem.
Now, consider this: It is illegal in all 50 states for convicted felons to own firearms. Many states have laws and statutes preventing the mentally ill owning firearms. Some states will not allow you to own a firearm if you have ever been charged with family violence. Most states have firearms enhancements to most criminal charges, resulting in much stiffer sentences. Thirty-five states have the death penalty. No state that I know of will allow you to purchase a firearm if you are under the age of 18, 21 in a few.
Some cities have outright bans on handguns, net result: highest per capita crime rate in the country. Justice Dept numbers, not mine.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but laws only keep honest people honest. The only people who will be affected by gun legislation are those of us who follow the law.
Guns ain't the problem, folks: criminals are.
So, What Are "Reasonable, Common Sense" Measures?
What is considered "reasonable?" What do you consider "common sense?"
There as many definitions for those terms as there are adults in America.
So I ask: Just who will define reasonable? By whose barometer is common sense to be measured?
Will it be mine, or yours? Will Barack Obama define it through executive order? That idiot, Joe Biden? Nancy "we-have-to-pass-it-to-see-what's-in-it" Pelosi? Mitt Romney? Rush Limbaugh? Jesse Jackson? Some damn silly focus group?
Will raw emotion decide the issue?
This is the problem with gun legislation: Nobody has even the slightest clue how to go about it when we can't even come up with what should be simple definitions.
We can't decide on how broad a brush to paint with. Or what color to use.
Those on the far left want private gun ownership criminalized and the 2nd Amendment repealed as a "reasonable, common-sense measure to assure public safety (the other half of that statement, kept to themselves: "and the ultimate authority of the state")." Their words, not mine.
On the far right, "common sense" dictates there should be no restrictions of any kind when it comes to gun ownership, PERIOD. Again, their words, not mine.
Contrary to what the anti-gun lobby says (and, oh by the way, don't let anybody BS you: they're just as influential as the NRA), time is on our side.
We have time to define what is reasonable and common sense. Time to set parameters. Time to decide the scope of any legislation, the extent of background checks, what is and is not considered a disqualifier.
We have time to set hard and fast limits on regulations, time to balance and ensure individual rights.
Time to calm down.
Time to get it right.