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The Gun Debate Stumbling Block

Updated on August 24, 2013

What We Agree On

We agree on much more here than either political party would like to admit, and it is mostly their Political posturing that is making this debate an impossibility in the American 21st Century zeitgeist. No rational person sees, the events in Aurora, Sandy Hook, or the splattering of other weekly shooting sprees, dotted throughout each news cycle and says, "well nothing to fix here."

At least I don't think they do, I'd like to think the firearm industry is doing just fine and doesn't need media scare tactic to foster it's continued boom, (besides having an African-American president in the white house has seemed to promulgate preparation for the end of days nicely in the more extreme elements of U.S. denizens)

I would also like to think that they support firearm registry, more extensive back ground checks, and the closing of gun show and internet sales loopholes. We all seem to agree that, of course, responsible firearm owners are not thee problem and that we need to keep guns out of the hand of the mercurially violent and mentally unstable. If we seriously have that as a goal then legislation involving everything listed above is needed. These are the best tools we have to put into place right away and will almost certainly put a dent in firearm deaths and injuries.

I would really like to think that at least a majority of active firearm users, are in support of banning certain assault style rifles and also clips of extended capacity. But if you fall into a camp where, you think responsible gun owners should be able to own any type of gun and magazine you like, you still must realize that are some limits on this already in place and there is still a conversation worth having about where that line should be, where it is well calibrated or if it should be moved one way or the other. While I doubt seriously that I am going to be persuaded of private citizens' inalienable right to military assault rifles, the nature of democracy requires a conversation with give, take, and eventual compromise.

When you take a quick purview of the things which we allow government to at least partially regulate, thereby limiting our freedom, in the aim of mitigating harm done by inherently risky yet necessary activities, you will see that this balance between freedom and liberty is a pervasive element inextricably bound to the social contract.

Driving, Condition of vehicle, and license eligibility are controlled. Alcohol and cigarette consumption are heavily taxed and abuse is treated through state funded programs. Fireworks, Gambling, and Prostitution are illegal in most states. To perform any public job from hairstylist to phlebotomist requires training and a license. Even freedom of speech, the most sacrosanct of freedoms, is limited in some small ways.

What We Appear To Disagree ON

We seem to favor a view of the constitution that is sensitive to our leanings. If we want to protect gun rights then we view the 2nd amendment as part of an indivisible body of intrinsic rights that stand between us and an authoritarian state. If you are pro-gun control then the 2nd amendment is an antiquated piece of legislation involving machines that the founders probably couldn't have predicted.

It makes sense that as the children of immigrants who spent much of the first two hundred years of this nation's life settling it's frontiers that our love of guns mimics some sense of the romanticized rugged individualism boosted of by Americans.

Inevitably both of our sides become characterized until the point of absurdity, represented by it's fringe elements, by the media, so that they can fill 24 hours of news and allow a false sense of intractability to envelop the whole notion of a discussion. Media sensationalism is blocking this issue from getting anywhere near a room in which it may be discussed by the level-headed. For this we should all feel enraged.

What I don't understand was the casuistic response of Wayne La pier in the wake of Sandy Hook. I don't understand otherwise intelligent people being so fever stricken by rhetoric that, "we need to talk about gun access," becomes morph into , "we are coming for your guns." And I don't understand our inability to compromise in this one case in order to accord ourselves some balance of liberty and safety. If we want to begin living in a culture where are children are safe in school and after school, we may have to willing to give of ourselves. Maybe we will have to take an extra safety course in order to own certain types of military designed rifles, maybe something more than a perfunctory look at a person's past is in order before vending them something as dangerous and worthy of respect as a firearm.

Now these measures will not solve the problem overnight. No one is claiming it will; laws against stealing do not stop all incidents of theft, but we still have the laws and try to enforce them. I can already hear neocon pundits and NRA lackeys descrying the impotence of new firearms legislation following the next inevitable disaster. No law will act as a panacea but some law, even a paltry one, must mark the beginning of a rational conversation.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Adam, I'm on your side. Although I am a gun owner and advocate of the Second Amendment, I don't see the issue as dichotomous. The question isn't whether or not to have gun control. Truth is--we have it already. The only valid questions are "how much" and "what kind." Where do we draw the line? Moreover, I don't see "gun control" and "gun ban" as synonymous, and I absolutely abhor the whole "slippery slope" argument. (Such lazy "thinking"!) There just has to be room for compromise. Certainly the vast majority of Americans agree that we should have universal background checks, and we can probably find other areas where we could tighten up a little.

      That said, there's at least one privately owned firearm for every man, woman, and child in the U.S., and that's enough to supply every nefarious purpose for the next century. The people who say "gun control won't solve the problem" are right. It won't, but then again, we're not trying to solve it. To "solve" a problem means to make it go away, and clearly we can't do that. Even so, can we make the situation better? Can we save a some lives? Yes, certainly we can, and clearly we should.

      It's also important to note that not all gun crimes are premeditated and carefully planned incidents carried out by criminals. Many are impulsive incidents carried out on the spur of the moment by otherwise law-abiding citizens, and that's where we have the opportunity to make the biggest difference. Certainly we should aim some new laws and policy changes at this group.

      Unfortunately we may never see common sense enter this debate. People are far too emotional about it, and logic and emotion can't coexist. Also, the NRA is simply too powerful, and far too many of our elected officials will kowtow to them every time for fear of losing the next election. That's a crying shame, but it's also an unequivocal truth. That's just what we're stuck with, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Frankly, I liked the NRA a whole lot better when it was just a club focused on marksmanship, hunting, and conservation. After the Cincinnati Revolt thirty-six years ago, it morphed into arguably the most powerful political lobby extant, and until David comes along with his slingshot, Goliath is in charge.

    • adamschwartz profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Syracuse NY, USA

      Thanks for the comments, some interesting points made. But I must say I find this gun control doesn't work argument to be less than entirely convincing. Gun control laws have worked all over the world, might it be a matter of special interest emaciation of gun control bills, a lack of adequate time to let laws show results, and/or cherrying picking of examples to highlight a new law's inefficacy? Thoughts? On the same note laws against murder don't seem to much stem homicide, but we still have them and they have some curbing effect on national violence. We have a federal agency for controlled substances, all of which are less lethal than guns. If we at least have Federal laws on record approving or denying certain people access to guns this would inevitably lead to some illegal possession and illegal vending arrests. (it does in Europe) Instead of spending vast amounts of money ensnaring and incarcerating recreational drug users we could use these resources for catching people who are attempting to buy and sell weapons illegally. This would at least begin to shift the tides, no one's claiming this is a fix all, it's a complex problem. But it's a step in the right direction rather than staying recalcitrantly in place. Tougher, standardized background checks and more federal resources to conduct them can only help. Throwing our hands up because we haven't yet seen the results we would like and considering the problem insoluble is no answer. The answer is trying new approaches with better legislation. Thoughts?

    • Misfit Chick profile image

      Catherine Mostly 

      5 years ago from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD

      That's so true... Take the recent big haul they just make in New York. These people were attempting to work around laws that already existed. It didn't stop them from trying and probably succeeding more times than we know.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Gun control laws do not work for one simple reason: The people who intend to and who will use guns in the commission of ANY crime do NOT (let me repeat: do NOT) obey laws related to guns.

      Criminals do not buy guns legally through legitimate outlets that comply with laws related to the purchase of guns and that require that buyers comply with all existing laws. Criminals do not register their guns---the guns they generally acquired illegally.

      New York State has historically had some of the most restrictive gun control legislation in the United States including a total ban on so-called "assault weapons".

      Earlier this year (2013) even more restrictive gun laws were enacted in NYS---in the wake of the ambush and shooting of 2 firemen and ambush and murder of 2 additional firemen at a house fire by a man with a criminal history who because of that criminal history could NOT legally own guns in New York States. These laws are called the Safe Act.

      The Safe Act limits purchases of ammunition, bans several types of rifles, bans some pistols by nothing other than their weight, bans some long guns simply because of the shape of the gun stock, and limits the number of bullets in any clip to 7.

      Since the Safe Act was enacted there has been a surge in gun-related violence in several cities in NY including gun-related violence using weapons banned by the Safe Act.

      Gun control laws do not work. They offer people are false sense of security and, in fact, enable criminals by disabling law-abiding citizens and denying them their basic Second Amendment rights.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Q: How many NRA members does it take to screw in a light bulb?

      A: MORE GUNS!!!

    • Misfit Chick profile image

      Catherine Mostly 

      5 years ago from Seattle, WA - USA - The WORLD

      Gun Control Laws won't work because too many people feel more passionate about possessing their guns than they do about people getting killed with them (at least, until something happens to one of their own, I'm sure).

      In my article about this, there is a 'tactical CEO' who actually threatened to start killing people if Obama changed the laws. This is something that is embedded into people's brains so deeply - their ideals are not going to change anytime, soon.

      Also: Reacting to these horrible shooting sprees, and changing a system to try to stop it? We'd be better off looking at child welfare and family issues etc. - in that changing the laws, we're trying to stop lighting from striking again, where every single day there are kids hurt in so many other ways where someone can make a difference.

      Its not like what happened at Newtown isn't important. Its just that its such a small yet very intense problem compared to stuff like general child neglect and all the other sad stuff that goes along with it.

      And attempting to fix these almost just-as-impossible things would improve all kinds of situations everywhere in our country.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Even in DC v. Heller (2008), a decidedly PRO-gun decision, the SCOTUS said:

      "The Second Amendment right is not a right to keep and carry any weapon in any manner and for any purpose. The Court has upheld gun control legislation including prohibitions on concealed weapons and possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, and laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

      Clearly the question isn't whether or not gun control is constitutional; rather, the question is "how much" gun control is okay. The vast majority of Americans agree that there should be some restrictions on the types of firearms that private citizens should be allowed to own, restrictions on high-capacity magazines, some restrictions on quantity and types of ammunition purchased, and universal background checks. Unfortunately Wayne "MORE GUNS!!!" LaPierre and his powerful lobby are in cahoots with the manufacturers to increase sales, and they're not about to let any of that happen.

      That said, this is a good, well-balanced Hub. There are at least two sides to every issue, and the answer isn't a dichotomy. It's good to know that there are some people who can view the issue objectively.


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