Why do we need Gun Control?
Debate Rounds (3)
Initially, I want to establish that we both agree that some gun control is required. For example, full machine guns are heavily regulated by state and federal governments. Nor does the second amendment apply to weapons that can't be hand-carried or items like "hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes."
Even Justice Scalia has acknowledged this point in his opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller where he stated that the "the right secured by the Second Amendment "is not unlimited."" He explicitly made clear that the Second Amendment does not interfere with a state"s right to prohibit "the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
I take it that what you really oppose and see as unnecessary are stricter controls on the kind of ordinary firearms that people possess such as a deer rifle or a pistol or an ordinary length shotgun. You argue against increased background checks, closing the so-called gun-show loophole for firearm sales, requiring people to get additional training, or place trigger locks on their firearms so that children cannot operate them.
So let me tackle those issues. I think it"s important to focus on whether additional gun control legislation will actually address the problems that our nation faces when it comes to the exercise of an individual"s right to possess guns.
A recent tragedy illustrates where additional legislation might prevent unwanted, tragic deaths. A father in Chicago had a loaded firearm that he placed on top of a refrigerator. He had at least two young children living in the home with him. Obviously, he was aware of the potential danger, so he put it up out of the way of children " so he thought. But the six year got hold of the firearm anyway and ended up killing his younger brother.
Examples of gun control that might help this situation are requiring those little locks you place on the triggers of a gun. You could remove the lock fairly quickly if necessary, but like a child proof pill cap, it might prevent the death of a child. You could be sold those locks when you first purchase your gun. Or there might be a requirement that guns be stored in a locked cabinet. Perhaps, you could require some level of gun safety training before a person is allowed to purchase a fire arm.
You mention that we have so many fire arms, you couldn"t stop an individual from getting one if he wanted. But Australia had much the same problem fourteen years ago. It instituted a gun buy back program combined with stricter regulations that by all accounts has proved very effective.
"We could require more extensive background checks for all gun sales.
"We could limit the sale of ammunition magazines to ten cartridges or less.
"We could limit the number of firearms any one person can own or require that they check any firearms over the first firearm with the local law enforcement authorities. They would still have one firearm for self defense and could retrieve any other firearms they need for hunting parties.
Of course none of these proposals will be truly effective against random mass shootings unless we limit the number of guns that citizens. American citizens represent four to five percent of the world"s population, but from I"ve read we own more than " of the total weapons in civilian hands. An idea that might work is slowly converting the "gun population" out there from what we have now to guns that have "smart technology" built in so that only their owner can fire them. We can institute government buy backs akin to what Australia did and put in place tax incentives to encourage people to convert over to guns that can only be used by their owner (something akin to the Armatrix P1, a German made smart gun that only fires in the hands of its owner.
We don"t let people buy street legal automobiles that go 250 miles per hours and we don"t let people operate automobiles without seat belts and other safety gear. The Second Amendment gives people the right to own guns. But it doesn"t give them the right to own unsafe guns.
I look forward to continuing our discussion.
In the first place, those advocating second amendment protections tend to win in the Supreme Court. There is a 5 to 4 conservative majority in place. The Republican Party controls the House and Senate. More importantly and what really matters, the majority of Americans support the Second Amendment. But from what I"ve read in the polls, they also support reasonable gun controls.
As do I. I think the position that no further gun control should take place is a mistake. It"s the wrong position to take and I oppose it. But I"m not advocating gun control just to put in place gun control. What I prefer to see is proposed legislation that addresses a real problem and would be effective in preventing that problem.
Thus, my proposal that we require guns to be locked up in some fashion or have locking trigger guards or be kept at law enforcement when there are young children in the house. If the gun in the tragic situation I cited before had not be loaded and laying around (albeit on the top of a refrigerator, but children climbing up on counters and getting into shelves and reaching for cookie jars on the top of refrigerators is a clich"), then his younger brother would still be around. Perhaps even requiring some sort of gun safety training for any household that has loaded firearms would also help. When I was younger my dad like your family had a lot of guns. I don"t know how many guns we had, but my brother had 13 firearms and that"s not counting whatever guns my dad had.
He made us both go through an NRA gun safety program even though I wasn"t particularly interested in going hunting with he and my brother. I suspect your family trains its members in gun safety. But I don"t think we can assume that everyone is going to act rationally and mandating some sort of firearm training (just like you have for driving an automobile) makes sense. And requiring training doesn"t mean the government will instantly take away everyone"s guns.
If we made smart guns mandatory or other gun safety features, such as was attempted in New Jersey with its Childproof Handgun Act, we could see a real reduction in guns being used by people who don"t own those guns and have no business using them.
If the handgun in that tragedy where the boy shot his brother had been equipped so it required some form of biometric authenticator such as voice activation, fingerprints, or a retina scan, his brother would still be alive today.
Now you mention illegal guns. The New York Times did an interesting article on October 3 of this year titled, "How They Got Their Guns." The kind of gun control laws that are being proposed won"t always prevent the mass shootings. But they may minimize the risk of some shootings. These guns aren"t being smuggled in from outside the country. They are being purchased either by the person who uses the gun or a strawman purchaser who buys the gun for someone else.
So right off the bat, I would consider whether it makes sense to allow third parties to purchase guns for someone else. I posit it doesn"t. It simply allows someone who might not be able otherwise to buy a gun to get one. A lot of Jeff Mercier"s guns were purchased for him by family members. I would look at whether with limited exceptions we can get rid of straw man purchases.
I would like to see back ground checks tightened up so that people with mental health issues, criminal backgrounds, and domestic violence convictions actually are prevented from purchasing guns. This might mean setting up a system where mental health information is exchanged between state and federal governments for instance. Many of the people who have engaged in mass shootings had backgrounds that should have prevented them from purchasing guns (not all). I would like to see the regulations concerning gun purchases and background checks tightened and adjusted so that people who are already deemed ineligible for purchasing a firearm actually don"t get one.
If you remember the case involving Jiverly Wong, the federal government didn"t finish his background check in three days (he would have been denied). There is a loophole or exception that allows gun shops to sell a gun if a background check isn"t completed. I either want the loophole closed or additional funding granted so that these background checks will be completed.
In other words, not only do I want reasonable and effective gun control legislation, I want it to be enforced. I could go on, but I will pause, take a breath, and let you make your counter points.
In the absence of proletarian leadership that provides a real answer, the initiative has been handed to reactionaries. The National Rifle Association, a right-wing outfit, takes the lead in defending the Second Amendment, while left, union, and Black leaders go along with the gun-control mania.
Working-class revolutionaries recognize the need for measures of self-defense " not only against crime in the streets but also against the violence of the ruling class. It will take revolution to achieve a socialist world, the only answer to capitalism"s horrors. Yet the working class needs to survive today to fight in the mass struggles on the horizon.
For starters, we say to working people: defend your constitutional right to bear arms! The NRA says that individual gun ownership is the answer. But what"s needed is organized, mass, self-defense. Another article in this issue, "Black Struggle Arms Itself," sketches the history of Black self-defense efforts and details the reasons why a class-based strategy is crucial.
At the moment the U.S. ruling class is trying to build support for a major attack against the working class at home. But unable to take on the whole class frontally yet, it uses the old divide-and-conquer tool of racism. It first heats up its crusade against Blacks and Latinos who have fought capitalist immeasurable through rebellions against capitalist police and property from Los Angeles to Washington Heights."
We have the right so don't take it away. Our guns are important pieces, they are not toys but they are defense. If our government takes them away we have no defense anymore, our law should speak better than any mouth on a human enforcer.
Likewise, we have the right to own guns. But we don"t the right to own any gun. We don"t have the right to use that gun at any time or any place. The United States Constitution permits reasonable restraints on the ownership and use of firearms (such as background checks) just as it permits time, place, and manner restraints on free speech.
I appreciate your argument that the imperialist government wants to take away the right of individuals to bear arms. But I do not agree with your position. I also do not think there is any possibility that the citizens of this country would vote for or permit the wholesale rounding up of firearms. I do believe that most people will support reasonable and effective gun controls that address real issues and which will result in preventing the conduct that we seek to prevent. E.g., if we don"t want children dying in accidental shootings, let"s require that gun owners lock their guns up when they aren"t using them. Not take their guns away, not render them inoperable at all times, but implement the use of trigger guards or gun safes in households with young children.
Is this so unreasonable? I would submit no. I would further submit that there is room for reasonable, rational, and effective gun control in this country without depriving ordinary citizens of the right of self-defense.
I don"t believe that the US ruling class is about to launch a major attack against the working class. Frankly, the US elites are pretty firmly in the seat of power right now. Wall Street and the bankers are not running scared. No one is going to take away guns from the citizens. But they may legally impose stricter controls on how they are obtained, purchased, and used.
Again, I appreciate the chance to debate you on this topic. It definitely made me think about my positions and work to articulate them.
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