A Layman’s Gun Debate Primer
The following is not intended to be exhaustive or scholarly, but it is factual. Make your own mind up about guns. If you think I have a single fact wrong, please email me…nicely.
Better that we risk offending some with a solid point of view than not trying to have a rational, fact based and civil discussion on things that matter, just as much as where we are drinking our double mocha latte today. So I encourage others to offer their facts and opinions. May God guide us and help us all as we work though this and other important issues of the day. Guns are a serious issue. Child safety and welfare is paramount with this writer.
Forward: Keep in mind, it is so easy to oppose something you have no interest in. I could easily vote to ban golf or reality television shows about food. If you have never owned a gun, never hunted or gone target shooting, or never had your life seriously threatened by a nutwad or an international terrorist (I can claim all of the above), you may have a different perspective. I cite no statistics on crime or murder rates as you can believe what you want. I might suggest comparing a country of 350 million to a largely rural country of 22 million with only a few big cities has its serious limits at all levels. Nothing below is intended to be argumentative. It is factual and simply intended to provide non-gun owners some facts about guns, nothing more. The goal is not to change your opinion, but perhaps make the discussion medium on guns a tad more factual. I tried to clearly identify facts from opinion and observation ….and make a few solid recommendations.
Ban automatic guns: Facts: Automatic guns are already illegal to own unless you go through lots and lots of federal regulations, finger printing and lots of red tape and registration. It’s an easy Google search. Ownership is very rare in the legal, public domain but not uncommon among “the bad guys” who acquire them illegally. I have only held one once and that was on an Army base gun range. I was not allowed to fire on automatic mode. I have seen tons of guns in private hands. Never has anyone ever shown or admitted to me of having an automatic gun. Have you? If you are dying to fire one, some ranges are licensed to let you try. They are pretty useless except in actual and close combat. I have seen some military guys who can’t hit the broadside of a barn with one. They have been around since 1850. Yes, that long. Forget what you see in movies about “machine guns.” Hollywood is Hollywood. Opinion: No one should possess automatic guns except the military and police.
Ban semi-automatic guns: Opinion: If you never hunted or used a gun, this may sound appealing. It will never happen. Understanding what a semi-automatic gun is may help. Facts: We have had semi-automatic guns for over one hundred years. Originally, there were musket type guns (long barrel or short) that were essentially small cannons. Hand fill them with gunpowder and you get one shot…you could almost read a book in between loading them each time. You might hit a dumb buffalo with one. I am skipping some evolutions here for simplicity and brevity of point. Most modern guns beginning mid 19th century became much advanced. Most were “single action” meaning they would load and fire upon some physical action of yours (you had to cock the hammer each time or pull a lever on a rifle). This innovation really changed the use and utility of guns forever. Even a modestly trained person could now kick off quite a few quick rounds fast before hand reloading—commonly 6 on a pistol or 10 on a rifle. (See Chuck Connors the opening scene of The Rifleman still on late night TV). Then came the semi-automatic innovation early in the 20th century. Almost all modern handguns and rifles are semi-automatic—meaning they will, after the initial loading of a round manually, load another round for you, but you must squeeze the trigger each time to fire a round.
Most hunters and hobby target shooters would typically have a bolt action (because they are cheaper), 30-06 and maybe some type of 270 or 308. Those with a few more dollars would have a semi-auto in the same gun. But modern handguns are almost all semiautomatic. Your typical midget James Bond 38, your 9mm or even your 40 or 45 cal. are all semi-automatic. Yes, some folks still carry a six-shooter “revolver”, (Dirty Harry style) but even most of these are now “double action” (meaning one pull of trigger both loads the round and fires the round)—just a shade less efficient and fast than a semi-automatic. Bottom line, a semi-automatic rifle or handgun is just a modern gun. I don’t think that is an understatement or an overstatement of fact. Semi-automatic guns and “assault weapons” are as synonymous as grape jelly and steel guitars.
I still have a single bolt-action 22 rifle and a 12 gauge, pump shotgun but they are like keeping around a 56 Chevy. Sure some hunters still swear by them. Lee Harvey Oswald used a single bolt-action rifle and was amazingly fast with it…and amazingly accurate…or lucky depending on what you believe. I don’t own a single or double action pistol. I would like to, but only for sport and nostalgia.
Opinion: A “manual” or single shot or single action gun is useful and perhaps the most some folks should ever own. They are good to learn on and are pretty safe to use. Arguing for banning semiautomatic guns just seems silly an unrealistic to me. Going back to telegraph or horse and buggy to avoid cell phone related accidents or car related deaths seems as likely to me. Everyone I see wanting to limit or ban alcohol drinks his or her share. Carrie Nation tried it. The result was not good. Focusing on the real abuse would be my thought. We need to be able to identify and treat mental illness better and get those who have gone over the edge in serious treatment. “Training, Education and Treatment” is a good mantra to consider.
Ban assault weapons: Observation: One has to first define what an “assault” weapon is first. This is not like pornography “I know it when I see it” but it sure seems to be the standard applied by most. Someone please tell me. There is no good definition. Most say, “ Oh those ones that look like military guns (meaning an M16 or M14). Really? So you can only own a gun that looks like a musket or something Capt. Jack Sparrow held? Modern guns, especially modern rifles all sort of look similar. It is the way modern guns are made and styled and have been ergonomically improved that people may notice. I also own a Ruger 10/22 rifle. It is a cheap target shooting and plinking (never mind for now) gun. Good for rabbits, squirrels and cheap target practice but it may look to the non-gun person like a military rifle. Deer or elk hunters still use more traditional long rifles, typically a 30-06 with high power optical scopes. Personally, I am much more accurate on an AR15 with iron sites (never mind) but oddly, some states ban those for deer hunting. I am unsure why, ..as I am sure are most deer.
Opinion: I think most folks “think” of assault rifles as the Military M16, M14 or Mk17 or the Russian AK47—-of which there are hundreds of knock off versions and “zillions” (no one really knows how many) in circulation and they last forever. The large hand guard most associated with the M16 (keeps you from burning your hand on barrel when it gets hot) is what may conjure up a notion or image of “military” or “assault “ gun. It is just a hand guard, but it sort of makes the rifle look a bit more “bad-assed” or sinister. Fair enough. Fact. How you distinguish these physically from other modern rifles, other than automatic action, is unclear. A rifle has a stock, grip, a receiver, a trigger and a barrel. The rest is style, quality and whether it can fire fully automatic. I recommend: Tightening of the current ban or penalties on fully automatic “machine” guns. I endorse this all day long.
Register all guns: Opinion: Very scary, Very scary. Read your history books. No bad guys will register. Good guys will get fined or jailed. I don’t want the government to know what guns I own. Instead I recommend: Require all gun owners to take safety and education classes. Maybe we teach all non-gun owners the same. Formal education is required for a conceal and carry permit. There should be more. There are way too many “accidental” gun deaths…few of which are true “accidents” —most are pure stupidity. Serious penalties for anyone who leaves guns available for access by children. (More sinful is that we no longer teach driver education and safety in public high schools—a car is a much bigger threat to your child).
Media dimwits often use the expression “He did not have a permit for the gun he had.” Fact: You do not need a permit in this country to own a gun legally. You may have had to register the gun if you bought it originally from Bass Pro shop; you need a permit to carry a concealed gun; but no permit is required to own a gun or guns. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong on this point.
Guns accidentally fire and hurt people: I heard a story yesterday of some moron whose gun “accidentally went off” in a local restaurant. I would not trust that guy driving a car or operating a gumball machine. Guns don’t “accidentally” go off. Owners do very stupid things that allow them to fire. I bet you $100 this numbskull had a small 9mm or 38 special semi-auto handgun in his pocket. I bet he had a round chambered. Stupid beyond belief. I know this because the gun could not have fired without a round being loaded in the chamber (One reason why a semi-automatic is arguably safer than a revolver which always has a round chambered….in fact 6) Unless you are a cop, a full time security officer or in the military, you don’t walk around with a round in the chamber. (Never trust a safety) I know some conceal and carry teachers disagree, but they are wrong. Yes, I might chamber a round if forced to walk down the 8 Mile in Detroit at 2 AM, but the one second it takes to chamber a round is a delay we can all live with, literally, in 99.9999% of all cases. No round chambered, no gun fires, period. No question. If I am threatened though, you better be quick, I can chamber a round in less than one second from my holster.
Ban high capacity clips: Opinion. This is worthy of study. The real bad guys will always get them, just not the good guys. It might inhibit the Sandy Hook types of easily gaining access though. (I suggest we all refuse to ever use the name of a mass shooter/murderer—they don’t deserve the notoriety. Someday they will build a tourist attraction to them like they did for Jesse James.) My concern is effectiveness and not doing something because it sounds good. Fact: Any modestly proficient gun user can reload a six round clip very fast between taking a quick breath. Is high capacity 10? [You are going to ban my little Ruger 10/22]? Is high capacity to you 15? Or 30? Will there be a capacity to caliber computation? Opinion: I agree that any target shooter or hunters can live without a 30 round clip, but I understand the convenience when target shooting of not having to constantly reload. We can all live with a ban to sell more than a ten round round clip or magazine. Confiscating existing ones has serious constitutional and practical limitations. Just my opinion and labeled so.
Ban people from keeping an “arsenal” of guns: Factual inquiry: What is an arsenal? One gun? Two? Five? This word was used ad nauseum during the Sandy Hook reporting. Two hand guns and two rifles are widely reported as an “arsenal.” Opinion: This is a silly exaggeration. If you hunt or target shoot, you own a number of guns like any other hobbyist does for the equipment of their passion. The gun owner, not the gun might be worthy of more discussion. Again “Training, Education and Treatment.”
Ban bullets, or make them more expensive. Opinion: Tempting thought but useless. Chris Rock did a very funny routine on this. “Guns don’t kill people, bullets kill people. I bet if a bullet cost $5000.00 it would cut down on gun crime. “I would shoot you….if I had the money,” he joked. Again, all you do is hurt the honest guy, hunter or hobby target shooter. Fact: A modest target shooter can easily shoot 2000 rounds a month or 250 or much more at one target session. Easily. It is expensive enough. 9mm rounds routinely cost almost 50 cents a single round. Any ban would have months of warning. People will stockpile ammo and it has a shelf life of dozens of years to indefinite. Before any reduction in bullets is helpful, good gun owners will just become bad shooters from lack of practice and life will change (and the ban will likely be lifted down the road.)
Fact: 99% of the time, Tasers hurt like hell and totally immobilize an aggressor but are not lethal or even harmful. Opinion: Why we don’t actively encourage more people to own Taser guns is beyond me. I would vote for all teachers to carry a Taser long before authorizing one principal to carry a handgun. Oh, ….a school without an armed officer on duty?–the cost of one, mid level math teacher? Crazy in my opinion. Since when did not all schools have one armed officer on duty? I recommend: All schools should have one side armed professional and multiple, Taser armed trained staff on duty at all times. What states ban consumer use of Tasers?—you guessed it: New York and New Jersey—truth always being stranger than fiction.
Ban open carry of guns: Opinion: Another questionable issue if you think about it. Would you rather know the guy approaching you has a gun or wonder whether he has one hidden in his pants? Think long and hard before you answer. Fact: “Open carry” has been constitutional and legal most everywhere for all time. The notable exceptions being Washington DC and Chicago. The bans are largely illegal, unconstitutional and are largely ignored. In most all the Untied States, you can strap a Colt 45 or a 9mm to your hip and walk over to the local mall and shop. Opinion: It would not be wise and I would not advise doing so, Fact: but legally you can. You will get some folks very excited and likely end up talking with the police quickly. Federal and State laws still prohibit guns in a number of places like schools, courtrooms and places where specifically posted. But you don’t need a permit to open carry in most places. You only need a permit to walk around with a concealed gun. The theory being it is unfair or better to have folks who are secretly packing to be trained and licensed because the public otherwise has no way of knowing you are armed. That bad guys don’t know as well is a logical case for conceal and carry. I recommend: I am all in favor of training and licensing for conceal and carry. Perhaps even more should be required. I have my license so I can say this with at least some credibility.
I hope this was at least marginally informative. I tired hard to separate fact from opinion or observation and I offered some solutions. I appreciate and respect anyone who is uncomfortable with a gun around or if they were world czar, would just confiscate them all. Other aspiring world czars with funny mustaches have tried that and it almost worked a few times. The worst word leaders of all time, and some in very recent memory, have nearly enslaved countries by doing three things. 1.) Confiscating all guns from private hands; 2.) Controlling the media; 3.) Government control over of the education of children. The latter is not opinion. It is absolute, unquestionable historical fact. Some folks don’t like facts that fail to fit their feelings. I understand. I simply urge everyone to read history and study up on that topic.
It is important we can all talk, openly, civilly, honestly and factually about guns, taxes, the rights of unborn women, world conflict and protecting our children from harm, poverty and threats to their freedom. If we can do this all over a double mocha latte or a stout beer at the latest hot spot in town, all the better. Cheers
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