The following is a series of posts started by me, and responded by another (indicated by italics and quotation marks). As the discussion was interesting (at least to me) I thought I would go ahead and post it here as well. It all started with a news article on Yahoo about how a hollywood star voiced his opinion about gun control after the Aurora CO theater shooting in July 2012.
My response is here:
Mr. Alexander is entitled to hold his opinion, and to express it. I am also entitled to respectfully disagree with his position on this issue. The problem here isn’t the weapon. It is the individual with bad intent. Take away all guns, and with his knowledge of chemistry from his college background he leaves a backpack nail bomb in the theater killing sixty people instead of twelve. Unless you are willing to remove every item from every person in the country, people will still be killed by people with the intent to kill others. The lunatic could have just as easily stolen a loaded fuel tanker truck and drove it through the theater wall.
The problem is never solved by restricting access to the tool, but by identifying the person with bad intent before they commit a henious act. A person with bad intent will always find another tool if you make it hard to get one particular tool. The piecemeal approach of limiting individual items only makes it harder for people with good intent to protect themselves from bad people.
I received the following post in reply to mine:
“By using the cache of assult weapons the Aurora redhead accumulated legally? No one is taking away your handgun or hunting rifle. We need to stop wackos from starting their own army using legal simple to buy undocumented “weapons of mass destrutction”. What about this simple comment you second amendment advocates can’t comprehend.”
To which I replied:
Do you understand that firearms, even so called “assault weapons” as you call them do not meet the definition of weapons of mass destruction? If you are going to use these terms, then it would help if you understood their meaning.
I am not, nor is any “second amendment advocate” as you call them advocating weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of common citizens. Weapons of mass destruction are kiloton+ class bombs, nuclear agents, biological weapons, and chemical weapons designed to create casualties in vast quantities. When the government is accurately refering to such items, this is what they mean. An “assault style weapon” which is essentially a .223 caliber rifle much less powerful than your average .308 caliber deer rifle is called a weapon of mass destrution by someone, it clearly indicates they are an alarmist personality with an agenda against citizens being allowed to protect themselves.
The problem isn’t the weapon used by the nutcase in Auroa CO. The problem is the nutcase who wants to kill a random group a people for whatever sick reason he has invented as his justification. I personally own an AR-15, and have put literally thousands of rounds throught it to develop my personal proficiency on the weapon system. I also have never shot a person in my life, and have no intention of ever shooting anyone if I can possibly avoid it.
The first thing which comes to mind is all the people who don’t own one, have never shot one, and who don’t like even the concept of firearms making decisions about whether they want me to have one. I’m a law abiding citizen who has never committed a misdemeanor or felony. I don’t use illegal/recreational drugs, I don’t consume alcoholic beverages while shooting, or driving, and I don’t violate local ordenances regarding weapon use. Both a county sheriff’s deputy and a state trooper tried out my semi-automatic handgun on the public range in my county just last week in fact.
So why do I have to surrender my constitutional rights because you’re afraid some lunatic might get a gun and hurt someone. The truth of the matter is that a lunatic determined to hurt someone is going to find a way even without access to a gun. Do we take cars away from everyone? Do we remove all chemical substances from grocery stores and home improvement stores? At what point in removing gasoline from gas stations, and knives from kitchens does your personal paranoia subside enough that I can live my life with what is left if you have your way?
Look at cities like Washington DC and Chicago, IL which for a large number of years banned guns, but for a large number of years also had some of the highest murder rates in the country. A lack of guns in the hands of honest citizens does not reduce crime or violence in any manner. Arguably it turns honest citizens into easy prey instead.
Look at gun violence rates in Switzerland with it’s mandatory gun ownership requirement for adult citizens. Their overall crime rate and gun related crime rate is much lower than the US.
The point being the object is just that. An object. It could be dangerous or not simply based on the intent of the wielder. It doesn’t matter if it is a knife, a gun, a rope, a hammer, a chain saw, a car, an airplane, a pillow, or a plastic bag. Any or all of these things can be used to kill another human being.
The solution isn’t for the government to remove all possibly dangerous items from all people. The solution is for all people to remain vigilant against the potental lunatic like the one who rampaged in Aurora CO.
The story continues with the next response to my post:
“You are totally wrong. This nut job had no priors. The ones that knew him should have been reported to a watch list; those retailers in 4 different gun stores that faced him and sold him those dangerous weapons plus the online companies that have no restrictions selling a single person 4,000 rounds of ammo. Would they have sole him 40.000 also? We don’t know, but the whole point is we SHOULD KNOW . No one is coming to take away your handguns to protect yourself and your rifle to go hunting. The only thing we should deal with is weapons of mass destruction which was the #$%$ reason we were sold to us to get us into a deadly 11 year war in Iraq. How many dead and wounded soldiers were caused by that yahoo cowboy american exceptionalism nonsense”
To which I gave an even lengthier reply:
Have you ever used any kind of firearm in your life? I would like to know, because all I read from you is the lack of knowledge about firearms typical of people who are blaming the firearm for the acts of criminal individuals.
First off, even if he had 40000 rounds of ammunition, do you understand how difficult it is to carry even 1000 rounds of .223 caliber ammunition with you. I know because I carry that much in an ammo can at the start of my shooting season in the spring. Even with 1000 rounds already loaded up into magazines it would be extremely difficult to carry them all or load them all into a firearm at once without a belt fed automatic weapon which are not legal for private citizen ownership.
Now you are also advocating that citizens give up their privacy rights as supported by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and their right to bear arms as supported by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. Of course that leads to tyranny by the government, and the eventual loss of your First Amendment right of free speech you are exercising here. I suggest that if you don’t like the natural rights belonging to citizens of the US and recognized as such by the US Constitution, you locate and move to a country which removes natural rights from their citizens in exchange for a false sense of security.
I agree with you that citizens of the US do not require weapons of mass destruction to protect themselves and their families. No one citizen requires nuclear missiles, kiloton conventional explosives, biological weapons, chemical weapons, or other devices designed to kill thousands of people across large areas. I also don’t know of any “second amendment advocate” as you call us who doesn’t think the same way on those weapons of mass destruction. I disagree with you that an AR-15, or any other non-automatic firearm is a weapon of mass destruction.
For the record I haven’t gone hunting in 27 years. I do go to a target range on a regular basis to improve my skills with the firearms I do own however.
As far as “Iraq” or “cowboy American exceptionalism” as you call it. I didn’t mention either. I didn’t vote for George Bush either time (or his father), and I didn’t vote for Barack Obama if you care to know. Both of them have engaged in overseas “adventurism” which I think has gone against America’s best interests in my personal opinion.
I did however swear an oath to protect the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic when I entered service with the US government over twenty years ago. That includes standing up to bullies who would happily erode our natural rights with inaccurate rhetoric designed to prey upon people’s fears.
In terms of your “I am wrong, this nutjob has no priors” remark. I return the following question: What if he had made a relatively easy fuel/air explosive with his knowledge of chemistry using items you may have in your home today? That could have killed hundreds in that theater instead of the twelve who did die. Are you calling for a ban on gasoline, detergent, and other common household items as well?
One again – it isn’t the tool. It is the user. The only way to have prevented this is for someone who knew him to recognize his behavior had become erratic and unstable before he made the attack (perhaps the geniuses teaching neuroscience at his college could have recognized the danger signs). They would have also needed to act upon that knowledge, and report it to the authorities. I do know of several instances where firearms dealers have personally denied a firearm sale because a particular individual didn’t seem “quite right” in their behavior.
No “second amendment advocate” I am aware of wants firearms in the hands of lunatics or criminals. Perhaps society needs to do a better job of identifying both. Yet removing rights for honest citizens is not the answer to the problem.