I’ve been thinking about guns and gun control for a couple of months now.
But I didn’t want to write anything too close to the Connecticut school shooting because that seemed ghoulish. Plus, you know, fuck me for having opinions when the dead school children are from a sleepy suburban town, but nothing but jokes about the dead school children littering the streets of Chicago.
I have been amazed at the rush, and I mean, my word who KNEW politics could move so fast, rush to add gun regulations and increase penalties and run out to podium and wave that mighty signature pen.
And of course, on the other side, the inept muddle of a response from the nation’s largest gun lobby. Listen, never mind the good guy with a gun thing, how about the nonsense about “locking up the mentally ill”? What on earth does mental health policy have to do with a second amendment lobby group? Does the second amendment say “shall not be infringed unless you’re mentally ill?”
“When absolutes are abandoned for principles, the U.S. Constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone’s graffiti,” LaPierre said.
“Words do have meaning, Mr. President. And those meanings are absolute, especially when it comes to our Bill of Rights.”
I would argue that he is more right than wrong. The Second Amendment is pretty short and probably one of the clearest amendments in the Bill of Rights (A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.) , although even in the most pro gun rights opinion about the second amendment, the strictest of the living strict constructionists, Antonin Scalia, wrote:
The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on 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. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
District of Columbia v. Heller Pp. 54–56.
Though, I don’t know where he gets THAT authority from, “not infringed”, should mean not infringed, shouldn’t it? How do we even determine “mental illness”? Does a new mother suffering from post partum depression have her guns confiscated? Are they returned when the kid turns two? What if a burglar attacks her and her newborn in the middle of the night!? Does a family with a multi-generational history of hunting and competitive shooting all lose their weapons when the 20-year-old great grandson is diagnosed with schizophrenia? What about ADHD or OCD? Who decides? Constitution says guns for everybody. And what is this proscription against children having guns? Thirteen year olds fought in the revolutionary war! They were part of that well regulated militia!
And don’t get me started on this new “Dr. King would want black people to have guns” movement. First, Dr. King was shot to death. Whatever his views on gun ownership prior to having his head split open by a high powered rifle, I’m going to go out on a limb and argue, they may have changed. Second, DR. KING WAS A PROPONENT, IF NOT THE PROPONENT OF THE NON VIOLENCE MOVEMENT IN AMERICA. DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S NOT NON VIOLENT? GUNS FOR EVERYBODY.
Also, I love that Ann Coulter is looking out for black people and their need to have a gun to protect them from the Ku Klux Klan lynching them in the night or George Zimmermans hunting hoodies in the night. Except that she also kinda thinks we should only “count” white people murder, in which case we’re doing as well as Belgium! I… no, never mind, go read these guys on that particular point.
So say you, unlike Ms. Coulter, want to count the murders of all Americans, not just the white ones, and let’s say you recognize that a good guy stopping a bad guy with a gun might be mistaken by another good guy with a gun as a bad guy with a gun and so on… what’s to be done?
Well, one of two things:
There needs to be a federal law making gun owners AND sellers strictly liable for ALL crimes committed with any weapons sold or owned by them. The reason cities like Chicago struggle despite draconian gun prohibitions, is that you can take a twenty minute drive outside the city limits and buy whatever you’d like. Now, if the gun seller in Indiana knew that he would be arrested by the FBI on manslaughter charges when his weapon is used in a killing in a Chicago park, well, he might think twice about who he is selling to. Similarly, if gun owners KNEW that if their bullied teen or cracked out grandkid steals their gun and uses it to commit a crime, they would face charges, they might not have a gun around Timmy or Tammy meth head.
In this scenario, you can have all the guns you’d like, sell all the weapons for all the discounts your Walmart-heart desires, but if your gun or your ammo is used to commit a crime? You will face federal prison time, oh yes, you will. And if you’re convicted? Your minor aged children will be sent to foster homes. Your famliy hunting and camping store will be shuttered. And when you’re released, you will lose all the rights that people lose after they are convicted of felonies, you know, like the ability to own guns. Or vote.
Or, we do the other thing we do when our society evolves beyond the confines of the framers’ reality, we amend the constitution.
We have a National guard, a coast guard, an army, a marine, an air force, police forces, FBI, secret service, sheriffs, marshalls, private security firms, mall cops. We’re good on regulated militia. We are all full up on the regulated militia — America is ALL GOOD, Mrs. Nancy Lanza, we do not need your weapons, thanks for offering, though! Heck, maybe gun ownership could come with a service requirement. Two years in the military or on a police force would tie it nicely back to the original intent of the amendment.
Whatever argument you can come up with for why *I* Dawn Summers should not be allowed to own a nuclear weapon (the constitution says “arms” after all, and for those that claim the amendment shouldn’t be restricted to weapons available at the time, lest the first amendment not cover the internet, then *MY* personal right to have a nuclear weapon should not be infringed) — THAT is exactly the reason civilians should not have access to guns. And if you can’t come up with any reasons why *I* shouldn’t be allowed to have a nuclear weapon, then THAT’s exactly the reason why civilians shouldn’t have access to guns. If I get a nuclear weapon, then Ted Kaczynski gets one! Louis Farrakhan gets one! The super of your building gets one!
These dudes get them.
Let’s not forget this homie!
I like guns. I’ve gone to ranges in New York and Vegas. A few years ago, I even looked into buying one. But I’ve also lost minor aged cousins to gun violence and I was held hostage at gun point when I was seven. So, I also don’t like guns.
I’m a lawyer who fervently believes in the constitution and I trust in government and law enforcement. Imagine how much easier prosecution will be if we can identify the bad guy *because* he’s the one with the gun. Or if there is no such thing as gun show loopholes because the seller would KNOW that if that gun is used for ill S/HE WILL be held accountable no matter how many times they claim they sold it to a one armed man behind the bleachers.
We regulate cars. They must be registered, insured, inspected — no one blinks twice; no one claims the DMV is Hitler. We live in an amazing place, we owe it to ourselves and our progeny to keep it that way. All it may take is a little compromise and common sense.
But what do I know, the framers of the constitution would argue I’m not even a whole person.