Okay…up to this point in this conversation, I’ve kept it essentially non-partisan. I’ll do the same here. Yes this column is about the President’s suggested gun control legislation, but it is an assessment of the ideas put forth. Not the politics. This is about guns…and keeping kids safe.
In the last article in this series we discussed the Executive Orders President Obama signed in response to the Newtown shooting. His stated purpose was, in part, to do all we can to reduce gun violence and protect children. Here’s a quote:
Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try
And from the Newtown address
“… our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.”
The implied message here was fairly strong. Children are precious, and we must protect them. There is no arguing with that. We all want to protect kids. But stopping there misses out on a very important point and at least one purpose of growing up. Fear is part of understanding. Not the irrational fear of “other,” but the fear that compels us to personal responsibility. We know we cannot avoid all potential evils, but, if taught early, we can embrace accountability.
Children, you need to understand. The world is an incredible place where, one day, any one of you could grow up to be president. It is also incredibly unfair (just ask Bill Buckner) and unimaginably cruel…but let’s not talk about that.
Now, I’m not suggesting here that talking to children about the reality of life will protect first graders from trigger happy sociopaths, but neither will pretending evil does not exist.
Of course, the real question in all of this is: Will the proposals the President and Vice President presented to Congress accomplish that?
Here are the legislative ideas proposed by the President that will have to be written and enacted by Congress. The President’s suggestions are in BOLD…because, according to him, he is all about bold action.
Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.
The purpose here is to be able to track all gun sales and close the “gun show loophole.” While as we showed here, the number of guns in the hands of felons that were acquired in this way in miniscule, there’s no pressing reason not to do this.
Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
Ah, the sticking point. But will banning assault rifles protect children? Will it save lives?
Because no one ever kills anyone at school except with “military looking” guns.
Because banning a weapon that looks “military” is effective.
Because you can’t kill anyone with a small caliber pistol.
So, will an assault weapons ban save lives…well…maybe.
Let me think this through again. Will a weapons ban stop or reduce violent crime? Hmmm. Most violent crime is either a crime of passion or a crime of opportunity. Even those committed with pre-planning, such as school shootings. In every case, whether during a ban or not, the shooter used what he could get his hands on, be it a rifle, a pistol, a shotgun or a bomb. There are hundreds of millions of firearms in this country. Even if we stopped selling them today guns would still be easily accessible.
Common sense, basic math and history seem to dictate that, should guns be banned, this will only prevent the legal purchase of firearms. So, I’m sticking with “no,” this ban won’t help…unless your goal is actually to disarm potential revolutionaries…(more on that here).
Let’s get back to the President.
Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
It has been argued that assault rifles make it easier to kill more people. I would argue that it’s MUCH easier to conceal and use pistols, such as were used at Virginia Tech. Sure, you would have to carry extra clips, but those are cheap and also easy to conceal. The TEC-9 used at Columbine could be easily concealed in a lunchbox or cargo shorts or, for example, the pocket of a trench coat.
All this does is add a step to the process. Not even that when that person also has another pistol or, perhaps, a shotgun…not to mention a predilection to suicide, as has been the case multiple times.
Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
I would like to do what we can to protect those who put their safety on the line for the rest of us. In fact, I agree with Mr. Obama when he says we need to be demonstrably grateful to our first responders and the job they do. But, when we’re talking about gun crime, that trust usually begins 2 to 5 minutes after the shooting starts.
This fact is so self evident that it’s become a pop culture cliché. We have it on good authority that, by the time you hear the sirens…
Most cops I’ve personally interviewed, and not just personal friends, I’m talking about on the job LEOs speaking both on and off the record…it’s basic math.
But we didn’t ask all cops, so we could be wrong.
Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
Law enforcement does this every day of the world, so there must be some meaning behind these words that escapes me. What, specifically, do “they” need…other than a politician who is willing to separate the terms “gun violence” and “gun crime.”
End the freeze on gun violence research.
Again we see the term “gun violence.” This is patently misleading. Why does it matter? Because this includes all violence with guns, which lumps in the legal use of firearms for defensive or law enforcement purposes. Should we research sociopathic or malicious behavior? Sure. Should we research and prosecute gun crime? To the fullest extent. But let’s not confuse the terms. Especially on purpose in order to advance a political agenda.
This is a sticking point because Obama’s speechwriters, as well as partisan media on both sides of the aisle, are using a method of idea manipulation called a “fantasy theme” in order to control this conversation with buzz words, half truths and innuendo. We’ll talk about that in another column. Please feel free to post examples in the comment section.
Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
Talked about this here. I would like to see undercover professional police in every school. This, I believe, is a much better option than providing incomplete or infrequent training to teachers and administrators.
Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
This would be great. How can we compel mothers to turn dangerous children into the authorities?
Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
Mental health coverage is great. But what will it cover? Where do you send someone who is a clear and present danger to his or her family, but has yet to commit any crime? If you know someone who has difficulty maintaining personal relationships, who is also threatening violence or stockpiling guns, you may want to get that person “help.”
But who you gonna call?
That’s the real tragedy here. Bad people do bad things, but when we’re talking about school shootings and, let’s face it, we are…we are also talking about bullying, anti-depressants, easy access to guns in homes and the silence of those who either have nowhere to turn or who “wish it was different.”
So, if these gun control measures will be ineffective, what CAN we do to protect children? I’ll try to offer some legislative steps that will makes sense in the next column. In the meantime, check out what YOU can do to reduce gun crime as a conscientious gun owner here.
For more on Gun Control in America: