A Few Thoughts on Gun Violence and Liberty

UPDATE: I totally forgot to include a great resource put out by the Presbyterian Church (USA), Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call. [DOWNLOAD PDF]
First please watch this video  . . .

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Now before anyone starts flaming this post and/or does the “What would you do?” taunt, please know that our family has been touched by gun violence, we have lived in neighborhoods where gun violence is very real and we have NEVER felt that the best response for an individual or a community is to have more guns. I am 100% certain that my wife and I will never own a gun . . . NEVER, so that argument with me is a non-starter.

I also know that I am posting this on July 4th knowing that some may deem venturing into the messy conversations about guns and my challenge to how we use and see them in this country is somehow “unpatriotic.” But I would push back and say that one of the ways I understand my own patriotism is to be thankful for this nation-state where we have the freedom to passionately and openly debate the very nature of what it means to be patriotic, so talking about owning guns seems particularly appropriate today.

Two arguments about gun ownership that are often extolled are, “Bad people will always do bad things, so don’t punish the good people” and “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people.”  While there are many arguments about gun ownership that I simply do not buy, with these two I very much agree.  Society will always have individuals who will make choices that bring about pain, suffering and violence upon the larger community, so with this in mind we must be vigilant in creating a culture that makes sure handguns cannot so easily be acquired by people who should not have them.  I am not even getting into the debate about rifles and hunting arms, but just handguns that are so easily attained in most states and used in so many murders and suicides.

I am not 2nd Amendment scholar, but I believe that our individual right to bear arms should be challenged if society deems that we do not have the psychological capacity to make good choices about the use of those arms.  Sure, there are those out there that don’t really care about the ramifications of loose gun laws and see any restriction on any form of fire arms is an assault on American liberty, but let me be clear in saying that allowing this kind of blind distribution of guns in our communities is an assault on my liberty and the liberty of my family.

One thing that I hope reasonable people can agree upon is that we must better deal with the ways in which guns are bought and sold.  There is too much evidence of irresponsible gun purchasing for us not to have rigorous background checks in all states.  One way that some communities have responded is to encourage – and pressure when need be – gun dealers to adopt a “10 point voluntary code for firearms retailers” that is being advocated by a groups such as Pennsylvania’s Heeding God’s Call and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Could not reasonable people agree that this is a good idea?  Heck even Walmart has signed on and is part of this movement and, for many folks, you can’t get more “American” than that.  Take a read of the 10 points below . . .

The 10 points of the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership are:

  1. Videotaping the Point of Sale for All Firearms Transactions. Participating retailers will videotape the point-of-sale of all firearms transactions and maintain videos for 6 months to deter illegal purchases and monitor employees.
  2. Computerized Prime Gun Trace Log and Alert System. Mayors Against Illegal Guns will develop a computerized system that participating retailers will implement over time to log crime gun traces relating to the retailer. Once the program is in place, if a customer who has a prior trace at that retailer attempts to purchase a firearm, the sale will be electronically flagged. The retailer would have discretion to proceed with the sale or stop the sale.
  3. Purchaser Declaration. For sales flagged by the trace alert system, participating retailers will ask purchasers to fill out a declaration indicating that they meet the legal requirement to purchase the firearm.
  4. Deterring Fake IDs. Participating retailers will only accept valid federal- or state-issued picture IDs as primary identification. Retailers will utilize additional ID checking mechanisms.
  5. Consistent Visible Signage. Participating retailers will post signage created by the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership to alert customers of their legal responsibilities at the point-of-sale.
  6. Employee Background Checks. Participating retailers will conduct criminal background checks for all employees selling or handling firearms.
  7. Employee Responsibility Training. Participating retailers will participate in an employee responsibility training program focused on deterring illegal purchasers. The Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership will create an online training system based on WalMart´s training program.
  8. Inventory Checking. Participating retailers will conduct daily and quarterly audits. Guidelines will be based on WalMart´s existing audit procedures.
  9. No Sales Without Background Check Results. Participating retailers would prohibit sales based on “default proceeds,” which are permitted by law when background check has not returned a result within 3 days.
  10. Securing Firearms. Participating retailers will maintain firearms kept in customer accessible areas in locked cases or locked racks.

Now I understand that any restrictions or regulations voluntary or otherwise, make some people cringe, but honestly, these seem like pretty reasonable practices and would not be that difficult to enact. Not only would I think any firearms dealer who adopts these would create better relationships with the community, but would also be able to rent knowing that they are helping to prevent death.

Now again, there are many more issues that need to be dealt with around guns and violence in the United States: disproportionate amount of violence in poor and/or communities of color, recent decisions about violent video game accessibility to minors and how society in generally understands the roots causes of conflict and struggle. But this day, it is my hope that many can at least agree when it comes to who is allowed to own handguns in the United States, in order to have liberty and freedom for ALL, those who see that freedom and liberty as a free pass to perpetuate situations of violence and death have perverted the very nature of that liberty.

And finally . . . for individuals, families and communities who daily struggle though living with the impact and pain of violence in their lives, may you find some glimpse of peace and hope this day.

  • Isthatall

    the problem with making laws on who can buy a gun or what has to be done in order to actually make the purchase only makes owning and buying a gun more of a hassle for law abiding citizens. criminals dont care what the law says they have to do to buy a gun, or if there aloud to posses it. there is and always will be a black market for guns with no regulations on who buys what, when, where, automatic or semi-auto, assault rifle or hand gun. if you know the right person and have the cash you have a gun. that being said if i decide that i want to kill somebody with a gun and ignoring the other thousands of ways to kill said person, being caught with that illegal gun is the least of my worries. the big fine and maybe a few years in jail for the gun is nothing compared to the 25 to life i would get for actually killing. and even then thats only talking about people being killed with guns.. what about all the people killed with a knife, baseball bat, shoe, car, fist, tools, or fire? and that only a short list. unfortunately human nature allows these things to happen. thats hows its always been and always will be. we have even come to perfect the art of killing each other. the day we start trying to actually play God and change human nature is the day we destroy all ability to actually be human. when that happens the point of living will also cease to exist and our race will die. 

  • William Ashbless

    Mayors Agains Illegal Guns counts more than three dozen felons amongst it’s ranks.  MAIG also crossed state lines and violated Federal Firearms Law in their quest to strongarm(in civil courts) small gunshops into ‘Concessions’ that you think are reasonable.  I’m disgusted that you think reasonable means I have to be video taped when I purchase ANYTHING. Further MAIG conducts polls using firms that openly brag about tailoring their poll questions to suit whatever agenda you want the poll to reflect.  Not only that, MAIG is actively trying to make firearms subject to regulatroy agencies that circumvents the political process because they know the greater american public doesn’t favor being denied their right to self defense.

  • William Ashbless

    Mayors Against Illegal Guns not what they pretend to be.  They want all guns deemed illegal.  They published a poll of ‘NRA Members’ that showed the vast majority of NRA members supported more stringent gun control laws.  Funny, the NRA denies ever selling their membership lists.  Also, the polling firm that conducted the poll is hardly reputable and even suggests that they will ‘doctor’ their polls to show an outcome that you tell them ahead of time. 
    Further, MAIG is stock full of felons.  More than three dozen mayors who don’t want me to have guns are felons themselves. 
    MAIG also says they are investigating further attempts at gun control through ‘regulatory’ means.  They would gladly take a cornerstone of the constitution and give it to the BATFE who gladly shipped thousands of weapons to mexican drug cartels. 
    The author certainly makes his case with the most intersting of bedfellows.

  • Gary F

    This is just all stupidity. There is NO chance any of this nonsense will ever become law. Keep your choice to no own a gun to yourself because you certainly won’t stop me from owning one.

  • Kerry

    “A few thoughts on..” and you lost me at “gun violence”.  There is no such thing as gun violence!  There is only criminal violence.  Guns have neither volition nor conscience, and are merely implements. To quote Jeff Cooper, ““The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.” 

  • Oldcrow1

    “I am not 2nd Amendment scholar, but I believe that our individual right
    to bear arms should be challenged if society deems that we do not have
    the psychological capacity to make good choices about the use of those
    arms.”

    Really well I don’t think you have the psychological capacity to make good choices about the use of your freedom of speech since you use it to advocate taking away one of my freedoms. Slippery slope my friend and all tyrants are doing it “for the good of the people” that is what you are advocating.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny
    exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. Rulers who
    just want to exploit us may relax once their greed’s sated. But those who torment us for our own good will torment us
    without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. – CS
    Lewis”

    Sorry my friend your argument is not valid.

  • Anonymous

    With all due respect, Armed Citizen, Bruce was born and raised in the USA.  I’ve known him for a good long while.  Is there some reason why you presume that anyone not Caucasian must be a “foreigner”?

  • The Armed Citizen

    Mr. Reyes-Chow, with all due respect, why don’t you go back to your own country and try to change all that is bad there? Why are you coming to my country and trying to change MY American freedoms, my heritage, and way of life? This is why some people are treated as such. Because they have “control issues.” They feel they don’t have control of their personal demons or issues and believe that by controlling or regulating others lives they somehow manage their own. Guns aren’t the only thing that kill people. More people die from obesity, alcohol, and did you know that 600 Americans die each year from just falling out of their bed? I don’t see you guys calling for a “mattress ban.” My point is is that you people need to do some soul searching and really look within yourselves what it is you need to change instead of control. I’m all for safety, but I’m also an advocate of education. You will never be able to curb the criminal mind. Those will always find a way to do it. In the U.K. they banned guns. Now the bad guys have guns and it’s out of control. Innocent people being targeted by these thugs. On top of that, knife murders nearly tripled so much to the point that they’re implementing a new “stab proof” knife. Are we going to become a ban & overly regulated society? Everyone walk behind the yellow line, look straight forward, and march? That’s not freedom to me. I think this peacekeeping icon said it best:

    “Among the many misdeeds
    of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act
    depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.” –
    Mahatma Gandhi

  • Jim

    LOL, Charlie- judging from the comments here alone, I’d say of you 8 million there are ten guns for all of you. And you don’t know them well enough to use them properly. So don’t think your little number will do anything but be cannon fodder if you try taking our guns.

  • Jim

    A loud yappy dog is a better home ALARM system than a firearm, definitely not better ‘defense system’. Statistically speaking.
    And I speak as a conservative Bible thumping country bumpkin who owns both guns and dogs and has good aim with either eye.

  • Jim

    My father was killed by a car. Perhaps we should criminalize cars and people who drive them should have mental stability and background checks.
    I am sorry your family lost someone to ‘gun violence’, as have many. It’s a sad thing for any family to lose a loved one, regardless the cause.
    But to use that as a reference point in an argument is no argument at all. Why not ban baby cribs since so many children are killed in them? Or swimming pools. Or bicycles. Or Big Macs and fries?

  • Jim

    Gosh, Kathy- there’s sure a lot of hypothesis there, but not one fact anywhere to back up your statements. Oh, right: you listen to what the Southern Preposterous Lie Center espouses. Sorry, my errot.

  • Anonymous

    If you know of anyone who has murdered an infant, contact the police.

  • Jim

    I absolutely agree there should be less regulation. If it’s regulated, it isn’t a freedom, it’s a controlled substance.

  • guest

    “Do we really want violent felons to be able to walk into a gun store and legally purchase a weapon? The Brady background check has prevented over a million prohibited purchasers from buying weapons.”
    Umm, ‘scuse me, but it is not the  Brady background check. Nor has it prevented anything. If someone wants to kill another, they don’t need a gun, guns just happen to be easy to use and are more impersonal than a knife or bicycle spoke or baseball bat.
    As for no one saying gun owners are terrible people, then you haven’t been reading JaPete or MikeB or many other Brady bunch lackeys.
    As for ‘well trained’… I suppose you imagine the cop protecting you is more well trained than the civilian carrying a gun?
    “We want to be safe”? You’re kidding, right? How about the person poorly exercising their driver’s privelige? Or alcohol privelige?
    As to “sacrificing for a poorly regulated freedom”…  Do you understand what ‘freedom’ is?  If it’s regulated, how can it be a ‘freedom’? Srsly. 

  • Jim

    And how many babies have you liberals killed since 1990? The religious community has been warning about that more than forty years, yet you people still blather about guns and crime when you’re the biggest criminal faction in the world. Don’t talk to me about guns killing people when doctors are more likely to kill someone than any gun.
    As to 600K Americans killed by guns since 1990- I’m calling that one BS without any support other than SPLC and Brady bunch lies. Especially when you claim,  ”These are all civilians killed in “peacetime” by the guns which most people bought for protection”. Show us the facts, not your desired lies.

  • Jim

    Let’s take these points one at a time and try to be brief…
    #1. You jest, of course: why would anyone allow a store to record their purchases and keep the information on site for six months? Or allow their sale to be used as a training tool? There aren’t enough cameras now unable to catch criminals in the act and you want to waste more store money and jack up the prices of goods even more? Non-starter there.
    #2. Already done by every store that sells guns. The fed already demands it.
    #3.  DUH! See number 2 above. (better still, go to a gunshop and ask to buy a gun, read the form, fill it out, wait around for the background check.)
    #4. If you’re using a fake ID for a gun transaction, you’re probably not buying it at a gun store. See #’s 2 & 3 above.
    #5. That’s about as effective as the signs on school entrys prohibiting firearms on these premises.  (Re: Virginia, Columbine, et al.)
    #6. You’ve obviously never held a job where you had to fill an application for employment. Or you work for people who hire illegals and don’t care about background checks, anyway.
    #7. Umm… employee responsibility? Like, “Gosh, Joe- you let that one slip by, you’re fired.”  See #6 above.
    #8. This is as ludicrous a suggestion as ever was made. Ask BATFE about inspecting gunshop inventories and sales. There are few drugs as well regulated and inventoried as are firearms.
    #9. See #s 2,3,4, above. 
    #10. Why should a store be responsible for maqintaining a person’s property? How about you suggest to your auto sales shop that they store your car in a locked cage, accesible only by you? Or how about your groceries? Of course, you’re going to tell me cars don’t kill people… or that groceries don’t kill people… or aren’t dangerous.
    Sounds to me as though you have neither purchased, attempted to purchase any firearms. Nor have you read any of the laws already on the books concerning firearms. Nor have you read the Constitution and Amendments, or given much thought to either if you have.
    How about we put conditions on your right to speak and write?
    How about we allow soldiers into your home to protect you from all the bad gun owners?
    How about we make you wear an armband that defines you as a liberal so you canbe searched at any and all times by anyone with a badge?
    How about we remove your right to trial by jury?
    How about we deny you right to a speedy trial?
    How about we make all bail mandatory One Million dollars?
    You want to make stipulations on the Second… show me where it says anything about stipulations in “shall not be infringed”.
    Until you decide to surrender all your rights, leave your paws off mine.
    If you want to push for this kind of thing, be very aware that it could backfire in your face. After all, many of us have been to gunstores many times. In fact, your liberal presidnet has assured guntores a very happy shot in the arm the last three years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    In your case, if some places are perfectly safe, perhaps you should tell the police officers normally assigned to that area to patrol somewhere else in the area, because obviously nothing bad is going to happen…right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Conlaw-Bloganon/100002402694026 Conlaw Bloganon

    If you are concerned about the public well-being, go preach about the evils of heart disease, malignant neoplasms, HIV, road traffic accidents, or even measles. All of those things kill far, far more people than gun violence.

    And, all your statistics say to me is that 82% of the people polled don’t know what due process is. The Terrorist Watch Lists (all 13 of them) are just that – watch lists. Tens of thousands of people are added to the various lists every month by any number of government agencies. In an investigation, and the scathing report that followed, the Inspector General of the DOJ found that some 35% of the names on the TWL were added “without predicate,” which is an ingeniously euphemistic way of acknowledging that state agencies were adding people with no reason, often as a means of harassing people who made them angry, or even entirely by accident. The lists include nonviolent political protesters, a senator, several infants, and countless hapless lemmings like you and I. No due process (5th amendment), and yet people are being deprived of their rights. Thankfully, Congress saw through the haze on this one and wouldn’t strip people of the TWL of their right to bear arms, at least not until they can be proven to be terrorists. (Innocent until found guilty, ring a bell?)

    Read more in an article about this on my blog:
    http://conlaw-bloganon.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Conlaw-Bloganon/100002402694026 Conlaw Bloganon

    Exactly. I normally hate holocaust analogies, but lets look back at that.

    Government: It is now illegal for jews to have extramarital sex with non-jews.
    Jews: That’s fine, my religion is against extramarital affairs anyway.

    Government: It is now illegal for Jews to engage in civil service.
    Jews: That’s fine, it doesn’t pay that great anyway.

    Government: Jews must wear a yellow star at all times henceforth.
    Jews: Hmmm, ok, whatever. I’m rather proud of my religion anyway.

    Government: Certain people must now report to labor camps for the good of the nation.
    Jews: Hmm, well if it’s for the greater good?…

    Civil rights are never lost over night. They erode slowly, starting with legislation that, on the surface, sounds reasonable enough. But the fact of the matter is, gun control, even the small measures that are proposed here, are a solution in search of a problem. Look at any civilized country which has draconian gun laws. First of all, that transition happened over a decade or more, and second of all, in EVERY CASE, Australia, England, Canada, etc, the violent crime rates have GONE UP after individual gun rights have eroded. So, again, read a !#$%*ing book.

    And if you don’t want to exercise your right to own a gun, then be my guest, but don’t tell me that I can’t own one.

    http://conlaw-bloganon.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    Because that’s how it all begins.  Little by little.

    First they throw in background checks.  Then they tighten those down even tighter and tighter.

    Then come fees.  And excessive qualifications normally designed for LEOs and Military Units.

    Not to mention generating a giant culture war where carriers like me are portrayed as irrational unstable individuals even though there is no proof claim we are dangers to ourselves or anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    My parents both have concealed-carry permits because of their business; I a intimately acquainted with the requirements, thanks.

    Not that it’s any of your business, but I don’t have kids — which makes me glad they can’t go to your home where guns apparently lie out willy-nilly since you don’t care who gets to them.

    OTOH, if you come to my house, you won’t be able to get into the locked gun case.  Hooray all the way around.

    I think it’s irrational to be afraid to go to the store unarmed, absolutely — I don’t walk in fear. If that makes me selfish in the eyes of some jerk on the internet, I’m pretty sure I can live with the pain.

  • Anonymous

    My parents both have concealed-carry permits because of their business; I a intimately acquainted with the requirements, thanks.

    Not that it’s any of your business, but I don’t have kids — which makes me glad they can’t go to your home where guns apparently lie out willy-nilly since you don’t care who gets to them.

    OTOH, if you come to my house, you won’t be able to get into the locked gun case.  Hooray all the way around.

    I think it’s irrational to be afraid to go to the store unarmed, absolutely — I don’t walk in fear. If that makes me selfish in the eyes of some jerk on the internet, I’m pretty sure I can live with the pain.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the link. 

    You’re welcome to walk in fear; I choose not to do so.

  • Anonymous

    And here you try the “Well, you are ok, but it’s the ‘Other Guy’ I’m worried about” fallacy.
     
    Please point to the statistics in the 39 (40 with Wisconsin) Shall Issue states where concealed handgun carriers are careless or unsafe. Oh, sorry, you can’t. You imagine that there are legions of unsafe, careless, or just plain stupid concealed carriers out there, but the reality is that they don’t exist.
     
    Maybe it would be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the reality of the concealed carry situation before you try to attack us as careless, unsafe, untrained, or dangerous. The facts aren’t on your side.
     
    So, since carrying to a Wal-Mart is “irrational” because these kidnapping things are rare, when do you suggest that she carry? Because it sounds very much like what you are saying is that if it’s dangerous enough to carry, don’t go, and if it isn’t dangerous enough to carry, don’t carry. Do you have a crystal ball that will tell you the future? Because if you do, you should take it to Vegas and make some money. My crystal ball is broken. I’m going to carry whenever I legally can, wherever I legally can. That neatly solves the problem of you being unable to tell my future.
     
    You can take whatever risks you like with your life. That’s the beauty of this. I’m pro-choice when it comes to self defense. You can defend yourself or not. Of course, I hope that you don’t have kids or anyone else that depends upon you. It’s one thing to decide that you don’t care to defend your own life, but I think it’s pretty selfish to decide not to protect the lives of those who depend upon you. Then you compound it by telling “damia” not to protect her own life because you want a gun free Wal-Mart. That’s selfish.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure that the criminals will notify me in advance of the days they plan to assault people.

    There is a small chance that I might be relieved of my gun.  However, if I do not have one, there is NO chance that I will be able to defend myself.  The bottom line is you can not carry your gun to walmart.  I don’t care and I’m certainly not going to make fun of you.  But you have no right to insult me for protecting myself and my family as I see fit.

    And I’ll thank you not to insinuate that I am lying.

    http://www.ktnv.com/news/local/124850224.html?page=1

  • Anonymous

    Are people being kidnapped there every day?  No?  Then yes, your fear is *irrational.*  You do not need a Glock in order to go to the store to buy something.  If people ARE being abducted there daily, there is a far bigger problem than your purse-gun will resolve.  If you are a “small woman,” has it never occurred to you that you could be relieved of that gun by “two strong men” in your fantasy scenario and have it used against you?

    C’mon people.  Kidnappings are a rare occurrence.  This is about the most ridiculous (and, I hasten to add, undocumented) excuse for “needing” a gun that I can think of — and I am a gun owner.

  • Anonymous

    Replying above.

  • Anonymous

    There seem to be a great many folk here who are putting words into folks’ mouths or trying to make them mean something they don’t. :-(

  • Anonymous

    Sean wrote:  How you handle that threat remains the same. Call 911, draw your weapon,
    and keep yourself alive until the cops show up. If the home invader or
    kidnapper is dead by then, too bad for him.

    First, I originally asked the poster if she felt she needed to have a gun to go to WalMart and she said *yes.*  This is an irrational response to a rare occurrence.  Unless people are being abducted every single day from the WalMart, the idea that you have to be armed to buy Minute Rice is, indeed, irrational.  If people are being abducted there on a daily basis, there is a problem at the site far greater than gun ownership will resolve.

    To respond to this specific comment I quoted above:  Sure.  If it’s you.  Or me.  Or someone else who is experienced with weapons.  However, the chances that an inexperienced twit (there, I said it) who thinks that the mere presence of a weapon in their home functions as a deterrent is likely to find themselves relieved of that weapon by the intruder and have it used against them. 

    We can agree to disagree as to whether the regulations discussed here (and with which the NRA, Hunter Safety Association and numerous other gun lobbies happen to agree) are valid … because you are never going to see anything beyond the end of your trigger finger. :-(

  • Anonymous

    Replying upline for visibility.

  • Anonymous

    This is not intended to sound rude, but it will seem so. Sorry for that in advance.

    Bruce, the answer is NO. There will not be any further restrictions on my rights. There are several reasons for that. First off, the gun control side lost in Heller, and in McDonald. Despite what the Brady Campaign keeps saying, they were not hollow victories. They were the start of an avalanche of laws that will get overturned. Chicago just got what can only be described as a bare bottomed spanking by the Courts for its silly gun range ban. North Carolina is about to get the same treatment in Bates vs. Perdue. The advance of gun control is over. The tide is retreating.

    More important than court cases is the fact that none of the proposals you consider above will have any effect on crime. And that’s the reason you want to impose them, right? You aren’t trying to impose new infringements on my rights out of meanness or spite, you honestly want to reduce crime. But what you want isn’t what you will get. So could you explain to me why we should go along? Why should we accept your proposals if they will not in any way measurably reduce crime? Miguel Gonzalez, below, answered your post point by point. Please read it (again) and tell me how exactly he is wrong. None of your proposals will have the effect you want.

    So we have two good reasons that gun control is over in this country. #1, the gun control laws we have are being overturned as unconstitutional. and #2, they are ineffective as crime suppression tactics. What possible justification can you have for asking for them?