Dad on gun control.

Normally, whenever some of my dad’s work gets onto the blog it’s because I saw him dropping the hammer on somebody on facebook or in the forums of our local newspaper.  But today he sent me this piece that he specifically wrote up about gun control.

Gun Control…Where do you even start?

Disclaimer: I am a gun owner, second amendment believer, and I am for better gun control laws.

“Assault rifles”. One of the excuses of those who seem to think we cannot improve the situation is that there is no such thing as an assault rifle. Define “assault rifle”, they demand. They may be correct about this. The media, non-gunners, politicians, and others have played fast and loose with the term and now it has come back to bite them in the ass.

So, let’s dispense with the use of the term “assault rifle”. Instead, let’s “use weapons with high capacity clips or drums or magazines”. Let’s further define “high capacity” as “more than ten”. If this definition fails to be all-inclusive, perhaps some of the knowledgeable pro-gunners can help tighten it up instead of nit-picking it as a way to skirt the problem.

The follow up here from pro-gunners is that changing clips is a relatively fast procedure, so limiting the size doesn’t really limit the firepower that much. This is true. Perhaps to offset that we could require that new sales (after say, 2014) require magazines that need a tool to release them, a kind of fixed magazine, that limits quick magazine changes. Perhaps the extra time will buy some extra lives.

I can’t help but feel that working together to come up with definitions and solutions we can do better than “Nothing can be done”. Unfortunately, we have one side that is desperately only working on “Nothing can be done”. That “assault rifle” is a poor choice of terms shouldn’t end the conversation.

The next cliche coming from the pro-gunners is usually two parts: one, that people who are intent on killing will find a way to kill, and two, that we can never completely stop the carnage. They are correct about this. Killers will use bombs, knives, propane, and whatever, and we can’t outlaw everything. This is also true. They can even present examples of when these things were used. There is no doubt that we cannot completely prevent massacres and violent death.

However, although just about anything can and is used to kill, the common thread running through most of the massacres in the U.S. in the last 30 years or so is guns……usually guns with high capacity magazines. The argument is nonsensical that because we can’t and don’t ban everything that could possibly be used to kill people,then we shouldn’t ban or at least address the most common culprit. Regardless of how illogical it may be, we hear this one a lot.

The next cliche is “No matter what ‘laws’ are in place, only law-abiding citizens OBEY those laws.” Yes, if we ban high capacity quick change magazines, criminals will still have them. If common criminals were the ones doing the massacres, this argument would have feet. But…they aren’t, for the most part. Most of the perpetrators are not criminals (prior to the act), but are instead people with mental/emotional problems and ideological motivations. It seems that usually criminals with high capacity quick change magazines use them against each other and law enforcement, not at schools, malls, theaters,churches etc.

The next cliche up goes something like, “The issue at Sandy Hook was not the gun, it is a people problem….” Actually, it is both. Not only is it both, it is also a host of other problems: school security, mental illness detection and funding for treatment, as well as the cultural stigma that doesn’t treat mental illness like any other illness, the media that glorify the killers and thereby encourage others to get their moment of fame this way, etc. The thing here is that just because we can’t fix all of the problems ever or most of them immediately is a sorry excuse to not address some of them—like background checks and high capacity magazines—right now.

The last one I am going to address is “This wouldn’t have stopped the carnage at Sandy Hook” or “This won’t prevent ALL of them”. Absolutely correct again. However, we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If we can’t prevent ALL of them, then let’s prevent SOME of them. If we can’t stop ALL of the deaths, let’s work to decrease the total number of deaths. This “all or none” attitude is just foolish, and again is just an excuse to do nothing instead of to take steps to make things better.

He’s right on all counts, in my estimation.  It goes back to what I said yesterday: we need reform, not across the board bans.  I am just as displeased when I get lumped in with the anti-all-guns people, on account of being a “liberal”, as I am at getting lumped in with the bumpkins who think people should be able to own guns without a license, including automatic weapons with clips that carry hundreds of rounds.

Patheos Atheist LogoLike What Would JT Do? and Patheos Atheist on Facebook!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X