by Dave Mindeman
The gun debate goes on and on. And every time we make some progress, a new obstacle is put into the path.
The latest version of this is that Democrats can’t make rational decisions about guns because they are clueless about how they operate and don’t know the different nuances of the variations.
Now that statement is not completely wrong. Democrats are not too concerned about how big the bullet hole is or if the bullet can pierce armor or not or whether it fires 15 rounds per minute or hundreds. The bottom line for Democrats is that some people use them to kill other people.
In a Newsweek article, a former Marine makes this case in detail.
And his arguments have a validity I can understand. But these complications aren’t entirely valid because what he seems to be saying is that laws can only be made by well informed gun owners and that policy makers who are Democrats disqualify themselves by their firearm ignorance.
Here are some of his points:
As infantrymen, we lived and breathed guns, because our lives depended on them. We attended schools on their functioning, maintenance, safe operation, and employment. We trained for months to develop the proficiency and confidence to fire machine guns in support of our friends, our rounds impacting just 50 meters in front of our fellow Marines.
So, are we being told that everyone in the country must be fully informed and even trained on guns to participate in policy discussions? We have non-military civilian personnel making military decisions. We have non-doctors doing health care. We have zealots defining reproductive policy. And we have non-scientists determining climate change direction.
Yes, guns are a complicated issue in the US. But we are the only western democracy that has this problem. We tend to start our discussions with the idea that everything about guns must be free, open and legal. Other countries start their discussion with what can we safely allow.
But then our author goes back to semantics:
The intent isn’t bad–we want to stem the tide of gun violence sweeping across America. It’s a necessary and noble goal. The prevalence of mass shootings in America, especially those targeting schools and children, is a horrifying trend. Gun control is part of the answer. However, in doing so, we have attempted to distinguish between murderous ‘assault weapons’ and ‘reasonable weapons’ owned by recreational gun owners and hunters. The Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was such an attempt. It identified features to classify a rifle as an ‘”assault weapon”‘–not one of which has anything to do with the weapon’s function. Two are ergonomic (adjustable stocks and pistol grips), one is irrelevant (bayonet lug), one is insignificant (flash suppressors), and one is already regulated (grenade launchers).
Sure, I can stipulate that the average American doesn’t read up on these differences – but I and most anyone else DOES know the difference between hunting weapons and weapons of death. Yes, some people immensely enjoy shooting at the range. Firing expensive round after expensive round into a stationary target from some distance and with noise reduction head phones maintaining some silence. Sure, I guess some people call that fun. But if that is the choice you wish to make, then why should the rest of us be compelled to make that selection easier and easier to obtain? Why?
Gun owners have a myriad of protections to protect their ownership. We are the only country that has a special second amendment in their Constitution. I accept that. I don’t begrudge that right. But where is the special protections for the rest of us who have to live in a world that has hundreds of millions of guns in them. That has multiple mass shootings per month….many of them at schools. Where is our amendment? Where are our protections?
The 2nd Amendment is not absolute. No right ever is. We can debate what we need to do, but dismissing my concerns because I don’t study a weapons catalog is not acceptable. Public policy is for the public – not just for the NRA.
Mr. Vrolyk does make some common sense suggestions…
There are obvious improvements–requiring universal background checks and making bump stocks as illegal as fully automatic sears. Most Americans agree on these reforms, and they should be enacted into law–yesterday.
Yes, I think most of us agree with that – but though he says these laws should have been enacted yesterday, why haven’t they?
Because responsible gun owners, the educated gun owners continue to support the gun maker lobby to fight every restriction put forward.
We must stop hiding from this hard conversation. We should talk about regulating semi-automatic rifles more stringently than bolt-action rifles. We should talk about different regulations for weapons with detachable or high-capacity magazines. We should talk about these things–even when they impact hunters or recreational shooters–because they affect how weapons function. We will face opposition, not just from the NRA and the industry, but also from responsible Americans who own guns. My Marines might be among them. But we don’t need to convince them to accept our position on gun control–only to recognize that our approach is honest.
I concur….on virtually all of that. Except the part where he contends that current gun safety approaches have not been honest. In fact, I would contend that the gun lobby is the one who has not been honest. There is no reason for gun manufacturers to get special exemptions from liability. There is no need for foolish arguments about arming teachers. There is no sense to the idea that the government is constantly trying to take away legal gun ownership.
None of that is honest. The majority of it is political. Until we stop looking for obstacles in the gun debate and rather look for REAL solutions – we will never get anywhere.
Democratic ignorance about guns is not the problem. I would gladly defer to the expertise of gun owners when making public policy. But if they are not serious about gun safety and are only looking for excuses to bury the topic once more – the we will need to move around them.
We need to fix this – and if that means in spite of the gun lobby – so be it.