What Not to Do in the Gun Debate
It is very disappointing to observe the gun control debate as we search for better policies to protect the citizenry at large. Something that would be helpful would be to stop some of the false arguments put forth by the NRA and more extreme gun rights activists. Sadly, the best way to squash meaningful debate is to be the loudest and most aggressive voice in the room. No one is better at this than the NRA.
Wayne LaPierre was famous for saying “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I assume his successor Oliver North shares this sentiment. Unfortunately, we tried that in the past and it didn’t work. The “Wild West” was tamed with law and order with professional policing and the legal system winning out over vigilante justice. Shouldn’t we work together to find solutions that work for all concerned parties? Here is where that nasty word, “compromise” comes in.
2nd Amendment Appeal
Another tired scare tactic used by gun advocates is the idea that there is a conspiracy to repeal the 2nd Amendment. It seems that people don’t really know what it would take to accomplish this. First, a new amendment would have to be written to repeal the 2nd Amendment. That new amendment would then have to be approved in both Houses of Congress with a 2/3 majority in each chamber.
The next step, if the amendment did pass, would be ratification by the states. Next, the new amendment would need approval of ¾ of the states before it could become part of The Constitution. Does anyone really believe there is even a remote chance this could happen? Unfortunately, outlandish rhetoric prevents anything at all from happening.
As a nation, we should always be suspicious of anyone who wraps themselves in the flag while holding The Constitution and claims to be a “patriot” here to protect you. They are most likely protecting themselves and their own interests with a proven marketing strategy.
One Solution for All Problems
Our political leaders must now begin to step up and find solutions that work. Instead, they offer excuses. Sen. Marco Rubio said banning assault rifles wouldn’t help because there are already so many out there. Rick Santorum made his famous remarks about kids learning CPR to be ready for the next school shooting. He later apologized, but was he for real? He also pointed out that assault weapons account for only a small percentage of murders annually. Small consolation for the victims’ families. Dylan Roof purchased his gun legally but should not have been able to do so – but for a background check error.
Obviously, action can be taken to change things for the better but still nothing happens. Why is that? Clearly, there is no one solution here but small steps should be possible.
This is another idea fraught with peril. It seems every day we hear of professional law enforcement personnel making mistakes and killing people in error. Phones are mistaken for guns, running away is perceived as a threat, any sudden movement is considered justification for shooting. These mistakes are made by people who deal with this kind of situation for a living. These decisions need to be made in a split second and are incredibly difficult even for trained professionals. Now imagine a minimally trained teacher trying to intervene in the chaos of a mass shooting. Would teachers accidentally shoot a colleague? Would students get shot by teachers in the accidental cross-fire? How long could these armed teachers keep that fact secret before an attacker knew who to avoid, or worse yet, who to shoot first? How would a teacher react if they came upon a shooter who was a past student who they knew? Would they hesitate shooting and be killed themselves? This just doesn’t seem to be a reasonable idea.
The fact that we have to even have to consider something like this says something about our culture. Having limited access and exit doors would probably violate most fire codes. Metal detectors might help unless conspirators pass weapons through windows to accomplices. Truthfully, there is no way to make schools 100% safe. If you make it too hard to get into the building gunmen will attack when students are arriving or going home through the “no man’s land” between the building and the bus. Or as we’ve seen in recent instances, they will get students out of the building by pulling the fire alarm, and again students and faculty are literally easy targets. Do we really want to fortify our schools like outposts in Afghanistan? We have to blunt the firepower of these assailants and limit who have access to these weapons. Why would we want assailants to so badly outgun our law enforcement officers?
Two new and immediate threats to our personal security is the sale of gun kits and now 3D printed weapons. There are many vendors who sell kits to build weapons and have found a sly way to avoid regulation and make money. Evidently there are no serial numbers for these kids making them untraceable – “ghost” guns.
An even more insidious threat to national security is the development of printable weapons you can make at home. The best printers are very expensive, but terrorist groups and drug cartels can certainly afford them. Imagine thousands of unregistered, untraceable, undetectable weapons flooding not just American but the world.
The answer here is two-fold. Congress must act to enact real, reasonable solutions. The Fix NICS Act of 2017, which aims to apply penalties to government agencies for not reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was a step in the right direction. However, it is “we the people” who are failing each other. In John McCain’s book, “The Restless Wave”, the Senator points out many things that will make people uncomfortable. To sum it up, he says, “If you don’t like the way things are going, put more effort into it. Vote in local elections, vote in national primaries. Don’t let the far left and far right exercise influence over local and state parties, over the national party, and over our national affairs that exceeds the strength of their actual numbers.” And, “If you want politics to be more civil, if you want Congress to argue less and get more done, then show up. Represent. Play as big a role in the mundane activities of politics as the zealots do. It’s important.” Read the entire chapter in his book, Chapter 10, to get the complete picture. It is a powerful reminder of the power we wield when we vote. “The Restless Wave” is written by a true American patriot.