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What do you want from me, as a gun-owner?

‘Hi, I’m Edwin, and I own firearms!’

Right now, in the shadow of the horrors of the Sandy Hook shooting, it feels as if every gun-owner is on edge.  Some are apologizing, distancing themselves from gun advocacy groups.  Some are saying all the right words, ‘well, my target gun is locked in a safe.’  Like telling your Baptist Preacher grandpa, ‘my whisky is in a cabinet and is only for medicinal purposes, of course.’  Some are saying, ‘well, I like guns, but nobody needs automatic guns that can be sprayed across a room.’

The thing is, we didn’t want to talk about this. We wanted to let people grieve, to try and find solutions to unpredictable events.  The gun control crowd politicized this first. They launched into the predictable tirades against the very people who, after all, didn’t commit the crime.  So we’ve responded.

The arguments and tirades go on and on.  But here’s the salient point.  I didn’t do it.  I hate that it happened.  I grieve for lost children and teachers, for hurting family members.  But I didn’t do it. My guns didn’t do it.  My friends didn’t do it, and neither did their guns.

I have my guns in a safe.  But they don’t stay there all the time.  I have nothing that qualifies in the minds of most progressives as an ‘assault weapon,’ but if I could afford one I would.  They’re interesting, and enjoyable to shoot.  I have had friends who owned them, and I still do.  I knew people with fully automatic weapons; none of them killed anyone.  They were lawful, contributing citizens. Several were physicians.

So what I want to know is this:  what do you want us to do?  For those of you uninitiated into firearms, you don’t just walk into a store, pick one up and leave.  There’s paperwork, ID to show (it isn’t like voting, after all).  There’s either a background check or presentation of a concealed weapons permit in states, like mine, where they are available.

But what about those machine guns?  To belabor a point that should already be well understood by all, fully automatic weapons are not legal without further permits.  (You pull the trigger and it fires until empty.)  And they haven’t been since  1934.  Semi-automatic weapons (one round per trigger pull) are very common among various styles and purposes of rifles, pistols and shotguns.  And in fact, semi-automatic handguns may be safer to keep around than revolvers.  I know, too much detail, scary guns, etc.  But a semi-automatic handgun can have a magazine of ammunition loaded in it, without a round in the chamber to fire. Whereas a loaded revolver will fire whenever the trigger is pulled.  Of course, both are perfectly safe when treated safely and owned by lawful, responsible and trained individuals.

So which thing do we need to limit? Which part of the process do we need to tighten?  If you want to expand psychiatric background checks, I can get on board with that.  Depends, of course, on how you define mental illness.  If the desire for a gun is a sign of mental illness, we’ve made no progress.  But if you mean a history of suicidal or homocidal behavior or committment for such, fair enough.

And if you say, ‘we need more mental health care,’ I’ll say ‘Amen.’  You send me some more psychiatrists and I’ll forward to them all the patients that they can bear.  There just aren’t many of them around.  Furthermore, their work is frustrating, often thankless and populated with patients who are mentally ill, as well as with those who want mental illness rather than actually having it.  It’s hard to care for the sick while sifting through the lot.

So let me be clear.  I have a concealed weapons permit.  It took a background check, fingerprinting, a class and a test.  I have a gun safe.  I have taken extra training in the effective use of my weapon.

What would you like me to do differently?  What would you like to take from me?  If I threw open the safe and said, ‘come take what you want to make society safer,’ what would you take?  Would the world be better?

The thing is, I’m representative of the vast majority of America’s gun owners.  Like it or not, we’re a boring, law-abiding bunch.

Of course, those are the ones it’s easiest to regulate, I suppose.

Even when it doesn’t help.

 

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Edwin

17 Comments

Carole Alexander

2012-12-18 09:12:11 Reply

Well said Dr Leap…

Liz

2012-12-18 20:00:42 Reply

I agree that it is not fair to blame lawful gun owners for the homicidal,evil behavior of a few individuals. At the same time,I am concerned about your argument limiting individual with a history of mental illness from owning a gun. After all, just because someone was hospitalized for feeling suicidal at 19 does not mean they can not be a safe gun owner at 25 or 31 or 52. I don’t think it’s fair to punish someone who has not broken a law.

Greg

2012-12-18 22:42:23 Reply

Still don’t get it. Why do you want one? In Australia, you wouldn’t be regarded as boring – you would be regarded as a criminal or a loonie. Or both. Are they fun or something? “Lawful” gun owners are police etc. or farmers with a 22, not assault rifles. Blecchh.

Dave Bicknell

2012-12-18 22:45:08 Reply

Thank you Dr. for your comment. I personally owned guns but when my children were born decided to sell them. The fear of something bad happening outweighed the pleasure of shooting the weapons.
To answer your question, nothing more is needed. You have educated yourself, jumped through all the legal hoops and obviously have respect for your collection and using them safely. The problem is that shootings like this keep happening. People are scared, rightfully so that this could happen in their hometown. People point to violent tv or our gun culture but Canada does not have this escalating problem and I believe they have as many guns per capita as the USA. We need to understand why killing innocent people is the only way some people feel they can get the attention they need.
Dave Bicknell

Marc

2012-12-18 23:13:42 Reply

tell me Greg, did actual crime go up or down in Australia after your guns were confiscated?

Stephen

2012-12-19 15:05:21 Reply

No amount of laws will prevent the determined terrorist (eg anders brievik) However, we need things that will minimise the opportunist, the person who grabs an available gun and fires on a sudden mad whim whether at others or at himself. We stop this by reducing easy availability. Tighter gun laws do work. They have worked in Australia, Scotland and Finland all seeing a reduction in gun related death. Are they already tight enough in the USA? Probably not. Assult weapons could be prevented except at shooting ranges they are not allowed to leave. Automatics could be made harder to obtain.

Americas problem may not be so much in the guns but it’s obsession with sensationalising the perpetrators on pseudo news program’s such as fox.

Occam

2012-12-20 08:41:05 Reply

You ask what I want? I want automatic weapons banned and confiscated. You say they are fun and you personally hurt no one with their use? We are members of a society. There are some things we have to do for the good of the whole and getting rid of things that, for some people, become harmful for others is part of being a member. We outlaw some drugs and restrict others for similar reasons. Perhaps automatic weapons should be only allowed in shooting galleries and only with blanks if they are fun or interesting. I don’t think there is a plausible reason to have a wide variety of guns in the hands of individuals. The time is now.

Ellen

2013-01-05 00:59:09 Reply

Occam, Instead of a society that sinks down to the lowest potential, why not one where we help each other be all that we were created to be-to realize our potential for good? Taking away the means for evil doesn’t stop evil, it merely redirects it while those for whom the means is not bad are stunted.

Steve Spoor

2013-01-05 14:38:03 Reply

Edwin,

I enjoyed, as always, your comments. I thought I would share my own that have been sent to the media and my legislators. Tell Jan, Jennie and I said hey.

First let me state that what happened in Newtown was an atrocity so disgusting and outrageous it cannot be understood by a sane person, nor can I even begin to understand how those parents, spouses, and families feel. My greatest sympathies go out to them.

Now the controversial part… Violent crime is not as rampant as media and politicians would have you believe. This type of crime creates massive emotion and as a result lets us as humans become more easily manipulated toward individual agendas that we would otherwise not even consider. Rahm Emanuel said it best: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Politicians who do not take the time to really look into the source of crime and say it is guns, or bombs or whatever are not doing you or society any justice toward actually solving a problem, but with all the emotion they look good and seem to be acting in the best interest of the Nation. It even may be that these politicians believe they are doing what is in the best interest of the Nation, so I will leave that to you to judge.

If you look at world and FBI statistics, which are based on fact and not emotion, and are not skewed in the interest of any agenda, you will find a completely different story playing out than you are hearing.

In 1992, the violent crime rate in the US was 757.7 per 100,000 residents, in 1994 when the first “Assault Weapons Ban” went into effect it was down to 713.6. The ban sunset in 2004, so you would expect that crime would start skyrocketing after that, however from 2004 to 2011 the violent crime rate dropped from 463.2 down to 386.3 which is a 16% decrease in violent crime. It also needs noted that the ban did not get rid of these firearms, it only stopped sale of named firearms on a list and magazines with more than 10 rounds, the millions of magazines and rifles still out there remained, firearm manufacturers simply renamed their firearms and kept selling them, yet during this period crime still fell.

How about in comparison to the rest of the world?

In 2009 the England’s Daily Mail Newspaper did a study on violent crimes per 100,000 residents and here is what they found: The UK, a country that has outlawed almost every firearm to the point that its Olympic team must practice in other countries has the worlds highest rate of violent crime with a rate of 2,034 incidents per 100,000. The crime rate has gotten so bad that now more and more of their police officers are having to carry guns, where before they did not…kind of scary for them I believe.

If the US is so bad, where did it fall on the chart? Well let us see…
Austria was second, South Africa third, Sweden fourth, Belgium fifth., still no sign of the US. Canada, our neighbor to the north who introduced sweeping gun control and registration laws in 1995 is in sixth place. Now on the list we find Finland, Netherlands, Luxembourg, then France with 504 per 100,000 is tenth, and we still have not gotten to the US, which during that year according to the FBI statics had 466 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. As noted above that rate is much lower now.

Do some research on your own; first visit the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division website and see where the majority of violent crime is really occurring. You will find it is in places with significant gun control and high population, where it is almost impossible to legally own a firearm to protect yourself. Places like New York, Chicago, and all of California, which has some of the most draconian firearms laws around.

Here are a few thoughts to place in your mind as we move forward toward dealing with what is truly right and wrong about what we are hearing and seeing.
First Murder has been outlawed since the sixth commandment from God was given to Moses, yet man still murders.
Second, 41 laws were broken by the monster in Newtown, including having in his possession a firearm that was banned there, yet he had it.
Third, and most important to all men regardless of their religious beliefs: ” But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow. … For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals. Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding.. – Jeff Snyder

I myself believe that the only answer, since guns already exist, is to allow open and unrestricted carry. Then when a crazy decides and plans such acts there is a greater chance that someone will be able to stop them. Is this an ideal, of course not, but man himself is not ideal and as such we must take every step we can to protect others and ourselves.

Gun control only works against the lawful, the lawless will still ignore it, and I believe take advantage of it. With violent crime occurring in the US every 26 seconds as of 2011, with criminals knowing that there is a moderate chance they will meet an armed citizen, imagine what would happen if the criminal felt there was no chance to meet an armed citizen.

I do not want to live in an England where instead of 386 crimes per 100,000 there are over 2000 and I do not believe you do either.

With great respect to all,

Steve Spoor

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