In early American history, our forefathers viewed the “right to bear arms” as important for the following reasons:
* deterring tyrannical government
* repelling invasion
* suppressing insurrection
* facilitating a natural right of self-defense
* participating in law enforcement
* enabling the people to establish a militia system
Because of the listed concerns, the “right to bear arms” became the second amendment. If it had not been important to our forefathers, this right would have had a higher number, rather than immediately following the first amendment granting “freedom of speech.”
It is hard to imagine that any other amendment to our Constitution has been under more scrutiny than the second amendment, especially in light of the recent Sandy Hook School massacre in Connecticut.
So now let’s get into the present. Legislation is currently being introduced into Congress to reenact a ban on assault weapons. There was a 10-year ban on assault weapons from 1994 to 2003. It appears that this law did have more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese, but had little effect, either positive or negative, because assault rifle weapons are only used in two to eight percent of all gun crimes. Why the difference in the percentages? Which was it, two or eight percent? Well, one thing that Grandpa T learned regarding statistics about crimes and guns is that you can find a myriad of statistics supporting one view or the opposing view.
What is my personal take on assault rifles? Well, as a former hunter, former soldier, and current owner of guns, I do not see why anyone would want to own one. They are not so accurate compared to other non-assault rifles. Also, they cannot be used for hunting because of the small caliber of the ammunition. Lastly, it can get kind of spendy if you decide to shoot magazine after magazine. But what are you shooting?
Common Sense tells me that there are only five reasons why someone would want to have an assault weapon:
* 1. Because you are in the military or in law enforcement.
* 2. Because you are either a frickin’ soldier or cop wannabe, and you have watched way too much television.
* 3. Because you want to investment. The value is rising because people are stockpiling arms and ammunition.
* 4. Because you are a collector. Your collection simply would not be complete without a crappy- looking Rumanian-made AK-47.
* 5. Because you plan to commit a crime and therefore possess as much firepower as you can obtain.
I am sure there must be other reasons, but I would be hard pressed to provide them. I am sure-shootin’ that I am going to get a response to this last paragraph.
I am not anti-NRA. During my military career, the NRA was unmerciful in attempting to make members of my fellow soldiers and me. We were a poor group to target because we possessed and trained with assault weapons. For purely selfish reasons, we never wanted to face an enemy that was armed as well as or better than we were. That survival thing kicked in. I am pretty sure that most law enforcement people feel the same. As a result, we did not join the NRA because of their concerted efforts to protect assault weapon ownership. Second amendment – si; assault weapons – no.
But like most things Washingtonian, our politicians are sure to screw up this law. The 1994 assault weapon ban made illegal any magazines that held more than 10 rounds of ammo. A good thing in my opinion, as I never shot over three times at any game I ever hunted. So what happened? While the law was being debated in Congress, manufacturers flooded the market with large capacity magazines. They are all available today. Gun dealers cannot keep assault weapons on the shelf, as the pending legislation is causing panic buying at lucrative profit once again. It is too late. There are too many of them already in circulation.
As an aside, when assault weapons first started becoming available, especially AK-47’s from either Russia or China or some other third world sinkhole at gun shows, you could buy an AK and get a crate of ammo for $150. This was less than 15 years ago, and those crates contained 2200 rounds of ammo. I never bought one. They looked junky. I did not need one, and I did not need to fill my soldier wannabe void.
So, now that we have weapons galore in the U.S., how do we protect ourselves?
Two of our ally nations have taken the path of attempting to eliminate guns entirely in their countries: England and Australia.
Now here is where the statistics get so divergent that I am not going to attempt to scrutinize who is right or wrong. I will attempt to generalize what has been published in the 5 consulted sources. Who is right and who is wrong is going to be determined by what you want to believe. Currently, the passions have been raised to fever pitch on both sides as both sides are very passionate about the subject. So here we go!
The State of Illinois has the most stringent gun laws in the U.S. However, the City of Chicago experienced over 500 homicides in 2012. More homicides in Chicago than soldier deaths in Afghanistan. Obviously gun control laws have failed.
It appears you cannot get a consensus in England as to the effect of their gun law. The law took guns out of the hands of the citizenry. Having said that, Common Sense tells me that only law-abiding people will turn in their weapons. The non-law abiding people will keep their weapons. The British police force has had to arm themselves after the passage of the law for the first time in history! We all have seen the old movies with the Bobbies walking the beat with a whistle and a nightstick. Since the passage of the gun law, they are now carrying weapons. The absence of all other statistics with regard to crime reduction or increase is amazing. But name one legislative body that will admit they have made a major league screw-up at taxpayers expense.
Australia is another matter. The government paid their citizens to turn in weapons. As a result, 640,381 weapons were turned in at a cost of $500,000,000 to the government. That is about $780 per weapon and this was done over ten years ago. Now here is the irony of this. The government knows exactly how many weapons were turned in, but the results ofthis buy-back program in relation to crime statistics run the gamut from “no effect on the crime rate” to “huge increases in the crime rate.” Bear in mind, the government spent a big boatload of money and does not want to admit failure in the program. The general concensus? Crime increased dramatically in all categories as a result of the buy-back program. Just like in England, the law abiders turned in their weapons, and the crooks, felons, and thieves all kept theirs. If you can believe some of the statistics, homicides increased 171% in Victoria and armed robbery increased by 200% across the whole country. The assault rate has increased from 200% to 800% after the buy-back depending on whose statistics you want to believe. If home invasions are included in the 800% number, then it appears plausible as home invasions increased dramatically. I could not find any statistics to substantiate a crime reduction.
Think about it. Would a potential home robber feel more emboldened if he knew the house he was going to rob was unprotected? Well, that is exactly what is happening in Australia.
Another of our allies, Israel, has taken a totally opposite course. They are an armed citizenry, because they are the only country in the world that has had to fight for its existence every day since its founding in 1948. Their crime rates are low. Grandma and I saw this at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. A group of about 10 preschoolers were walking single file, being lead and followed by two military aged men. As they passed, we noticed that each man had a pistol tucked into their belts behind their backs. When they crossed the busy street, one man led, and the other stopped all the traffic and the kids crossed. Now that added a whole new dimension to street-crossing guard! (Damn! I was a street-crossing guard in grade school, and I would have given anything to have had a “heater” with my Sam Brown belt!) In addition, teachers in Israeli schools are armed. Is this a possible solution to our problem of school shootings?
We need to be more diligent and detailed in determining who can purchase and carry weapons. Unfortunately, our massacres of late have been caused by people with mental problems and a death wish. Because of privacy laws, even law enforcement cannot find out if a weapons purchaser or permit seeker has mental problems. So when one of these massacres occurs, the shooter is in the mindset to die, but he wants to go out with a big bang. The media appears to be a willing accomplice in sensationalizing these crimes, thus begetting more attempts. How do you legislate against insanity?
I will be the first to say that guns do not kill people. People kill people. The gun is only one of the instruments that can be used to murder. Knives, fists, feet, cars, mad dogs, have all been used to kill people, but there is not a movement “afoot” to have “feet” control.
Now what do you suppose would happen to our crime rates if we required everyone to go through a stringent training program in order to carry a weapon? A provocative thought, though it will never become reality in our society. But supposing it did, you would have to be insane to commit a crime. Unfortunately, insanity abounds. Then gun control would revert to the military definition: site picture, breathe, squeeze, target hit; perfect gun control – military style.
In the State of Florida, there are now over one million concealed carry permits, the most of any state in the U.S. That is over 5% of the population and the number of applicants is climbing steadily. Only time will tell what will happen to crime rates in Florida.
Admittedly, Grandpa T has not offered any Common Sense or sure fire solutions to some of the presented problems. I do know that we cannot legislate effectively as a result of emotionally charged events like the Sandy Hook School shooting. Short-term emotionally-charged solutions can lead to long-term consequences.