Our Gun Problem
One reason I’ve been writing about guns over the past few months is because I think it’s important to look closely at the problem we have in this country.
Another reason, though, is that it’s amazing to see what other people think about the topic. In particular, I’m amazed by the unreasonable attitude of gun rights advocates.
Yesterday, for example, I engaged with several such advocates on Facebook and here on the blog. On Facebook, I was prompted to suggest a plan for curbing gun violence. Here’s what I wrote:
Close the gun show loophole; mandate registration and tracking of all guns and ammo; universal and in-depth background checks; universal and lengthened waiting period; required completion of a training course for gun owners, as well as regular recertification; more funding for police; more funding for drug treatment; more funding for mental health care; more funding for child and family services. Just for starters.
Five different people immediately claimed that these suggestions were overly restrictive, were violations of constitutional or natural rights, or would simply be ineffective. My interlocutors claimed:
1) More funding for police won’t help because the police only respond to crime, I was told; they don’t prevent it. This, of course, flies in the face of every version of deterrence theory I’ve ever heard, including the theory that criminals won’t break into houses who owners might be armed, but that didn’t much matter.
2) Any restriction at all on gun ownership — from type of weapon to registering a weapon to demonstrating in any way that you know how to use it — is a desperate infringement on the rights (whether given by God or the Constitution) of law-abiding citizens. Leaving aside the issue of natural rights, this claim is, of course, simply not true. None of my suggestions prevent prospective gun owners from owning guns.
3) These measures will only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get their hands on guns; nothing we do will ever prevent criminals from getting all the guns they want. This, of course, is really an argument against the whole notion of law; it suggests that the only defense against criminals is shooting them because laws will not stop them.
I submit that my interlocutors’ claims, and others like them, are proof positive that there’s just not going to be a way to compromise with some gun advocates. My hope is that these folks are the extremist minority and can just be avoided. Because if relatively mild suggestions that don’t involve banning any currently-available weapons are considered to be tyrannical violations of rights, what they’re basically saying is that there are no acceptable changes to be made regarding guns.