Sunday, March 13, 2011

Response to the President's Op-Ed

I just finished reading President Obama's editorial piece in the Arizona Daily Star on gun control.  I will try to list the high points of his article, and I'd like to share my thoughts on it and would love to hear your "reasoned discourse" as well.

  1. First, the President discusses the Tucson shooting suspect, and opines on how unfortunate that a man that was judged too psychologically unstable to serve in the military and to study at university was able to purchase a gun from a dealer.
  2. He then goes on to make the assertion that over 2000 gun related deaths have occurred in the United States since that shooting, and expresses his sorrow that "Every single day, America is robbed of more futures.".
  3. President Obama goes on to acknowledge that private gun ownership is a long tradition in our country, for "hunting or target shooting, collection or protection".
  4. The President expresses his belief that there is a middle ground in the gun control debate and that the majority of gun owners would not object to 'common sense' regulation of their right to keep and bear arms.
  5. The president makes three proposals:

  • Strengthen NICS data checks by getting better data from the states.  
  • Reward states that already provide this data to NICS
  • Make the NICS system faster.

My thoughts:

  1. The criminal who shot Congresswoman Jeffords in Tucson lied on the NICS form by stating that he was not a regular user of drugs.  Also, the Army recruiter and university officials who decided they didn't want to do business with him aren't qualified to adjudicate someone as mentally defective. A court of law does that in our society, and rightly requires a heavy burden of proof to say that someone is not responsible for themselves.  Under current law, if the Arizona courts had judged him unfit, he would not have been able to purchase a gun through a dealer.  But they didn't, and I don't believe that a constitutionally guaranteed right should be taken from a citizen without due process of law.  In other words, I would not want my rights taken from me because someone who is unqualified to make a psychological diagnosis thought that I was too unstable to own a gun.
  2. Unless the President is willing to point to the source of his number of firearms related deaths, I'm going to assume that it's a composite of all deaths in which the instrument of death was a gun.  I want to know if it includes only murders and accidental deaths caused by either negligence or defective firearms.  My guess is that once you take away criminals shooting criminals for whatever reason, citizens shooting criminals to defend themselves, and suicides, the number is quite lower.  While every death is a tragedy to the family of those who die, I refuse to accept suicides and the deaths of criminals being used as a reason to make it harder for me to exercise my rights.
  3. I'd like to thank the President for coming to the same conclusion that our Founding Fathers did over 200 years ago in that citizens of our country have a right to keep and bear arms.  One would think that a Constitutional scholar would have come to this epiphany earlier, but I'll give him credit for coming to it at all.  One little quibble - the Second Amendment says nothing about hunting or target shooting.  It is there for no other reason than the fact that citizens need arms to defend themselves and the nation.
  4. The President's assertion of a need to enforce existing laws is OK with me.  No protests here.  I'm assuming he means getting better data on people who have been adjudicated as being psychologically unfit to own firearms, since criminal background information is already readily available to NICS.  The law of the land says that the states are mandated to report this information, so I have no problem with the chief law enforcement officer of the country wanting the law enforced.  Also, if he wants to reward states that already comply with the law, then I see no harm, although I've always seen complying with the law to be its own reward. As to making NICS faster and more responsive, I fail to see a problem with the current system.  I fill out the form, my dealer makes a phone call, and in 10 minutes or less I'm handing him my debit card.  Could he be talking about speeding up NICS determinations on those who for some reason have a "hold" placed on their purchase?  Or is he indicating that he wants to speed up the manner in which information is put into NICS, such as data on the mentally unfit or criminals?   I think before I comment on this one the Rhetorician in Chief needs to define his terms.

The President ended his piece with an appeal to the emotions of his audience, so I will do so as well.

My rights as a citizen to keep and bear arms are well, if not over, regulated:

  • I already have to acquire a license from the government if I wish to make my living manufacturing or selling firearms.  
  • I may not buy a handgun from anyone in another state unless I pay extra fees to have the gun shipped to a licensed dealer in my home state.   
  • I have to pass a background check if I purchase a gun from a dealer.  
  • In most states, I may not carry a gun under my coat without a license.  
  • With very few exceptions, I may not enter federal property while armed.  

So let's dispense with the fallacy that 'common sense' gun laws aren't already on the books and enforced.  I think Law Dog expressed how I feel about new laws to keep me from exercising my rights best:
Let's say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS" written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say, "Give me that cake."
I say, "No, it's my cake."
You say, "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.
Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.
There I am with my half of the cake, and you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."
I say, "No, it's my cake."
You say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.
So, we have your compromise -- let us call this one the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- and I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.
And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.
This time you take several bites -- we'll call this compromise the Clinton Executive Orders -- and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it.
Then we compromised with the Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble), the HUD/Smith and Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble), the Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM), the School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing Freyja, my finger!)
I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and wondering "why we won't compromise".

No-one has to show that they are not mentally defective or a criminal before they can make a political speech or join a church in accordance with the 1st Amendment.  Descendants of African slaves do not have to acquire a license before asserting that they are not slaves or that they wish to vote, as protected by the 13th and 15th Amendments.  A suspect in a crime does not have to fill out a government form and undergo a background check before asserting his rights against illegal searches of his property, his right to not incriminate himself, or his right to confront witnesses against him, as laid out in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments.

Only those of us who assert our rights under the 2nd Amendment have been told for almost a century that we need to go along with 'common sense' regulation of those rights. When the President or any other citizen is required to pass a background check in order to express an opinion in a newspaper, I will listen to his opinions on gun control.

1 comment:

MrG's said...

I agree,

it seems that all we do is compromise with the anti-gunners. Then we have to go to court to try to get part of our origional right back. I am of the mind, I ain't going to be reasonable anymore. I want the whole cake back.

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