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Monday, August 26, 2013

Guns, Rights and the Balance between them

I've tried, on Facebook, to ask for some sensible solutions to help curb some of the senseless violence using guns.  Within moments the replies like "stop stomping on constitutional rights!" came pouring in.  Even though I started the post out with "banning military style guns and high capacity clips is not right."

So, new gun laws, banning any gun or magazine being off the table - NO NEW ANTI GUN LAWS.  Keeping the second half of the second amendment completely sacred, what are some workable solutions to the obvious problem of violence using guns?

It seems that people can't supply any real solutions beyond "second amendment!" or "personal responsibility!"  Well, there are those out there that have no sense of personal responsibility and suffer from an extreme lack of good judgement.  Some people do NOT need to have a gun.  The innocent victims' right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness FAR outweigh any shooter's right to own a gun.

I have proposed a Swiss style approach - everyone gets training.  Now, the Swiss require military service from every male for 12 years.  I don't think that is exactly a great idea, although I would like to see mandatory gun training for everyone starting at age eighteen and going on through until they are deemed unfit to possess a firearm.  Perhaps just everyone who wants to own a gun has to go through the training every 5 years or so.

Let me make my proposition clear.  I propose that at an early age - whenever we can agree kids might start using guns, maybe 12 - the government provide training in the use, care, cleaning and responsibility of owing and using firearms. (see new post with more info)

The content of the training is important too.  I went through National Hunter Safety Training before I could get my first hunting license.  I don't think that course covered enough for all-purpose gun safety.  The National Gun Training course that I've suggested would have to consist of a lot more than just hunting.  Perhaps something like :

  1. Gun Ownership
    1. Storage and Security
    2. Cleaning and Maintenance
    3. Transporting
  2. Gun Handling ( At the Shooting Range training )
    1.  Safe Carry
    2. Aiming - sights, scopes and accuracy
    3. Before you Squeeze the Trigger
      1. Spent cartridge ejection
    4. Shooting - Squeeze the Trigger
    5. After you Squeeze the Trigger
    6. Cleaning and Maintenance
  3. Gun Responsibility
    1. Guns Kill
      1. Guns are not toys
      2. Guns are used to kill for a reason
      3. Living with Taking a Life
      4. Regional and Local laws regarding use of deadly force
      5. When to use a gun and when not to
    2. Using a gun to commit a crime
    3. Your gun used by someone else to commit a crime 
    4. The Social responsibility of Owning and Carrying a Firearm
  4. Keep your Head in a Stressful situation
    1. Gun use in self defense
    2. Gun use in combat
    3. Avoiding gunfire
    4. You've been Shot!
    5. Triage for Gunshot wounds
    6. Paintball Field Exercises!!
Now that would help create the Well Regulated Militia the second amendment talks about first.

So, what does "well regulated" mean?  I'm fairly sure it doesn't mean highly controlled by legislation and restrictions.  Does it mean "well supplied"?  Probably not.

"Hamilton indicates a well-regulated militia is a state of preparedness obtained after rigorous and persistent training."
It seems fair and accurate to me to state that "well regulated" in the 2nd Amendment means "Well Trained and Disciplined."  The claim that the 2nd Amendment requires more gun regulations may not be completely full of holes.
"no person’s sport is worth another person's man’s life. There is no logical reason that anyone should have to fire dozens of shots without reloading – unless intending to deprive that many people of life and limb. The US government must make the distinction between a weapon of war, and one that could be legitimately used for sport or self-defense."
Now for some quotes from the founders on what THEY thought they had set up :

"The right of the people to keep and bear...arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country..." (James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 [June 8, 1789])
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them." (Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights, Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124 (Univ. of Alabama Press,1975)..)
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States" (Noah Webster in 'An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution', 1787
"...but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights..." (Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29.)
Those last two quotes make it very clear that the founders never considered the might and power of current military and military weapons.  There is no way that any citizen militia could stand up to the U.S. Army.  Even with all other branches standing on the sidelines.

The link also has many quotes which make it clear that we were never meant to have a standing army in a time of peace.  The Founders intended no standing Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines.  Citizens were to be trained and well armed and called into service in an army only in times of need.  So, do we disband the military?  ... If we ever end the state of constant warfare that our government has created that is.  What do you think that would do to the unemployment numbers?

Of course, there is also the argument that the only thing the second amendment does is limit the Federal Government from disarming citizens, allowing the states final control.

The times, technology and environment has changed drastically from what the Founders knew and envisioned.  Solutions must be allowed to consider the whole environment of the problem.

What I have proposed is no limitation on gun ownership.  In fact, I have proposed that the government provide substantial training to those who want to own guns.  I think the training required for owning guns which I propose would also help reduce the use of guns in violent crimes.

Maybe requiring the free training for owning a gun might irritate some people, so perhaps it should not be required to own a gun.  Perhaps it should supply a higher legal standing to those who go to the training regularly.  A deep discount on the price of each firearm? Lower cost hunting licenses?  Put a higher tax on firearm sales and eliminate or greatly reduce the tax for those who have gone through the course?

The course would go a long way to helping prove legal use of a firearm in court - "Mr. Defendant has high marks in all aspects of the National Gun Training courses and has attended the course regularly over the last twenty years.  He is a responsible, well trained and conscientious gun owner."

Maybe the NRA could do an ad campaign.  "Guns are not the Answer"


Another option would be to have a high tax on guns and ammunition and offer a "Gun Control" card for those who come in and demonstrate shooting skill.  Gun Control is hitting what you aim at, so the majority of the skills demonstration would be hitting targets.  If you score high enough, you get the Gun Control card, with your score printed on it.  Presenting this card reduces your tax rate on guns and ammunition.  That way, the people who refuse the training - or can't pass it - contribute to cleaning up their messes and prosecuting them if necessary.

(see new post with more info)