The Second Amendment–Part 3-The Logistics.
In the final installment of this presentation, I would like to take a look at the logistics and logic behind the current state of affairs in relation to the second amendment. Regardless of your philosophical view on guns, there is a real-world dimension to any action taken in terms of gun control or bans that must be addressed before that action can be deemed valid or not. Because the highway to hell is paved with good intentions, it is to our benefit to ensure that our good intentions are being matched by equally right actions.
The first thing that should probably stand out to any observer who has noticed things like the previously referenced Gallup poll, it is that the current push for “gun control” is motivated by pain. The media is attempting to cause the entire country to identify with and feel the intoxicating pain of the families of the Sandy Hook massacre—both by exploiting the Sandy Hook massacre itself and by paying special attention to even minor incidents involving guns. While we could make a case that this merely the result of a news service that is drowning in punditry instead of reporting simple facts, it should be noted that most people in the mainstream news services are liberals who would love to see the “gun problem” (misnomer, but currently the politically correct reference for gun violence) resolved; translation: it is their personal desire (even subconsciously) to steer the public dialogue at least as much as inform it. In light of this, the rhetorical question to be asked is, “when is the last time we made a wise decision because of our emotional pain?” If emotion—while a tremendous motivator—clouds our judgment, shouldn’t we be a bit slower or more cautious in moving forward with legislation in response to a crisis? Rebuilding after a hurricane is one thing…… passing a more egregious version of the Patriot Act is entirely another.
Secondly, it must be asked what, if any, legislation currently on the table would have necessarily prevented the crisis to which we are responding? For example, the shooter in the Sandy Hook massacre possessed an AR-15 bushmaster rifle… which stayed in the trunk of his car the entire time he was in the school. So if we banned “assault rifles” in October of 2011, it wouldn’t have prevented the shooting on December 14th… and that is assuming everyone actually gave up their rifles to the government when the ban went into place. So the legislation itself is misguided and should give off the warning that something about this isn’t right.
We’ve already talked to some degree about fixing mass murderers before they commit crimes, but there are two other parts to be considered in that equation—the power of image and the psychology of crime. We think of psychotic individuals as the people that are “listening to voices”. While there are no doubt those kinds of people in the world who commit terrible atrocities, it seems to me that most of those individuals are either committed to psych wards or running pre-third world countries. What is more common is the feeling of hopelessness, smallness, and insignificance that gets tied with clinical depression. People commit suicide because they think no one cares and no one will miss them. However, some people have decided to fight that feeling and to go out in a way that they will be remembered. Imagine someone contemplating alone—trying desperately to find a way to get attention, make an impact, and ensure that they are remembered—and then they see an Adam Lanza: his picture is on every channel, the details of his pain are spread far and wide, and the question being asked by everyone is “why was this individual hurting so much?” That’s a powerful draw for someone whose mental state is verging on a break with the human condition. To put it bluntly, we need to examine if the 24/7 news cycle is creating more monsters in the dark corners of our society.
But what of the more run-of-the-mill stuff? What about the kids getting gunned down in Chicago? In many ways we have underestimated the desire of the aspiring criminal. For example, did you know that the two Columbine shooters committed 39 felony-level offenses? (see Alan Korwin’s summary) These include three separate charges for having a gun on school grounds, a charge for a concealed carry without a permit, fraudulently obtaining guns and ammunition, and discharging a weapon in city limits. If those 39 felonies weren’t enough to prevent two teenagers from acquiring “assault weapons”, why do we believe that an outright ban on “scary looking guns” (thank you, Senator Cruz) would have helped?
We need to take a step back and consider what laws the government is and is not capable of enforcing. Need proof? Ask yourself how often you witness other people (or you yourself) exceeding the speed limit on the highway. Everyone knows that you are supposed to drive “no faster” than the number on the sign, but when someone actually does, the driver behind them is cursing their existence. The reality of our world is that the government can only prosecute a crime when they know it has happened. The government only knows crimes happen because (A) a citizen reports it (911 call), (B) it happens in front of them (Undercover sting), (C) they stumble across it (curiosity killed the cop). What does this translate to? If you institute a ban and a buyback program immediately, you have to trust that everyone who has one of the banned weapons turns them in. Because there is not a consistent national gun registry (thank God), the government is incapable of knowing where every “assault weapon” in the United States is right now. When this number is further complicated by theft—like the one that was attempted following the Journal News posting the addresses and personal information of gun owners in upstate New York—it becomes clear that a simple ban would be both ineffectual and dangerous. In fact, it could be said that banning weapons is the one way to make sure that the only people who have them are the people you don’t want to have them.
For most urban centers (Atlanta, Dallas, El Paso, San Francisco, Chicago) the average response time to a high-alert 911 call is in the neighborhood of 10-12 minutes. While this is admirable (especially considering the amount of distance a lot of these guys have to cover), it is also clear that a lot can happen in 10-12 minutes. The Sandy Hook massacre? 20 minutes from the first calls to when first responders got on site (per CNN). An armed teacher or security guard on site would have been responding in seconds. Milwaukee County (WI) Sheriff David Clarke and Spartanburg County (SC) Sheriff Chuck Wright have both made public statements about the need for the public to arm itself for self-defense.
“It just struck me wrong that we keep telling everyone ‘trust us, trust us, trust us,’ but in reality, you need to protect yourself… If you are not a convicted felon or someone who causes trouble or don’t have any mental issues, buy a weapon to protect yourself and get some good training.”—Chuck Wright
“Once the wolf is at the door, once the intruder is inside your home, once you’re on the street and someone sticks a gun in your face to take your car or your wallet, you don’t have the option of calling 911.”—David Clarke
In situations with live shooters, seconds can be the difference between “an incident” and “a massacre”. As much as I appreciate the police departments and what they do, there is a cold reality… the police cannot be everywhere at once. Not only can police not be everywhere at once, but not all crime can be prevented—only responded to.
There are many arguments that can be made in light of attempts to curb gun ownership by responsible, law-abiding citizens. Not all of them can be covered in a single set of blog posts. The most pressing of them is that the founders of this nation had a very certain set of circumstances in mind when they penned the second amendment (and yes, pistols existed in the 1700’s as well) and that is why they added the amendment to the Bill of Rights. In view of this, we must ask ourselves what we are really asking for if the government is allowed to countermand the second amendment without either consequence or bothering to amend the constitution first (see, Prohibition). If the government has no respect for the second amendment, it becomes a fool’s errand to expect that they will respect the first, fourth, tenth, or any of the others.
… and all of this is prior to any discussion of Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, or any other civil uprising that would be applicable to our situation.