Friday, July 22, 2016

Firearms Friday: Fulfilling A Request

Following my previous Firearms Friday post, I received a request from a friend on Facebook. This is someone who has demonstrated time and again an even temperament regarding a variety of topics whether or not they agree with the stance that I am taking. It is because of this thoughtfulness and willingness to discuss various issues that I am honoring their request for the Firearms Friday post this week. Their request was as follows:

“I fully accept your premise that mental health is significantly lacking, however I don't believe focusing solely on mental health with solve the problem of gun violence. (Some people really are just are evil.) I would be happy to support legislation that limits evil people's ability to do harm with fire arms, while still allowing gun owners to own fire arms. As a non gun expert I can only guess. I've been thinking in terms of limits on clip sizes, the rate at which bullets could be fired, or the maximum force behind the bullets. My requested topic is this: As a gun expert, how would you make firearms safer so that if they were to fall into the wrong hands they would do less damage?”

They later added the following:

“Fundamentally all I care about is a reduction in gun violence. Propose something I can get behind and I'll happily advocate for that when I call my representatives, otherwise I'm forced to stick to the generic "do something!" plea… We may not always agree, but I appreciate the effort. Our end goals are the same. The best polices come from listening to people on all sides of the aisle.”

Again, they were reasonable and respectful in their approach so my response was rather simple… ask and you shall receive. Of course, I made sure to point out that there it is likely that they will not agree with my response but I can't expect everyone to agree with me. In the end, we all have our own views. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. So, here is my response…

First of all, it is very important to note that I am by no means a firearms expert. This is an enjoyable hobby and a means to defend myself and my family. I enjoy and respect this right. I may have more knowledge in this field than others but I am by no means an expert. 

Second, the concept of "making guns safer" is simply an impossibility. Capacity is a moot point when you watch people dedicated to the sport conduct speed reloads. The same can be said regarding rate of fire when you consider the capabilities of the British Army conducting "Mad Minute" drills during World War I. Of course it should be noted that while the media and politicians may use the term "automatic weapon" we are really talking about semiautomatic firearms that fire one round per pull of the trigger. Finally, regarding lethality of the projectile, I wouldn't even consider this as plausible because while I can understand the perspective of the questioner I also have to consider the fact that, if put in a situation to defend myself and/or my family, I don't want to question the lethality of the rounds I am using... I just want to eliminate the threat. 

That being said, I will do my best to address the larger subject at hand. 

The sad fact of the matter is that there is no way to stop all violence committed with firearms. Bad and/or evil people will always find a way to get them and thinking just because something is illegal that criminals will stop using them is lunacy. Evil people will find a way to commit evil acts and the most recent Terrorist attack in France is a prime example of that fact. This is the world in which we live, like it or not.

As I previously mentioned, mental health is the primary means of further decreasing the number of crimes committed with firearms in this country. I specifically used the term “further decreasing” as PEW research shows the steady decline since the early 1990’s. Unfortunately, the media coverage of “gun violence” has not only distorted public opinion but also has offered a tremendous incentive to those looking to commit such a heinous crime… fame. What further sickens me is the fact that the individual who committed this act, the one responsible for the death(s), is seen more as an accomplice rather than the perpetrator… the ones “found guilty” are gun owners in general. As I have said before:

“…The most commonly used of which was a quote from then Governor Ronald Reagan when he addressed the Republican National Convention in Miami Florida on July 31, 1968 amid a time of tremendous racial turmoil which erupted in riots. The excepted says simply “We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”” 

What I am getting at is that there needs to be a drastic shift in the mentality of the American people. We can’t glorify violence on a daily basis and we can’t assign blame to those who had nothing to do with the crime. We have to return to a society that accepts individual responsibility and promotes self-reliance. Too often, people are blaming others for crimes, addiction, health issues, financial situations, living conditions, and limited employment opportunities. We need to take responsibility for our own lives.

Education is fundamental to a healthy and thriving society but the idea that institutionalized settings are the only place that offer this is a misconception that is continuously perpetuated in every political circle. In this instance, on this topic, people need to be familiar with firearms and have at least a basic understanding. This used to be part of growing up and it was slowly strangled from the consciousness of the schools. We need to teach children and adults not just about how a firearm operates but also, and more importantly, proper gun safety. Firearms should be respected not something that should be feared or, even worse, painted as an innocuous piece of video game memorabilia.

These things would take time but, per the request above, what can be done NOW? My stance is rather simple in this regard. What we need to do is enforce the volumes of laws that are already on the books before any other measures should even be considered. Besides, overzealous kneejerk local laws work so well, right? Additionally, we need to spend the money allocated, through legislation, to improve the NICS system. By the way, it was signed into law by President Bush. Here is an overview that I previously wrote:

“Lastly, the other part of this whole equation that is being overlooked is the fact that even when bills are passed, they are not being enforced and/or the funding is not being spent (i.e. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System). The NICS Improvement Amendment Act was signed into law by President Bush on January 8, 2008 with the explicate mission to improve the background check system in this country. The law, endorsed by the NRA by the way, allocated Congress $1.3 Billion to improve record keeping in states which would allow greater transparency and improve the Federal gun background check system. To date nearly 90 percent of funding has never been spent and the Obama administration will further reduce spending from its peak in 2015 of $78 million down to $55 million in the President’s 2016 budget request.

This is something that really bothers me as it seems as though the intentional “spenddown” is being leveraged to paint a completely different story about the system and the way it should be working. Again, even the positive actions taken are spun to accommodate a political objective. After all, if you improve the system you can’t blame it and try to pass additional legislation.

The final “recommendation” I would make is that we need to increase the penalties associated with crimes (violent or nonviolent) with a firearm. I’m talking decades not simply years. Basically, instead of the mandatory minimums for drugs, why don’t we change things up and have mandatory minimums for these crimes. This would also apply to those using something (i.e. a toy) to misconceive people in thinking they had a firearm. Those found guilty of straw purchasing (including members of the media) should be brought up on criminal charges. Those found in possession of a loaded firearm while intoxicated need to be penalized as well.

Lastly, we need to eliminate gun free zones. They have been proven time and again to be ineffectual. In fact, rather than offering real protection they have presented wicked people with targets of opportunity. In addition to the multitudes of accounts, police reports, and stories about firearms being used to stop crime even the CDC has noted in one of their own studies that the use of firearms in “Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent.” Again, we need to be more self-reliant and willing to take control of our own lives in every situation rather than relying on the faux fairy dust sprinkle around certain places in the community.

So, let us review.

What is the current situation that we find ourselves in?
  • Violence is a Part of the Real World
  • PEW: Gun Violence in Decline
  • CDC: Self Defense is an Important Crime Deterrent
  • Mental Health Resources are Lacking
  • Government is NOT Spending Allocated Funds on NICS
  • Firearms Education is Lacking
  • More Gun Laws are Ineffectual
What needs to be done to address the problems crippling our society?
  • Increased Focus On Mental Health
  • Firearms Education (with Particular Focus On Safety)
  • Reintroduce Self Reliance and Self Sufficiency
  • Stop Assigning Blame to Others
  • Acknowledge and Refute Media Bias
  • Use The Funds Allocated To Improve NICS
  • Increase Penalties for Crimes Committed with Firearms
  • Eliminate Gun Free Zones
Of course, these are just some of the thoughts that came to mind over the past week since being presented with the original question. Again, I didn’t say that they would necessarily agree with my perspective on the topic but I hope that I have been able to answer their question. If you have a question or request, on this topic or others, please feel free to contact me or comment below. You never know, I may end up writing on that topic.