San Diego — This is a distressing topic to address during a holiday devoted to Peace on Earth, but events have conspired to make it inescapable. After the Connecticut school shooting much angst and anguish has been evident among the mainstream press always looking for something to stir the pot, and fomented by the rabidly anti-gun crowd, and most especially among some of the fearful denizens of the social network world.
I’ve personally been insulted and excoriated because I am not singing with their choir. With invincible ignorance of the facts they have assumed my lockstep support of NRA leaders and policies and further that I am one of the redneck, gun-crazy folks. The truth is I’m not and have not been a memeber of the NRA because although I am an owner of a number of firearms, I’ve not agreed with their intractable and sometimes frightening and inane positions for a long time.
I was hoping this issue would not have to be revisited for a while since I talked about the Aurora shootings. But it appears there is no escaping it so I might as well accept the fray and once again, put my position out so it can be ignored by those who have no interest in hearing anything but their own ideas and who see reasoned discussion as a situation where they present their side and, recognizing their innate brilliance and infallibility, I naturally accept and agree with it. In this case, it is not going to happen.
So, below I have edited and re-presented my suggested Federal Regulations to address the firearms rights issues. This comes from a long history of gun ownership (I owned a rifle in Junior High and by High School had half a dozen various types of firearms), hunting (on the farm I was responsible for a large portion of the meat on the table), military experience, working with law enforcement training, and from, starting in law school, a deep study of The Constitution and especially the 2nd Amendment.
I personally believe such tragic events as the Aurora shooting and the Connecticut school shooting and other such events come from an unfortunate coincidence of causal factors, none of which alone would be sufficient but together form a deadly coalition. These primarily include (but are not limited to)…
- A nearly complete loss socially of the ethics, values, and morals that existed when the Constitution was written. Right and wrong were realities even up to the time I was a young man; but those days have passed as we have liberalized our outlooks to diminish and in some cases prohibit such “judgmental” views on behaviors. We no longer believe in responsibility and accountability preferring a world where choices can be made without consequences. Morality, when you take specified theological or philosophical motivations away is nothing more than the acceptance of consequences for choices and behavior. Perhaps we cannot legislate morality but by legislating any removal of consequences we have, in fact, legislated immorality and given it an official imprimatur.
- A world of national entertainment and media industries glorifying sleazy and aberrative behavior and a world of unfocussed violence as a remedy for personal wrongs, real or imagined. Don’t think so? One example… Look at current fashion where the attire of prisoners advertising their availability to “service” other prisoners is now common among the young.
- An inundation of violent video games that even the military uses to desensitize soldiers to interpersonal violence is nearly ubiquitous. The claim that it has no such effect flies in the face of official training policy and a wealth of psychological research. It is so powerful many shooting ranges prohibit the use of silhouette targets much less the photo targets of bad guys.
- A situation where it is increasingly difficult if not impossible, to get help or restraint for individuals exhibiting unstable behavior or mental health issues. Families are in anguish over what to do to help family members and the warm grates in most cities are, on cold nights, crowded with people for whom our mental health facilities are unavailable. The accepted solution: drugs. Worse, drugs that are now shown, in uncontrolled dosages, to exacerbate the feelings of isolation and undirected anger, rage, and violence.
- The rise of a nationwide sense of entitlement; the deep inner feeling that you are “owed” something by virtue of being alive. Not something you have to earn or work for but goodies you derserve because, in your own eyes, you are a good person. Coupled with an equally growing sense of victimhood, that is that the world is a zero sum game and therefore the reason you do not have what you want is because someone else took it from you and needs to be brought down,
Taken together it is little wonder we do not see increasing cases of unfocussed violence, striking out not at a specific target but society itself and in general, followed, often before any sense or motive can be discovered for the act, by the perpetrator’s suicide. Someone sufficiently unstable as to commit murder-suicide involving innocent people is not likely to be held in check by additional laws. But the simplistic cries to “do something” can no longer be ignored. Politicians no longer citizen politicians roped into temporary service to their country now are in thrall to voters for their own meal tickets. The emotionally charged cries for action cannot be ignored at the risk of losing re-election. Something will happen whether or not it is an even remotely viable solution, just to quiet the herd.
So the time has come, unfortunately, when some action needs to be taken that will not do undue violence to our freedoms and rights but will, at the same time, make it harder forsuch people to acquire the tools of mass destruction. No law will ever make it impossible but professional politicians have no clue except the polls. And they have no answer other than more laws since they have no clue how to enforce existing laws.
Any law will have a greater negative effect on the law abiding than a positive effect on the law breaking; we have a solid history of legal prohibitions and their failures to make that prediction a safe one. But if we, the law abiding gun owners do nothing and continue to refuse to even talk about it, we are going to wake up to a dreadful morning when every type of firearm is prohibited for individual ownership.
When that day dawns I think one of two things, or maybe both will happen: we will be instantly thrown into a shooting revolution and/or a dictatorship will be on the rise. I don’t want to see either happen. I would rather seek a compromise that may inconvenience me a little, the lawbreaker a lot, and give those fearful of all private gun ownership a sense that something to stop such tragic events is being attempted. Is this the first potential step on a slippery slope to a place I do NOT want things to go? Yes, it is… and it scares me.
But if we do not take it or some similar step, we will certainly lose everything; freedoms, guns, and who knows what else in the bargain. it seems to me to be a risk we have to take. NRA numbers about 4 million members. But our population is seveeral hundred million. Even counting that 4 million and maybe as many non-member gun owners such as I am, we are vastly outnumbered in terms of votes to be counted. And if we do nothing but scare the daylights out of that vast majority with more of the tired old “they’ll have to pry my cold dead fingers off of my gun” rhetoric, we are guaranteed to lose it all.
We can never eliminate failures of mental health, or evil, or aberrations of social behavior entirely. But something has to be done to minimize the acts of social destruction when they happen. I don’t think that all of the folks who oppose gun ownership want to see freedoms cut either. And many who are responding emotionally to the recent events are unaware of the potential and unintended consequences of the loss of such freedoms. But they seriously are abhorred to see innocent lives lost pointlessly because in their view we, the gun owners, are not willing to take a changing world seriously.
I truly loathe having to propose the regulations noted below. I do so because I cannot continue to deny a complete breakdown in national morals and values whose natural restraints, if they still existed, would make them unnecessary. For me and fellow law abiding gun owners to pretend otherwise would be delusional. So with sadness and trepidation I offer the following for discussion:
A Proposal for a Federal Firearms Ownership and Carry Act.
Preamble: WE the PEOPLE, as individuals, are guaranteed in our Constitution the right to keep and bear (meaning own and carry) firearms. But the reason is too often overlooked even though it is clearly spelled out. It is for the Security of our Free State. Period. But that is security from threat both from outside as well as inside. It is not about hunting or sport nor even about personal defense. It is about the defense of our country. From the time of the ancient greeks until now, the term “militia” refered not just to organized entitities but to every able-bodied (then, man and now person) capable of taking up arms and coming to the defense of the countrry.
This treasured right, however, is not just about protection from invasion from without as is often claimed. Such invasion concern was certainly part of it and proved prescient in 1812 and again for contemplated invasions during WWII by Japan and later by the Soviets. But in addition to those concerns, the founders, according to their own letters and correspondence, looked deeply into the history of tyrannical and abusive governments and did not want to ever risk letting their own government become antithetical to the goals and objectives of their newly created Republic.
In order to secure that Republic and the freedom of the people from abuse by their own government that they sought to establish, abuse they anticipated one day might happen, they opted, in contrast to disarming the people as autocrats do automatically, to allow the people to remained armed and able to repel invaders or to expel would-be tyrants. And that meant being able to take on the military and paramilitary forces that might be brought to bear against them by a would-be invader or a would-be dictator. Today, we cannot hope to take on an M16 with a Brown Bess Musket.
But it is impossible to remain innocent of the fact that the ethics, values, and moral compasses of those founders has dissipated over time and is no longer remaining to enable and encourage self reliance and self directed responsibilities. While we have grown in many ways as a people, we are, in some negative ways, unfortunately, a very different people with very different philosophies, ideologies, abilities, and needs than the people of the day when these rights were first written and guaranteed to us. Too many soft sheets and warm meals have happened from then till now. Too much easy living and government handouts have left us collectively bereft of both inner and outer strength that was common when we were formed.
Yet, that security force of an armed citizenry is still so vital, the citizen’s ability to say “No” to a government gone off the rails still so absolutely foundational to a free people, that to threaten that right by actions that could get a significant portion of the citizenry to want to limit or totally remove that right should be seen as actions and behavior tantamount to treason and subject to the same level of punishments as any other treasonous act. Indeed, simply giving sensitive data to the enemy may threaten the continued existence of our way of life less than actions which, as a result, frighten people into wanting to eliminate some of the freedoms that, when abused, can take on frightful consequences. With Rights come Responsiblities. But when those responsibilities are abrogated to a point which threaten the freedoms, then we who treasure those freedoms have a duty to act. Therefore it is proposed that the following Federal level regulations be enacted:
Article 1.A. Any use of a firearm coincident with or used to facilitate an illegal action of any kind is to be deemed a felony under Federal Law punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in a federal facility in addition to whatever sentence flows from the primary illegal action. If the illegal action involves, directly or indirectly, the illegal taking of a life, then for a minimum level offense (i.e. manslaughter) a mandatory 20 years of Federal incarceration is added to whatever punishment flows from the primary crime. If the offense is 1st or 2nd Degree murder then life imprisonment at hard labor is mandated, and for cases of 1st Degree Murder where the guilt of the accused can be proven to a scientific certainty, the use of a firearm in the commission of that crime shall automatically be deemed a capital offense in which the Death Penalty shall automatically be available. 1.B. Individuals not holding current U.S. citizenship and not being sworn foreign law enforcement officers expressly in our country working in conjunction with domestic or federal law enforcement and permitted by U.S. authorities to carry a firearm, shall, if found with a firearm or other deadly weapon on their persons, be considered prima facie guilty of a federal felony with a mandatory sentence of 5 years with automatic deportation to their country of origin to follow completion of sentence.
Article 2.A. Any natural, natural born, or naturalized citizen of the U.S., except for convicted felons, individuals convicted of domestic abuse, or persons held or registered as sexual offenders, or individuals considered by competent authority to be psychologically unstable and mental health risks to themselves or others, shall have the right to apply for a federal firearms ownership and/or carry permit. Said carry permits shall only be issued after completion of a rigorous and thorough background investigation, a training and testing regimen to include psychological evaluations, target identification drills, precision shooting, and general competence and safety with the weapon or weapons being permitted. Upon passing all qualification training and testing an applicant shall be allowed to carry on their person the weapon or weapons with which they are qualified. 2.B. Ownership-Only permits shall be granted after a background investigation and screen to eliminate an individual belonging to the exempted group above. 2.B. A reasonable fee to cover the costs of such background investigations, training, and testing may be imposed. 2.C. An individual certified via the procedure in 2.A. may purchase legal firearms not intended to be carried, such as hunting or sporting weapons upon presentation of their Federal permit. 2.D. In the event an applicant fails to pass any part of the qualification requirements the application fee will be forfeit and no permit issued. Following the first failure, the applicant may retake the procedure within 14 days after paying a new application fee. (It is no less expensive to retest an applicant than to test them in the first place.) If the applicant shall fail to pass the qualifications a second time, then for all subsequent attempts the applicant must wait for a period of 90 days before being allowed to retake the qualification exams and tests. During that waiting period it shall be unlawful for them to possess or carry any firearm of any type. 2.E. The Federal Firearms Carry Permit shall expire after two years from the date of issue. Federal Ownership Only Permits shall expire after ten years from the data of issue. The Holder will have 60 days from the permit’s expiration date to re-qualify with their weapon(s) or lose both their carry and ownership permits. 2.F. Legal owners of firearms which are not covered by their carry permit may transport their unloaded, disassembled firearms from their home to a sanctioned shooting range or to a proper hunting location. But said firearms may not be assembled or loaded until ready to engage in the sport intended in a location set aside for such sport. 2.G. Individuals who are not natural born, natural or naturalized citizens or any individual belonging to one or more of the prohibited classes specified in Article 2.A. may not posses or carry firearms of any sort. Violation of this article is a prima facia federal felony with a mandatory sentence of not less than 2 years.
Article 3.A. Any firearm of major caliber (.30 caliber or larger) or caliber designed for rifle fire for medium or large game, or any firearm of any caliber purchased with a Federal Carry Permit as per 2.A., or for firearms of any caliber capable of more than 4 rounds with magazine attached, shall be sold only after the weapon is ballistically tested, identified, and registered, along with owner contact data, with the FBI’s national database. 3.B. It shall be illegal for a legally registered owner of such weapon to relocate without providing an update as to the locations of the weapons so registered. The same would apply to sales of said weapons and/or the reporting within 3 days of the theft or other loss of such weapons. 3.C. It shall be lawful to rebarrel a firearm to improve its performance or appearance, however, any firearm subject to identification as per 3.A. which has been re-barreled for any purpose must be re-tested and identified ballistically and re-registered in the national FBI database. 3.D. A person in possession of a firearm to which the serial or identification number has been physically or chemically altered or erased, or to which the rifling in the barrel has been altered or defaced so as to change its ballistic characteristics and identification, shall be deemed to be prima facia guilty of a Federal Felony with a mandatory 2 year sentence upon conviction. 3.E. It shall be considered a Federal Felony for any person identified in 2.A. as prohibited from firearm ownership to be found in possession of any type of firearm of any caliber.
Article 4.A. It shall be a complete defense to any charge of manslaughter or murder if, and only if, the death was a result of deadly force used in self defense against the reasonable anticipation of bodily harm, the defense of others against the reasonable anticipation of their bodily harm, or to stop the commission of an aggravated felony in progress. However the standard of reasonableness is to be adjudged by the jury during trial based on all of the available facts and evidence surrounding the incident. Simply being paranoid or afraid of an imaginary or non-existent threat or actions not reasonably seen as threatening, is not a defense for the use of deadly force. Further, at such point that the initial defender continues to apply deadly force beyond neutralizing the attack and becomes the aggressor themselves, they can no longer maintain their “self defense” status. Once the initial attack has been neutralized or rendered impotent, no further harm to the initial aggressor shall be authorized. At that point the use of a firearm may only be continued to restrain an individual until proper authorities arrive on the scene. 4.B. A presumption of self-defense shall be granted to an individual who uses deadly force against another individual who is in the process of invading or committing an unprivileged entry of their home or place of residence. Citizens have a right to feel secure against attack in their own homes and to protect themselves, their families, guests, and others under their care. 4.C. Law enforcement agencies can only execute “No-Knock” warrants of private domiciles under court authority granted upon solid evidence of potential illegal activity in the premises and reasonable expectation of extreme danger to the law enforcement personnel. However, executing the no-knock warrant upon the wrong address, or invading an innocent home by error removes this protection and an innocent home owner retains the right to the use of deadly force to protect his home and family against unannounced intrusion until such time as law enforcement properly identifies itself and its purpose.
5.A. The status of any weapon capable of fully automatic or “burst” fire shall remain under the current regulations and licensing requirements of the BATF. Anyone found in possession of a fully automatic firearm, or a semi-automatic firearm converted to fully automatic or burst capability but without the proper license, shall be prima facia guilty of a Federal Felony with a minimum penalty of 5 years in a Federal Facility upon conviction. 5.B. These regulations address only firearms known as “small arms” and arms capable of being hand or shoulder fired and do not include weapons belonging to the category of “artillery” or “Ordnance” nor explosive devices nor weapons of mass destruction as defined by military convention, nor any crew-served weapon of any kind. Nothing contained herein or not contained herein shall be construed as altering current laws regarding such weapons.
Let me be as clear as I know how to be on this. Personally I am philosophically opposed to having to create such laws and fully understand that they will satisfy no one. Gun nuts as well as anti-gun nuts will both hate it equally. Gun nuts will say it is too restrictive of their rights but it allows full rights to own nearly anything so long as the persona checks and training are done and the gun’s “signature” ballistics are registered. Anti-Gun nuts will say that anything that does not eliminate ALL guns from private ownership is unacceptable but that is not a likely scenario and it does not take guns out of the hands of the lawbreakers, succeeding only in making law abiders defenseless. But for something to be done we all have to give a little.
As with all gun regulations they will effect only the otherwise law abiding and will be ignored by the real bad guys. But perhaps… perhaps… since the real bad guys have never been noticeable for their brilliance, enough will fail to observe the rules, get busted, be made an object lesson, and others will take note. That indeed is my hope, but it is not my serious expectation because, again, this deals only symptomatically with the problem and not the root causes enumerated at the first of this post.
I personally do not think we have a gun problem. No gun of mine has ever, not once, called me aside and asked of me, much less demanded of me, that I take it in hand and commit a crime of any sort. And even if it did, what I do then is totally on my head because it is my choice and my behavior. The gun may be a deadly weapon but it is deadly only in the hands of a human using it to deadly purpose. If you think otherwise try this experiment: lay a loaded gun on a table and watch it to see if, by itself, it decides to shoot someone.
What we have is a “people” problem; a problem of bad choices and bad behavior that has, when less violent, too often gone unaddressed if not openly facliitated and empowered by others looking to find excuses less their own choices and behaviors come under scrutiny. But for those delusion individuals who believe the answer lies in more rules rather than enforcing the rules we already have, then this should at least give them a good place to join in the discussion. We already have rules against murder. How has that worked out to stop murders? We have rules against drug use. How is that going? We even made a Constitutional Amendment bannig alcohol. How did that work out?
Nevertheless I offer the above regulation because it also offers a compromise, something we are accused of not being willing to consider. So now the ball is in the other court. And for the masses who may stumble on this and disagree with it, my question is simple, “What do you all suggest that keeps our rights intact while trying to cut down or eliminate the heinous acts that have started this debate?”