6.26.2008

"If guns kill people, do pens misspell words?"

I realized a few things today.

First – I haven’t posted in quite a while…blame this on a trip to Alabama, an excessive amount of trials at work for which I have had to stay late, or my general laziness.

Second – Even though the second word in the blog title’s subheading is “law,” I have yet to address any topics of law besides putting a link to kentuckylawblog in the links section…I know, an astounding use of my three years of law school education and the analytical skills that came with it.

So, in an effort to place at least one law article on the blog, I’ve decided to write about something near and dear to my bleeding liberal heart – guns.


Yes, I’m a liberal, and yes, I like guns. In fact, I love guns. I think everybody should own guns. And yes, I’m a liberal. I’m a pro-choicing, democrat voting, alternative lifestyle accepting liberal. In fact, the only two liberal ideals I really don’t adhere to relate to the environment and guns. However, since the Supreme Court of the United States threw down a decision on guns today, not the environment, I’ll focus on guns. Before I get too far into it, though, I want to make it clear that while I love guns, I’m not now, nor ever have been, a member of the NRA or similar organizations. I don’t hunt, and contrary to what some of my friends may think that I think – I do not believe that guns solve all problems.

Now, here is a link to the Yahoo article on the decision, and I’ll leave you to your own devices to read it – it is informative. Instead of reiterating the whole thing, I have instead chosen just to jot down some thoughts of my own.

First, the title of the article was taken from a picture some of the supporters outside the Supreme Court were holding. “If guns kill people, do pens misspell words?” I thought that was genius. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from an episode of The West Wing where Martin Sheen’s character was having a discussion with his VP about gun control. The VP was more of gun type, and there conversation relayed the thought that people are always quick to use any shooting as an excuse to talk about gun control, but that (in the show) a man had murdered his wife and four children, but nobody in the media was complaining about that- why? Here’s the whole quote”

“You know, last month in Idaho, a man killed six members of his family, including his pregnant wife. And you know why the liberal intelligentsia didn't go crazy? Because he did it with an axe. You think we need axe control?”

I love that damn show. But moving on….

I often think that quote is a fair assessment of how the media portrays things. Now, I do not believe there is a giant media conspiracy to try and eliminate all gun use, but the position I have always taken is this – if someone wants to kill someone else, they’re going to find a way, gun or no gun. As cliché as it may be, guns don’t kill people…people kill people. Now, do guns give people a way to kill other people? Yes, but so do knives, alcohol, drugs, cars, fast food, poison, baking devices (ovens), icepicks, bricks, vases, gambling, and so on, and so on, and so on.

So why are guns the super villain in this comic book we call life? Because they can kill, they’re loud and flashy, and many people (i.e. rappers) glamorize gun violence. I mean, seriously, how much street cred would 50 Cent have if, instead of being shot 9 times, he rapped about being hit nine times with a designer vase? While a number of white people may be able to relate more to this, I don’t think most rap music would have sold as well if it was about alternate methods of killing.

But back more to the point – what was the point to the lawsuit in D.C.? A security guard, who lived in D.C. city limits, sued when his application to keep a handgun at his home was denied (Because no gun permits for non-police officers were allowed within the city limits, so no concealed weapons, and no keeping guns in your house in general.) The Court struck down the ban, stating that the constitution gave Americans the right to own guns and that a total prohibition, like the D.C. ban, was not compatible with such a right.

Critics of the decision are worried that the striking down of the ban will lead to other gun laws being struck down, such as those which prohibit felons from buying/possessing firearms, those which provide for an instant background check, or those which restrict machine gun sales.

In spite of my love of guns, I don’t feel that anyone needs to own a machine gun. However, I do believe that people should be allowed to own one if they want. Contrary to popular belief, it is legal to purchase machine guns, and even shoot them, but owners must pay hefty federal and state licensing fees and are only supposed to shoot them at designated places and times (i.e. the famed “Machine Gun Shoot” in Knob Creek, KY that happens a couple times a year).

I’m also in favor of felons not being able to purchase or possess guns. That’s one of the rights you give up when you commit a felony. Additionally, I’m totally in favor of background checks – in favor, I’m in favor of more stringent background check requirements, especially in light of what happened at Virginia Tech.

In other gun related issues, I am in favor of concealed weapons licenses, but I’m in favor of more stringent requirements to obtain one of those as well. Currently, applicants for a concealed weapons license in the state of Kentucky must attend an eight-hour course, pass a written test (multiple choice) and pass a shooting test (11 out of 20 shots on a man-sized target from the knees up, from 21 feet away). More stringent requirements need to be put in place, because any idiot can pass that test. Seriously. I have no doubt that a blind guy pointed in the right direction could hit 11 out of 20 shots on such a target. I do have my concealed weapons license, and when I took my class, we had a person take (and pass) the class who had never shot a gun before. Seriously. That kind of stuff should not happen.

I could rant and rave about guns forever. Most of you who know me know that. However, I won’t. Suffice it to say, I’m interested to see where the legislation goes from here in light of this decision. And even though the decision was made by the Supreme Court, I’m sure this new era of gun control will be a major issue in the upcoming election, and I can only hope the Democrats will behave sensibly…although even if they don’t, I’ll probably vote that way anyway.

Peace, Love, and Guns.

-PreView

7 comments:

GiantAsianMan said...

The problem I've always struggled with when it comes to guns is, "Why?" Sure, the Constitution protects to right to "keep and bear arms" (although the part about a "well regulated Militia" always seems to be forgotten), but to what purpose? Why do people need to own guns?

Sport? Okay, while I think hunting is an inane hobby, I've spent enough time around hunters to understand it (even if I still think its inane). But what do concealed handguns have to do with hunting deer? Or automatic weapons? I've never meet a hunter that's taken a street sweeper into a tree stand.

Self defense? Don't buy it. To that, I offer up my own "West Wing" quote:

"This is our 5th press briefing since midnight. Obviously, there's one story that going dominating news around the world for the next few days, and it would be easy to think that President Bartlet, Joshua Lyman, and Stephanie Abbott were the only victims of a gun crime last night. They weren't. Mark Davis and Sheila Evans of Philadelphia were killed by a gun last night. He was a Biology Teacher and she was a Nursing student. Tina Bishop and Linda Larkin were killed with a gun last night. They were 12. There were 36 homicides last night. 480 sexual assaults, 3,411 robberies, 3,685 aggravated assaults, all at gunpoint. And if anyone thinks those crimes could have been prevented if the victims themselves had been carrying guns, I'd only remind you that the President of the United States himself was shot last night while surrounded by the best trained armed guards in the history of the world."

Having a gun on your person doesn't protect you from someone else with a gun. If they shoot at you and you're hit, what good did your gun do? Of course, if they miss, you could retaliate in an "act of self defense," but still, your gun didn't save you; their poor aim did.

Perhaps you don't buy my argument, and you think your gun's going to help you if you get into trouble. Regardless, you feel safer having a gun because you're afraid "the other guy" might have a gun. Fair enough. What if "the other guy" didn't have a gun? What if "the other guy" couldn't have a gun? Would you still need yours?

You state that other things (like knives, ice picks, bricks, ovens, etc.) can all kill people. All true. But how close (and I'm talking about actual, physical distance) do you have to be kill someone with one of those? Can you hole up in a clock tower and pick people off by dropping bricks on them? Can you have a drive-by with knives? You claim that one problem facing gun ownership is perception. Guns allow people to kill others from a far distance. Sure, a guy can still kill you if he comes at you with a knife. But you'd also have a chance at defending yourself, unlike if he were to pull a gun out from across the room.

Am I missing anything? Are they any other reasons to own a gun? I just don't see any other than "because I can," which would tell me that people in this country approach gun ownership with the mentality of a four-year old.

Puddin' said...

So PreView controls the pace early with a couple of nice leg kicks and combos.

But GiantAsianMan shoots and secures the double-leg takedown.

How does PreView work off of his back?

PreView said...

As usual, GiantAsianMan provides us with some compelling points. However compelling as they may be, my opinion is not changed.

First, good choice on The West Wing quote – I, too, think that’s one of the most telling quotes on the show, and it very appropriately illustrates the point that when we hear of a sensationalized shooting, we often forget about all the violence and everything else that goes on at the same time.

I will however, say this – the end of the quote states “And if anyone thinks those crimes could have been prevented if the victims themselves had been carrying guns, I’d only remind you that the President of the United States himself was shot last night while surrounded by the best trained armed guards in the history of the world.”

First, one love to the Secret Service. In addition to being crack shots and amazing guards, those men and women tirelessly often devote their entire adult lives to protecting one person – the skill with which they analyze crowds and protect people is amazing.

Second, the quote is correct, to a point. And here, I’m going to address another one of GAM’s points, about a gun not saving you, but someone else’s poor aim doing that. In WW, the President was shot, as were two other characters. However, those were the only three – and there were hundreds of other people around – so how was it that only three people got shot when three guys were all shooting guns? Sure, some of that may be attributable to poor aim, but the biggest reason is because the Secret Service was there to take the shooters out, quickly and efficiently. Imagine how many more people the shooters would have been able to take out had no Secret Service Agents been shooting back at them.

Further, GAM is right – if someone shoots at you and misses you, yes, that person’s poor aim contributed to your ability to retaliate, to a point, but as everybody should know, there are very few guns that only carry one bullet – so after that first miss, having a gun allows you to retaliate and protect yourself – not from the first shot that already missed, but from the possible second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth (and so on) shots that would likely be coming when the person realized you were still alive. This also overlooks the obvious factor that guns can play in defense of people other than the person who is carrying the gun.

If Criminal shoots at Man 1 trying to kill him, perhaps even fatally wounding him, Man 1 not having a gun may not do a whole lot of good depending on how injured Man 1 was. But, Man 2 having a gun, and seeing the situation, can intervene to protect Man 1 from a further assault and possibly death.

GAM responded to my “other things can kill people, too” rationale with an argument about distance – about how “Guns allow people to kill others from a far distrance.” Clearly, that statement is true. However, given the choice of facing a guy with a knife from 2 feet away, or a guy with a gun from 20 feet away, I’d likely choose the guy with the gun, for this simple reason – most people can’t shoot worth a shit, and many people truly don’t understand how to work guns. Conversely, a guy two feet away from you with a knife is likely going to know what to do with it to hurt you and you have less of a chance to run. Now, would I rather face a guy with a knife at 2 feet or a Secret Service agent with a gun at 20 feet? Guy with a knife – clearly – because the Secret Service would probably put three in my chest and two in my head before I could say “Oh shit.”

With regard to GAM’s statement about the “because I can” mentality, I believe that mentality is responsible for a lot of people’s problems with guns, but frankly, the problem is with the gun owners, not the guns. I actually agree this mentality can cause a problem, but again, that’s why I’m in favor of more stringent regulations. Just about anybody can buy a gun today – there’s no requirement that you take a class on some sort of gun knowledge before you buy one, and many people who buy them for protecting their homes don’t know how to effectively use them, but they think they should have one “because they can”. And approaching something as dangerous as a gun with this sort of mentality does get people killed, but again, it’s not because of the guns, it’s because of stupid people. And those of us who know how to effectively and safely use guns should not be prohibited from using them simply because there are plenty of idiots out there who don’t know how to use them. For example, I know that GAM, Puddin and myself all enjoy alcoholic beverages from time to time – should we not be able to drink them because people get drunk and do irresponsible things like get DUIs, or worse, kill people in the process? Should we not be able to drive cars because people get in wrecks? Or more pointedly, towards the constitution, should we lose our free speech rights simply because you have idiots railing about racism, bigotry and unacceptance and other disagreeable topics under the free speech banner? Should we drop the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable search and seizures because some criminals have gone free because the Court said their 4th amendment rights were violated?

No. We shouldn’t. In any of those situations. But there will always be stupid people – and there will always be the stupid people that think they look cool carrying a gun in the front of their pants (which is f’in ridiculous, by the way), and they end up shooting themselves in the foot (literally). But you’re also always going to have people that abuse any constitutional right, frankly, any freedom at all – and it’s not about limiting the freedoms and quashing the rights, it’s about effectively legislating for them. I’m not against gun legislation, I’m against overbroad gun legislation, and that’s what the D.C. ban was.

Ergo. Concordantly. Vis a vis.

-PreView

Puddin' said...

PreView is in the Purple trunks, Blue for the crazy liberal in him, Red for the pro-gun enthusiast in him.

GAM is in the Yellow trunks. And I can say that because I'm his friend.

Back to the action...

After GAM secures the double-leg, PreView immediately pulls full-guard and is controlling GAM's posture, delivering some sharp elbows from the bottom. The Asian is cut.

Can't tell whether the blood is affecting GAM's vision.

Sexual White Chocolate said...

This place is filled with Hippie Liberals! At least one of them has a little red blood coursing through his veins! (And the other is really big and could kick my ass, so no smack shall be hurled in his direction.)

Just a quick perspective from an outsider. I love guns. I have them and hunt with them. I deer hunt, turkey hunt, and shoot the occasional clay pigeon. I love it, it is a fun, relaxing, and therapeutic hobby. The only time I would ever think of becoming violent to a human with said gun, would be if my family were being placed in imminent harm, or if a hippie liberal came to take it from me. :)

That being said, I find myself a moral crossroads on the area of handguns. I find little sport that can come from handguns, and short of law-enforcement/security, little need for them. Never in my years of deer hunting have i felt a need to rattle of 16 shots in 10 seconds in Bambi's general direction.

But the fact that the government would tell me that I can't have one bothers me greatly. So here I sit at my crossroads. My Republican comrades glaring at me from one side, and you hippie liberals sitting giddy on the others. But as it always happens in the world of the White Choc., I don't really care what either of them think. Maybe that's why everyone hates me. Except Puddin.

GiantAsianMan said...

Sorry for the late reply- I've been on the road all day, I'm blogging from a hotel room in Harrisonburg, VA , and I'm eating Jimmy John's. I'm a little distracted right now.

First off, Puddin'- Of course I'm in the yellow trunks. I'd always be in the yellow trunks (unless I were doing the Rich Franklin homecoming fight thing, then I'd also go with the orange and black and come in to GnR). And I really don't think I'd intentionally take a fight to the ground; I'm not the most flexible and my jiu jistu is second to everyone. Unless I were trying to score some points for "octagon control." Yeah, let's go with that.

Back to the point: If you're saying that you having a gun could potentially protect or help someone that doesn't have a gun (which is a totally valid point), wouldn't it be better to have your gun out in the open to say to everyone around "HEY! I HAVE A GUN! DON'T FUCK WITH ME!" If its clear that the people in the area are armed, it might deter someone from creating an incident. Of course, it won't deter everyone, but non-apparent weapons deter no one, so perhaps some is better than none.

You know what, just answer my original question: why do people need to own guns? What's the point of a concealed handgun? Yes, its a right protected by the Constitution- but why should it be a right at all? It made sense at the time, when there wasn't any sense of national defense, thus the need for a "well regulated Militia." But what about now? Why does "the right to bear arms" still need to exist?

PreView said...

I think the right to bear arms still exists because in spite of the fact there is a sense of national defense now, there are (and I always go back to this) stupid people everywhere. Stupid people who want to harm others, and just plain evil people that want to harm others.

Now, the reason I don't think it's better to have guns out in the open all the time is that, as we all know, more than a few people are skittish around guns, so we don't want to frighten everybody. Additionally, since some people only associate guns with crimes, we don't want to appear to be criminals. And not to mention, announcing to everyone that you have a gun could end up like that scene in Tommy Boy in the bank where Chris Farley yells, "This will only take a minute."

Further, I want to be able to carry my weapons concealed because I don't like everybody knowing just what I might have on hand to protect myself (aside from my kung fu skills, of course...which, admittedly, did not protect me from getting stabbed in the leg...lol.)

Being able to carry a concealed weapon can give people a sense of strength. Not that they could just shoot anybody at any time they wanted, but especially for people who may not have much self confidence, any sort of fight training, or even a weaker physical stature, carrying a concealed weapon can give them a little bit of a boost where they may not have had one and they can then be calmer more often because they find comfort in their weapon.

The right to bear arms should still exist because there are still plenty of reasons to bear arms.

I could go down the whole "As long as criminals have guns, I want my gun, too" route, and while I feel that is true to a point, while there may be a sense of national defense that is supposed to protect us, while there may be the armed forces and while there may be law enforcement officers, I think everyone knows the number of criminals clearly outnumbers those people fighting for good. So as long as those people are out there, I want to be able to carry a gun in case I ever run into any of them. I don't just want to carry my gun "because I can" but I want to carry it for my protection, for the protection of my friends and family - and on the off chance I ever run into a situation where guns are drawn and my life is threatened - you better believe that if I'm going to go down, I'm going to go down shooting :)

And yes, GAM, while your jiu jitsu may not be your strong point and while yes, of course, you're wearing the yellow trunks, I still think you're tough and durable.

-PreView