As an advocate for strict gun control, my concession that Americans should be allowed to own any kind of gun (semiautomatic, fully automatic, or otherwise) may come as a bit of a surprise. If you are one that respectfully disagrees, I invite you to read on and see if I can’t persuade you.
Adhering to the definition of the word “militia,” the “well regulated militia” to which the authors of the second amendment referred was comprised of civilians. Therefore, according to most current defenders of the second amendment, the right should still extend to civilians. Fine. I can accept that (even though with the largest professional military in the world, we no longer have a need for a civilian militia to defend ourselves against King George’s Redcoats). However, I believe that folks who want to be part of this modern-day “well-regulated militia,” whether to protect their country against enemy invaders or just to protect their lives and property, need to be…wait for it…well-regulated. In other words, if you want to be part of the militia, you should be subject to the same exact criminal background checks, drug screenings, psych evaluations, medical background checks, and intensive firearms training that the real “militia” (i.e. police and military personnel) is subject to.
If you have unpaid parking tickets, “no gun for you.”
No high school diploma or GED? “No gun for you.”
You like to get high and can’t pass a drug test? “No gun for you.”
ADHD? “No gun for you.” How can we be sure you can focus on the right target? And if you are treating your ADHD with prescription amphetamines, see the previous disqualifier.
Depression? “No gun for you.” Have you seen the statistics correlating suicides with gun ownership?
Can’t reliably hit a human-sized target at 20 yards? “No gun for you.” You pose a threat to everything around you when you fire your weapon.
All the branches of the military and local police forces have determined that before they put a gun in the hands of a human being, it is prudent to ensure a high level of competency regarding that human’s capability to use the weapon. Why is it so hard to expect the same for civilians? It would seem like the least we could do, especially considering civilians lack any of the oversight and continuous training that military and police receive.
I understand that this kind of stringent gun control would leave many people without a lethal means of protecting themselves (the elderly, disabled, uncoordinated, etc.), but these folks would just have to rely on alternative non-lethal means of self-defense—and that is the one direction that the gun control debate unfortunately never goes. We can send a text message to satellites in outer space and back to Earth in milliseconds, we can clone living, breathing animals from a single cell, we can make cars that parallel park themselves, but we can’t find effective ways to incapacitate another human being without killing him? Society has made astonishing technological advances in nearly every industry but self defense. And while tasers and stun guns are great, their limitations are prohibitive and they certainly haven’t revolutionized the world the way the cell phone has for communication or the way the personal computer has for…well, just about everything besides self defense.
There are solutions to the problem of gun violence, but in order to realize them, Americans on both sides of the issue will first need to admit to themselves that the solutions lie outside of the two dilapidated boxes in which they have confined their dogmatic debates for so long.
But to summarize my argument, I don’t care what kind of guns people have; I care what kind of people have guns.
*This post was originally published at mcleanparlor.com.
Other posts by J. Palmer about guns: