In this piece right here, I took Mike Fox of the Bristol Herald to task for his anti-gun opinion piece, which I linked to in the original entry. I was actually quite surprised when he emailed me back regarding my blog entry. Since I started this conversation in a public forum, it’s only fair for me to continue it in the same manner. Below is his email to me, followed by my responses.
You should’ve seen what I originally wrote about the NRA in my piece before I had to cut the editorial down for being too long.
I imagine so, pardon my sarcasm but there is always a lot of vitriol that seems to be directed at the NRA. This was in response to my snarky comment about his 2nd to last sentence in the op-ed.
Anyone on either side of the debate who would say “we need more concealed weapons” or “we need fewer concealed weapons” or what have you could be “politicizing” the tragedy; the NRA and Brady Campaign came out in full advertising force the week of the Tech tragedy.
Actually, in the interest of accuracy, the Brady Campaign website changed their website on the day of the shooting by adding a large “donate” button. This link shows the exact reaction of the NRA. The NRA didn’t say anything other than that until over a week afterward, and they are on the record as supporting legislation that would strengthen state’s reporting of mental illnesses to NICS.
Individual bloggers most certainly did jump on the bandwagon right away and begin politicizing the issue, from both sides of the aisle. But individual bloggers are not the NRA.
I support the terror watch list prohibition because terror watch list individuals are already prohibited from commercially flying so if they’re perceived to be that dangerous not to be allowed on commercial flights then they certainly shouldn’t have access to firearms. Also, recent foiled terror plots such as the JFK Airport or Fort Dix plots took months of investigating, giving the suspects a large window of opportunity to make gun purchases.
I doubt that you and I could find common ground on this issue, so I’ll present the following hypothetical argument. Suppose for the moment that you agreed that owning a firearm is a civil right, as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights as the right to Freedom of the Press. Using secret government lists to deprive people of their Constitutional rights is not, nor should it ever, be considered a good thing.
Additionally, I’ll brush lightly on this issue here, but whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? A “suspect” hasn’t been charged with a crime, and hasn’t even been arrested for a crime. This is completely disregarding the simple observation that if someone is committed to performing a terrorist action, not being able to buy a semi-automatic rifle isn’t going to stop them. Since you cited the Fort Dix terrorists as an example, it’s worth mentioning that they were in possession of fully automatic weapons, which as we’ve discussed are already illegal.
When mentioning assault weapons, I tried to use examples of firearm models that are legal and still available either through manufacturing or just simply available for use. You probably noticed reading my editorial that I had to conduct research as best I could on specific firearms details, since I was never truly interested in the topic of gun control until the Tech tragedy.
This area is actually where I find the greatest fault; the AK47s and AR15s that are available to folks like you and me are not functionally different from this rifle. All three rifles in question fire from a semi-automatic mechanism, it’s just that the civilian AKs and ARs are based off fully automatic military designs. All they have in common with the AKs favored by terrorists or the M16s issued to our troops is their cosmetic appearance – they don’t share the same mechanical function.
I do think though that a lot of the gun lobby initiative is pushed in part by a Wild West, frontier mentality, hence why I thought the title of your blog was amusing.
I’m never sure exactly what people mean when they say “Wild West/Frontier mentality” when they’re referencing gun control, or the lack thereof. I mean, I can guess that they think a proliferation of firearms will bring about wholesale bloodshed and dueling in the streets, ala The Wild Bunch, but there’s a problem with that logic. The problem lies in that 1) The Wild West wasn’t as wild as people think, and 2) that law abiding gun owners, especially those with permits to carry are not a source of gun crime.
A quick google search turns up an article in the University of Colorado law review from 1998 which examines the issue of crimes in relation to guns in society, and comes to this conclusion.
The connection between guns and American homicide exceptionalism becomes explicit only in the population of criminals. That is why crime is after all the problem, and why changing the subject to homicidal violence, on the pretext that killing is a stochastic property of armed populations that are not in other respects predisposed to violence, is seriously misleading.
Indeed, as of 2007 48 states allow some form of concealed carry for law abiding citizens, my state of Indiana has the 2nd highest percentage of concealed carry permits in the nation – and yet you’re far less likely to be the victim of violent crime in downtown Indianapolis than you are in downtown St. Louis; I won’t even mention cities like New York or DC.
No one in the pro-gun community wants criminals to get guns, you could argue that the pro-gun community is actually more committed to preventing criminals from getting guns than the anti-gun community. The difference is that we see the problem of gun crime (which is a problem) as being a problem that is a result of criminals, not a result of guns.