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Guns don't kill people, gun owners do

Let us concede that gun rights advocates have won the argument: guns don’t kill people, people do.

However, there is a certain class of people that merit a greater share of the blame for the mass casualty events our communities have endured. For lack of a more accurate term let’s call them, “gun owners”. As well, we must acknowledge that gun owners are largely responsible (by commission and omission) for the constant blood letting since Sandy Hook (as of 8 May 2013 3,947 have perished since the 14 Dec. 2012 Newtown, Conn. massacre). Daily Kos writer, David Waldman has been tracking accidental firearm casualties since Sandy Hook—a log that reads like an almanac of nightmarish negligence.

In spite of the evidence conveying the hazard of firearms ownership, it’s still useless to debate gun control. At best, it has resulted in a stalemate over background checks. Even gun control proponents admit this measure of accountability would not have stopped someone like Adam Lanza from carrying out the slaughter at Sandy Hook. A background check would not have prevented five-year-old Kristian Sparks from the unintentional slaying of his two-year-old sister, Caroline. Again, guns don’t kill people; but it so happens that the relatives of gun owners do.

Since we are fully convinced of the human culpability when a firearm tragedy strikes, it stands to reason that this is where the effort to curb gun violence should focus. Rather than trying to contain or limit weaponry, our attention should fix upon the gun owning community. Did you know that seventy nine per cent of the massacres that have taken place in the U.S. over the last 33 years were committed by someone who had legal access to the firearm used in the crime? So, why not increase gun owner accountability going forward—especially to other gun owners?

As for the constitutionality of this proposal, here is where gun owner accountability intersects with the Second Amendment—specifically, the often ignored “well-regulated militia” phrase. As has been the case in a number of mass shooting tragedies, the perpetrator profiles as a socially isolated, or outcast, male. Putting the “well-regulated militia” phrase to work would mean requiring all registered gun owners to meet with each other periodically (quarterly, semi-annually—it would be left to legislators to hammer out) to discuss gun safety, maintenance and the function of the gun-owning community within this nation.

The conversation could go in any number of directions. The crucial point of this process would be to help gun owners acknowledge their right to bear arms is not an open-ended freedom. Its parameters involve not just individual liberty, but also a concern for public safety, protecting children, and the effort to keep one another accountable about their firearms-related goals. (Everyone should have goals, no?)

Given a proposal such as this, one could imagine squeals of protest coming from every quarter of the firearms community—consumers, retailers, manufacturers and lobbyists. What is the alternative to shifting the debate? Wait for another massacre and then watch the predictable demand for a limit on weapons, or even a call for confiscations?

Gun owners could do worse than to step up to hold one another accountable. At any given day there’s a James Holmes or Jared Loughner waiting to snap, a stranded soul who could use a reality check of sorts—an intervention should it be needed. If the gun owning community believed in the preservation of the Second Amendment, shouldn’t it do its part to protect this freedom from abuse?

The other consequence of mandating a periodical gun owner meet would be to help them grasp that their right to bear arms can be just as vigorously defended by cooperating with other voters in a political action rather than by clutching a rifle. There is no question how much the fear of tyranny prevails among many gun enthusiasts. Who can be sure, however, if they have exhausted the opportunities that political activism offers? At the very least it requires a willingness to build trust with other citizens that can lead to a governing consensus. How else should a republic like ours survive without its citizens continually at work, developing the contours of consent?

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Reader Comments (13)

A very well thought-out good idea. Not the whole solution, but a substantial chunk of it.

Have you posted a summary of this on the various forums on this subject?

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterratherdrive

Here's a thought: If you want to control crime how about controlling criminals? We can start by prosecuting more than the less than 1/10 of 1% of those who fail existing background checks that we currently prosecute. Also, the right in question is a right of the people. Not the militia, the state, the national guard or any other entity that gun control advocates of various stripes fantasize that it applies to. So says the Supreme court in Heller and McDonald. The collectivist argument is dead. Finally why don't you head on over to Chicago and preach some "gun owner responsibility" to all the gang bangers and general criminals who have no problem obtaining guns despite Chicago's strict gun laws and who have pushed Chicago's homicide rates higher than much of the 3rd world. Good luck with that. Let us know how it works out.

May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Wow. Reading about the "constant bloodletting" one would hardly guess that homicide rates in the US are at near record lows, which of course according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, they are. It's interesting that 79% of massacres were committed by legal gun owners but given that these sorts of crimes account for less than 1% of US homicides it's not particularly relevant to anything. There is no surer way to fail in reducing homicide rates than to tailor a strategy around acts that account for less than 1% of them. And of course the author has to hit the tired discredited talking point of a militia even though two Supreme court decisions have now upheld and individual right. Interesting how gun control advocates going on about a militia never seem to realize that if we are arming a militia the type of weapons protected by the 2nd amendment would obviously be MILITARY WEAPONS. That would include true "assault" weapons like the M16 capable of fully automatic fire, grenades, both hand and rocket propelled, machine guns, grenade launchers, land mines etc etc etc. Want those in widespread circulation? Because, those are "militia" weapons.

May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -Thomas Jefferson

"The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun."  -Patrick Henry

"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference -- they deserve a place of honor with all that's good ... "  -George Washington

"The Constitution shall never be construed ... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."  -Samuel Adams

"I ask you sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." -George Mason

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." -Richard Henry Lee

"Arms in the hands of the citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of tyranny, or private self-defense."  -John Adams

Tenche Coxe: “Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” (spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789.)

Thomas Jefferson: “And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms… The tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”, letter to William S. Smith, 1787, in S. Padover (Ed.), Jefferson, On Democracy (1939), p. 20.

Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.” Rep. of Massachusetts, I Annals of Congress at 750 (August 17, 1789).

May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCletus O'Bannon

How many people have been killed by governments?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercry freedom

Since you make a point of addressing David Waldman's record keeping, did you bother to look at where the majority of those firearms homicides took place? Fact is, the vast majority of them occured in population centers over 250,000, and the vast majority of those were committed by black males, age 14 to 30. Do your homework before pointing fingers at all gun owners.

Recent DOJ Report indicates that homicide by firearm is down 39% since 1993. And, that said reduction in firearms homicides was consistent across all races. ---->

Of the 12,997 homicides committed by firearm in 2011, 47.3% of them were committed by blacks. Whites, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans all combined killed only 2.7% more people than did blacks. And, before you let those numbers get away from you... According to the US Census Bureau, Blacks account for only 13.1% of the population. That is 6,151 people killed by blacks, 6,846 people killed by all other races in the country.

Firearms were only used in 18% of Felonies committed by State and Federal prisoners. Rifles were only used in 3.2% of felonies committed by prisoners. Military Style semi-automatic weapons were found in possession of only 1.5% of Federal Prison Inmates at time of committing the crime. Less than half the number of conventional semi-automatic weapons, and very nearly one third the number of single shot weapons. (But they look scarier!)

The big Gun Show/Flea Market loophole the liberals screamed so about... combined they accounted for only 1.4% of the weapons of the weapons used in commission of a crime. Not one claimed to have purchased a gun over the Internet. All legal internet sales require transfer by a licensed FFL. Private Transactions arranged between 2 parties over the Internet, are exactly that, Private Transactions, and require no background check. So let's set that myth aside too. While we're burning down myth's on this matter, NO you cannot go across the state line and "LEGALLY" buy and take possession of a hand gun in another state. While you can buy it outside of your home state, it must be transferred to you in your state of residence. While you may purchase a long gun outside of your state of residence, the transfer must be handled by a licensed FFL, you cannot legally purchase the firearm through Private Transaction, and the FFL must abide by the laws of your state of residence.

Over 40% of the prisoners questioned, openly admitted they acquired their weapon through illegal sources. 11.2% were listed as acquired by "Other", whatever that means. Only 11.3% of the weapons used by those questioned were legally purchased through retail outlets that would require a background check of any nature. Suggesting that Universal Backgroud Checks would make any difference what so ever, is totally asanine.

Addressing your rant above, maybe if the liberals wanted to negotiate and compromise, the conservative gun owners might consider some of the points you suggest. However, as long as the liberals continue to lie through their teeth, and attempt to manipulate and exploit every tragedy that comes along, to try and take everyone's guns, so that they (the liberals) feel safer screwing the public over while sitting in Washington, DC... there is no room for negotiation. And, as far as what we as gun owners should do... As long as the government refuses to enforce the laws currently on the books, and continues to roll repeat offenders out on the street time and time and time again, we should demand the existing laws that aren't being enforced be rolled back. They aren't doing anyone any good no how, why even have them.

May 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRocky Thomas

Cletus, Cry Freedom, Rocky Thomas: You sirs are patriots! Thank you.

"Here! Take my guns." said no patriot ever

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVurtle

You think holding/owning a gun makes you a patriot?! Really?

September 12, 2013 | Registered Commenterjude folly

The Brady Camp, and anti gun nuts in general, are creating dead, beaten and raped victims every day in this country. They do this by convincing YOU that by YOU not carrying a gun to defend yourself that somehow you are contributing to reducing crime. But, are YOU a criminal? If YOU carried a gun would you suddenly lose your mind and go on a killing rampage?

The Brady camp knows that there are violent criminals out there. And they know if these criminals somehow target YOUR family like they do so many others in this country that YOU will be defenseless by listening to their rhetoric and their false statistics.

Are YOU naive enough and ignorant enough to give YOUR life up, and your families lives up, to some crack head criminal who doesn't care in the least if he bashes in your sons skull or rapes your daughter and butchers her afterward....just to win points with the Brady camp nuts?

Is YOUR family so worthless to you that you will let some man like Paul Helmke tell YOU that you can't be trusted with a tool to defend your family from these predators?

Why do you let Brady tell you how YOU will behave if you own a gun? Why do you let them allow YOU to let YOUR family be unprotected just so THEY can spew out feel good rhetoric so even bigger idiots than you will continue to support them?

What does Brady lose or gain if YOU listen to their idiocy and YOUR wife is raped when she could have saved herself by simply having a gun ?

See what happens when a woman has a gun?
See this video: Woman kills her returning rapist with shotgun
No gun = a raped woman.
Gun = unraped woman and a dead rapist.

No one wants to admit that the Brady camp MAKES dead victims. They CREATE raped women. They FACILITATE defenseless prey who are beaten, raped, robbed, stabbed, shot....murdered.

And they do it because YOU let them because YOU are too much of a hive mind drone that you can't think and reason for yourself.
Do you think Paul Helke gives a rats rear about YOUR wife...YOUR son...YOUR daughter? No...he doesnt.

All the Brady Camp cares about is making sure YOU are DEFENSELESS. To them if you are murdered...if your wife is savagely raped and beaten to death....if you son is ripped apart by some lunatic with a knife, all Brady sees is that you are one more statistic.
Gun rights groups are fighting for YOUR RIGHT to DEFEND yourself even if YOU don't presently understand that fact.
Gun rights advocates want YOU to have the POWER to PROTECT yourself...your wife...your daughters and your sons...even if you cant accept that fact.
You may call us gun nuts. You may think we are paranoid. But the fact is that there are millions of defenseless victims in the USA every year.
Will your wife be one of them tomorrow? Will your family? You may not think so but crime happens every day...and it happens to someone just like you and me. Don't think so? Click the "Crime" link in the menu above for proof.
Will YOU be next? And if you are can you do anything to stop it? Honestly?
If we knew when and where crime was going to happen there wouldnt' be any crime.

November 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArmedPatriot

The Supreme Court in US v Heller has reinforced and reestablished an individual right to own firearms separated from membership in a militia.

Now THAT is the 'law of the land' which phrase you liberals like to throw around so much lately.

I suggest you go back and hit the law books.

November 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterironhorzmn

It's law of the land, as you well know, until the composition of the court changes. Until then, you can go on buffing your trigger unencumbered, while crackpots continue their reign of terror over work places, schools, shopping malls, etc. There is a breaking point--and when the non-gun owning community reaches it, gun owners will do their part to hold each other accountable.

November 6, 2013 | Registered Commenterjude folly

If you desire to mandate militia meetings for gun owners, you should recall that all males age 17 to 45 are members of the militia. For the sake of equality, lets include the women too. Mandatory gun safety, use and maintenance training for everyone in the country. I'm sure the NRA, the biggest provider of firearm safety classes in the country, would be glad to oblige.

November 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjunkhacker

Gun safety, use, maintenance and mental fitness. A psychological check-in would be required as part of this initiative--an opportunity for firearm owners to participate in a group dynamic with other gun owners. One constant profile trait of massacre perpetrators is that they tend to be socially isolated. It should be considered a hazard to public saftey--social isolation coupled with gun possession.

November 7, 2013 | Registered Commenterjude folly

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