Monday, January 10, 2011

More gun control coming?

In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson, AZ, where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a government-hating Glenn Beck fan lunatic, we can expect gun-grabbers to clamor for more gun restrictions.

I understand.

I am a supporter of the right of private citizens to be armed for the purpose of self-defense, but I don't want conservative talk radio fans crazies to get easy access to guns and assassinate bunches of innocents.

This is a tricky situation where I don't think it's easy to have your cake and eat it too.

The suspect in this case, Jared Lee Loughner acquired his weapon legally, and passed the standard FBI background check, as did Seung-Hui Cho in Virginia in 2007. Is it possible that this standard background check is not extensive enough?

Should suspected crazies be placed on a 'lunatic watchlist' and prevented from purchasing a firearm if their name is on the list? Who controls the list? Who decides whom belongs on the list? What constitutes 'crazy'?  Isn't everybody crazy to begin with? What if some stuck-up tea-totaling bureaucrat reads your Facebook profile and decides that you are crazy based on a drunken picture of you, and places you on the lunatic list, what recourse to you then have if you need a new rifle to go deer hunting?

Should the government violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches in the name of public safety? Should the government confiscate 'dangerous weapons' in spite of constitutional protections of personal property? Under US Constitutional Law, that is a pretty hard sell.

Should the government mandate the registration of every single firearm (every single one of the hundreds of millions in the country) and the licensing of gun owners?

What about international smugglers and the thriving black market? What about the DIY manufacture by amateur mechanics and engineers with access to metal working tools and machining equipment?

During the German occupation of France during WWII, the nazis tried to disarm the French to prevent an uprising. They could not completely disarm the country: it is impossible to completely disarm a population without exterminating it. It's like fighting clostridium difficile with antibiotics; you go all out or you don't bother at all. Even in countries with the most restrictive gun laws, the criminal element still has access to weapons.

It is unreasonable to imagine that every weapon in the country can be registered. There are just too many of them. It is unreasonable to imagine that of the millions of citizens of a country that pretty much invented the repeating firearm in the days of horse-drawn carriages, none of them would be able to build firearms from scratch in his garage with a few metal pipes and hand tools. It is unreasonable to imagine that college-educated residents of an industrialized nation would lack the necessary chemical knowledge to concoct gun powder or a similar propellant for bullets. It is unreasonable that a country into which tons of illegal drugs are smuggled every day would be unable to unlawfully import weapons from a rogue eastern European or Chinese manufacturer.

Would more restrictive gun laws have hindered (or even deterred) Loughner and Cho? Perhaps. They had an easy time purchasing a weapon legally. Would they have spent hundreds of hours in a machine shop building their own weapons? Probably not. Would they have purchased one from a drug dealer in exchange for a  -censored adult act-? Maybe. Are Americans willing to undergo stricter criminal and mental health background checks prior to the acquisition of firearms? I don't know. But the new laws are coming. Because there are morons who abuse the system and give gun owners a bad name. And as always, the law-abiding majority pays for the mistakes of a few criminals and sociopaths.

The gun industry, and gun owners themselves, need to seriously self-regulate, or the government is going to come in and impose the regulations. If you don't keep your child-biting pit bull on a leash, and it runs off and bites a kid, animal control's gonna come to euthanize it, and it's going to be your fault because it's your dog.

I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this tragic murder spree, and wishes of prompt recovery for all the wounded.

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