[Adaptation of post originally written on February 5, 2013]
The President of the United States of America is proposing “common sense gun reforms.” First, I’ll note that a reform is a change, usually implying the improvement of something. If the reform does not lead to change or improvement, can it still be called a reform? Second, how do we refer to something as “common sense,” when common sense suggests that it makes sense in the first place. Limiting freedoms under the auspices of saving lives and reducing violence, only to have more lives lost and increased violence against innocent people does not sound like it makes sense.
Unfortunately, no one seems to really understand what it would take to have effective gun control measures. Many of the advocates of these proposals have even admitted that these measures will not have a significant impact in reducing violent crime. There are three sides to this issue–those that do not believe gun rights should be further limited, those that want to remove guns from public access, and people in the middle that are apparently unaware that half-measures are pointless, if there’s going to be any impact. The middle-ground in this case is for those that do not understand the theories behind either of the other positions.
Background checks do very little to deter or prevent crime, but become popular due to the wishful thinking that they will help keep guns out of the hands of felons, etc. The fact of the matter is that most people that commit crimes with guns either: a) Did not have a prior record and pass the background check; or b) Get their guns another way (theft, illegal purchase, etc.). On the other hand, they do make it more costly and bothersome for law-abiding citizens to get guns and background checks also create a default gun registration for any citizens that decide to purchase a gun. Proposed changes also create gun confiscation programs (in case any of you thought that was off the table because you don’t want it). More people are seeking mental health care as stigmas around it are decreasing and availability is increasing. However, as requirements are increased for psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc., to report diagnoses to the government, the current movement is towards confiscating guns from people seeking treatment. This will start to reverse the trend of actually seeking help and likely affect numerous people that are not a safety risk. If you don’t think anyone is talking about confiscation, look at the measures being proposed around mental health…and getting a diagnosis is not difficult (unless it would mean a disability rating for medical discharge from the military).
State and local gun control measures make even less sense than federal gun control (just as banning rifles makes even LESS sense than banning handguns). One would hardly think that was possible.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe the federal government should enact gun control measures, or that they have a right to do so (I’m pretty sure I’ve addressed that enough in previous posts). But I’m going to, once again, add more fuel to the fire by describing the actions that would NEED to happen in order for gun control to have the desired effect.
IF gun control actually worked, state-level action would be the most ineffective way to accomplish it, next to local ordinances. Look at New York (and New York), Illinois (and Chicago), California (and Los Angeles), and Washington, D.C. All of them have strict gun laws. All of them have high crime rates using firearms.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to keeps guns out of the hands of criminals, but it is even harder to keep guns out of the hands of criminals when there are geographical neighbors with guns and weak control of borders (points of entry).
Let’s just say that a city banned all guns (not just rifles, since handguns are used in far more crimes than all other types of guns combined) and ammunition for any reason whatsoever (goodbye Second Amendment). They might claim that since no one has a gun, no one needs a gun, even for self-defense (completely ignoring the problem of government tyranny). Would you feel safer in that city?
Let’s say that they were so dedicated to being gun-free that they banned guns from law enforcement. Would you feel safer now?
But wait, there are all of the people who already had guns before the ban took effect. This means that people would still be able to obtain guns, which could still be used for crime in the city. It has been estimated that there are about as many guns in the United States as there are people, in the hands of about a third of the population. If the city wanted to get rid of all guns, they would first need to get all of the guns, otherwise, their law is pointless, having failed to reduce the number of guns in the city. Many places have called for citizens to turn in their guns. What criminal would do that?
Since it is absolutely idiotic to think that criminals will give up their guns voluntarily, the next option is to wait for guns to turn up in a crime. This method means that more crimes will have to be committed than there are guns, because criminals often commit more than one crime before getting caught and there are regularly cases when the weapon is not recovered. We could count on decades of crime with guns only in the hands of criminals. Of course, citizens who became criminals by keeping their guns would also keep the door open for the theft of more guns by criminals. The only way to ensure that all guns are out of the city, and thereby keep everyone safe from gun-related violence, would be to actually confiscate all guns.
The first task of confiscation would be knowing where to start, which would mean gun registration. Unfortunately, we can be certain that many gun owners (and the criminals) would not voluntarily register their guns (goodbye fifth amendment). This means that every home and location in the city would have to be searched (goodbye fourth amendment). These searches would certainly have significant results, but cannot possibly be expected to recover all of the guns in the city. There are just too many places to hide those guns. But again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that they somehow recovered every single gun in the entire city.
How can they now keep all guns out of the hands of everyone in the city in order to prevent gun-related violent crime?
The next problem would be new guns coming into the city. Remember, only the city has implemented these controls so far, while the rest of the state has a “gun problem.” In order to ensure that guns from other cities do not enter this city, we would have to set up a border with strict controls. The trick to securing an area is to limit and control the entry points. This would mean only a few ways in or out of the city, with walls and patrols around the remaining area. The entry/exit points would have to be guarded and every individual and every part of every vehicle searched. Think about airports, only searching cars.
This would quickly get ridiculous, as you can imagine, which would necessitate controlling who is permitted in and out of the city. Only limited traffic that is considered essential for the city could be allowed, otherwise it would overwhelm the searches and guns would get into the city (goodbye freedom of movement).
Naturally, this would be easier if all of the neighboring cities followed the same rules. So pass a state law. Now, all of the same problems present themselves again, only at the state level. The state would need stronger borders against other states that do not have the same laws.
But wouldn’t it be easier if every state in the nation followed the same rules? Now we have federal laws to accomplish what the city was trying to do (with the same loss of rights across the nation, instead of one city).
Oops! We forgot about our porous borders with Mexico and Canada, as well as our broad coasts and booming commerce. We would have to seal up every border area to ensure no guns come in from other countries, otherwise we have the same problem with criminals and guns. This means the exact same scenario as the city trying to protect itself from guns from other cities, except between nations.
The only solution to this seems to be regional laws across nations. We would need a treaty to eliminate firearms from all neighboring countries. Perhaps a Union of Americas. With the oceans separating us, there would be greater difficulty in getting guns into the Americas from other continents.
Difficult, but not impossible or unusual. Even with our efforts to keep illegal products from entering the U.S., we still get contraband from other parts of the world, not only from the Americas. One answer might be to stop trade and tourism between hemispheres (goodbye commerce). But a better answer might be to institute the same gun control measures all over the world. After all, isn’t it already working for the U.S.? Or wouldn’t it be at this point, if we did these things?
Perhap a U.N. treaty could bind everyone together by the same laws. Once the entire world is following the same laws, we would finally be safe from guns (nevermind that there is a UN treaty to ban firearms being considered by the U.S. That sounds conspiratorial). Now, everyone could travel throughout the world without worrying about gun violence. Of course, that would mean removing guns from military and law enforcement, as well. Not only would they no longer be necessary, but their possession of guns could pose a risk to everyone else, including if they were stolen.
Now, in each of these cases, from the local to the global, law enforcement/military would need to continue to possess firearms for a period of time. This would be necessary to stop the threat of those who are attempting to keep their guns from the government.
Knowing what it would take for gun control to have any real impact on crime, why would gun owners be concerned about confiscation of firearms?
The scenario that is more likely than what I described (because it is the pattern used in Engalnd, Australia, other countries, and slowly in the U.S.) is a gradual slice-of-the-pie method of slowing, targeting, and eliminating guns. The reason for this is because everyone that actually looked at both sides of this debate understands that confiscation of guns is the only level of gun control that could possibly affect gun violence (although not overall violence).
If anyone claims that gun control measures do not mean that people will be taking away your guns, they are ignorant or LYING! It is either a lie that it will reduce gun crime, or it is a lie that they are not going to take away guns. Instead, they will make it more difficult to buy guns and ammunition, limit who can purchase/own guns, identify who has guns, ban some types of new guns, ban other types of new guns, ban some types of guns altogether, ban more guns altogether, confiscate the guns banned, ban all guns completely, and then confiscate what is left.
People will still die violent deaths. Criminals will still rape and torment and kill adults and chilren. You will be less able to protect yourself or your family. Although there are fewer guns, criminals will still get them. Criminals will also carry knives, which are far easier to make than guns, and still illegal for you to carry.
So, pick a side. Decide if you’re in favor of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, or if you’re in favor of eliminating private ownership of guns, but don’t be duped into thinking that half-measures will actually accomplish anything.