I’d like to both agree (on one view) and take issue with Susan Stamper-Brown’s Guest Commentary of Aug. 3 (“The Futility of Gun Control”). I find several of her views to be very closed-minded and illogical, as I do those of many people who advocate no attempt at sensible gun control.
First of all, we do have gun controls right now. They just haven’t prevented mass-murders such as Columbine, Virginia Tech and Aurora. In my mind, that means that a rational and sensible public should look at what we might do to address that deficiency.
Second, before we go any further, let me state the following:
• I am not a gun control “activist.” I’m just a citizen interested in making our world a better and more safe place in which to live.
• My view of the Second Amendment is that it was wise and correct for its time, and still is (with modification in implementation for the changes in weaponry over the years). When it was written, the most deadly weapon an individual could carry could be shot roughly three times in a minute by a marksman expert at re-loading. It was also a time in which military states imposed their will over “rebel” colonies by military might. In those days, that was much more of a concern in the USA than the actions of a lone individual of questionable mental stability. Our Founding Fathers wisely divided our military into multiple branches to reduce the potential for military oppression. They did not take into account the multiple-round weaponry available to individuals today.
• It is illogical, if you think about it, to reject any reconsideration of “weapon control” at the same time as our government steadfastly is pursuing a goal of preventing nuclear weapons capabilities in other countries. It’s a matter of scale (i.e. how many people can be killed with this weapon?). So, as guns and other individually operated weapons increase in their potential to kill, we ought to think about who should be allowed to possess them.
Back to the Second Amendment: Grenades, IEDs, chemical weapons, etc., were not addressed, but certainly could be used by citizens as a defense against an overbearing government or a potential home invasion. Yet, those devices are not allowed to be possessed by ordinary citizens. So, what’s the difference? It’s probably the combination of what was explicitly inked in the Second Amendment (the weapons of that time), and the financial clout of the NRA.
My view is that “gun control” should involve increased scrutiny and background checks as a weapon’s potential to kill increases. For example, if you want to buy a rapid-fire, large ammunition volume “assault rifle” or large clip handgun, you need to “pass” a higher level of scrutiny than if you want to buy a non-concealable, single-shot rifle used to hunt.
If you are undergoing mental counseling for violent tendencies, for example, you are not permitted to buy an AK 7. And, some weapons may be restricted to that “well-regulated militia” (National Guard?) and simply not be allowed to be sold over-the-counter. Sorry, gun dealers, but it isn’t just about your profits. It’s about safer schools, malls and movie theaters for all of us.
My one area of agreement with Stamper-Brown is that it is people behind the trigger that we need to be most concerned about. But, I’m also concerned about the people who gain financially from guns sales and who really don’t care about balancing their financial gain with societal safety interests. One broad statistic that Stamper-Brown did not mention is that gun-based homicide rates in Europe (where guns are much less available) are roughly 1/4 or less than in the USA and that the average of 35 other higher/middle-income countries is 1/8 that of the USA. Availability is not the only factor, to be sure, but it’s impossible to deny the correlation.
I reject the premise that gun control is futile just because what we have right now has not prevented multiple tragic incidents. I don’t suffer from the illusion that all mass-murders can be prevented, but I am willing to consider what we might do, as a society, to make destructive weapons less likely to end up in the wrong hands.
I believe that this issue is worth continued examination and that we, as a society, can do better than live with the status quo and intransigent (and/or profit-motivated) gun rights views.
• Bob Beane is an economics graduate of the College of Wooster and an MBA accounting graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is also a bicycling advocate and has been a resident of Ahwatukee since 1992.