Emotionless Discussion A Necessity
In the wake of the horrific tragedy last Friday, new gun control measures will be undertaken by Congress and likely on a state level as well. Much like the Patriot Act of 2011, emotionally-based legislation will be thrown about in the vain attempt to regulate evil.
How does this compare you might ask? As noted by the Justice Department:
The Department of Justice's first priority is to prevent future terrorist attacks. Since its passage following the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Patriot Act has played a key part – and often the leading role – in a number of successful operations to protect innocent Americans from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying America and our way of life. While the results have been important, in passing the Patriot Act, Congress provided for only modest, incremental changes in the law. Congress simply took existing legal principles and retrofitted them to preserve the lives and liberty of the American people from the challenges posed by a global terrorist network.
Under this existing authority, Attorney General Eric Holder has “[i]n a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. Attorney General recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime…” In other words, We the People can be tracked by our government without cause or due process!
These are the consequences of allowing emotionally-based legislation to undermine our rights and liberties. However horrific the event, we must remember the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower: “If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom.”
“But certain types of weapons simply are not necessary in this day and age.” “We need to protect ourselves from people who can commit such heinous crimes.” “The Founders never conceived of such weaponry that exists today and we must regulate such devices.”
The Second Amendment does not exist solely to ensure hunters have guns; nor was it created simply to ensure home protection. One of the major reasons for the Second Amendment was to protect the citizenry from the tyranny of the government.
Our Founders were fully aware of how a government can subsume the rights and liberties of its citizenry. As noted by Thomas Jefferson: “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
It has been suggested that our Founders could never have conceived of the weaponry we possess today. The British nation was the strongest force on earth at the time of our Independence. And yet we were armed with fewer resources than this nation could muster. Only because we had weaponry could we even begin to consider standing up against such an overwhelming force.
And yet, how is that situation any different from today? All things become equal over time and the power through armed coercion that governments have shown has and will always be an issue.
Finally, the notion that the public needs protection from itself is as preposterous as the idea that laws will keep people from breaking them.
John Fund, in National Review Online, wrote a most interesting piece on the facts about mass shootings. One of the most surprising findings is that there are no more mass shooting today than in previous decades. In fact, the highest number occurred during 1929 “according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections… The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.”
It is also noted in Mr. Fund’s article that gun-free zones provide one of the havens for such events. “Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.”
Limitations and regulations on weaponry have existed since our Founding. As noted by John Quincy Adams: "To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws."
And yet, all quantifiable evidence points away from this scenario having legitimacy. John Fund offers two more pieces of evidence showing this viewpoint harms more than it helps:
Mr. Lott offers a final damning statistic: “With just one single exception, the attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”
There is no evidence that private holders of concealed-carry permits (which are either easy to obtain or not even required in more than 40 states) are any more irresponsible with firearms than the police. According to a 2005 to 2007 study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Bowling Green State University, police nationwide were convicted of firearms violations at least at a 0.002 percent annual rate. That’s about the same rate as holders of carry permits in the states with “shall issue” laws.
The truth does not lay more restrictions and regulations of our liberties! This is a mental health issue. A woman named Liza Long wrote an excellent piece on the subject on The Huffington Post entitled: ‘I Am Adam Lanza's Mother.’
Much discussion will take place over these issues and only through facts and honest discussion will we arrive at some level of help and understanding.