on one side are democrats who are advocating what i believe are sensible restrictions on guns and gun ownership. some of these are: a ban on the sale of automatic assault weapons to individuals, a ban on high capacity ammunition clips, background checks on anyone buying a gun, even at gun shows, and a 'buy back' program to help limit the number of illegal handguns on the streets.
on the other side are the republicans and the nra who want no restrictions on guns and gun ownership.
the republicans and the nra make certain arguments about gun control that are really hard to take, and that don't hold up too well under any rational scrutiny. their first argument:
- that individuals with guns are the first defense against government tyranny. perhaps this was the case in 1775 when civilians had muskets and the military had muskets. but now civilians have rifles and hand guns and the military have drones and bunker busting nuclear weapons and abraham's tanks and about a trillion weapons that make rifles and hand guns look paltry and insignificant. it would be hard to imagine some civilian with a few rifles and hand guns actually making a concerted stand against the military.
- that guns don't kill people. well, the statistics are hard to debate. for example:
in 2011 there were over 9,000 firearm murders in the united states
in japan, where they have incredibly strict gun control, there were 45
in the u.k, where they have incredibly strict gun control, there were 14.
it seems hard to argue that fewer guns means fewer gun related deaths.
- that the 2nd amendment protects an individuals right to own a gun. this is, of course, nonsense. the original text is awkward, and isn't super clear, but it's clear enough. and to put it in context: the united states had just fought a war of independence. the people were incredibly wary of a powerful, central government. and as i mentioned, the military and the civilians had the same weapons. with that historical context in mind the language of the 2nd amendment is pretty clear, that owning weapons was contextually established within a well regulated state or local militia.
here's the actual text:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
you can see quite clearly that the language does not protect an individuals right to own weapons. it protects an individuals right to own weapons while belonging to a well regulated militia. the language is awkward, granted, but ultimately quite clear.
here's the sad irony: the nra used to be a responsible organization, and it used to be open to sensible gun control and regulation. at some point in the last 30 or 40 years the nra became a very powerful, and very extremist organization, opposed to any/all gun control and regulation.
what democrats and gun control advocates are proposing isn't extreme or radical. they're proposing regulations that would take illegal guns off of the streets and make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to own guns. it's actually harder to adopt a dog from the aspca than it is to buy a semi-automatic weapon at a gun show.
why shouldn't guns be better regulated? and why should individuals be allowed to own automatic weapons?
the nra and the republicans are on the wrong side of history, as the facts and statistics clearly show that easy access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons leads to more murders.