By Bill Hansen
The national debate on gun control has launched itself to the forefront of American politics. If you were as repulsed as I was by NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre's remarks a few weeks ago, you’ll be saddened to read his beliefs are more common amongst gun enthusiasts then most would like to admit. Unless a rational conversation is had and gun control measures are initiated, the massacre in Connecticut will not only happen one or two more times, it will become something Americans will have to learn to live with; like smog.
I’d like to make two points clear. First and foremost, I don’t think outright banning firearms is the right answer.
Second, I’m not just some average street person lacking proper training in firearms and self-defense/assault tactics. Prior to working in media, I served four years as Deputy Sheriff with a California Sheriff’s Office. So what does that mean? I received twenty-two weeks of firearm, self-defense, and first-responder training. In addition to my twenty two weeks of training, I received an additional seventeen weeks of in-field training, and countless hours of additional supplemental training while assigned to the Patrol Division of my department. In other words, I know how to shoot, I know how to respond to an active-shooter situation, and I understand why people commit vicious acts and how.
I would like to break down every point of LaPierre’s speech, slam his logic, and make him look like the dolt he is. I just don’t have enough time – nor do you.
Gun control regulation
Anyone who believes extending gun regulations is unnecessary is wrong. First of all, nobody needs assault rifles. Yeah, they’re fun to shoot. But so is joy-riding down the freeway at 100 MPH. Just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean you should do it.
Most hunting enthusiasts will tell you their rifle of choice is some sort of bolt-action rifle, which typically has a three to five round capacity; A sane, rational choice for hunting.
The AR-15 with a 100 round magazine: not a sane and rational choice. Before you get fired up and start screaming about how difficult it is to get a 100 round magazine, let me stop you. It’s super easy. In fact, follow this link and you too can own one (provided you don’t live in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Washington D.C.). I especially love the snazzy belt pouch. Designed especially for hunters who are too blind to kill bambi with their first 100 rounds; after all, the AR-15 is for hunting, right?
The Gun Show Loophole
For those of you who believe gun control laws are strict enough, think again. The Gun Control Act of 1968 requires anyone who is in the business of selling firearms to obtain a Federal Firearms License, and keep record of all gun sales. However, the act left a huge loophole. If a private citizen is selling from their personal collection (at a gun show), and their main objective is not to make a profit, they do not need a license, they do not need to maintain records of their sales, and they do not have to perform background checks on the person or people they are selling their guns to. In other words, they can sell their firearms to people who otherwise could not legally purchase one from a licensed dealer; the loophole is commonly referred to as the “Gun Show Loophole.”
Currently, seventeen states regulate private firearm sales at gun shows. Seven states require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows. Four states require background checks on all handgun, but not long gun, purchasers at gun shows. Six states require individuals to obtain a permit to purchase handguns (which includes a background check). A few counties in Florida require background checks on all private sales of handguns at gun shows. The remaining thirty-three (33) states do not restrict private, intrastate sales of firearms at gun shows in any manner. I repeat, thirty-three (33) states do not restrict private, intrastate sales of firearms at gun shows in any manner. Criminals are aware of this loophole and, I can guarantee you, they are using it.
Until every state monitors/regulates the sale of all gun sales (private and commercial), there’s still room for improvement.
More guns in not the solution
Arming more of the right people is not the answer. In fact, it may be the most ridiculous argument I’ve heard to date. You don’t believe me? Let’s ask the police officers who responded to the North Hollywood shootout in 1997. Over 300 police officers responded to that incident and over 2000 rounds of ammunition were fired before both suspects in that shooting were killed. That’s right, 300 armed police officers were sent to stop two heavily armed assailants.
In the last two major US shootings (Connecticut and the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado) both suspects would have been able to inflict their havoc regardless of others being armed. In Aurora, Colorado, if you think for one minute that an average person (who lacks tactical training - very few people actually posses the tactical training necessary to survive and effectively stop an armed assailant in body armor) would have stood a chance against Holmes and his weapon cache, you don’t understand the difference between a .223 round (AR-15 ammunition), a .40 caliber round (decent handgun ammunition), and what kind of protection body armor provided Holmes and what little protection movie theater seats provide someone looking to shield themselves from .223 rounds. Engaging an active shooter is something police and military personnel spend countless hours a year learning, practicing, and developing muscle memory reactions to address such situations. Most private, armed citizens do not have the time, nor do they care to devote the time, to such training.
In both cases, in order to effectively stop the shooter before they were able to inflict their terror you would need to: a) have the tactical training needed to deal with such a threat, b) have prior knowledge of their plans, and c) plan accordingly and basically have your gun out, and aimed at their face so you could shoot before them, before they have a chance to start their shooting spree (assuming you hit on the first shot). I won’t even get into the damage possibly inflicted by crossfire scenarios and the accidental shooting of innocent bystanders when responding police arrive and are unable to quickly tell the difference between the suspect shooter, and the armed civilian looking to help. The police will shoot any and all people shooting in these scenarios who are not readily identifiable as police officers or other public safety employees.
Groups like the “Pink Pistols” who advocate arming members of the LGBT community as a means to stop hate crimes couldn’t be more incorrect in their assertions. The notion that more guns, in the hands of the right people, is reckless and such organizations should be taken to task for their claims.
So what’s the solution? There is no perfect solution. We need to look at gun control the same way we look at driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI’s). Have DUI laws completely stopped people from driving under the influence? No, but they’ve helped. Will tightening laws making certain types of guns illegal and/or more difficult to obtain end all violence? No, but I’m certain they will help.
It’s time for Washington to get creative, think outside the box, get serious, and regulate firearm purchases. Together, we can find a middle ground, establish what is reasonable, and act accordingly.