Debate Leaves Gunowners With No Clear Option

I’ve been paying very close attention to the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. Anyone that is concerned with the direction of our country, right or wrong, should be. It’s important to see what the folks wanting to lead the greatest country on the face of the Earth have to say about their individual visions.

I’ve been more than a little miffed that there hasn’t been any real discussion about national security or the military beyond laying blame for the Benghazi SNAFU.

One of the topics that caught my attention last night was the topic of gun control. The question was an obvious liberal plant in both content and phrasing.

Q: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or plan to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

Had I been asked this question, I wouldn’t have needed two minutes to explain my response. It would have been simple: “I disagree with the very premise of your question. I don’t subscribe to the term ‘assault weapons’ and don’t think their availability needs to be limited.”

However, both candidates instead fell into the trap of this leftist trick and trudged along with, in my opinion, answers that only serve to explain why NEITHER candidate deserves my vote.

President Obama began his response with the emotional heart tugging recitation of the Aurora shooting earlier this year. He then said everything any lawful gunowner wants to know about whether or not to re-elect the president to a second term if he/she is concerned about losing his/her guns. The emphasis below is mine.

I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence, because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns.

Three immediate points I want to focus on are highlighted above. The first is this idea of weapons that were designed for war. The history of guns is a history with a deep beginning in combat. If we were to have adopted gun control policies like the ones suggested from the beginning of the creation of guns, we wouldn’t have ANY guns in the hands of private citizens. The first guns weren’t created for hunting, they were created for combat. The Chinese used a sort of hand cannon that was more like a flame thrower than a gun, but also included shrapnel that would be directed at opponents in the 12th century.

The flintlock rifle was a military weapon. Muskets and other breach-loading rifles were military weapons. The revolver and “repeater” pistols were military weapons. From these weapons, others evolved over time that were used by both militaries and citizens. It’s a strawman argument to point to military weapons and say that every day citizens shouldn’t use weapons that Soldiers use.

There are more than a few reasons why this argument should never be accepted by a civilized and peaceful society. The opening words of our Declaration of Independence eloquently explain the main reason:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The thirteen states then go on to explain that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

If only militaries are permitted to have the kinds of weapons that ensure personal and collective self defense, the existence of absolute tyrannies would never be overthrown. Look at the history of many of the African and Arab governments. Many citizens are slaughtered because they have been stripped of any and all weapons. Corrupt governments are free to do whatever they want unopposed. History shows that a citizenry permitted to arm itself is generally more safe and secure from an overly tyrannical government. When a government begins to crack down on the types and quantities that its people are permitted to possess you can bet that what follows will be a government without controls or limits.

It’s no secret that the number of guns in the hands of Americans has grown exponentially in the past four years. However, the level of crime has not. In fact, violent crime is down 4% in 2011 over the previous year according to the FBI. The violent crime category includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

In fact, if you dig into the statistics an interesting picture is painted. In the northeast, where gun control laws are most strict, violent crime decreased, but only slightly less than a percentage point. In the south, west, and midwest where more and more states have recognized the rights of citizens to carry weapons, the percentages are much higher (4.5%, 4.7%, and 4.9% respectively). In fact, had it not been for the northeast, the violent crime rate in the nation would have decreased by nearly a whole percentage point.

The District of Columbia has one of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation. And yet, they continue to lead the nation’s violent crime rate. Maine’s constitution recognizes the absolute right to keep and bear arms “and this right shall never be questioned.” Maine also enjoys the lowest crime rate in the entire country! Citizens are only required to obtain a permit to carry concealed, but not openly (something I’ve never understood, personally).

Illinois is the only state in the Union that still does not allow its citizens to carry openly or concealed. They are also among the worst states for violent crime. The President even admitted that “in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence.” Obviously, based on the facts and laws of the city and state, this isn’t due to a lack of legislation against these firearms or the ability of the people to possess them.

In July of this year, President Obama made a similar statement about AK47s to the National Urban League. He said that “a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks.” This statement doesn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation: either you’re a Soldier or you’re a criminal if you have an AK47. I would say that the exact opposite is true and that a lot of gun owners would NOT agree with that statement. I know a great number of people that aren’t Soldiers or criminals that own AK47s and other incorrectly termed “assault rifles.”

The President later makes one of the most absurd statements in recent memory: “Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”

It has been unlawful since 1934 (The National Firearms Act) for civilians to own machine guns without special permission from the U.S. Treasury Department. Automatic guns are subject to a $200 tax every time their ownership changes from one federally registered owner to another and each new weapon is subject to a manufacturing tax when it is made. It also must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in its National Firearms Registry. Naturally, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for anyone to convert a weapon illegally into an automatic weapon, but exactly how many automatic weapons are being used in crimes in this country as Mr. Obama alludes to?

A detailed study of the Department of Justice statistics webpage offers no answers. Automatic weapons are lumped into statistics of crimes involving semiautomatic weapons, which encompasses nearly every weapon out there besides bolt action rifles, derringers and revolvers. In fact, the BATFE only tracks about 240,000 automatic weapons, half of which are owned by civilians and the other half by police departments and other governmental agencies. It’s so rare that it appears to me that automatic weapons aren’t being used at all in crime. In fact, only .2% of all crimes involving weapons even involve so-called “assault weapons.” Yet, these are the weapons being targeted. One can only assume that the purpose behind this is to prevent citizens from defending themselves against a tyrannical government intent of enforcing its will upon the people without opposition. It simply isn’t true that automatic weapons are killing folks “in amazing numbers,” or any numbers at all.

In September, the NRA asked Governor Romney if he would “support the reimposition of a federal ban on semiautomatic firearms incorrectly called ‘assault weapons?'” Mr. Romney didn’t mince words when he responded, “No. I do not support any additional laws to restrict the right to keep and bear arms.” That was it. No further explanation; no emotional stories; nothing.

Last night, Mr. Romney made the same statement but didn’t stop there. I’ll never understand why politicians feel the need to give a ten minute answer to a five second question.

Yeah, I — I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on — on guns and — and taking guns away or — or making certain guns illegal. We of course don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.

The problem that I have with Romney is that he has made statements in the past that don’t bode well for lawful gun owners. I understand that as governor of Massachusetts he had to make some concessions to a Democratic legislature, but words have meaning and Governor Romney’s words as the executive head of the state don’t mesh with his comments during the debate or to the NRA.

“Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts,” Romney said, at a bill signing ceremony on July 1, 2004, with legislators, sportsmen’s groups and gun safety advocates. “These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”

Again, this paints all lawful owners of these so-called “assault weapons” as criminals. And I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t think in the history of firearms any “instrument of destruction” has ever hunted down and killed anyone. There’s a saying that there is no such thing as a dangerous weapon, only dangerous people. And, I’m sorry, but neither Mr. Romney nor any other politician have any place telling me what I want to hunt or defend myself with. You better believe that if someone breaks into my house, I’m not looking for my deer rifle, I’m looking for my trusty Widow Maker, a DPMS custom M4. I have hunted with both an AR and an AK. I’ve shot them for recreation as MOST owners of these weapons do. They are fun target guns.

I’m frankly sick and tired of liberals telling me what I can use my firearms for. Who says I have to use a particular firearm to defend myself? When my life is threatened, I don’t care what kind of gun I have to use to quell the threat. All I care about is that the threat is mitigated. Why can’t I hunt with an AK47? Granted, it leaves a bigger hole in the animal I’m trying to eat, meaning less meat, but that’s my prerogative.

What Romney did as governor in passing his gun control law is create another class of criminal out of an otherwise law-abiding citizen for no reason than to appease liberals. I understand that he had to make that concession to open up other areas to legal gun use and that he had to contend with a legislature that could easily override his vetoes. But, where have all the principled politicians gone? So what if his veto gets overridden.

On the plus side, I did like some of Mr. Romney’s comments about where the responsibility lies with regard to gun violence and safety.

[President Obama] mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We were able to drive our schools to be number one in the nation in my state, and I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll — we’ll give people the — the hope and opportunity they deserve, and perhaps less violence from that.

But let me mention another thing, and that is parents. We need moms and dads helping raise kids. Wherever possible, the — the benefit of having two parents in the home — and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms, single dads. But gosh, to tell our kids that before they have babies, they ought to think about getting married to someone — that’s a great idea because if there’s a two-parent family, the prospect of living in poverty goes down dramatically. The opportunities that the child will — will be able to achieve increase dramatically.

My kids all know how to load, unload, shoot, and clean nearly every weapon I own. These include everything from the AK47 and SKS to the smaller revolvers and .22 pistols. They have seen the destruction that these weapons are capable of in the wrong (and right) hands. They know how to hunt and clean the animals we shoot for food in case they ever have to rely upon that. They understand trigger and barrel discipline, never aiming a weapon at something they don’t intend to legally shoot at. You can bet that my kids will never be involved in a gun crime, but won’t hesitate to reach for one to defend our home and lives.

It’s hard to point to a breakdown in the familiar unit as a violence cause when the number of single parent households has risen while crime has continued to fall. It would be interesting to see a study on violent crimes committed by single parent or broken homes versus those of two-parent (male and female) households. I would hypothesize that the number is much greater among the single parent households.

So, with neither candidate the single best choice for the single-issue crowd of gun ownership, one must look at CURRENT policies and beliefs. Liberals frustratingly point to the fact that President hasn’t put in place any gun control legislation during his first four years in office. This would be inaccurate.


Image from the Garand Collectors Association.

When the South Korean government was looking to raise money for its defense and military by selling Korean War-era M1 Garand and Carbine rifles, the President said no. Collectors across the country were clamoring to get their hands these pieces of history. The White House said they were afraid these 850,000 rifles would “fall into the wrong hands.” You mean, like they did during the Fast & the Furious scandal? Can anyone name a crime committed using an antique rifle? Seriously?

But, the President didn’t stop there. Obama also blocked the importation of 300,000 vintage 1911 Colt pistols from the same conflict! One doesn’t have to pass laws when he can rule by executive fiat. If President Obama had made those weapons available to those law-abiding citizens that wanted to purchase them, it would have made these great firearms available to collectors big and small that couldn’t afford them otherwise. It also would have strengthened the South Korean military at a time when it’s northern neighbors have stepped up their saber rattling in recent years. Instead, these pieces of history are going to be destroyed.

This November the choice is clear of the candidate best suited for tackling this issue. I guess it just depends on your personal beliefs on whether or not you believe in the Constitution what that choice is.

“This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead.” – Adolph Hitler (1935)

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