Updated on August 26, 2017
Any time there’s a shooting on American soil, it’s not long before the media follows with stories saying “I told you so” and stressing how we need better gun control. I try to keep myself informed of what the other side of the debate is saying, but it gets difficult with the blatant misinformation reporters will use in an attempt to prove a point. Case in point – I couldn’t believe when a reporter for a major news organization said an AR-15 felt “like a bazooka” and gave him “temporary PTSD” last year.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand why those on both sides of the debate feel so strongly about it. In the wrong hands, firearms can take the lives of innocent people. But most gun owners are responsible with their firearms and don’t like the thought of anyone infringing on their rights. This is backed up by data and years of personal experience.
When it comes to gun rights, there are several important factors that many people are unaware of.
There’s so much misinformation today in the media that it’s hard to know who to trust. You can’t take the news at their word. Sometimes, they use selective editing to support their own agenda. This is especially common with headlines, which can be far more sensational than the content of the articles themselves. Other times, the news is flat-out wrong.
After the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub, many newspapers reported that the shooter used an AR-15. The AR-15 gets a bad rap because it’s the most popular rifle in the country and because many mistakenly believe “AR” stands for “assault rifle.” It actually stands for “ArmaLite Rifle.” A police chief had said the shooter at Pulse used an “AR-15-type assault rifle,” and this was later determined to be a Sig Sauer MCX. This didn’t stop people from calling for a ban on AR-15s.
The media is similarly misleading when reporting on the number of gun owners in the country. This is a difficult statistic to track anyway, since gun owners often like to keep that information private. Poll results vary, but most show gun ownership has held steady for decades. That hasn’t stopped multiple news outlets from claiming that gun ownership in the United States has reached “a record low” and “its lowest point since the 1970s.”
There’s an obvious agenda with many news outlets to paint gunowners as this crazy, fringe group that’s getting smaller by the year. What they typically fail to mention is the millions of gunowners across the country who never cause any issues.
The obvious argument for gun control or at least stricter gun laws is that it will cut down on gun violence. Does the statistical evidence support that notion? The answer is a resounding “no.”
Let’s look at areas, including states and countries, that have instituted a ban on either handguns or any type of gun. This has happened in Great Britain, Ireland, Jamaica, Washington D.C. and Chicago, and in each of those places, the homicide rate increased after the ban took effect.
Despite all the talk about the relaxed gun laws in the United States, the rate of gun homicides dropped by 49 percent from 1993 to 2013. And the number of guns available in the country has greatly increased during that same time. Experts can only estimate the number of guns available, but those estimates indicate the number of available guns has gone up by about 5 to 10 million per year.
The media also frequently mentions the number of gun-related deaths in the United States. What it fails to mention is that the majority of these deaths are suicides, as the number of suicides by gun is almost double the number of homicides by gun.
After a tragedy that involves a gun, the kneejerk reaction is to call for greater gun control. The numbers don’t support the effectiveness of this, and there’s another issue with touting gun control as the answer to these problems.
The sad truth is that if someone wants to murder a large number of people, they can find a way to do it. Many have selected firearms as their weapons of choice, but there are plenty of other options out there.
Gun control didn’t stop the 2016 attack in Nice, France, when terrorists used a cargo truck to kill 86 people and wound 458. It didn’t stop the recent attack in Barcelona, Spain, when terrorists drove a van into a crowd of people, killing 13 and wounding 130. If someone wants to harm others and they can’t get their hands on a gun, they won’t give up on the idea. They’ll find another method.
Vehicles have proven just as deadly as guns. I don’t see anyone calling on background checks before buying SUVs. We could just require everyone to use public transportation and stop letting anyone drive except for bus drivers. Of course, this would never fly, because it wouldn’t be convenient and it would infringe on people’s rights. But for some reason, the same people who would scoff at this idea are fine with infringing on someone’s right to bear arms.
Our gun laws must strike a delicate balance. The Founding Fathers considered the right to bear arms so important that they made it part of the Second Amendment in our Bill of Rights, indicating that it’s something the government should never able to take away from its citizens.
The U.S. government runs on a system of checks and balances to prevent any branch of government from having too much power. The right of the citizens to bear arms also acts as a check on government power. The Founding Fathers wanted citizens to be able to defend themselves from potential government tyranny.
This means that taking away the right to bear arms is out of the question. Not only would it be almost impossible to pull off, but it goes against a fundamental principle of this country. People love to mention the stricter gun laws in Canada, or France or Germany, while ignoring the violent crime that occurs in those countries. But none of those countries were built on the same set of principles as the United States of America. Their way of doing things is fine for them, but it’s not for us.
What about better controlling who has access to guns? Federal law already requires that licensed dealers perform background checks for gun sales. Universal background checks aren’t a requirement, which means private sales can occur without background checks.
Requiring universal background checks sounds like a good idea in theory, but it would be difficult to implement because it would require all gun owners to register their guns with the government. That’s very unrealistic. Most gun owners don’t want to give the government information about what they have, and considering the violations of privacy the government has committed on its citizens over the years, that’s understandable. Read about what Edward Snowden revealed and tell me if you want to volunteer more information to the government.
This is a common questions I get from gun control advocates.
Their argument is that, in the absence of banning certain guns and ammo, another way to legislate safety without infringing on our 2A rights would be safe storage laws. These types of laws would require gun owners with children to keep their firearms locked up, either in a storage closet or gun safe. The basic gist of these laws is that they protect children (and thieves) from using the firearm irresponsibly, and hurting themselves or others.
Look, I’m all for keeping your gun out of the wrong hands. If you spend most of your time at home, then investing in a quality safe is the right move. The quality of most gun safes today is much higher than it was when I bought my first gun, protecting against fire, water, and pretty much everything else you could imagine.
But are mandatory safe storage laws really necessary?
No “one size fits all” requirement will ever meet the needs of all American gun owners as everyone’s circumstances are different. Responsible gun owners without children in their homes will invariably have different storage needs than people with children in their homes.
If you have kids, it’s already common knowledge that you should keep your firearms in a secure gun safe so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. But if you’re a single man or woman or are married to a fellow gun enthusiast, you should be able to keep your guns wherever you please. A childless couple or single person may want to keep a handgun in their bedside table for instance. Gun owners who live in high-rise apartments will usually have different needs than a person or persons who live in the backwoods or the wilderness.
Firearms kept at home be stored inaccessible to unauthorized persons, including children. The NRA believes — and I agree — that it is and should remain the responsibility of the individual firearm owner, not the government, to determine how to ensure that guns are safely stored, and I couldn’t agree more.
Enforcement of a storage law could lead to searches of homes in violation of Fourth Amendment protections. When we get into the realm of arbitrary storage laws, we reach a point where our civil liberties are stripped away and where Marshall law could be imposed at will.
This does not bode well for those of us who have enjoyed the safety and security that comes with owning firearms. Lots of American gun owners and civil libertarians know all about the fate that befell the British when mandatory storage laws went into effect. We don`t want to see that same awful fate occurring in our own country.
As far back as the 17th Century, the right to keep and bear arms was a time-honored tradition in Britain, but the passage of the Firearms Act of 1920 laid waste to that heritage. All of a sudden, citizens could own rifles and handguns only if they could prove they had a worthy reason for applying for a police permit or “firearms certificate.” Back then, self-defense qualified as a worthy reason for obtaining a firearms certificate.
Alas, the times they did a-change and, in 1936, British “bobbies” started implementing the following requirement for firearms certificates: “The firearms and ammunition to which this certificate relates must at all times when not in actual use be kept in a secure place with a view to preventing access to them by unauthorized persons.”
Nowadays, if you live in Britain, self-defense is not an acceptable reason for owning a gun. In some areas, the bobby cops won’t even issue or renew a firearms or shotgun certificate without conducting an invasive in-home visit to make sure that their standards for safe storage are met.
There is no legal authority for these inspections, but if a gun owner refuses to open his door to the police, his/her certificate will not be approved and there’s nothing he/she can do about it.
In several jurisdictions, the cops don’t just require gun safes but alter the standards for those safes on a whim. In a lot of districts, an acceptable safe is one that can withstand a half-hour attack by a burglar armed with a set of safe-cracking tools. And if it isn’t already clear, enforcement of storage laws distracts police officers from focusing on what they should be focused on—fighting crime.
So, while those who are tasked with protecting and serving us are supposed to be cracking down on illegal firearms, under strict and unnecessary storage law, these brave men and women would instead be hassling the law-abiding citizens of our country who own registered firearms.
Like any other responsible gun owner, I’m always saddened when a shooting occurs, and I don’t want guns in the wrong hands. But I also realize that despite what’s often in the headlines, gun homicides are going down, and more gun laws aren’t going to put an end to violence. They would only infringe on the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution, and emotional outcry because of a tragedy is no reason to take away fundamental rights from citizens of this country.