Can We Please Have a Real Debate About How to Curb Gun Violence?

By | January 28, 2011

By Thomas Lowdermilk, staff editor

With every gun tragedy come the same calls for increased gun control, to which the gun lobby always cries foul.  The tragedy in Arizona has followed this predictable trajectory.  Unfortunately, the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress has only gotten tighter in recent years.  Thus, the legislative proposals currently under consideration, which range from absurdly impractical to only marginally effective, have virtually no prospect of passage.

Representative Peter King (R-NY) proposed legislation that would ban anyone from carrying a gun within 1000 feet of an elected official.  While that idea is completely infeasible, the most reasonable idea comes from Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D- NY) whose husband was killed and her son paralyzed in a shooting in 1993.  She suggests that regulations be tightened on high-capacity magazines, limiting them to hold no more than 10 rounds.  The shooter in Arizona had a 33-round ammunition clip which, according to an anonymous federal agent, “increased the lethality and the body count of this attack.”  The NRA’s response to McCarthy’s proposal surprised no one: “these magazines are standard equipment for self-defense handguns and other firearms owned by tens of millions of Americans.”

The argument never changes: guns are for self-defense.

But if you can’t defend yourself in 10 shots, either you need to spend more time at the shooting range, or you’re in a situation where 1000 bullets probably wouldn’t help.  This point feeds directly into the NRA’s argument that the 2nd amendment is necessary so that we may defend ourselves against our own government.

Can we please re-examine this assertion?  The 18th century is over.  We no longer are worried about the redcoats bearing down on us with muskets.  Does anyone believe that the extra 23 rounds of ammunition in a clip will protect us from stealth fighters, tanks, special forces, precision bombs, nuclear weapons, anthrax, and a list that goes on ad nauseam?

The only true defense against the government is the power of the masses.  Look around the world today and you can see it in Tunisia and Egypt.  The only weapon necessary to defeat a tyrannical government will always be the will of the people.

These arguments all detract from the problem in this country.  Of all OECD nations, we are second only to Turkey at 5.6 homicides per 100,000 people.  The next highest after us, Finland, has only 2.2.   We all remember Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Columbine, but the true sign that gun violence is out of control is that I cannot even remember half of the events on this partial list of recent mass shootings in America.

I believe in the 2nd amendment, but I also believe I should not see reports of gun violence every time I turn on the news.  Can we please have a real debate about how to curb the madness?