Gun Control: Are Our Liberties Only Defendable When We Understand Why?

I struggle with gun control because, while I don’t like guns, I don’t like anyone’s fundamental liberties being taken more.

I am against the Patriot Act and indefinite detentions and the existence of Guantanamo Bay’s prison. These were and continue to be seen as necessary to protect Americans. We are told that we must give up some of our freedoms to win the “war on terror.”

But I would rather my home blow up than not have due process. I believe the price of losing my freedom to not be jailed for no reason or for reasons I’m not allowed to know is worse the another terrorist attack. Our ideals must be upheld or what are we defending?

When I first think of guns, I wonder: What does everyone feel like they need protection from in our country? What is the point of a handgun except to hurt another human being? And a civilian owning an automatic weapon seems ridiculous. I know the statistics on how more guns do not decrease violence, how many legally obtained guns end up in the wrong hands whether by theft, straw purchases or lax regulations, and how much more likely a child is to die when a handgun is in the home.

I also love humanity, but I wonder if we can truly keep people from hating other people or from being mentally ill. Yes, we can promote diversity, but is that enough to change hate? Yes, we can better our health system, but our understanding and treatment of mental health is far from desirable when, for example, the side effects of the medications most often prescribed to those with psychosis include drooling and feeling nothing.

Our alternative to changing people’s hearts and minds is to ban guns. Or make guns very difficult to obtain.  Just as we cannot stop car accidents but we can put measures in to minimize the destructions such as speed limits and seat belts, we can control guns much easier than we can control people. So perhaps we can put in some restrictions to minimize how available automatic weapons are or how much ammunition a person can purchase.

But I want to be careful. Because much of the reasoning behind gun control is similar to the reasoning behind the Patriot Act. Or why people were locked away in mental institutions forever. Or why the American prison population is the largest in the world.

We pay a price for freedom. The cost is jury duty to give us all a fair trial. The cost is listening to hate to give us all freedom of speech. The cost may be another bomb or a convicted felon who rapes again or a family shot on a picnic to give us no cruel punishments, due process, and the right to bear arms.

Are we willing to pay for our liberties? The question of gun control boils down to whether guns are a right. If they are, we have to uphold them whether we want to or even understand why guns mattered to our Founding Fathers and to people today. But in doing that, those who defend gun rights must also defend all the rights outlined in our Constitution such as separation church and state, those cast aside in this supposed “war on terror” or even those missing in our everyday understanding of our prison system. We cannot pick and choose which ones we think matter to us or to our political parties.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

44 thoughts to “Gun Control: Are Our Liberties Only Defendable When We Understand Why?”

  1. This is a tough one for me, because I don’t want to restrict people’s rights. Also, my dad is kind of a gun junkie, including ones he has no need for, just to collect. But, sorry Dad, I just don’t understand the need for your average citizen to house an automatic weapon. I think there should be stricter controls on guns like that, just like hospitals keep track of how many narcotics doctors prescribe.

  2. If you knew how restrictive the regulations are on who can own automatic weapons and similarly controlled items (and to be sure, you need to understand what you’re actually talking about vs. what you may *think* you’re talking about), you’d be much less concerned. The problem in part is that the public at large is either misinformed or just doesn’t know, and the people who *do* have the education and training aren’t likely to go out of our way to give entry-level primers on what it all means because most people will find it about as interesting or confusing as talking about the powertrain differences in all of the Ford Mustangs currently available or what the different versions of Android have or don’t have.

    As for the 2nd Amendment…people like to say that the Founding Fathers couldn’t predict or didn’t have the destructive potential of modern firearms in mind when they wrote it, but the same argument could be made about the 1st Amendment not having the ability to account for today’s instant broadcast ability, rapid dissemination of upskirt photos, or impeccably precise celebrity impersonations and Photoshop manipulation. Are we going to restrict the 1st because Tina Fey has the country convinced that Sarah Palin said “I can see Russia from my house”?

    1. So do you mean that people should be able to get them (automatic weapons) because they are already restricted enough? Why are people who aren’t well able to get them or any guns?
      From what I’ve read, the problem seems to be those who have the legal right to sell arms are not following procedure perhaps on purpose to make more money. Maybe the issue is enforcement then?

      1. That’s the thing, though. If you’re talking about people who are intentionally breaking the law in the process of either selling or obtaining weapons, then the issue is even more deeply set than enforcement. We’ve got laws and procedures in place. But to people who don’t care about law, it doesn’t matter, and making more laws or other actions (including the grand “confiscate them all” scheme) will not affect them. It’ll only affect those who are already following the rules, and those aren’t the people you’re worrying about; in fact, those are the people you want to support you, and they’re not going to if you penalize them for what the criminals are doing. It’s a total Catch-22.

  3. Thank you for a well-reasoned argument. I agree that civil liberties are very important and must be protected. But we also need to recognize that individuals do not live in a bubble, and one person’s liberties can affect other people. I understand why some people feel gun ownership is an important civil liberty, but don’t I also have a right to feel like I or my family are safe from being shot by someone who is mentally ill, or is angry and impulsive, or who gets mad if I make a mistake while driving. The costs of the right for almost anyone to carry concealed or unconcealed weapons around in public far outweighs the benefits, in my opinion. How many innocent people in the U.S. are killed by handguns or automatic weapons every year? How many is too many?

    1. The problem with the question of “how many is too many?” is who would say that 9/11 wasn’t too many? But the liberties taken away in the name of 9/11 were and are terrible and heartbreaking in my opinion. So I worry about the cost/benefit analysis because while I completely see your point, I wonder if it’s because I don’t understand gun ownership or the point of the 2nd amendment. Why would I want militias to form around me? But does that make it less valid than habius corpus? It’s hard.

  4. Like Angela, my dad has many guns and we’ve been around them our entire lives. Everything is locked up though and we’ve never been able to get to them.
    I don’t believe that we should restrict people’s rights to have guns but maybe the restrictions should be stronger and more enforced. Of course a lot of the trouble comes from people obtaining illegal guns…
    You last sentence has me thinking…. I think that we live in a society where people pick and choose all the time.. whether it comes to what rights they fight for, what ones they restrict, or what passages in the bible they adhere to and others that they ignore because they don’t like them.
    Why is that?

  5. Your parallel of car safety to gun safety is excellent. As is the question who are you defending yourself from. The days of protecting you family from wildlife are gone for most of us.

    Automatic weapons and hand guns confuse me, I don’t understand how they belong in the civil rights category. But it’s not such a controversial topic in Canada.

      1. I wouldn’t say it’s a non- issue but it’s not complicated by the emotion behind the right to bear arms.

        It’s my understanding that most gun crimes in Canada are committed with illegally obtained guns. That frustrates me.

  6. I just don’t know how I feel about all this.

    I mean, bearing arms is a right, and like you said, I don’t like people picking and choosing which amendments/rights they will support and which ones they think stink.

    At the same time, the Prohibition amendment was crap, so they got rid of it. Of course it was the only amendment to restrict instead of grant a right, so there’s that.

    Like the other Michigan gals here, I was brought up around rifles and guns. My dad and brothers are hunters. I was taught to respect guns from day one of my life. I don’t want to do away with the 2nd amendment.

    However, I just can’t see why regular citizens need handguns or automatic weapons. What/whom are you thinking you’ll be defending yourself from? Do you think that realistically, you may need to form a militia for some reason?

    I also don’t know enough about the laws to know if it’s just the rule/law breakers that are the problem, or if there is something larger going on.

    1. “What/whom are you thinking you’ll be defending yourself from?”

      I hate this question. Hate it. Because to me, it’s the same as:

      “Why do I need to wear a seatbelt? I’m not going to run into anything” or “Who’d want to steal MY identity?” It’s like buying insurance; you buy car or health insurance hoping that you’re never going to really need to use it, but if you need it, you’ll be glad you have it.

      You know, right now, in Richmond where Alex and I live, there are reports about a guy who’s jumping female joggers during daylight hours and trying to pull their clothes off. No one has identified him yet and luckily, everyone’s managed to fight him off or get away.

      That’s one answer to the question. Incidentally, there’s nothing that puts a woman on level ground with an assailant faster or better than a firearm that she’s practiced with. She may not be able to punch as hard. She may not be able to run as fast. But when she puts that firearm in her hand with intent and confidence, heaven help the poor fool who’s trying to take her on.

      I’ve always wondered why more women don’t realize this.

      1. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun with me. Where would I put it? In my diaper bag? with my children’s things that they have access to? I don’t carry a purse. And if I am jogging, I don’t really feel that a gun makes a good running buddy.

        I understand what you (and others) mean when you are trying to arm women to protect them, but it just doesn’t work that way. At least not for me.

        1. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re not comfortable with it, if it’s not right for you, then there’s no way you’re going to take the time to learn about how and when to use it properly, and that’s when a gun becomes more dangerous to its owner than to an assailant.

  7. Murder is already illegal. People who are willing to commit a murder, would have no qualms about illegally obtaining a weapon. And despite what everyone says, they would be able to obtain weapons. How hard is it to get drugs in this country? Not very.

    I don’t have a big issue with restricting the sale of guns (as in more waiting time/background checks), the only problem I can think of relates to ‘who is deciding on the restrictions’ and will they decide certain ethnicities, religions, etc, are ‘restricted’.

    If you look at statistics in Britain, ( http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp ), it shows that the homicide rate has increased, since their gun control laws/gun bans.

    Since the Chicago handgun ban, murders by handguns have increased by 40%…one year 96% of victims murdered, were murdered by a handgun…which was illegal to own in the first place.

    I’m a strong believer that the only thing accomplished by making guns illegal, is taking them away from law-abiding citizens. The criminals certainly won’t turn them in. We can wonder about the recent Aurora shooting, and wonder if the shooter would’ve gone through with it, if it had been harder to obtain the weapons. Not sure? Maybe he was mentally competent enough to fool anyone doing the screening.

    There was another shooting here in the Denver area, that probably wasn’t as widely reported- A man came to a church, shot and killed a lady. There happened to be an off duty cop, with his concealed weapon, who then killed the shooter. How many more would’ve died if someone hadn’t had a concealed weapon. How many people could’ve been saved in the movie theater if someone HAD a weapon.

    Read about the history of the Warsaw ghetto uprising during WWII, with only a few guns, they were able to hold of German army for a while. It could be argued that if the Germans knew that every jew had a small stash of fire arms, (whatever kind they may be), and the jews used them, the outcome could’ve been different than 6 million people murdered.

    One could say, “oh, we’re civilized people now a days, that would never happen…” Really? Genocides abound in our world today. Rwanda, Sudan, North Korea, etc.. Not saying that arming the whole world would make things rosy and pink- just pointing out that the possesion of guns for defense in some situations would make a positive difference.

    On that note…I don’t even personally own a gun. But I strongly support the right to posses them by the average citizen.

    1. Just a short note on the Denver area church shooting, the off duty officer (a trained profession in using firearms) only shot and killed the assailant when said person stopped to reload his gun. Additionally, the assailant was taken by surprise by the off-duty officer. No one is arguing that law enforcement shouldn’t have guns, or that the right to bear arms isn’t important. What some are arguing is, “should there be some limits on the types of guns that can be legally purchased and owned by private citizens?”, and that is a worthwhile debate.

      If someone at the theater had a weapon? Probably none, likely more would have been injured as they shot at a heavily armed and armored target through tear gas. The most likely outcome there is they stand up (get shot/shot at), return fire, drawing heavier fire in their direction, all while not hitting their target through the smoke and confusion, and hitting an innocent bystander.

      The “Lone wolf hero” scenario is similar to the “ticking timebomb” scenario that people like to trot out to justify torture.

      The flip side of the armed populace coin is that you’re trusting that people will make the right decision while armed. In the AZ shootings a couple years back a second responder had a gun, ran to the scene, and almost shot the person holding a handgun there. The person who disarmed the original shooter. Good decision, and lucky that he didn’t shoot an innocent person.

      Confusing war with non-war activities isn’t helpful. Had the Germans known that the Jews had larger stockpiles of guns, they would have carpet bombed the area more completely first, perhaps resulting in an even higher loss of life.

      I wouldn’t use the African genocides as an argument against gun control, many, many illegally obtained weapons are there doing what they do best.

      1. Also, regarding the Britain comment:

        Homicide Rate in the UK: 1.2/100,000 citizens
        Homicide Rate in the US: 4.2/100,000 citizens

        So while you’ve seen an increase in the UK’s homicide rate, they still have a long ways to go to approach the one we’re currently owning here in the US.

        I’m not saying that we should be prohibiting anyone from owning a gun, just showing that gun ownership is not the cure all for crime (especially violent crime) that it may be portrayed as by the gun enthusiasts.

    2. Actually all the strong scientific studies that have come out in the last 2 decades have shown no correlation in the US between an increase in gun owner and a decrease in murder rates and all have shown higher murder rates in areas with more guns but only as correlation not as causation.

      And it’s actually 96% of those murdered with a firearm not murdered in general, which a handgun is the most common firearm used to kill other people. I would be curious to see how the murder rate changes since the handgun ban was overturned in 2010 since the overall murder rate went down after the handgun ban. Also, did handgun murders go up everywhere in the US? Of course, causation is always difficult to prove.

      I think regulations need to be enforced and the money to be made from guns and illegal guns needs to be clamped down on.

  8. Thanks for writing this. The comments have been interesting to read too. I think Jeb Hoge made some good points. Here in NM and AZ gun shows are held in community centers or any space large enough to accomodate them. They are so popular that Miss New Mexico makes appearances at them. I find this all bizarre because I’m not a gun enthusiast. I worry about reports I hear indicating that many of the gun show vendors don’t follow the same rules as gun shop owners. Or, that the rules aren’t enforced. We see people eating in restaurants with guns strapped to their sides. We see signs on businesses stating, “No Guns Allowed.” It’s uncomfortable because people lose their tempers, things happen. When I go into town I have to assume most people probably have guns. It makes me uneasy and often feel unsafe. At the same time I don’t want to take away any civil liberties. It’s complicated and I don’t know what the answer is.

    1. Interesting point about people losing tempers and so forth…I know it’s not hard evidence, but everything I’ve ever heard from concealed carry owners comes down to this: When they’re carrying, they’re cool. People think that it’s going to be like the movie renditions of the Old West, with quick-draw duels and people settling disputes with shots. But they just don’t do that. Personal carry is a lot like a “badge of honor” thing…if you’re doing it, you’re expected to live up to the ideals of keeping calm, safe, and only drawing in Bad Situations.

      It’s kind of hard to understand if you’re already inclined to avoid any exposure to it, but I think that’s been part of the problem over the last 25-30 years. They used to teach gun safety and have marksmanship teams in schools.

      1. I’m sure you are right. It’s hard to feel any level of confidence around guns when you have limited experiences with them. These discussions are so often fueled by emotion rather than fact. I know it is hard for me to sever my emotionality from this topic.

        Having said that, I have family members with guns who scare me. My Grandfather keeps a loaded gun in his closet…no locks, no safety on. We have gang violence here. I previously worked in the mental health field. All of these factors just add to my nervousness. There are people out there with guns because they think it makes them look cool. A Young man we know keeps a loaded gun in his car. A few years ago he antagonized someone so much that they ran him over with their car. He was the one found guilty not the person in the car. Even people who are not in the mental health system may be in severe need of mental health help.

        It seems to me that the days of the “badge of honor” mentality are quickly fading. Of course, I live in an area where the sheriff, the mayor and a few other local officials were arrested for smuggling guns into Mexico. There isn’t as much pride or honor associated with living by a code of some kind, at least not here. I find it hard to put my faith into a set of ideals that don’t seem to be held by the people I am exposed to.

        1. You know, the things that you worry about are the things that the great majority of gun owners worry about too. They don’t want guns in the hands of irresponsible owners or risk-takers. I’ve seen hearts get broken from bad situations.

          But we all know that it’s not the tool, it’s the people involved. Because I can switch out the word “gun” with “motorcycle” or “scooter” or…hell, “paint” or “alcohol” and you’d have the same stories.

          1. I guess that is the part of the argument where I get stuck. How do we keep the guns out of the hands of irresponsible people? My relatives are certainly irresponsible. They don’t have criminal or psychological records preventing them from obtaining guns, but they have actually shot at each other during fights. There was a child shot in the hand here a few years ago. His father claimed he was cleaning his gun when it accidently went off. These are people with gun permits. Maybe the classes to get a gun permit need to be more difficult. Some people have emotional control issues or cognitive deficits that impair their ability to make good decisions. There isn’t an easy answer to these questions, but it does seem like what we are doing now isn’t really working. Maybe it’s time to try a different approach.

            I can see how alcohol may lead to violence against other people, but I think your other examples would mostly lead to self-harm which is bad, but not really the same as taking 12 people out in a movie theater or shooting your family over an argument (or a stranger).

          2. I don’t agree that you can switch “gun” out with those other words. Guns are meant to harm or kill someone. They serve no other purpose when used (unless you’re going to play the “I enjoy shooting targets for fun and nothing else” card). Plenty of people drive cars, paint their houses and drink alcohol without it being harmful to them or anyone else.

            My take on gun control is that I’m not trying to pry guns from cold, dead hands. I’m asking why I have to show i.d. to buy Sudafed (it used to be my “right” to buy it whenever I wanted years ago), but I can order a buttload of ammo online and not raise a suspicion. The key word in the phrase “gun control” is “control”. Doing what we can to limit guns getting into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them doesn’t mean all the gun owners who behave responsibly can’t have them.

            I have to show i.d. in a liquor store to prove I have a right to purchase alcohol (well, not so much these days, damnit!) and I have to show my insurance card to prove I have a right to only make a co-pay at the doctor’s office. What’s so scary about creating a system in which people who handle guns responsibly can get them and those who are a problem cannot? I know we can’t keep all “the bad guys” from getting a gun, as some will slip through the system. But fake IDs buy alcohol and we don’t stop carding people becuz of that.

              1. A lot of stuff isn’t mentioned in the Constitution. My point is that a lot of gun fans have a fit at the idea of the “control” part of gun control. They detest the idea of trying to make sure people who shouldn’t have guns don’t have them whenever that is possible. If I have to prove I’m allowed to buy Sudafed and a bottle of tequila, I don’t see how it’s any different if I had to do something more than put ammo in a shopping basket online if I felt like shooting up a theatre or a high school. Why didn’t the Aurora shooter’s purchase send up a redflag somewhere? If people are earmarked for extra attn when going through airport security becuz something seems suspicious or if they post or say something questionable about an elected official, why isn’t there a system in place that says “What’s up with John Doe here wanting this amount of ammo?”.

    2. To your point on tempers – A guy I went to high school with came from a wealthy, religious family. His dad was a well-known home builder in our town.

      Three years ago, he was parking his car at an NBA basketball game and got mad at the parking attentant for allegedly trying to charge him more because he was driving a nice car.

      One thing led to another, the guy got a gun from his trunk and shot and killed the parking attendant (who was unarmed).

      Now he is in jail.

      I wonder how things would have gone differently if he had no gun in his trunk. Would the parking attendent be dead? Would the shooter be in jail?

      Guns escalate arguments so quickly. It’s so chilling that we can so easily harm one another.

  9. The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting. It’s also not about self defense. It’s about collective defense from tyranny. The Bill of Rights were not cobbled together. They have order. Top of the list. Freedom of Speech and Religion. That’s freedom OF Religion not freedom FROM religion. It’s the Freedom to Choose. Without the Right to petition or criticize the government we are slaves to same. Separation of Church and State as interpreted today is invalid because it eliminates the ability to choose. Choose to put a nativity and see what happens. HMOs. HA! They’re very much like the Gestapo. The Second Amendment comes next to be the last defense from a tyrannical government which wants to remove the First Freedoms. A society where only the police have guns is called a Police State. The Tenth Amendment cede any power not specifically given to the federal government to the states. The foundation of a government by the people and for the people is strong local governments. Voting for people you personally know and they know you. School boards, municipal governments and then State government. In that when the federal government become oppressive the people of the State can bind together and defend themselves from federal intrusion. The First Defense from Tyranny. Our Civil War is the prime example. No wonder Lincoln had to suspend the Bill of Rights in order to put down the rebellion. If you are afraid of the Patriot Act you should be terrified of FEMA which has the exact powers needed to suspend our Rights in times of “emergency”. The prime “emergency” being insurrection. Right now US Army doctrine is being put in place for such an insurrection in 2016 until 2028. Odd set of years until you think that 2016 is the end the second Obama administration and 2028 being a good year for him to retire form being President for Life. I do not think any of this is coincidence. It’s well thought planning. If you think you can defend yourself from the US Army with handguns, shotguns and deer rifles you’re kidding yourself. The Government wants you to be frightened enough of crime to surrender your weapon. Consider this: If you were standing with weapon drawn and your children hiding behind you. With you between your children and an armed intruder and the intruder saying “Give me your gun and no one gets hurt.” What would you do? Would you cheerfully hand him your weapon knowing in your heart he won’t hurt the kids? Or would you blow him away knowing that if you die, he dies too and your kids will survive. This what the government wants when they call for “Gun Control”. On the selection ramp of Auschwitz a Jewish woman asked an officer, “Sir, I understand we are to be gassed?” He replied, “Of course not, we are not barbarians.” Remember every time you hear a politician say “Just hand over your gun and everything will be all right.”

      1. Rules of a Gunfight
        1. Bring your gun.
        2. Make sure it’s a machine gun.
        3. Bring two.
        4. Bring all your friends who have guns.
        This allows the citizenry of the State to join together in militias to defend their homes. Yeah just like in our Revolution Against England.
        Switzerland has never been invaded. Know why? It’s really mountainous. That slows things down. But every one serves in the military and when their time is up, they get to take their assault rifle home. They are then subject to military recall until retirement age.

        1. Seriously, “President for Life”? Are you kidding? You might have had a point in there that was legitimate, but that kind of paranoid fear-mongering has no place in a rational discussion Walt. Please cite sources about the US Army doctrine (credible only, thanks).

          Freedom of religion was intended to establish a wall of separation between church and state (Jefferson, Thomas. Letters to the Danbury Baptists). We don’t have “freedom from religion” here, you are perfectly within your rights to practice your religion, preach your religion, build shrines to your religion…on private property. To do otherwise is to show an implicit endorsement of said religion by our government, something that is not allowed. You have plenty of freedom to choose your religion, and practice your religion. What you don’t have is a state mandated/sponsored religion. If you’d like to live under that sort of country, I hear that Iran is good like that.

          You’re missing the part of the Constitution where it says that federal laws are to be the supreme law of the land (Article IV, Clause 2). This does not give the states the right to nullify a law that they don’t like. We already fought a war over that concept, and it ended up being decided that it wasn’t going to work (Civil War, 1860-1865).

          Geography, lack of easily accessible natural resources are also contributing factors to Switzerland not being invaded. Geography being prime in that, as occupying a mountain country is incredibly difficult. Arming everyone has relatively little to do with it.

          1. I second Trevor’s take on freedom of religion (as well as lots of comments he’s made — so glad you’re here!). It is beyond evident that our founding fathers wanted to create a secular state and allow everyone to practice their religion without the government endorsing any religion — from the first amendment to no religious test for elected office to the documents Trevor mentioned, it is just not debatable. I’m willing to re-look at the 2nd amendment, but I cannot abide by rewriting history when it comes to one of the more important ideas our nation ever did.

  10. Also, I read your post over brunch and it started a really great discussion.
    People said the following:

    -When I see all of the people with guns it makes me feel like I need to get a gun just to protect myself from all of the people with guns.

    -I don’t feel like either political party will meet in the middle. Most people wouldn’t even read something written with such balance (referring to your writing).

    -The NRA is so powerful. If one president passes a law the NRA will pressure the next one to dismantle it.

    -People make a lot of money selling guns. They won’t want to make it harder for people to purchase them, especially the expensive guns.

    -I don’t feel protected by the police. I’m more afraid of the local police than I am of terrorists.

    -I’m the only one of my friends that doesn’t own a gun.

    Just thought you might like to hear some thoughts from people in regards to your post.

    1. This makes me so happy to hear. Thank you thank you for sharing it. Such interesting points. I think money, the prevalence of guns, the NRA and feeling safe (with/without a gun, from/with the police) are all huge factors. The worst part of most issues? How complicated they’ve become.

  11. I don’t know what the answer is, but it is bewildering to me how much people fight for gun rights when so much is based in fear. And we’re not talking about a gang member on the streets of Chicago who probably IS in danger of losing his life. We’re talking about a suburban family who rarely leave their super safe suburbs. So much fear.

    We are supplying guns to the gangs in Mexico because of our relatively easy-to-buy guns. How messed up is that? Our right to access arms is affecting people in OTHER countries. Where do our rights end and others’ begin?

    My view is probably different since I spent most of my adolescence and childhood abroad and at international schools around people from all over the world. I just…don’t get guns. Why does anyone but the police or perhaps a hunter need a gun? I don’t see more guns as the answer to making our country safer.

    My only concession is that if people INSIST on keeping guns to protect themselves (or buying their daughter a gun to protect herself as I see SO OFTEN), learn how to shoot it. There was a guy at the shooting in Arizona with Gabby Giffords who had a gun but was too afraid to use it for fear of shooting the wrong person. Having a gun to ‘protect’ yourself only works if you are comfortable enough with it to, indeed protect yourself and others.

    1. Actually, Ashley, that guy’s instinct probably was correct. If you’re carrying for personal protection, then you’re also putting yourself at liability for any bullet fired that doesn’t strike the assailant. In a panicked crowd (see also Aurora theater shooting) when you don’t know for sure who’s a threat and who isn’t, you don’t stand up and expose yourself and/or start blazing away.

  12. This is one of those issues that as a Canadian, I have the feeling of being on the outside looking in. As Kristen said, culturally, we don’t see bearing firearms as being a ‘right’ at all.

    Our Charter of Rights & Freedoms includes the right to “life, liberty, and security of the person”, but the interpretation by the courts and by most people here, is that this is not the same as a right to own a gun. Sure, people have guns in Canada (although most are long guns for hunting), but our restrictions on licensing and ownership are such that owning a handgun (which cannot be concealed and has to be stored in a locked cabinet away from ammunition, among other things), isn’t a great way to protect yourself- if you had to unlock your gun and load it while someone is breaking in, it’d be lot quicker to get out of the house and/or call the cops. Frankly, the only people I have ever seen/known to have a gun are the police and the RCMP.

    With that said, it’s not like we don’t have gun violence here (as a couple of recent tragic cases have shown), and I think Canadians in general tend to blame the Americans whenever we do get shootings, which in my opinion is no more than burying our head in the sand.

  13. I will begin by saying: I own several firearms (a mix of long guns and handguns), I also have a conceal carry permit for 30 states including VA. I grew up hunting, generally with bow or rifle, but occasionally with shotguns or revolvers. My family has a background in the military and several in law enforcement.

    At first glance by definition I should be pro-gun and want to throw off all regulations for owning a firearm; at least this is the stereotype that is conjured of someone in my position.

    Also a little unknown bit about me: I lived overseas in many countries with strict or not strict gun laws; I lived in Ireland during the late ’80s and early ’90s during the IRA bombing conflicts, with daily visits by the military with guns pointed in our faces. In the ’90s I lived in Russia with machine guns carried like cellphones. (I lived or visited extensively in many other European countries throughout the ’80s-90s). I saw bombings first hand, I saw machine gun carnage. I have seen gun accidents and homicide here stateside as well. I have been witness to gun fights both in and out of the country, yet all on my “doorstep”.

    I am not a subscriber of cliche remarks, nor am willing to hide behind the fact that there are definitely some people who should not be in possession (not talking ownership) of a firearm. I believe that the intent to kill, mame or harm another human being is not segregated to the type of killing/weapon used. My political views are not on either side of the fence, rather I would prefer a redistribution of power from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals. In the end this conversation isn’t about political agenda or the right to bear arms, rather it always boil down to the control of chaos in a sad situation where innocence was harmed by the willful/malignant atrocity of an individual(s).

    As someone who is a law abiding citizen, I have more to lose in an escalated confrontation; thus, making the firearm the last resort only in the case of deadly resolution. This “code of honor” does persist with many who have firearms, especially within the conceal carry circles. There are those who do not follow this code or brazenly believe that they are living in a modern “wild west”. Sadly, the intentional desire for death by those intent on creating chaos is unavoidable, but as a civilized society it is our responsibility to teach our children to value and respect life and take responsibility for our actions to protect our community.

    I am a firm believer that guns are tools; Peter van Uhm gave a fascinating expose on “Why I chose a gun” (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/peter_van_uhm_why_i_chose_a_gun.html). Where he said “That is why I took up the gun – not to shoot, not to kill, not to destroy, but to stop those who would do evil, to protect the vulnerable, to defend democratic values, to stand up for the freedom we have to talk … about how we can make the world a better place.”

    My goal in life is to make the world a better place, I see this world containing guns. I see sadness from poor decisions made by individuals that will affect the way this world is shaped. I do not wish to create this world by the gun, rather I shall stand my ground when someone wishes to do myself or those around me harm.

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