Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Second Amendment and Gun Control

I don't like to write political posts. Mostly because I know I'll lose followers or gain haters. However, I think it is time that I provide my thoughts on last month's aweful school shooting in Connecticut.

First of all, I don't own a gun. I don't like guns. I'm scared of guns. Mostly because of the very real possibility of something going wrong. I do, however, respect a person's right to keep and bear arms.

Recently, I've thought about purchasing a BB gun more for the protection of my house and property, however, I have no business owning a rifle, pistol, or even a semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 rifle. That, however, is my choice.

The Newtown shooting has again started the gun debate. You have people who feel that guns should be outlawed. You have others who feel there should be restrictions or strict background checks. Then you have those who feel that the U.S. Constitution protects their right to bear arms without government interference. This debate has been hashed out many times in the past. It's unfortunate that a horrible massacre has to happen to reignite the debate. At the end of the day, nothing changes.

Over ten years ago, soon after the Columbine High School massacre, while working at the Texas Legislature as an aide, several gun control bills were filed. Many attempted to make criminal background check mandatory before a person could take a firearm home--the guns used in the Columbine murders were bought at a gun show. I remember the NRA fighting feverishly to kill such mandate. They lobbied key legislators, testified against the legislation in committees, gave generously to their campaigns, and at the end won. The legislation was never brought up for debate. Nothing changed.

According to the NRA website, there are 4.3 million members. The membership fee for one year is $35. That's $150,500,000 going to NRA a year, if all 4.3 million members signed up on an annual basis. After operation, administration and legal fees, one could see that a large portion of their money more than likely goes to lobbying.

Why do I bring this up? There is a huge population of gun owners who fear that government is conspiring to take their firearms. Firearm manufacturers and gun shops are banking on that fear, and the conservative movement see this as votes in the next election.

Meanwhile, liberals continue to file unrealistic anti-gun legislation. The legislation will either sit in committee or pass as a water down bill. If that bill does go before a chamber, the water down bill may be further diluted before passing to the next chamber. By that time the teeth that were in the original version of the bill will be filed down so much to be effective.

While the debate heavily focuses on the Second Amendment, lost in the discussion is how best to keep our children safe at school. Should taxpayers invest in armed guards, metal detectors, gun training for our educators? How much will it cost?

Also lost in the debate is the discussion of mental illness. Should people be screened for mental illness history before purchasing a firearm or obtaining a license? How can we keep individuals who are not mentally stable from purchasing or carrying a rifle, pistol, or even a semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 rifle? Who can really determine a person's mental health?

Should we just leave it to the individual and hope they are able to determine their own mental health when purchasing or carrying a firearm?

Should we include knives or swords? The same day of the Newtown massacre, a 36-year old Chinese man cut 22 children with a knife.

If we require background checks for people looking to obtain a driver's license, should we require an extensive background check for people who purchase firearms, magazines, knives, or swords? Will this become the norm?

No doubt this debate will continue into the next election season. We know, however, the end result of this debate--little to no change.

In the end, as a proponent of our Constitutional and individual rights, perhaps the best solution is to leave it up to individuals to have the responsibility when taking ownership of a firearm or weapon. Instead of focusing on more government control, perhaps stiffer penalties on the persons who purchased the firearm or weapon.

Just my two cents.

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