Monday, November 03, 2008

Lawyers, Guns and Money

(Ok, this post has nothing to do with Lawyers or Money. Except: the person who talked me into blogging (Laggin) is a lawyer, and still seems strangely human; and I have no money. Nope, this post is about guns and gun control and is sure to piss off anyone who reads it. So, it was nice having you here...take care.)

This post is going to make everyone on both sides of the gun control issue mad. If you are anti-guns, you are going to read this, and think I am on my way to Montana to join my militia brethren. If you are a card-carrying NRA member, you are going to read the same thing, and think I am a left-wing mouthpiece, ready to board the UN helicopters to help take away your guns. Neither is correct, but whatever... So why write a post that is going to stir everybody up?

The Swede and I have great friends who happen to be a lesbian couple. They told us once, that they watch Gay Pride parades on TV and cringe. They said that every time a parade is covered on television, the cameras only show the "dykes on bikes" and transvestites. They(TV) never cover the hundreds of long-term couples, parents, and everyday citizens that happen to be gay. So the folks that have a prejudice against gays, get to look at the TV and have their preconceptions of all gays confirmed. Well, in the past couple weeks, gun-owners have been represented by the worst of us, yet again.

A couple of weeks ago, an eight-year-old child was killed, when the Uzi machine gun he was firing at an event in Massachusetts, went out of his control and shot him in the head. (I had to read that sentence again to make myself believe what I was writing.) I have since heard gun advocates say this was a "tragic accident", while defending the organizations right to hand machine guns to kids.

Also, I was shooting at a local range last week and had a great conversation with the man working behind the counter. He was friendly, and very talkative. After I bought my targets, got my lane assignment, and bullshitted with him for a while, I was walking towards the range and heard him get into a political discussion with the person behind me. As they discussed the upcoming elections, he brought up Obama, and the old rhetoric about how Obama was going to take away all our guns. Then he said this, "I hope if he gets elected, someone shoots the bastard." I turned in shock to see the customer laugh nervously and ask for targets. As I walked into the range, pissed, because I wasn't going to be able to shoot there anymore, (and of course it is the range 5 minutes from my house, and dirt cheap...goddammit) I saw an Obama/Biden campaign sign that someone had used as a target. WTF!

I am a gun owner. I did not grow up in a "gun" family, in fact my mother is just a little left of Karl Marx, and my father is afraid of guns. I became a "gun person" in the military, taught myself how to hunt in adulthood, and have owned guns for the last 13 years. I do believe the Supreme Court was correct in its' decision that the Second Amendment is an individual right. I also, just wish some "gun people" should shut up!

Before I talk about why I think that anti-gun advocates are misdirected in many cases, can I please talk about fanatics? I've written before about how I believe "all or nothing" thinking is our society's biggest problem. This certainly is true in the gun debate. Can we seriously not agree that an eight-year-old should NOT be shooting a fully automatic weapon? Really? If my kids want to hunt with me, I plan on letting them, and teaching them to shoot. That does not mean they can shoot anything they want. Why is common-sense an attack on the Second Amendment? If you let your child drive go-carts, or battery-powered cars that doesn't mean you should let them operate an actual car...
"You can't tell me how to raise my children!", the NRA-lovin' folks will scream. We already do, idiot. You are required to put your infant in a car-seat when you drive, you have to put them in school (or prove you are home-schooling them), and they can't drive until they are 16 years old. Common sense.
I don't know at what age a child should be allowed to start to learn firearms, but I do know that the learning process shouldn't include an automatic assault rifle at the age of eight!

"Slippery slope." That's the argument that the NRA will make, and in a sense, they're right. There are no groups out there that advocate a common sense approach to firearms. Either, they are groups that believe in restrictions on firearms that they hope will lead to having no weapons left, except for rifles and shotguns for hunting, ala Europe; or the NRA, who believes that any restriction of any firearms is an attack on the Second Amendment. *sigh* Once again, fanatics on both sides, shaping the debate.

Now I need to interject one political comment here. I am Independent, and will be voting for Obama AND some Republican candidates for other offices. I often shake my head at the rhetoric on both sides...BUT there is a difference in my head shaking. "Liberals" (I don't know exactly what that means, BTW.) may advocate things I don't agree with, but they almost always do so with the best of intentions. How can I get bent out of shape at the call for "gun-control" when the purpose is to reduce crime and specifically deaths by gun? I may disagree with the means by which they propose to get to that end, but I can't argue with the goal itself. I have often told my (very liberal) brother, that if there was an electromagnet that could be placed above the US, and it could suck up the millions (?billion?) of guns that are already here, I would surrender mine. It can't happen. So it begs the question: Who are gun laws affecting?

My biggest issues with anti-gun advocates is the very premise on which they base their efforts. Gun "laws" by very definition, affect only those who willing obey the law. The problem is, that the people who commit homicide with a firearm, are already willing to break the most serious law our society has. A person willing to take the life of another human being, is not going to be deterred by increasing the penalty for possession of an illegal firearm. So, the only people affected by stricter gun laws, are law-abiding citizens who choose to own a firearm for recreational or self-defense purposes. It's like passing a law that nobody is allowed to lift weights and grow stronger, so the only people who get bigger and stronger are people who break the law. WTF?

"The police. The police protect us", is the cry of anti-gun advocates. I'm sorry, but I WAS the police for most of the 90's, and I can count on one-hand the number of crimes I prevented. Most police responses occur during or after the commission of a crime. Not the police's fault, they can't be everywhere at once.
I was once told by a rape-counselor I worked with while in Law Enforcement, "I have yet to meet a women who was sexually assaulted, who is against carrying guns." Whether you choose to own a gun or not, they ARE great physical equalizers. A women, who might not be a physical match for a male attacker, is able to defend herself (regardless of size difference) with a firearm.

"Why do you need a gun? Are you afraid? Do you walk around expecting to be attacked?" No, but I wear my seatbelt every time I get in my car, and I don't expect to be in an accident either. I am stealing this story from an e-mail I received sometime ago, author unknown:
A sheriff for a fairly "liberal" community, attended a formal dinner party in town. He was seated next to an older, very liberal, woman at his table. As he sat down, the woman caught sight of the firearm he was wearing concealed under his jacket. "Sheriff", she asked with condescension, "I see you are wearing your gun. Are you expecting trouble at this dinner party?" "No Ma'am." he responded, "If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought the shotgun."

Yes, I have a license to carry a gun, concealed on my person, and yes I carry a gun. When I am asked why I carry the gun to _____(the store, the gas station, movies, etc.), I respond as above. I choose to carry, so trying to figure out when to carry is like trying to figure out when I wear my seatbelt. Either wear it or don't. Trying to predict when you will need it is ridiculous.

So I like guns. I must be a NRA-lovin' nut case, right? No. I no longer am a member of the NRA, because I don't like fanatics. I believe I have the right to own and carry a gun, but I can't believe how easy it is to do both. I have to prove to somebody, that I know how to drive my car, they test me. Why is it that such a suggestion, in regards to guns, makes the NRA crazy? Is having guns in the hands of people with no training, doing me (as a responsible, trained firearm owner) any favors? We are riddled with stories of people who accidentally shoot themselves while cleaning their guns, or children getting killed or injured when they find an unsecured firearm. The first, should NEVER occur if a person is trained properly. It is like working on your cars' engine while the car is running...stupid.
The second, may occur no matter what, just like homes with pools WILL have tragic drownings, but education and training could dramatically reduce such incidents with firearms.

So why then, is the NRA against any common-sense laws requiring training and testing for gun ownership? "Slippery slope" again, but that allows for no dialogue. I believe that it is the responsibility of law-abiding gun owners/collectors/enthusiasts to work to make the ownership of firearms safer. Unlike people who "just don't like guns", we can help to shape laws and create requirements that make sense and could actually make a difference.
For those individuals that don't choose to own a firearm, it still is within your best interest to try and understand those that do. Work with them to ensure that others who join the legion of firearms owners, do so with proper training and discussion of the severity of that decision.
As in most things within our society, I believe trying to understand the point of view of those that don't agree with us, could go a long way to making compromises we ALL can accept.

(Again, sorry for the length. I am just tired of being represented by people who don't speak for me.)

13 comments:

DCD said...

As someone who would have said in the past, "I would never own a gun. I am anti-gun," You make an interesting argument. And as someone who you actually took to a shooting range within the past six months, I am not so sure how I feel at this point.

Miko took my husband and I shooting this past summer and I have to say, it was pretty cool. My husband spent time in the National Guard and knows how to shoot a gun. I did not, and it was interesting to learn.

Would I want a gun in my house? I'm not so sure. The NRA fanatics enrage me. There twisted arguments, in my mind, lead to things like that boys death. Would I let my kid play at a house where there is a gun? Not so sure about that either. I think I would have to know that parent pretty damn well.

I just think it is so hard to find the middle ground in this particular argument. Both sides, as you say, can be crazy. I certainly don't have the answers. However you have made me think - again.

DCD said...

PS - Sorry to be so long-winded!

cIII said...

I remember, a young cIII. The ripe old age of Eight. Hunting rabbits and squirrels with my father on a cool Dewey morning. We were hunting for Breakfast. My father taught me that the Firearm was not a Good thing or a Bad thing.

It was just A thing. And, like a Chainsaw, or Car, or Blender, etc., if you misuse said Thing, someone could get Hurt.

He showed me how to disassemble, clean, reassemble and Load. And, shoot.

Firearms are not a/the Problem. How can an Inanimate object hold blame?

miko564 said...

Wow, down to two comments. I thought it would take me at least 6 months to chase readers away. I'm better than I thought, I did it in one month!

D- Holy comment Batman! Thanks. I like introducing people to something they haven't been exposed to before, and I had fun too. I'm with you on the parents/guns thing, I'd have to know the parents, AND will have taught my kids about the dangers of handling guns without me around.

Ciii- Like I said, I don't know what the appropriate age is, but yeah, I figure around 8 is when I will start teaching them how to handle .22's, etc..
I'm jealous of your relationship with your old man. If we could get ours to take us fishing 3 times a summer we were thrilled. It helps explain what makes you such an active, loving Dad...

cIII said...

Also.

I miss Warren Zevon.

Possibly Moving Mom said...

OK, you are allowed to have a gun (in my book), as you are a person with respect for the firearm and also a person of reason.

I'm not a gun person -- they scare me. And even if I found myself in a situation where I needed one, I'm not sure I'd be able to keep myself together enough to use it. Unless it was to defend my children (just thought of that as I was writing my last sentence). I could definitely shoot to kill to protect them.

This is an issue that is just so difficult to solve.

However, you've helped me have a little more admiration for my new brother-in-law, the gun collector. And with the holidays coming up, my family thanks you.

miko564 said...

Ciii- His final show on Letterman was an instant TV classic. He gave Letterman his guitar after the show, and Dave said in an interview, he(Dave) sobbed like a baby.

Possibly- I don't encourage gun ownership to people, in fact, pepper-spray is usually a better choice for home/self defense. It's easier to use, and there is less chance you will hesitate to use it.
The choice of guns, means you have to be SURE you can take another human life, otherwise you are just bringing a weapon to the party, a weapon your adversary might not hesitate to use. Also, it takes a lot of practice to ensure you can operate one under stressful situations.
Thanks for the kind words. I hope the holidays are fun...just don't show your BIL my post, he'll think I am a left-wing nut...lol

Shan said...

Stumbled upon your blog. My husband is a war Vet (USMC) proud gun owner, and I myself own a few to boot. I grew up in a household with many guns, as my dad collects. By the time I was 10 I had taken hunters safety and was expected to know how to properly handle and even clean some guns. (this later aided in snagging said hubster) I plan to raise my kids the same. At the age of 3 my daughter knows that they are very dangerous and that they are not to be touched. We keep all firearms locked up, except the one that is way out of reach, but is kept for security purposes. I would have to say that I subscribe to the idea that guns kill people in the same respect that books make you stupid. Guns are dangerous when put in the wrong hands. Guns should ALWAYS be treated as loaded, and deadly. The second that someone becomes irresponsible ie; hands one to kid, flails around with one or attempts to "dry fire" without going through the proper procedures, is when tradegy happens. I realize that people lose those they love to gun accidents, but people dont sue car makers when someone dies in a car accident, right?
On the same note, if my daughter said she was at a friends house and saw a gun laying around, you better believe that I would have a serious problem with said parent. It would be the same thing if she told me that another parent said it was cool with them to not wear a seatbelt. I believe people fear what they dont understand. Some people have not been introduced to guns in a manner that is educational or comfortable to what they deem safe, I think thats where a lot of the problems arise. Overall, I thought your topic was awesome!

AC said...

miko- if i understand what you're saying, i don't disagree with your assessment of the issues, but what you describe sounds like a real chasm between extremes and little possibility of bridging the chasm in any practical way. i'm reluctant to rely on other people's common sense... how's that comprehensive gun-removal machine coming along?

steenky bee said...

First, let me just say that I was terrified when I saw that someone from "the fuzz" commented on my crime spree. I immediately went to unplug all my phones and lock my doors, but then I clicked on over and saw that you are a gun owner and I settled down a bit. I live in Utah. Guns are prevelant here. Often times gun owners are grouped into an unfair category. There are all shades of gray there. I don't post much about my husband's hunting or much about the gammit of gun owners in our extended family. People tend to paint others with a broad brush. Daring post. Great post. I'm glas you commented on me today. :) I'm thrilled to find you!

miko564 said...

Shan- Thanks for the comment! I agree. I think people who aren't around people with guns, assume they are all rednecks or crazies. When I tell people I am a gun-owner, they say, "Oh, but you're OK". It's like a racist who never met a black man, and when they do they think that ONE person is OK, but keep their racist beliefs...weird.

AC- Lol, not so good on the machine so far. Yeah, the gap is huge, but not trying to bridge it is only going to let everyone hold on to their extreme views one way or another.

Steenky- I'm honored to have you. You make me laugh, I even laughed at your profile. Oh, and I had the surveillance of your house called off...you're welcome.

steenky bee said...

Hey! Susie from down the street is posted on one of my Friday Five posts.

http://steenkybee.blogspot.com/2008/09/friday-five_4510.html

You'll get a kick out of my husband.

LiteralDan said...

I agree with you probably 95%. If there were easy answers for anything, what would we all talk about all the time?