This is a subject that I have held back on for fear of making it the defining issue of this site. But I think a few words are in order here.
Very few things today are as polarizing as the issue of gun control. Extremist nut jobs on the right like Mike Huckabee would have you believe that the “gubment” is out to get all of your guns to create a Nazi like dictatorship by requiring universal background checks and stricter control of gun sales in shows and by individuals. Of course it’s all bullshit. Hitler actually relaxed gun control laws for political favorites. People such as Nazi party members were exempt from any restrictions while jews and other persecuted classes were barred from any gun ownership whatsoever. A fact that says more about a party system’s tendency to create conflict, leading one side to demonize the other. And what extremists do with ultimate power than the effects of gun control. The reality is that some gun control makes sense, some doesn’t. And if gun advocates want to keep their fundamental right to keep and bear arms, as a society we need responsible rules for the purchase, storage, and re-sale of firearms. The NRA’s position of no compromise is as irresponsible as it is foolish.
That’s not to say I don’t take issue with many proposals from the left. With a population of over 300 million people and some 3 to 6 million “assault style” weapons in the hands of law abiding citizens there were 323 murders by rifles of any type. And while good numbers are hard to come by, common sense will tell you that a good number of those murders were committed with weapons not in consideration of a ban. Mr. Obama has stated that if we can save one life with an assault weapons ban or a ban on “high capacity” magazines it’s worth it. But while I’m all for saving one life, I would much rather focus our political will on solutions that will save the most lives with the least impact on law abiding citizens. And I’m sorry Mr. Biden, but your ridiculous suggestion for the use of a shotgun as an alternative to an AR15 is monumentally stupid.
None of this is to suggest that we can’t put some restrictions on the sale and purchase of “assault style weapons such as the AR15. Perhaps as a new class of weapon below class 3 but more restricted than standard hunting rifles. (although tighter background checks for all weapons might make this un-necessary) They should probably also be banned from sale by multi-product stores such as Walmart and restricted to sales by certified gun dealers. As anyone with any experience in marketing knows, the more a product is seen by the general public, the more that product sells. And while I support the ownership of such weapons, I don’t believe we should encourage their sale as an impulse item.
I try to imagine a workable set of rules for ammunition capacity but the best I can come up with is a ten round limit (this is the new average for “low” capacity mags) with 30 round mags classified as Class 3. But that would require a massive retrofit of hundreds of millions of magazines “in the wild” now. And such a move would be completely un-enforceable except retroactively should someone be caught with a banned capacity mag. If you want to ban “high capacity mags, start with 50 and 100 rounds. Those are the true high capacity magazines. And I just don’t buy the argument that restricting magazine capacity to 10 rounds will save many lives. The nature of a gun magazine is that they can be changed *very* rapidly, negating the impact of enforcing lower capacity mags.
The bulk of changes and IMO the most effective still comes down to tighter background checks and tough laws for the storage and availability of weapons, along with greater availability of mental health services for those families who cannot afford them now.
I would also call on the NRA to provide better training and information as a way to avoid much stricter rules and regulations. From my experience taking an “approved” NRA handgun safety class, I believe they can do a lot more to stress safe storage, responsible use, and restriction of access by people who may have mental health issues within a gun owning household (a subject that is not currently covered at all). The NRA needs to put more emphasis on the kind of gun education and training that will reduce senseless firearm deaths and less on demonizing the president for listening to American citizens who are demanding better gun control.
The bottom line is that if we want to save lives AND protect our liberties, lets find a compromise that we can all live with.