Gun Control? …Just Thinking Some

With the most recent mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut added to the list of other massacres involving guns, talk of gun control is all the rage right now.  President Obama has pledged to offer a proposal on gun violence by January with the help of a group led by Vice President Joe Biden.  What comes of that, if anything, remains to be seen.  (Note: I wrote this without any editing, so it is just some thinking out loud…please read it as such.)

I want to go on record that I do not support the wholesale ban on the ownership of all fire-arms.  In fairness, I do own a few rifles/shotguns which I have hunted with in the past.  And even though I am not much of a hunter, I respect those who do like to regularly hunt.  Further more, even though I do not feel any need to carry a gun for personal protection, I respect the choice of those who do so long as they do so according to local, state, and federal laws.

Having said that, I would like to see some changes to the laws regarding guns.  But these changes would not prohibit the ownership but more so regulate the operation of fire-arms much like states regulate the use of vehicles.  Some might object with the tired reasoning that “guns don’t kill, people do.”  That is true and it is also true of vehicles too  Cars don’t kill, the people who drive them do and that is why the operation of vehicles are regulated in all fifty states.

Currently, the to operate a vehicle, a drive must have obtained a state issued driver’s license that requires the applicant to be of a legal age, to successfully complete a state certified instruction and the successful passage of both a written and driving test.  Once a drive has obtained a state-issued license, to legally operate a vehicle, a driver must have the vehicle properly registered and insured.  And I might be wrong on this part but I don’t think any auto dealership will allow an unlicensed/uninsured driver to take a vehicle off of the lot (though that can easily be circumvented).  Additionally, certain types of vehicles remain illegal for drivers to legally operate without additional licensure.  For example, I have a motorcycle endorsement on my license which allows me to legally operate a motorcycle.  Yet, unlike my older brother, I cannot legally operate a tractor-trailer because I do not have a “class A” driver’s license.

Although I am sure there are some angles and issues I have not thought of and considered, it seems like society could regulate the use of fire-arms in a similar manner.  To begin with, a person would have to be of a certain age to legally obtain a “gun license” and to legally obtain that, they would be required to complete state certified instruction and pass both a written and field test.  Insurance would also be a requirement, that way any monetary damages do not become the burden of those affected by any incident.

Further more, I am supportive of measures to severely restrict who can legally own assault rifles (e.g., AR-15) along with high-volume magazines.

I am not under any illusion that better regulation will prevent all gun related crimes from happening or any other mass-shootings from occurring.  However, surely better regulation will save some tragic incidents, accidental or intentional, from happening.  It has worked with automobiles (and I do not know of any sane person who would argue against state regulation of automobile operation) and so it would seem that it would work with guns as well.

Maybe I am wrong but this seems fair, both to those who desire to own fire-arms and those who want the government to do more to prevent gun related tragedies from happening.  I know there are many other issues that contribute to mass-shootings and other gun-related tragedies and I don’t mean to ignore those or pretend that guns are solely to blame (for they surely are not).  Further more, I have tried to be fair-minded with this “thinking out loud” post but I would love to hear what others think…just keep your replies civil please.

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21 responses to “Gun Control? …Just Thinking Some

  1. I share your sentiments. I don’t see any problem with requiring registration and even training. For something that can aid in inflicting so much damage–responsibility should be a given, but sadly it often is not.

  2. Guns already are regulated….you already do have to be a certain age…get fbi approval…..can’t carry concealed without a permit……and so on.
    Its a political opportunity for some and a question of how much more they should or should not be regulated. Where would the line be drawn on reasonable regulation? If that were clear more would support certain regulations. Besides most criminals do not use their own legal guns…the most recent ones did….but what if law abiding citizens carried guns in movie theaters…teachers and principals carries…….then when the law breaker came in the outcome would be different. So why arent government leaders calling for that?

    • James,

      I’m not sure if you read what I wrote or not because I never even suggested banning guns. However, I can assure you that there is no licensing system, as I’m suggesting, in place as of now and there is no age requirement to use a gun in most, if not all, states.

      As for whether society would be more safe with more well-armed citizens, that assumes a lot to say that such armed citizens could safely stop an assailant without adding to the carnage.

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

  3. Rex,

    I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with the current laws on the books. There are already laws on the books for some of these things. Some are federal and some vary by state. One other thing that is getting missed here is the beauty of state’s rights. If you don’t like the laws in one state (say you think they are too lenient) you can go to another state where they are more strict. For instance, California has already banned all the things you are talking about.

    • Matt,

      Tell me which state requires an individual to be 1) of a certain age in order to obtain a state-issued license after the successful completion of an instructional course and the passing of both a written and field test and 2) have insurance coverage before they can legally use a firearm? That is the basic of what I am suggesting (which is similar to how states regulate the operation of motor vehicles) and to my knowledge there is not one state which has such requirements.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

      P.S., Many states require a minimal safety course to obtain a hunting license but I am going broader to suggest that states should require a license to even use a gun.

  4. Even with all the licensing and registration, there are still vehicle accidents including some major ones with buses full of kids. These are perhaps more commonplace so we don’t get as worked up about them nationally. Bad stuff happens because of sin and accidents. We can do more certainly to make our world safer and perhaps that includes more regulation around fire arms, but to think that solves the problem is politics not practicality.

    • Matt,

      I agree. There is no amount of legislation that will end all tragedies. And guns are not the only problem with the acts of violence happening in our world. We are sinful people and for some people that means they feel it is ok to inflict violence upon others.

      Thanks for coming by the blog and commenting.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  5. If the Constitution said “shall not be banned,” this line of reasoning would be more effective. Since it says “infringed” rather than “banned,” though, I think there’s a solid constructionist argument to be made against this line of reasoning. Furthermore, as the Founders made clear elsewhere, part of the purpose of civilian militia is as a check/balance against overzealous expansion of federal government power (expansions like the Patriot Act, et al).

    It is because of this aspect of the 2nd Amendment that there has not been more dissent against the Patriot Act. Handing the government a list of where all the weapons are is a great way to completely undercut this aspect of the ability to resist tyranny (speaking from an American POV).

  6. States that require a license:
    Hawaii
    Illinois
    New York (Handguns only)

    States that require insurance? None that I know of. Have a look here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_(by_state)

    • Thank you. Then maybe this is a way to bring some resolution. I don’t know but what I do know is that the conversation must come from moderate voices rather than the extremes who want to either abolish all guns or arm every citizen like we are living in the wild, wild, west. Hopefully, and regardless of how much you agree or disagree, I come across as a moderate voice.

  7. Should have included, the states that require a license also require a test – http://smartgunlaws.org/licensing-of-gun-owners-purchasers-policy-summary/ and, of course (as in all states) a background check. So yes, some of these things are already on the books in some places.

  8. One thing I want to talk about more at some point is the intent of the 2nd amendment. Gun ownership is not the intent of the 2nd amendment. The right to bear arms is a means, not an end. The end is an armed civilian militia that can keep a federal army in check. In fact, the 2nd amendment REQUIRES a “well-regulated militia.” Nobody is talking about that at all. I think civilian armies became somewhat unpopular after the civil war if I were to guess.

    • That’s an interesting point that I’ve never given any thought to but it makes sense. Would today’s version of a militia that the 2nd amendment speaks of be something like the state army-guard and air-guard?

    • Well said Jordan. I should have finished reading the comments, particularly yours, before I made my very loooong one! But that is the point I was trying to make!

  9. I really appreciate the civility of everyone here! Its encouraging!

    Well said bro. And I agree and I am an avid duck, dove and quail hunter. I am also looking forward to turkey season.

    As far as regs, they do exist but with very little enforcement mechanisms and measures. Though one may be able to find the laws on the books, one cannot find check-point measures or actionable measures listed to these laws that enforce them. At least I could not, but of course I am no law scholar or attorney. I’ve only stayed in a Holiday Inn Express a few times. I also live in a Commonwealth and our state laws are quite different from others. Either way it seems to me that though there are laws in place, the lack of enforcement mechanisms have been a problem for several years, even post The Brady Bill.

    And as far as the second amendment is concerned, I have a very sincere observation that confounds me. I hear a lot about the second half of the ammendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringe.” But we hear very little about the first half: “A WELL REGULATED Militia, being NECESSARY to the security of a free State…” [all caps not because I am taking a tone but because I do cannot use italics for emphasis]. The language sounds like a little subjective language to me, perhaps to keep this law in a more dynamic posture as opposed to a static posture.(?) Who determins how well “well regulated” really is? And who determins what is “necessary?” Either way, it seems important to note that the word “regulated” is there. No one seems to be talking about this so as a gun owner and hunter, I figured I would. Instead, it seems folk are only talking about “rights” being “infringed” upon. It seems to me that this ammendment gives the people (or government, however one debates it) an opportunity to determine just what “well regulated” and necessary could mean. Perhaps this is the wisdom of the founding fathers? The same could be said for the portion that speaks to “being necessary to the security of the State.” “Security of the state.” Think about this. Who constitutes as “the state?” The people? The future and well-being of the people? Or maybe the better question is, what measures make a state secure? And if we think the current measures have, do 31 massacres since 1984 (or 1981 I cannot remember at the moment) make things secure? Perhaps a little contextualization of the times are in order since the 2nd ammendment seems to be a dynamic provision (given its terms) and not a static provision (which is what many seem to belive it is)? Alas, the room for interpretation is what seems to trouble. Everyone, including myself, has one. And I, by far, am not nearly as well-studied as the attornies arguing this stuff! But I just thought I would throw this out on the table because I have sincerely wondered why no one is talking about the 1st half of the ammendment as much, if at all.

    Finally, this was written by NRA member Ronald Reagan in 1991. Thought we could let him enter into the discussion. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/29/opinion/why-i-m-for-the-brady-bill.html

    • Fred,

      Between your comment and Jordan’s, I have really benefitted from reading the takes on the 2nd Amendment. It brought some points up I had never thought of before. I also read the article you linked to and wonder if the Brady Law is still in effect and/or is it strictly enforced. According to this article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18170761/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/unremarkable-sale-gun-student-killer/#.UNPJVW_IKrg), the assailant on the campus of Virginia Tech purchases and walked out with his hand-gun on the same day.

      That article was brought to my attention in another Facebook group but when I read it, I thought that it ought to raise at least a few concerns when a young adult who is still in college is going to go into further debt by using a credit-card to purchases a hand gun. But then again, I have the benefit of hind-sight.

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  10. Not sure how many of you follow the Jesus Creed blog, but yesterday Scot McKnight posted a book mini-review relating to a theology of gun control. The post has elicited over 70 comments and an interesting discussion on the topic. I encourage you all to take a look:
    http://tinyurl.com/cqjojzd

    Since it’s germaine to the conversation here, I’d like to re-post my comments from that blog discussion:

    The reason why disciples of Jesus should be leading this conversation is that we, of all people, are called to embody and witness to a sentiment that says “I may have the right to ____, but I give up that right for the good of my neighbor” (and collectively, many neighbors = “society”). This is the essence of the gospel, through and through, and it is what the world needs to see and hear. That’s what we are about to celebrate next Tuesday, right?

    According to Scot, Atwood’s thesis is that “the way forward in gun violence and the way forward against the Gun Empire is to motivate and mobilize the church, the community of faith, to act on its faith.”

    In reading through the comments [on Jesus Creed blog], I noticed there is not much offering for what it looks like when the church “mobilizes.” In other words, what does all this discussion look like practically? I would hope a forum like this could be a way for disciples to come together to vision on what it looks like to bring the gospel into this sorely needed issue. For the world needs to see “good news”, not caustic debate, in the aftermath of last week’s atrocity.

    My thoughts are that while it would be somewhat expected for pacifists to be speaking out & acting on this issue, the real power in this discussion lies in the hands of you all who are gun-rights proponents. But it is a power that is found in giving up power, paradoxically.

    I can’t help but imagine (with hope) what it would look like for a mass movement of disciples who are hunters, gun enthusiasts, etc. to march on Washington and – instead of demanding control of gun rights – to lay down your firearms at the seat of power and say “we know it is our right to have these, but we give up that right in the name of King Jesus, who asks us to love others before self, and in the name of justice for the innocent who have lost their lives.” Imagine the discussions (and the legislation) that could come from that. If you want a concrete example of what it looks like to mobilize and subvert the Empire of Violence and Power, there you go. Any takers?

    • Ray,

      Thank you for your comment. I would not describe myself as a gun enthusiast, although I do own some rifles/shot-guns. I am for greater regulations on guns and very strict regulations on assault weapons and the accessories to those type of guns. And I do think this is a place where Christians should be taking the Philippians 2 attitude of Jesus that says “I have the right to _______ but I give up that right for the sake of society.”

      Grace and Peace,

      Rex

  11. Pingback: Violence: The Christian Response | Kingdom Seeking

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