Controlling the Trigger Finger and the Gun Hammer: Regarding the Gun Control Debate

Well, the problem with addressing the issue of gun control—beyond the slippery and tangled Second Amendment issue—is that criminals do not generally acquire their firearms according to legal methods. Even when acquiring guns through legal methods there is a background check required, and depending on where you are buying your gun the Federal and State regulation may find you waiting anywhere from minutes to days to collect your munitions. The FBI via the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) does a fairly wide check across a variety of domains and specifications including criminal history, addiction history, and mental illness history. The Brady Bill is good legislation and does a reasonable job of making sure that legally procured firearms are limited in their proliferation to dangerous individuals.

The question raised by the baristas and my friends is then not tempered by knowledge or even deference of the Brady Bill : “When are they going to make it so that just anyone can’t walk into a store and buy a gun?” Well, not just anyone can go into a store and buy a gun. There is a system in place to make sure that previous offenders and people with a general slant towards committing these kinds of crimes cannot legally obtain a gun, or are at least presented with a series of obstacles. It is difficult to annul a piece of the American character as the right to bear arms—it is very much part of our character, and our image: the gun toting roughshod cowboys, sauntering about solving our issues at high noon in the middle of the street. The validity of this image is evidenced by the question raised by the Canadian Baristas with whom I was conversing. Regardless of the truthfulness of the American need for firearms or a Second Amendment, today it is a Constitutional truth that has a deep seeded hold on the entirety of our civil liberties and rights. For many Americans the right to bear arms is the linchpin which provides the people with the ability to forcibly hold the government to its promises (whether or not this is the reason for its addition to the Bill of Rights or not, this is how it is viewed, especially by conservatives).

The question of gun control also does not address the issue of illegal guns. I don’t honestly don’t know if the gun used in the massacre by the shooter(s) was legally obtained or not but it doesn’t matter. Guns that are filed, or sold hot, or taken second hand are the guns of concern because of their ability to be traced. The heart of the problem is in illegal gun trading over the existence of guns in general. In fact, I truly do believe that if legally obtained guns where harder to obtain it would actually make illegal guns not only more ubiquitous than they are currently, but would also make these guns that much more frightening because those who would conceal and carry legally would be fewer and further between. Rest assured that while massacres like these are tragedies the larger problem of gun control in this country is tied to theft, robbery, and drug related activities—and drug dealers are not terribly keen on buying their guns legally as that defeats the purpose of being a criminal in the first place.

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