Tag Archives: background checks

Bang, Bang

I was reading The Economist a few days ago (this is actually a longer process than it takes for the next issue to arrive, so I’m always behind, and usually end up not making it all the way to the latest doings in Zimbabwe), and saw an interesting juxtaposition of articles. The first was (of course) bemoaning the cowboy mentality of Americans who will simply insist on owning guns.

The second was how awful and dire things are in Syria these days. The second article did not mention the first, and the first took no notice of the second. It is, of course, possible that the writers are so busy penning their missives that they don’t have the time to check out all of the other submissions each week, but come on, now, really. Proofreading really ought to be something more than checking for misspelled words. Ideas put out by the editors of a publication ought to have some sense of cohesiveness, as well.

At least the author of the anti-NRA article has finally gotten past the conceit that it is hunters with lousy aim who greatly desire the ability to bring down Bambi with their AK-47 wanna-be’s. At least, the current supposed rationale for owning weapons is now self-defense against the bad guys roaming the streets and occasionally investing in a random home invasion or two.

But the citizenry arming themselves against their government? That is still as outré as it gets. (Flip forward 15 pages to the rebels in Syria, who everyone agrees should be armed to the teeth). So far, since no one has even deigned to address the issue, no one has satisfactorily explained to me why Americans need never fear that their government may one day become too overbearing (after all, isn’t that how we were born in the first place?) When the issue is raised by some gun-totin,’ lip-smackin’ gob-stopper of a redneck, the inevitable response is derisive laughter.

I’m all for a good laugh myself, but derision does not, in the end analysis, a cogent argument make. I’m all ears, here. Would someone please explain to me, in plain English of three or fewer syllables, why it is that Americans, of all people on the planet, need not fear that their government will ever get too big for its britches? Because it sure seems headed in that general direction already, what with the “We must do something” mentality that is so prevalent today.

Those people advocating for background checks are side-stepping the fact that background checks would have had no effect on the latest round of shootings that this country has had to endure. All that background checks do is keep criminals out of gun shops—and I’ll just bet that most criminals don’t get their weapons by going through proper channels, anyway. Hence the appellation. If you’re going to use a weapon to commit a crime, why in the world would you go out of your way to make sure that the purchase of that weapon has been properly documented? And if you think that background checks keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, just what, exactly, is your take on the latest statistics on illegal drug use?

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Politics

Another View of the Second Amendment

I certainly do not want to make light of the tragedies that have happened at schools and elsewhere lately. But I can’t believe that our best solution is to have Joe Biden and other sit in a room and deliberate. For a number of reasons.

So far, the solutions seem to be do a background check before people can buy guns, restrict the ability of people to acquire assault-looking weapons, install police at schools, and create an atmosphere where law-abiding citizens won’t want to own weapons. Have I just about covered it, or have I missed the retread of a worn-out idea?

As far as I can tell, doing background checks on people who want to buy weapons, who then pass the checks and are allowed to purchase those weapons, but then have those weapons stolen from them and used in a crime, really does not accomplish the goal of not having that crime committed with a weapon. The only thing background checks accomplish is not allowing people to purchase weapons legally. Criminals, the people who would fail a background check, apparently do not feel terribly constrained by the law, and are the just the sort of people who would be willing to violate another law in order to obtain the weapons they want. How about we think up some totally new solutions that might actually have some effect on the results, that will buy us some time to figure out what the problem is in the first place.

Here’s a thought: instead of installing police at schools, malls, or wherever, install revolving doors. I had never considered it before I saw a program on Modern Marvels or such-like, but revolving doors keep people out, if you don’t want them in. Install sensors, and the door will not continue on its path if what you are carrying is not on the approved list of items allowed in that place. It will, instead, push you back out, or hold you until the appropriate authorities arrive. It’s automatic, effective, and it doesn’t require human intervention and escalation of the problem.

With all of the talk and the hullabaloo that, in the end analysis, does not solve the actual problem of how to keep people from getting killed, it almost seems as though the powers-that-be have another agenda in mind. Why is not their first suggestion to teach people to defend themselves? There is no greater threat to a potential lawbreaker than a victim who will fight back effectively. Yet, this simple idea is never even floated, let alone acted on.

I can think of only one reason that this occurs: the powers-that-be do not want people to be in the habit of defending themselves, and their rights. The powers-that-be want citizens to always look to their government as the first, and only, line of defense. That way, more incidents require more intervention and more regulation.

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

We’ve all seen those words, time and again. Discussed their meaning, argued their import. But I heard a new interpretation the other day, one that makes more sense to me than any other. The drafters of the Constitution had just survived a terrible war against their Sovereign, one in which they were always the underdogs, were given little chance of success. They had attempted to set up a weak federal government, to hold together their confederation of states, but that hadn’t worked.

Now they were faced with having to increase the power of the federal government, vis-a-vis those sovereign states. They had just divested themselves of a overweening sovereign—they were in no mood to install another. They must have been very loathe to invest the government with much power, as can be seen by the system of checks and balances that thread through each section of the Constitution. Under this (new to me) interpretation, the Second Amendment is yet another check on the power of the federal government:

Since we, the United States, must defend ourselves against foreign powers that would crush us and take us over if they could, we must have a standing army, or militia. Knowing the tendency of government to increase its power at the expense of its citizens’ rights, we therefore acknowledge each citizen’s right to arm himself, a right that comes not from government, but is a natural right of each human being to protect himself. This right of the citizens to keep and bear Arms operates to inhibit the tendency of those in power to try to over-extend their reach. The power of militia is thereby checked by citizens’ ability to protect themselves.

The Founding Fathers merely condensed that sentiment into one sentence.

Under this interpretation, the citizens are not armed so that they can be a part of a militia. They are not told that they can stand down, and give up their weapons, now that a standing army has been ordained. The armed citizens are instead the keepers of the militia—the restraint that keeps the army in line. Under this scenario, the citizens do not look to the powers-that-be for protection. They protect themselves from the powers-that-be, and in doing so, have the opportunity to also protect themselves from criminals.


Filed under Critical Thinking, Politics