Monday, 28 January 2013

An Addendum: On Gun Control

I know I've promised my readers here an article on the undead menace (don't worry it's coming) but recent readings and conversations have sparked the necessity of this addendum to my recent article on gun control. Part of it has been from the peculiar American reaction to the idea of a registry and part has been to criticism on how I myself did the article.

First off, I do not blame the United States for gun crime in Canada, I am fully aware that criminals will get access to guns somehow if they are sincerely determined. I am also fully aware just how large the border between our two nations is and just how difficult policing that border is on a regular basis. To clarify, I lay the access of easily obtainable firearms that avoid registration and legal checks on gun merchants operating inside the United States who can (and do) sell firearms to people who are less than angels. That these firearms then find there way to murder scenes in my own country is no one's surprise. My criticism is that by avoiding any sort of national gun registry or system of background checks it is all to easy to for criminals to buy a weapon and then send it across the border to Canada or Mexico. My charge is that this lack of standards merely enable simpler access to firearms for criminals on both a national and an international level in North America.

Secondly I am aware of how controversial the title 'Gun Control' is. However, I do see it as more than a registration of who owns a fire arm and maintain that the system that would be put in place is one which would seek to prevent firearms from falling into the hands of certain individuals who have criminal backgrounds or those who suffer from a mental disorder. To say that this is trying to keep weapons out of the hands of law abiding citiznes is pure madness.

Thirdly I make no apologies for wishing to see the access to semi-automatic rifles and large capacity magazines limited. Nor do I apologize for wishing to see access to military equipment restricted. As I have said, there is no plausible reason that these weapons could be needed in the hands of the average civilian.

However, to counter points by both members of the right, and members of the revolutionary left I add this. There is no chance of a revolution in the First World at any point in the coneceivable future, and barring events of unprecedented cataclysm or political upheaval, there will not be any scenario where forming militia groups would be necessary. The governments of the First World may be outdated and prone to crony capitalism, but there is nothing which would prevent a concentrated effort of the people from dramatically upseting the political balance of any nation in the First World. There is no tyrannical agency that seeks to stop political change and stifle free press. The multifaceted nature of modern politics, information transfer, and ideas merely acts as a natural buffer to all but the most wealthy of idealogues.

I would go into points on the futility of a modern insurgency inside the First World and how the majority of us who inhabit it want no part in organized violence against state actors in our own nations or against our fellow citizens, but that may be for another time, perhaps never. The modern age provides many examples and assets for conducting a peaceful and non-violent revolution.

This my friends is hopefully my final word on the gun control issue for some time.

Friday, 18 January 2013

On Gun Control

Well as promised in my general post I now come to the second piece of writing for the new year. That is of course something which follows up on another devastating tragedy, this time in the US where twenty-seven people were murdered in an outrageous shooting spree. The greater tragedy still is that many of these were children, young children barely above the age of six. Now while this is a tragedy this has predictably sparked yet another round of debate in the US about gun control.

In the right corner we have those who support the 2nd Ammendment (supposedly) and balk at any idea of gun control or regulation and insist on having the right to be armed at all times whenever and wherever they please.

In the left corner we have those who support the sweeping acts to be carried out by President Obama and wish for tighter regulation, even going so far as to enforce a national gun registry. Then there are those who wish to make many firearms illegal and even some who advocate UK style bans.

Now I myself have spoken on this issue at great length on previous occassions. Here though I will basically be stating my frank opinion of the idea of gun control and it's effects.

Like I've stated previously, I have no problem with the idea of gun control, zip, zero, nada. I think that a government must be able to regulate the type of weaponry that is available to its citizens, and how they can legally go about obtaining these weapons. Mind you most of the weapons I would restrict fall under the category of military grade weapons. For example here is what I see as a reasonable restriction on what a person can own.

No person should be able to own:
  • Grenades of any type (explosive, gas, smoke, ect)
  • Military grade combat armor (torso/legs I am however more leniant on helmets simply because they make wonderful collectables)
  • Rocket launchers or RPG's
  • Magazines above 10 rounds
  • Fully automatic assault rifles
  • Certain calibres of ammunition (such as .50 cal)
  • Sub-machine guns or machine pistols
Now of course there are other items that would be on that list but this really covers all the basics I believe.

Does any of this seem unreasonable? I personally do not think so. There are so few reasons people would need any of these items in their daily lives it boggles my mind to think people actively want to collect and maintain literal arsenals of deadly hardware. I've heard people describe them as tools, like hammers, but machine guns (unlike hammers) have the express purpose of killing people. That is not a tool that can be left unregulated.

The government should be able to ask a person for registration, permit, and license for a firearm that they own, and a person failing to provide such a permit should be able to have that firearm confiscated. I believe it is privilege for people to own weapons, not a right. A state must have the ability to be able to insert itself into a situation and not have it's own agents (such as police) outgunned by potential criminals, or in some cases would be 'patriots' who think they know better.

Now that being said I recognize that governemnts are not the perfect saintly figures in authority who know everything, hence why I believe that people have at least the right to the privilege of bearing arms. This means people may own weapons for self-defence, but this is a priviledge enshrined in law which can be taken away should it be abused. However, it is important to note I believe it is a privilege that someone is given by both the government and the governed in the trust they will use that firearm properly. If they abuse that privilege they will have it taken away. I believe in punishing an individual for his act and not a group as a whole. Furthermore if citizens come to the conclusion that certain types of weapons should be allowed to the public (eg specific calibres (below something as destructive as .50) of ammunition) then they should have the right to vote on such a thing. I believe that it is the people's responsibility to be aware of what is going on and if they feel a certain item is not dangerous (and vice versa) then they should be able to openly petition the government for laws and restrictions to be changed.

However, I also believe in direct democracy and as such currently view most governments as being primitive in the terms of technological progress today, so many of my ideas seem to be more difficult when placed in the sphere of current democratic forms.

However in the vein of governments, I do think that if a citizen is unwilling to pass a competency test with a firearm, get a license for that firearm, register that firearm with authorities, and renew his competency test every five or so years, then I do not think they are entitled to own it.

Though here I have to say one thing, many opponents of gun control who hear the words immediately hear the words 'gun confiscation' and scream bloody murder. Though might I add many of these also hear the words socialism and think communism and scream bloody murder.

They picture this weird image:

Yet they never consider this tragically true one:

The idea that more guns simply make society more dangerous and making them easily accessable merely helps criminals and delinquents seems foreign to them.

To add something from the most recent tragedy: the strict gun control laws in Conneticut worked and Adam Lanza was turned down from legally purchasing a firearm because of mental health issues, however he obtained his mother's semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and two pistols which were unsecured in her home and he had easy access to. Had this not been the case then it is certainly probable that Mr. Lanza never would have been able to carry out his shooting. The simple fact is that Conneticut's restrictive gun laws prevented Lanza from obtaining a weapon on his own, but the lack of any regulation requiring his mother to safely secure her own weapons allowed him access to them, and the end result was tragedy.

Had any such restrictions and laws been in place it is conceivable Lanza would not have been able to carry out this attack. However, as I have conceeded before, if Lanza was indeed determined to carry out this attack he most likely would have found a way to either a) legally obtain a weapon from another state or b) buy one on the black market.

I personally believe that the attack shows signs of being premeditated, but the weapons he ended up using were from convenience.

The fact is that unsafe weapons storage is to blame for this tragedy, not any failure of gun control laws and regulations. Does this mean I think weapons should be taken from all law-abiding citizens? No. Does this mean I think that there must be rules and regulations in place on who can buy weapons and how they should be stored? Of course! Depriving a responsible citizen of their weapons makes no sense to me, but the emphasis is on responsible. If a citizen is not going to use their weapon responsibly or be secretive about his aquisition of said weapon he has no business owning it.

However as others have pointed out there are a myriad of problems that must also be addressed before any sort of gun regulation can be implimented in America. States need to actually help inforce federal laws, make an effort to take a stand on closing ridiculous loopholes, and have a national consensus on why they are doing it. Simultaneously background checks and mental health regulations need to be enforced and actual mental health care needs to be accessable. Many of these people are legitimately sick and perhaps, just maybe, if they could get reasonable care they might be disuaded from acting upon their homicidal urges.

Speaking though as a foreigner and someone who lives in a nation with very little gun crime (and a fairly low violent crime rate in general) I am baffled by the nature of American views on weapons. I cannot understand how the right to own deadly weapons is not better regulated or its laws enforced. Cultural attitudes are different and important I understand, but many of the most rabid gun-nuts seem to sincerely believe that the idea of regulation and registry will lead to an outright ban. Speaking as one who lives in a country with some fairly strict gun laws and a registry, we haven't had our rights taken away, our guns aren't being confiscated, and if I so chose (which I probably will someday) I may go and purchase a weapon and have it in my house. Under careful lock and key of course.

The fact is that most of our gun problems are small, and can be pinned directly on the United States. Gangs operating in the cities will frequently simply cross the border and legally (or otherwise) obtain weapons from legitimate firearms dealers, or other gangs who are willing to sell to them. Stopping gun smuggling is actually a big concern of law enforcement here, and it's one we could probably see do much better if the US were willing to enact some substantial legislation of its own. Now that's not to say that if all the guns in the US suddenly disapeared Canada would have no gun crime (although it would drop ridiculously) I do maintain that Canada will have issues with certain weapons (mostly handguns) as long as standards south of the border are lax and allow an easy transfer of illegal weapons north.

I believe that gun control and regulation is important, and essential part of any safe society. I agree that being armed can be a good thing, but that those arms without responsibility and regulation will not protect you.

Those are my two cents for now dear readers, and I hope it's been worthwhile for you.