The victims of the recent shooting incidents in Colorado and Wisconsin, and their families, have my sincerest sympathies and prayers. Tragedies like this leave us shaken, thinking that could have been me or my family. An understandable reaction.
Im sure many of us would like to stick around for a very long time, yet we all have to go at some point, and none of us knows when. Theres a country song titled Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (but nobody wants to go now). This not wanting to go might be at least partially responsible for the national outcry for gun control every time there is a mass shooting incident. I believe the suddenness, and sheer violence, of gun fire is also causing part of the reaction. A sort of recoil, if you will.
I say this because, from a strictly statistical point of view, the numbers of firearm-related injuries and fatalities pale in comparison to most every other category where lives are lost. The actual numbers arent as important here as just a common sense approach to considering them. For example, the number of people injured or killed in all manner of transportation accidents far out-number gun related deaths. Then there are the multitudes of disease-related deaths and medical malpractice deaths. Also, using Colorado as an example shows, it is not just the number (12) of people killed, but the way they were killed that starts the gun restriction ball rolling.
Interestingly, some of the same folks who normally abhor Federal regulations of any type, now suddenly, want Federal regulation. And, if guns are to be more tightly regulated, shouldnt the states be doing it?
Besides, Federal regulation has only had limited success in cases such as Prohibition, seat belt usage, impaired driving (alcohol and drugs), and cell phone usage while driving. The fact is you can regulate all you want, but there will always be plenty of people willing to ignore the laws including overly restrictive firearm laws.
Lets look at the crime aspect of this subject. The statistics regarding homicides show the preponderance of them are committed with a firearm (no surprise there) and then knives, blunt objects and other, respectively. Im assuming explosives and poisons, as well as vehicular homicide, would be in the last category.
The point is, a certain element of persons in our society will be intent on killing either an individual or multiple people, and no regulation is going to stand in their way. On top of being a mass murderer, the perpetrator will also be violating Section 3.14159 of a fictitious penal code, which clearly forbids carrying a firearm, knife, bomb or poison. Its not likely they care.
My guess is that if you were to deduct all homicides by firearms which were drug or other crime related, the numbers would look much different. Why does that matter? Most of us havent shed a tear over the loss of a person who was either buying or selling drugs or committing a robbery or some other criminal act. If one innocent person gets shot and killed in the process, there may be a little local news coverage, but it doesnt illicit the outcry for major gun control like a mass shooting does.
Let me be clear, Im not saying we shouldnt discuss the reasonable regulation of our firearms we should. However, you dont have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know the definition of reasonable varies greatly depending on your particular side of the fence. With one side wanting essentially a complete gun ban, and the other wanting no restrictions at all, there is a huge divide which will be difficult to cross.
I understand the gun owners not wanting to discuss regulation, because they suspect, and are probably correct, once the armor is chinked, the dam is cracked, or the camel gets its nose under the tent, theres no stopping it. If you doubt that to be true, take a look at legalized abortions. Roe v. Wade was decided by SCOTUS in 1973 and has been gutted by increasing regulation by inches ever since, with the express intent of doing away with them entirely. Gun owners are not ignorant of that fact. Again, as an interesting side note, Id be willing to bet the vast majority of gun owners are also anti-abortion. If so, they want Federal regulation on one hand and not on the other. A bit of a dichotomy, no?
For decades I supported gun control and voted for legislators who felt the same way. Less than a year ago, and after much deliberation, I changed my opinion. In the last year, I purchased a couple of guns, have taken numerous classes, practiced endlessly, and obtained my concealed carry permit from a state other than Maryland. I am a responsible firearm owner and, where allowed, carrier.
It was not a single incident which finally pushed me across the line, but merely watching, reading and listening to the everyday news. Crime has changed in America and is now, not only rampant, but extremely violent. It seems the people committing these crimes will stop at nothing to get what they want, and they put no value on human life.
I also realized there was far too much crime and too few police officers to adequately protect the public in a timely manner. The closet police officers in Aurora Colorado were two blocks away!
It became obvious, in most cases, if we are to be protected from a personal attack, we will have to be prepared to do it ourselves. The police are simply outnumbered.
The most enlightening and pleasant surprise to me about entering the gun community, was the people. Yes, of course there are zealots, but for the most part, the people in the gun community are everyday citizens like you and me. In fact, if you didn't personally know someone was involved with guns, you're not likely to suspect it through their actions. Additionally, I have never seen a group so concerned about safety. Every day, all the time, with no let up - it's very comforting.
In my opinion, the facts will support the claim that where guns are allowed to be carried, serious crime goes down. It makes sense if you think about it. If you were going to rob a convenience store, would you rob the one with the police car outside? Not likely. Its the same philosophy with citizens carrying guns. If you think the clerk, or the customer next to you, might be armed, you might choose to go elsewhere. Without belaboring the point, most everything I previously thought about the gun community was wrong.
I have been a firefighter and EMT for decades. I'm a husband, father and grandfather, and I'm a responsible, law-abiding citizen. Allowing me to carry a firearm not only allows me, should it be needed, to protect myself, but my family and the community at large. Finally, I believe firearm ownership, and particularly concealed carry, actually makes you a better, more responsible citizen we cant afford to be otherwise.
Thats my opinion, whats yours?
Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.