In typical Results With Reason style, we’ll start with a hoped-for common goal: Barring the sale of firearms to (and confiscating from) those who have shown tendencies, red flags, that might indicate they would abuse guns, while still allowing law-abiding citizens to enjoy the safe use of well-defined firearms.
We are not starting from scratch; we have thousands–tens of thousands–of gun control laws on the book. Step one is to better enforce the laws we have now. More attention to individuals waving red flags needs to be supplemented with better intra-governmental agency cooperation and far better use of government technology. We know from experience that many DMVs do not enforce the legal requirement that drivers carry liability insurance, which is why most of us must carry uninsured motorist insurance. It is easy to show proof of insurance when initially needed, then cancel it. The computers with that information are not used to follow-up. Similarly, most of those who are in the US illegally simply have overstayed their visas. And unlike those those who tiptoed across the border, visa applicants are in the government’s computers.
Let’s start our discussion by addressing the gun ban and confiscation that some are calling for (and others want but are not yet ready to speak up honestly). Calling for “gun free zones” is an example of the latter. Having gun free zones in a country with as many guns as people is exactly like having no-peeing zones in a public swimming pool. The folks running those pools know that is impossible, so they don’t allow urinating at all. With the exception of the truly naive, people calling for gun free zones in the US know they must fail, and eventually will have the opportunity to demand the total gun ban they wanted all along.
Other folks, equally wrong both strategically and tactically, want to toss out all of the nation’s illegal immigrants (like gun confiscation), with no more allowed in (like a gun ban). Those who hope to ban and confiscate guns are as wrong morally, strategically and tactically as those who want to ban immigration and toss out all illegals.
Now, let’s look at what we learned–if anything–from Prohibition–the alcohol ban. In 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcohol. Those in favor of the ban called alcohol, “America’s National Curse.” (Sound familiar?) The results was that people still drank, but instead of buying alcohol at local restaurants and shops, they bought it from gangsters. Like Al Capone and his thugs. Businesses suffered and collapsed; crime soared. And people still drank. Recognizing that the cure was far worse than the disease, the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition; the only time in our history that an Amendment has been repealed. Let’s learn from history, not repeat it.
Let’s remember, as we talked about in an earlier podcast, gun control, like immediately stronger school safety (the best way of stopping the next shooter), are both, correctly and necessarily, dealing with the symptoms of what we are facing, not the underlying cause. We will deal with that cause together in an upcoming podcast. For now, dealing with the symptoms is designed to keep the patient comfortable, and, in this case, alive until we can identify and deal with the root causes.
Some specifics: “Ban AR-15s.” OK, let’s look at that. BTW, AR does not stand for automatic rifle; it stands for Armalite, the original manufacturer. It is a small caliber, high-velocity, semi-automatic rifle. It is the semi-automatic version of the military M-16 which is capable of fully automatic fire. The “fully automatic” part is what makes the M-16 a military weapon.
Pause for a definition of semi-automatic: “able to fire repeatedly through an automatic reloading process but requiring release and another pressure of the trigger for each successive shot.” Merriam-Webster.
If we are looking at banning the AR because it is a semi-automatic rifle, then let’s look at banning the 9mm Glock 19, likely the most popular higher-caliber handgun in the US. Powerful and lethal, it is carried by our military, and endorsed by many law enforcement agencies and officers. The most popular magazine (ammo holder) for this Glock holds 13 rounds. It would be cheaper and easier to buy and conceal two Glock 19s and multiple easy-to-change magazines than to buy and conceal an AR. And in close quarter shootings like the school in Parkland, it is every bit as effective–if not more so–as the nastier looking AR. I suspect that many who are looking at banning the AR will be after semi-auto pistols next. The key point I want to make here is to be honest about what we want in the end. If you want a gun ban/confiscation, stand up and say so. And tell us how to go about that successfully. If you want a ban on all semi-auto firearms, well, same thing. Be honest. Have a plan. Passion and emotions without honesty and a plan is destructive frenzy.
Oh, yes, Q. “Who needs an AR in the first place?” A. Very few. But that is intentionally the wrong question. Let’s try these need-based questions to illustrate this point: “Who needs a 300-hp car?” “What family of 3 needs a 2,500 sq. ft. home?” “Who needs a vacation home?” “Who needs to go to the movies?” Our society cannot–must not–allow or disallow products or actions based on perceived need. The test should be what things, products and activities, people can handle safely and responsibly. And remember Prohibition. Restricting a whole society to stop the damage done by a few is wrong and destructive.
Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.