Hopefully Moving the Gun Control Debate

  1. Warning: This is a long post!

    A thread about the killings at the nursing school in Arizona has turned into a debate on gun control. I'm not sure that's the best place for this debate, so I'm starting this thread. I don't want to be seen as picking on SuzyK, because she and I agree on most topics. In fact, most of our disagreements are more on the order of degrees of difference, rather than outright full blown disagreement. However, in another thread, we were discussing limits to gun ownership. The question essentially was do private citizens need to own military firearms, like the M-16. If so, should there be limits? Should citizens be able to own machine guns, should they be able to own any weapon they can afford? So, to continue that discussion here, allow me to quote from Suzy's last post:

    Originally posted by Susy K
    Let's look at this rationally. How many people, can afford, and get a hold of, and know someone who, can get them nuclear weapons, without breaking laws?

    What difference does it make that I own a glock .45 or a M-60? If I am a rational, law abiding citizen, it doesn't impact you at all, does it?
    First, Suzy, lets be sure that we are talking about the same thing. An M-60 is a 7.62 crew served machine gun. Do not let the "crew served" fool you, though. It can be effectively operated by a single person, and I and most military veterans have done so. In the military, it comes with two barrels, because the sustained rate of fire is so high that the barrel can within minutes become hot enough to warp. Something on the order of 600 rounds per minute. Are you saying this should be an OK weapon for a private citizen to own? If so, where do we draw the line? Or do we draw a line?

    I have, since I was a little kid, been fascinated by airplanes, particularly military aircraft. I love them. Near where I currently live, there is a private firm that restores old military aircraft (usually jet fighters and fighter-bombers) and sells them as toys to the very rich. I repeat, VERY rich. These aircraft cost in the millions to own. I spoke with the owner of the firm, and the aircraft cost on the order of $1000 an hour in fuel to fly. And the guy who owns this firm isn't losing any money. He cannot keep up with demand. The most common aircraft he currently sells is the A-4 Skyhawk, a Vietnam era fighter-bomber that is highly maneuverable, and from what I am told, plain old fun to fly. When he restores one of these aircraft, it is inspected before delivery by the government to ensure that the weapons delivery capabilities of the aircraft have been removed. If external fuel tanks are on the aircraft, they cannot be "drop tanks." By the way, I have no problem whatsoever with the purchase of these aircraft. They are unarmed, and frankly, if I had the money, I'd own one. TOO COOL.

    But, should the people buying these aircraft, owing to their right to keep an bear arms, be able to buy these aircraft in a fully operational state? Should they be able to buy the munitions made for these aircraft? How would you feel about these folks being able to buy and drop 500 pound bombs on their own private property, just to "keep sharp?" And how about flying these aircraft loaded over other people's property? Or over populated areas? Rest assured, if there are people rich enough to buy these aircraft, there are people rich enough to buy a full load of munitions.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not in favor of more restrictive gun laws. I am in favor of enforcing the laws now on the books. I am not in favor of "disarming" the population (which I do not believe would be remotely possible, anyway). I am in favor of allowing those with demonstrated need and proof of appropriate training to carry concealed firearms. I am not in favor of blanket laws allowing anyone in the population to carry concealed. I have carried concealed weapons as part of my job in the past. Currently, I don't have such a permit for three reasons. 1. Kansas does not issue such permits. 2. I don't need to "carry concealed." 3. Carrying a concealed firearm is a bigger pain in the butt than most people realize.

    As I have said, I have no problem with ownership of sporting firearms. I have no problem with ownership of handguns, including semi-automatic handguns (like my Smith 9mm). I have no problem with firearm ownership for home protection. I just don't see the need for the average citizen to own a weapon designed as an implement of war. They are really useless as either sporting weapons or as home defense weapons. I am in favor of responsible gun ownership. I don't believe that anyone should be able to walk into a gun shop on their 18th birthday, and buy a weapon. We don't issue drivers licenses without evidence of drivers training, we shouldn't be handing out firearms without proof of training in the safe handling of these firearms.

    So, my question to you is where do we draw the line? Are there weapons that the private citizen should not be allowed to own? Or, do you believe that the US Constitution allows me, if I can afford it, to buy a fully operational, fully loaded A-4 Skyhawk? Nuclear weapons? They are arms. Where do we draw the line?

    Kevin McHugh
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  2. 57 Comments

  3. by   renerian
    I do not think citizens need to own machine or submachine guns BUT I do think other rifles or handguns should be able to be owned by American citizens.

    Just my thoughts,

    renerian
  4. by   sunnygirl272
    i do not currently feel that our citizens have need for machine guns, weapons of war...do not have a problem with legally owned handguns,shotguns,etc....
    in fact, we have guns in our home...(safe from children!! but our boys know not to play with guns...when/if they express interest,their dad or their uncle will take them and teachthem properly..)
    also i have been after DH to take me out and teach me to use his beretta 9mm...i have no t fired a gun in about 21 yrs...my dad usta take me to target practice with his 22.....
  5. by   renerian
    I looked at the responses on this thread and it came up totally different the second time i looked at them.......major bugs still in the system huh? LOL

    renerian
  6. by   Vsummer1
    My father was a gun collector. I grew up KNOWING the rules. If parents / people are responsible and get the training needed to own a gun and aren't felons, let them own one or as many as their heart's desire. I say this to mean sporting weapons or personal firearms, NOT military man-killing many-round weapons of war. But, I must say my dad did own those as well. They were always "deactivated" in some way with essential parts kept locked up in the safe. Responsiblity in owning "collector" weapons. When he died, the estate found themselves owning weapons that were once legal and now were not. The authorities were contacted and these newly "illegal" in California weapons were handled correctly. If we had been in another state, the laws would have been different and the disposition of the weapons would have been different.

    It is the untrained idiot who buys a gun for home protection that scares the bejesus out of me. Or parent's who own a gun and do not educate their children on proper gun safety and who then leave them where a child can handle them, while at the same time allowing their children to play with toy guns. My children were taught from day one not to touch guns. Daddy wears guns for work, and when he would walk in the door they would KNOW not to "touch daddy's guns". They are stored in the gun safe when he is off duty. But my children KNOW and are not curious nor do they see the guns as toys. EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN!
  7. by   Rustyhammer
    If we (US) ban automatic weapons, what's to prevent the ban from snowballing to include ALL firearms?
    I own maybe 10 guns ( I'm too lazy to go count them right now), 2 of which are handguns. My wife and I both carry one in our vehicles. My reason being if you break down on the road then you are at anyones mercy. I would rather have a bit of an equalizer should some maniac attempt to harm my family or myself.
    I live in an area with no law enforcement available to us and it does indeed make me feel better that I am able to protect my family if need be.
    My kids all know how to shoot. We hunt together and treat our guns as the tools they are. Any tool can be dangerous when used improperly.
    My kids are ages 15, 11 and 9 and all practice regularly.
    I don't think I know anyone in this area who doesn't own a firearm.
    -Russell
  8. by   Q.
    Originally posted by kmchugh
    Warning: This is a long post!

    I don't want to be seen as picking on SuzyK, because she and I agree on most topics.
    Yes you do!

    Hmm. Well, I have to fully read your response, gather my thoughts, do my hair, relax, and then I will reply.

    Although, there is STILL another thread where Mario asked when the last time a woman used a gun effectively against an intruder...and I responded, Oct 15, 2002. Attached was an article.
  9. by   gotosleep
    I've never understood the fascination with weapon ownership. I served as an infantryman in the army and have fired all kinds of weapons. I love it when people say "Its not guns that kill people, its people that kill people." Really, look at the number of deaths attributed to guns in the UK, Canada, etc.... It is essentially nonexistant in comparison to the blood bath we're having here in the US. I wonder how many 6 year old little boys in the UK get their heads blown off because his brother was playing with their parent's 9mm while daddy is at work?

    The second amendment.
    I don't believe that much of the rhetoric or propaganda that is produced by the NRA fits well with the spirit of the 2nd amendment? Did our founding fathers really want people driving around with AK-47s in their trunk? Remember, our constitution was written by men who owned (the large majority) slaves and felt that black men were 3/5 human beings. The constitution is an imperfect document that can and should be updated to fit the changing dynamics of our society.

    No, I do not advocate total abolition of gun ownership. I do believe that we as Americans need a little more perspective and common sense. It is no wonder why we are viewed internatially as primitive and ignorant. Strictor gun laws are neccesary, and our society will continue to deteriorate until they are inacted in good conscious.
  10. by   Q.
    Originally posted by gotosleep
    Strictor gun laws are neccesary, and our society will continue to deteriorate until they are inacted in good conscious.
    No, we need to enforce the laws we DO have:

    Townsend Attacked on Gun Checks
    State's Enforcement Negligent, Ehrlich Says



    By Craig Whitlock
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, October 24, 2002; Page B01


    Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ripped his gubernatorial rival yesterday for Maryland's failure to check the criminal backgrounds of hundreds of people applying to buy guns, taking the offensive on an issue that has dogged his campaign for weeks.

    Ehrlich's campaign also unveiled a sharply negative television ad that criticizes Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) and her broader record on crime and gun control. Staff members said the ad would begin airing today in Baltimore and in the Washington region tomorrow.

    In an interview, Ehrlich (R) said the state's refusal to help the FBI perform background checks on an estimated 500 people with criminal records this year was "just ridiculous. It's just negligence, very simple negligence that can add up in a very costly way."

    Townsend said that the problem had been resolved this summer and that Ehrlich should focus instead on measures to improve gun safety, such as expanding a ballistic fingerprinting program.

    "I think he's just criticizing gun enforcement because he doesn't want to have gun laws that work," she said.

    Ehrlich's decision to go on the attack was an attempt to shift the debate on gun control, a volatile topic that until now has hamstrung his standing among many liberal and moderate suburban voters whose support he needs to win.

    For weeks, Townsend has run television commercial ads of her own that slam Ehrlich for his legislative votes to effectively legalize the sale of certain so-called assault weapons and cheap handguns known as Saturday night specials. He has also taken heat for comments he made last month when he said he would review Maryland's strict gun control laws and possibly get rid of ones found to be ineffective.

    But Ehrlich said it was irresponsible for Townsend to preach about gun control when her administration has failed to prevent criminals from buying firearms because of flubbed background checks.

    Last week, state and federal authorities confirmed that state archivists notified the FBI in March that it would no longer perform the required background checks because budget cuts had left them shorthanded.

    The problem persisted until July, when Maryland and federal officials agreed to provide $45,000 to the state archives to conduct the checks, which mostly involved examining old paper records for information not available in electronic databases. Officials could not say how many cases were affected, but the archives typically received about 500 requests in a four-month period.

    "It's a singular but egregious example of gross inconsistency," Ehrlich said. "They're running around screaming about me, but they can't find $45,000 for the instant checks."

    The subject of gun control has been hotly debated throughout the campaign, but the candidates have handled it more gingerly since a sniper began shooting people in the Washington region three weeks ago.

    After the sniper first struck, Townsend said she would stop running ads that mention guns to avoid politicizing a sensitive issue. But after internal polls showed that few voters knew of Ehrlich's opposition to gun control, Townsend began running an ad.

    Ehrlich aides said they had contemplated a more strident televised attack on Townsend's record on crime prevention and guns but decided against it because they did not want to alienate voters shaken by the sniper slayings.

    Richard Vatz, a Towson University professor of mass communications, said that gun control was a risky subject for both candidates but that Townsend's record in office was fair game for Ehrlich.

    "It's unethical for people to exploit this issue and to take advantage of the people in the Washington suburbs who are affected by the sniper," he said. "But in terms of effectiveness, [Ehrlich] must counter this. I think he'd be foolish not to respond."

    Analysts said Townsend remains politically vulnerable for other well-publicized breaches of gun control laws during her tenure.

    In 1999, Maryland State Police had to retrieve 49 handguns from people who were ineligible to buy them after examiners failed to conduct background checks in time. That same year, a Laurel man fatally shot his two children with a handgun that he was allowed to purchase even though he was subject to a domestic violence restraining order.

    Gun control advocates, who have campaigned for Townsend, winced after last week's disclosure about the background checks. But they were careful not to blame Townsend, who oversees crime-prevention programs.

    "I think if Kathleen Townsend had been informed, it would have been fixed right away," said Matthew Fenton of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse Inc.

    State Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Silver Spring) called the failure to conduct the background checks "outrageous" but likewise declined to criticize Townsend.

    "There are errors that will be made in any administration," Ruben said. "But I believe if Mr. Ehrlich becomes governor, he'll set us back 10 to 20 years on gun control legislation."

    Staff writers Amy Argetsinger and Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.
    Last edit by Susy K on Oct 30, '02
  11. by   NCTraumaNurse
    I thought that this was quite interesting. According to the burea of justice statistics, the rate of deaths from firearms in all age groups has gone down since 1999, and I am pretty sure that gun ownership has increased in that time. I know mine has!

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/frmdth.htm
  12. by   nurs4kids
    Again, Kevin..
    no, I don't think the average citizen NEEDS to own a machine gun, etc..
    BUT..guess who WILL own them??
    criminals..

    my little .38 won't hold a candle to them..yanno?
  13. by   kmchugh
    Originally posted by nurs4kids
    Again, Kevin..
    no, I don't think the average citizen NEEDS to own a machine gun, etc..
    BUT..guess who WILL own them??
    criminals..
    This seems to summarize what a couple of folks have said: If I can't own a machine gun, then I may end up facing a criminal who has one. True enough, I suppose. I have a picture in my head of a home owner and an intruder trading bursts from their submachine guns in the living room. Geez....talk about potential for death from stray bullets! But, that's beside the point.

    The point is, for nurs4kids, Rusty, and Suzy (at least), it sounds to me that you are in favor of allowing citizens who want to buy them to own automatic weapons. Fine, but none of you have really answered my core question, which is do we draw a line at all, and if so, where do we draw the line? Should private citizens be allowed to buy any type of weaponry they can afford? Automatic weapons are OK, how about hand grenades? Or claymore mines? What about my example of the rich guy who owns a fully loaded A4 Skyhawk? Are there limits? If so, what are those limits?

    The argument that if you outlaw weapon X, only outlaws will have weapon X can be stretched as far as weapons go. If you outlaw private ownership of thermonuclear devices, only outlaws will own thermonuclear devices. So, what are the limits?

    Along the same lines, can we limit the public's ability to "accesorize" their weaponry? Right now, silencers are illegal. Should they be? How about the "cop killer" bullets? And on and on. Are there any limits?

    Kevin McHugh
  14. by   Q.
    Originally posted by kmchugh
    The point is, for nurs4kids, Rusty, and Suzy (at least), it sounds to me that you are in favor of allowing citizens who want to buy them to own automatic weapons. Fine, but none of you have really answered my core question, which is do we draw a line at all, and if so, where do we draw the line?
    Ok, let me take a gander.

    I'm not terribly familiar with ALL the gun laws, but it's my belief that whatever is sold in gun shops, etc (not the blackmarket) is free and fair game to those who can afford it. If that includes automatic weapons so be it.

    I draw the line there because, tanks, howitzers, nuclear bombs, biological weapons...are NOT guns. The howitzer has a "gun" attached to it but is not a "gun" in and of itself.

    Let's be realistic. The above mentioned items are NEVER for sale for the private citizen. And no one seems to make a stink about it. The only way currently to get a hold of any of the above mentioned items is to do so illegally...therefore....the entire point we're trying to make. There are already laws in place for the average, law abiding citizen. I am pro-gun and I have no desire to own a howitzer for self defense. It would be impractical, and I'd probably destroy my own property before I would shoot my intruder. The point is, laws don't stop non-law abiding citizens. Terrorists, malitias, etc will get those items through illegal means - or, grow their own (biological agents) as could I.

    So, any type of gun, any type of automatic weapon that can be operated reasonably by one person and held, is for sale. Let's face it. If a criminal or wack-job bought a weapon to kill me, he could accomplish it with a little 9mm or an M-60 (yes, M-60. We were talking about the same thing.)
    Last edit by Susy K on Oct 31, '02

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