By Roz Rogoff
Gun ControlUploaded: Apr 11, 2013
Gun Control is an issue that comes up whenever there's a horrible tragedy and fades away with the national memories of it until the next horrible tragedy. So I'm going to weigh in on the pros and cons of what's being proposed while the topic is still hot.
First of all I want to make clear that my positions are not all one side or the other. Twenty-odd years ago I was a member of the NRA. Not because I believed in their radical interpretation of the 2nd Amendment or their lobbying efforts to control Congress, but because I liked target shooting and the NRA took over a target range in Santa Monica, so I had to be an NRA member to use it.
Target shooting isn't violent or Dirty Harry, "Make my day." It's not shoot'em ups or bang, bang, bang. You must be very calm and focused to hit the small spot in the middle a target 50' away. Olympic shooters time their heart beats between pulling the trigger to be as steady as possible.
I started shooting in the late 80's when some neighbors invited me to the shooting range in Santa Monica. I tried it out and found it very relaxing. My first riffle was a Marlin 60 with a 14 shot magazine. It was cheap and handy and fun to shoot but not very accurate, and every once in a while a hot shell casing would pop out and land on my neck causing a minor burn.
I moved up to a Remington bolt action center shot 22. I don't remember which model it was, but it cost around $165 20+ years ago. It wasn't top of the line but it was a really nice riffle. I liked the craftsmanship in it. I added a scope and a padded gun case. That was a really neat riffle.
Unfortunately both of my riffles and a shotgun I bought for skeet shooting but never got around to using were stolen from my house along with some Swatch watches. I suspected the guy across the street did it, but I didn't have any proof.
I realized that keeping guns in the house isn't a deterrent but an enticement to thieves. Someone on the Pleasanton Weekly said I should have had them in a gun safe, but I never thought I needed one. A gun safe is to keep young children from playing with your guns. Anyone else can find a way to break into one.
I heard a story on the news about a gang of thieves that targeted police officers homes because they were looking for guns. So they broke in and stole the gun safe with all the officer's guns conveniently packed up for them.
Adam Lanza had no trouble breaking into his mother's gun safe. So that's not a means to keep guns from being stolen or used by the wrong people. That's why I don't believe background checks would be very effective in keeping guns out of the wrong hands either.
The guns Adam used were all purchased by his mother, who by all reports was a model citizen. I doubt a background check would reveal she had a crazy son. There are strict laws against releasing medical records. Background checks that include checking on relatives sound way too invasive to me.
I agree with limiting magazines to 10 bullets. My Marlin held 14, and that's the top selling riffle in the country. So maybe the limit should be 15 bullets. This could have kept the carnage down at Newtown and Aurora, and even Gabby Gifford's shooting.
There's nothing in the Constitution about how many bullets anyone can have. In fact at the time the Bill of Rights was written there was no such thing as a bullet or a repeating riffle. The most sophisticated firearm available was a flintlock musket.
I'm also for the restriction against private ownership of "assault" riffles. These are not target weapons and are unfair for hunting. The practice of raising animals on ranches and inviting duffer hunters to shoot these poor creatures like clay targets is really distasteful to me. That's where Dick Chaney shot his lawyer friend in the face. I could make a joke about shooting lawyers, but there are too many lawyers in my family for that to be funny.
So what was the purpose of the 2nd Amendment in getting the Colonies to sign on to the Constitution? The Bill of Rights was used to mollify opponents in each Colony's government. Remember these were 13 separate Colonies of Britain. Each Colony wanted to keep its separate identity, but they all needed a central Government to coordinate the relationships among them and internationally without becoming another Britain.
That was the purpose of guaranteeing each Colony control over the rights in the Bill of Rights. This was a political maneuver to get all 13 colonies to sign on. It wasn't a promise to the colonial citizens; it was a promise to the Governors in control of those Colonies.
There would be no national religion, because many of the Colonists or their ancestors came to America to escape whichever national religion was imposed on them. However, the states could establish their own preferred religion, and anyone who wasn't part of it could not run for office in that state. Most states prevented Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and other minority religions from holding state office, but anyone could hold National office if they could be elected to it.
The Second Amendment gave the Colonies the right to regulate militias, and it gave them the right to keep and bear arms, but it doesn't give the right to citizens to own cannons or tanks or bombs. The states can set their own rules about how guns should be controlled. And that's where I believe it should stay.
However, the Federal Government should set rules about ammunition. For example particularly deadly forms of ammunition like hollow point bullets, could be treated like restricted drugs and require the police equivalent of a prescription to buy. A similar restriction could be placed on the number of bullets purchased at a time or magazines that hold more than 15 bullets. These are reasonable controls that don't even touch the 2nd Amendment.
I am in favor of licensing guns like cars and requiring a gun handling test like a test drive and insurance to cover accidental injuries or deaths. Every gun registered should have a ballistic test, so if the gun is stolen and used in a crime it can be traced back to the original owner or licensee. This could be a great tool in catching and convicting criminals and preventing crime.
If the NRA really represented gun owners, they would be more like the AAA in offering gun insurance and safety training. Instead the NRA has become a lobbying organization for gun manufacturers and sellers. Their goal strayed away from helping gun owners and became a means to control Congress so that gun sellers can sell their wares to anyone with the money to buy them.
Consider this, if guns were licensed by each state, like cars, that would create thousands of jobs giving safe gun handling classes and tests, registering licenses, selling insurance. This would not be a bad thing, huh?