Monday, July 23, 2012

Perverting the 2nd Amendment

Does Anyone Really Need a Hello Kitty Assault Rifle?
So, some 230-odd years ago, the framers of the U.S. Constitution added an amendment that allowed U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. All well and good, when those arms were single-shot muskets and hand-loaded pistols that required powder and lead pellets. They had no idea that one day we would have rapid-fire guns capable of shooting dozens, if not hundreds, of rounds of ammunition in the blink of an eye. 

The NRA and the gun lobbyists both extol and hide behind the Second Amendment as an excuse for gun manufacturers to grow rich on the blood of innocent people. Guns, rifles and assault weapons kill thousands of Americans each year. Children in inner-city neighborhoods are more than three times as likely to be shot in cross-fire incidents. African American youths are shooting one another in record numbers. Philadelphia and Chicago are currently experiencing their highest gun-related murders in their history. It makes me sick to think about it.

James Holmes legally bought four assault weapons and 15 pounds of ammunition, which he used to injure and/or kill 71 innocent people who were out for what they thought was an evening's entertainment. There are those who say "Well, if he didn't have the guns, he would have made bombs and killed even more people." Maybe. But he did have guns. And easy access to them. And even easier access to ammunition. All purchased legally. What the hell?

Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be allowed to own firearms. There are plenty of hunters and target shooters who don't go around killing people. And most hunters and target shooters don't use rapid-fire automatic weapons. But maybe - just maybe - if was a little more difficult to obtain such weapons, there might be fewer murders, attacks and cross-fire shootings. And while I won't go into the whole Freudian concept of guns as penis-extensions, I do have to surmise that the ease with which Americans can purchase guns certainly adds to the number of gun-related murders. Honestly, who needs an AK-47 to take down a deer? Where's the 'sport' in that? Of course, there are those who think they need to own a gun in order to protect themselves from criminals. Possibly. But statistically, those folks are more likely to have their own weapons used against them in an assault.

Here's the thing: If we make it harder for criminals and lunatics to own guns, we just might be able to decrease the number of gun-related murders. Write to your representatives. Tell them to ban assault weapons for non-military personnel. Tell them to make it more difficult to own a gun and ask them to provide tougher penalties for those who use guns while committing a crime. This madness has to be stopped. 

More, anon.


Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Well said sir. Well said.

J. Machado said...

I love you and respect you, Brian. This particular rambling is full of inaccuracies with regards to the nature of the firearms used in the attack, what constitutes an "assault rifle", what is the legitimate use of firearms for recreational/sporting/defense purposes, and the so-called ease with which firearms may be legally purchased.

My belief is that you are letting your emotions permit you to be manipulated a bit by the folks who make the case that passing crazy laws to keep crazy people from doing crazy things will work.

I have my own ideas as to what is the genesis of both acts of the criminally insane and urban violence. Ironically, I used to think it was all about the firearms. Recently, I've become more skeptical. I tend to believe it has more to do with a gutting of mental health services nationwide causing the former, and a combination of institutional racism and poverty causing the latter.

I'm just about as left as you can get. And, I think that assault weapons bans (like the one that exists in New Jersey and my home city of New York) don't work.

Furthermore, I think it curious that any member of an oppressed minority group (racial, gender, or sexuality, etc) would position themselves against empowering the individual to defend their life, family and property against violence; violence that comes at the hand of criminals, assholes, and even actions of the state.

Just my opinion. I hope you respect it as much as I respect yours.

Yours in love,

Prospero said...

James - I never said people shouldn't be allowed to defend themselves and/or own guns. And as for my emotions being manipulated regarding this subject, you couldn't be further from the truth. This has always been my stance on automatic and assault weapons, long before Columbine or Aurora. I do agree that we need to overhaul our mental health system. And poverty and racism played no part in the most recent attack.

Love and respect back at you, buddy!

J. Machado said...


If you re-read my comment, I stated that I felt that institutional racism and poverty was the genesis of urban violence. I maybe wasn't clear in my separation of the two.

If you hold that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to prevent the government from restricting the ability of 'The People" from defending themselves against tyranny (your initial point...a valid one), then the nature of the small arm in question is not relevant. It is not relevant because both the standing army(which we're not even supposed to have) and the forces of foreign powers ALSO no longer use muzzleloading black powder firearms.

Any "youth" that is shooting another is committing a crime and therefore not bound by the laws of control. This is particularly evident in New Jersey where the ban of so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines mean NOTHING on the streets of Newark, Trenton and Atlantic City to name a few.

James Holmes passed both criminal and psychological background checks to purchase his firearms. Furthermore, if the ban of Assault Weapons that we have in NJ were in place in Colorado, James Holmes would have been able to purchase a functionally identical rifle, shotgun and handgun. He would have passed the multiple background checks, ID law, Psych check, waiting period. In short, the strictest gun laws in the country would NOT have stopped this atrocity.

James Holmes did NOT buy 4 Assault Weapons. He bought a semi-automatic rifle, a pump shotgun and two handguns sailing through the necessary background checks. The term Assault Rifle and Assault Weapon are not interchangeable. An Assault RIFLE is by definition a fully automatic rifle capable of selective fire that takes a detachable magazine and shoots an intermediate cartridge. They are heavily regulated by the ATF and illegal to manufacture on the civilian market. Therefore, the only ones available are old stock rifles that can be sold to Class III license holders at INCREDIBLE expense ($50,000 not being unheard of for a single rifle)

An Assault Weapon is a conjured up moniker placed upon semi-automatic rifles that LOOK like their military counterparts but are very functionally different. And, since the term has no definitive meaning outside of a state where a ban on them exists, you could call ANYTHING an assault weapon.

Outside of an outright ban (which you say you don't support), there is NO law currently on the books in any state that would have made it too difficult for James Holmes to use firearms to commit his crime. Furthermore, an outright ban MAY mitigate the lone wolf sole shooter crazy person, but will do NOTHING to mitigate the violent street crime that plagues our urban centers. Firearms used there are illegally sourced, carried and used by people who would be unlikely to EVER pass a background check in the first place.

Finally, you Hello Kitty photo does not display an Assault Rifle. It's a semi-automatic. It also doesn't display an Assault weapon because even though it has a flash hider and a detachable doesn't have a pistol grip so when my daughter turns ten I can pick one up for her to put holes in paper she's not afraid of she respects she knows they're not toys when she sees a friend playing with her friend's stupid father's unsecured she'll never be a victim.