Opinions, Column

How to Deal With Gun Control

No one should ever have to worry about being shot while walking down the street, but in parts of the United States, that is the harsh reality. The laws have failed many. Legislators have often favored the expansion of individual gun rights despite an abundance of externalities tied to the sale of firearms to the general public. The U.S. leads the developed world today in the number of gun homicides and gun suicides per capita. The country can and should implement measures to prevent people who intend to harm people with firearms from obtaining them.

The failure of a meaningful majority of legislators to vote in favor of gun control legislation may ultimately be tied to inconsistencies in the public’s view. In 2015, Pew Research Center found that 85 percent of Americans favored “making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks.” It is interesting to note, however, that when Pew asked about a popular piece of gun legislation failing in the Senate, 47 percent of people were angry or disappointed, and 39 percent were actually happy or very relieved.

The inconsistency is telling about the way that most people think about gun control measures. People generally support specific policy ideas like mandatory background checks and preventing suspected terrorists from purchasing weapons, but support is not nearly as robust when it comes to actually doing anything about it. Americans are well aware of the negative implications of the failures of current regulations regarding the arms trade, but are weary of actual gun control.

Like most other issues that appear to have simple solutions, the systematic problems facing true democracy in the U.S. are largely to blame. Following the trail of money can help show why legislative decisions have been made the way they’ve been. The corporate media has consistently ignored talking about the real issues facing the country because of conflicts of interest. The corporate media outlets are generally given to sensationalism and fear mongering. The result is a country with many misinformed people who aren’t willing to implement obvious solutions for fear of losing their individual rights.

After the New York Daily News interviewed Bernie Sanders this past week, the establishment media seized on his comment that victims of gun violence shouldn’t be able to sue the arms manufacturer. The news cycle revealed an intense dichotomy about the way that people view the gun issue. The prevailing attitude is that people are either anti-gun or pro-gun. People who support gun manufacturer immunity (and other measures) are demonized almost to the same level of the actual perpetrators of violence. Those who want reasonable constraints on gun purchases are seen to be against the Second Amendment, and people question when the “denial” of individual rights will end. This new normal precludes the ability of people to actually debate the nuances of reasonable legislation.

This nuance is visible in the Sandy Hook case Sanders mentioned. As heartbreaking as the massacre at Sandy Hook was, people should not be able to sue the manufacturer of the weapons used to harm them by virtue of it having created the product. The person responsible for the shooting in Newtown was the murderer, not the manufacturer of the murder weapon. Since the arms were all obtained legally by the murderer’s mother, the victims’ families appear to have no legal standing to sue the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the mass shooting on the basis of malpractice.

Allowing citizens to sue gun manufacturers simply because the product was used to cause harm is absurd. Take, for example, a car accident. If someone is injured by someone driving under the influence in a Chevrolet, the appropriate response is not to sue General Motors. But if people are getting hurt because GM installed faulty ignition switches in their cars and should have known that, then an appropriate response might be to bring GM to court. It is the person or people acting as the subject that should be held responsible for their actions, not some other entity that has no control over the situation.

The question still remains about what to do about gun violence in America. Common-sense measures like universal background checks and monitoring unusual arms purchases would help prevent the sorts of unspeakable acts of violence that the country has witnessed in recent years. Congress should eliminate the ban on studies of gun violence and public health implications at the Center for Disease Control so that lawmakers have better information to make decisions. But there is still more to be done.

While there are many laws that can be written to ensure people’s safety, the issue becomes even more complicated when it comes to people who partake in illegal behavior to obtain firearms. Many acts of gun violence are committed using weapons that were legally purchased directly from dealers or manufacturers, but were stolen by close family members or friends. These are the sorts of actions that the government needs to look at very carefully because there do not appear to be easy ways to confront these sorts of problems.

Regardless of people’s predispositions, polarization is not the solution. People’s lives are on the line. Legislators can and should maintain citizens’ rights to own firearms while still working to mitigate the threat of gun violence in the U.S.

Featured Image by Abby Paulson / Heights Editor

April 10, 2016

15 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “How to Deal With Gun Control”

  1. The problem with gun control is that any given measure’s support could be miles wide but is always only an inch thick. It doesn’t take that many people who passionate hold the contrary position to blow away this sort of half-hearted support and it still fall within the proper cycle of democracy. Fortunately for those who believe in freedom, there are many more than a few pro-2nd Amendment rights people and less who support prohibition.

    Gun grabbers are destined to be disappointed. Until they realize they’ve lost, they will be tired and disappointed. They will be confounded at every turn.

  2. Gun control is a political distraction. Adding laws may reverse the trend. Currently, crime rates are at historic lows. They were achieved during a period when sales of firearms tripled. Seems the leftists don’t want the public to focus on real issues, e.g., workforce participation, national secrets leaked through private email servers, Benghazi, Operation Choke Point, IRS oppression, and on and on. Desperate to control and intimidate conservatives, leftists have repeatedly resorted to deceit, outright lies and threats. The consequence is owners of firearms no longer are willing to compromise. They now refuse all deals offered by these scoundrels.

    • Yes it is political. Just look at politicians changing their stance based on the crowd that is listening. But not just that, it has become big money. Look at the salaries the CEO’s and other officers pay themselves to run these non-profit organizations. Typically they run $120,000 to 150,000 in salary. In 2014 49% of VPC’s donation income went to its 7 top employ salaries. But then add in the benefits such as all-expense paid trips. The best of meals, best car rentals, best motels, and have to throw in entertainment. Hey isn’t it about time for our annual rally in Orlando? If it weren’t for my moral compass I would start my own anti-gun organization.

  3. If 90% (or whatever new figure there is) of the population wants “universal background checks”, then that same 90% would presumably volunteer to do UBC’s if they were not mandatory. I’ve suggested that the UBC is voluntary, but then people complain “if it’s voluntary, people won’t comply”. So why is it that 90% of people that are ASKING for UBC’s won’t comply unless it’s “required”?

    Sounds like either 90% is a fake number, or those people that supposedly want the checks, don’t want to do the checks for their own transaction. To the surprise of many, UBCs can already be done. All gun transactions can be done with a background check simply by going to an FFL and having the FFL do the transfer. It’s that easy, it already exists.

    • The 90% figure is totally bogus. Most Americans are all for enforcing existing laws and they are in favor of the current NRA-inspired Instant Background Check that accesses the NCIC database v. any useless Brady-style waiting periods, magazine bans, gun bans and pursuing of loopholes that don’t even exist.

      • I have a good feeling that the actual numbers (they change, but hover around 88-90%), are “real”. I used that in quotes because I believe two things have happened: 1. The public has been lied to by MSM, because of websites like “gunviolencetracker” (or whatever it’s called) that claim 386 mass shootings have occurred in 2015. When I used their website, and removed all the “zero, one, two and three” killed (the FBI uses “four or more killed” as their definition), there was a grand total of 27 mass shootings in 2015. The second issue, is that people may actually want more “universal” background checks, but because of the legal red tape that’s bundled in with the proposed laws, congress won’t pass it.
        I have no issues with allowing people to do them; since it takes time away from a dealer to do a “non sale” BGC, they should be compensated, but have it included as a “tax” that everyone pays, but the gov reimburses/pays the FFL for doing the transaction. Otherwise, the FFL has no real “reason” to help out a “party to party” transaction.

        • I downloaded that same database into excel and came to the same conclusion. In Australia a mass shooting must be 5 “killed” not including the perp committing suicide. Another website posted this unbelievable list of “School Shootings” since Sandy Hook. They gave name and date of school so I started investigating. Three incidents early in the list were campus security shooting people. One was being attacked with a knife, one was being attacked with a car, and one with a ball bat. Numerous were where someone thought they heard a gunshot somewhere down the street. Several were just near the school, in a house, like a drug deal gone bad. Many of these did not even happen during school hours. Many of them happened in the middle of the night in the parking lot and did not involve any student or employee “drug deal gone bad”. But the one I liked the most was a 22 year old that was shot at 3am 2 blocks away and managed to walk to the school.

          • I’m not surprised at all that you discovered those discrepancies. By their own vague definition of “mass shooting”, a person can technically shoot one round into the air, at a crowded event, and if four people sprain their ankle running away, they would consider it a “mass shooting”.

        • Virginia has passed a law that is a pretty good compromise. It requires the State Police to be present at all gun shows in the state to run background checks for any (non-FFL) sellers who want them.

          • That’s a great idea, and I’m glad it passed. Although it won’t do much to combat crime, it does bring peace of mind to the sellers. The DOJ did a study, and it was around 0.8% of felons (and recidivists) obtained their firearms from a “gun show”.
            So it likely won’t solve any known problems, but it could help.
            After all, even if it “saves one life”, right? LOL (/sarcasm)

          • I agree that it will have no measurable effect on crime, but as far as compromise goes, it’s not too bad.

  4. First of all no congressman or senator has ever put a “Background Check” bill on the floor. The Public Safety and Second Amendment Protection Act they called a background check bill was total trash. You don’t judge a book by its cover. Well you also don’t judge a bill by its name. In 8700+ words there were hundreds of wordage that could and would be used for total gun control. It DID establish gun registration. I established a no gun blacklist. It empowered anyone with a degree in medicine or psychology such as a school counselor to put anyone or everyone on this list. A person’s right to legally own a gun could be removed without due process just because the counselor was anti-gun! It did not provide any process to get off the list. It provided legal immunity for putting someone on the list. And then the second to the last section was the real icing on the cake. It gave lobbyist an all-expense paid trip to Washington. And all this they thought they had hidden well enough they could cram it through in the heat of the moment. Yea read the whole law, not just the Title!

  5. We should all carry Jo staffs for self defense and let the left figure that out for themselves.

  6. The aren’t any laws, past, present, or future, that can rid weapons from the criminal, but keep the law abiding citizen armed. Every single gun control measure disarms the good guy, yet keeps the criminal fully stocked. Period.

  7. “Congress should eliminate the ban on studies of gun violence and public
    health implications at the Center for Disease Control so that lawmakers
    have better information to make decisions.”

    There is no bad on research, just a ban on advocacy for gun control using federal funds through the CDC.

    Look up the history and educate yourself.