Sunday, June 19, 2016

Just this once: the case for guns




     One of the grimmest aspects of the Orlando slaughter is that it is just the bloodiest and most recent of many acts of armed terrorism. Those arguing that now is the moment for reform should realize that odds are with the opposite. After past rampages, gun laws were liberalized, not tightened.

     Despite this trend toward profusion, not restriction, gun owners and gun stores like to complain about how the media is set against them. The truth is, it's the facts that are against them, not that many care. Gun supporters barely need try to make their case. This story ran in 2013, during the last spate of public attention over the profusion of guns in this country. I guess it's easier to bitch about being mistreated than to try to defend the undefendable.

     The mainstream media gets blasted for ignoring the truth by those who think they have a monopoly on it. But should the media come knocking to hear their version of that truth, well, that's no good either...
     With guns and ammo flying out of stores, supposedly, sparked by talk of gun control in Washington and Springfield — bound to go nowhere but good for sales nonetheless — I figured that rather than opine more myself, I would talk to those who have something different to say on this topic, maybe something about the vital need to protect our cherished 2nd Amendment rights, even after the unpleasant incident in Newtown. You'd think, with all this negative publicity, gun advocates would be hot to tell their side of the story.
     You'd think wrong.
     "We're not really big on talking to the media," said a guy at Maxon Shooters Supplies in Des Plaines, which I called first because I have been there, twice, firing guns, which you'd think would earn me points, as a regular customer. "Business is brisk," he said, "like everywhere else."
     Click.
     "No comment ..." said a clerk at Jack's Gun Shop in Riverdale.
     Click.
     "No, we're not doing any comment at this time," said a lady at Midwest Guns in Lyons.
     I didn't want to let her off that easily.
     "What time will you comment?" I asked.
     "It's our right..." she said, defensively.
     "...not to talk to the media? Of course it is." I cooed. "But why not? Are you ashamed?"
     "Have a good day," she said. Click.
     When all else fails, go for the big dog - GAT Guns Firearms Superstore ("If We Don't Have it, We Can Get It") in East Dundee, 3,000 guns on display in what will, when they're done expanding, be a 30,000-square-foot showroom. They seem to be the eye of the storm. "SOME AR'S" - assault rifles - "ARE OUT OF STOCK" its website warns, offering a ray of hope with a reassuring, "WE ARE TAKING ORDERS." I bet.
     Owner Greg Tropino came on the line.
     Busy?
     Laughter. "Exactly. It is very, very brisk."
     "Is there a specific reason?" I wondered.
     "Are you serious?" he said. "Are you not aware what's going on in Springfield? They're worried people are going to take away..." He was skittish talking to a reporter. "I've been in gun industry since 1968," Tropino continued. "I have been burned by more reporters..." But I worked my charm, and he did not hang up but explained that the problem is not guns, but mental illness.
     "When Quinn took office there were 11 mental institutions — he's closed four," he said. "The key factor in so many of these shootings is mental health." I asked him what one thing he wished people understood about this issue and he mentioned a story in the Sun-Times, where a father burned his children with gasoline. "That's what I wish people understand, if somebody's going to do something bad, they're going to do something bad, if they have to go to the corner store and buy five gallons of gas. There are evil people out there and we have to take care of these people. That's my one thing. My heart aches when I think about those kids getting killed ... but banning something is not going to solve anything. You can't wave a magic wand and it's all better. We've got to do something about mental health."
     In that regard, I agree with him. It would be ironic if mental health services, the first baby to go out the window when times are tight, found an unexpected ally in gun fans. To reward Greg for talking, I'll make the quick, one-paragraph case for guns. Ready?
     Given there are some 270 million guns in the United States — nearly one for every person — if they were the source of extreme peril that gun control types suggest, we'd all be dead. Not only is owning a gun a hobby— hunting, shooting, collecting — but guns give countless Americans a sense of security. Perhaps false but real to them — that they're ready to face whatever zombie apocalypse, social breakdown or bad guy coming through the window that they all dread. Yes, people are killed by guns but most are suicides who, arguably, might find other means. And the number of gun deaths is far below deaths from other tolerated habits, such as cigarettes, which harm far more than guns do. Sure, getting rid of guns would save lives but so would setting the speed limit at 40 mph.
     I don't quite buy that, and here's why: machine guns are illegal. Silencers too. Yet the gun folk still have lots of ordnance to stockpile and adore. As much as they claim it's a slippery slope, and though unrelated events like President Barack Obama's election make them load up more, there's zero chance of true reform. Guns are partly about fearing our government, yet to many they are also a sacred icon of our country, like apple pie, mom and baseball. But like baseball, occasionally the rules can be tweaked and still the game goes on.

                    — Originally published in the Sun-Times, Jan. 6, 2013

15 comments:

  1. This is the part the gun fanatics seem to miss: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    Or how this was more a reaction to be sure the new gov't would not act like the British redcoats did.

    Yes, amazing how President Obama's election was a cause of fear for them and why.

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    1. And here's the part the anti-gun people miss, at least in Illinois
      From the 1970 Constitution:
      ARTICLE XII
      MILITIA
      SECTION 1. MEMBERSHIP
      The State militia consists of all able-bodied persons residing in the State
      except those exempted by law.

      So all adults are members of the militia, although I suspect we have to buy our own guns. Since we're all member, should we also have right to have a true assault weapon, meaning fully automatic?
      Now the General Assembly has passed some laws limiting who actually is a member of the militia, mostly banning criminals & age limits, but those age limits are probably unconstitutional under other laws banning age discrimination.

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    2. Well National Supremacy should supercede the state. Unfortunately, some states wish to ignore that.

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    3. Here's a bit of jurisprudence you will never hear the NRA quoting. While claiming that "the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia," the sainted Antony Scalia wrote, in his majority opinion on DC vs Heller, "Like most rights the 2nd Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever, etc. etc."

      There's little more to be said on the subject, but an interesting historical fact is that the name of what has become a very mixed blessing was given to it by none other than Adolph Hitler. The Germans introduced into service late in the war a lightweight, "user friendly" rifle capable of rapid fire and reasonably accurate at short and middle ranges. It was found on the Russian front to be more suitable to actual combat conditions than the heavy, high powered guns -- the Garand, the Mauser, the Lee Enfield --then the standard infantry weapons. It was officially named the MP 44. But when The Fuhrer, who had opposed its development, got a chance to fire one he dubbed it a "Sturmgewehr," which can be translated as "assault rifle."

      Tom Evans

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    4. The Second Amendment specifically allows for the militia, so national supremacy won;t supersede anything.

      As for Hitler naming the sturmgewehr, that's disputed.

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    5. That was my original point, Clark. That the 2nd amendment speaks of militia's where the IL const. stressed more about individuals.

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    6. Wrong Private!
      Illinois doesn't say anything about individuals, it just states that all able bodied adults are members of the militia.
      That follows the Second perfectly!

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    7. Clark, What does the term "well regulated Militia" mean to you?

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    8. "Well regulated" in the late 18th century meant "efficient, able to get the job done". It did not mean "well controlled" as it might today.

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  2. I'm waiting for the day -- not hoping, but expecting -- an cataclysmic event sparked by a firecracker or a car backfire, in which many members of a large crowd simultaneously draw their guns and commence firing on each other. Blame that on mental illness!

    john

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    1. Agreed. Unfortunately it is quite likely to happen.

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    2. Anyone who has ever fired a gun can tell the difference between a firecracker and a gun shot. It isn't even close. Most of my neighbors carry after the Michael brown riots we had in our neighborhood. If we were going to shoot each other we would have done it already when we were on edge. People were getting dragged or of their cars and beaten to death with hammers. If there was a time when gun owners would be jittery and on edge that was the time. Nothing happened.

      We did have a majority of Ferguson residents realize that the only thing that was protecting them from the violent protesters and arsonists were themselves.

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  3. "...a true assault weapon, meaning fully automatic." The fact that the versions you can legally buy at a gun shop are, unlike the military varieties, only semi-automatic is often cited by the NRA as evidence of their critics' ignorance about guns. But a lightweight rifle with a large magazine you can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger is a pretty efficient killing machine. A gun enthusiast from Indiana who was stopped in Sacramento on his way to a gay rights parade was carrying an AR 15 with 30 and 60 round magazines hitched together. If he wasn't just going to see the floats, he would have been in a good position to set a new record in carnage.

    TE

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. So let's cure all the crazy people, but let's not deny them access to guns. And if they're not cured...[shrug]

    Bitter Scribe

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Thanks for commenting. As soon as I vet your remarks, they'll be posted, assuming they aren't, you know, mean and crazy.