Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gun Control means using both hands...

The phenomenon of mass shootings has become a routine fixture in modern America. 

Few hot-button topics evoke the kind of strong sentiments and staunchly held positions in people like the issue of gun control. The liberal Left often views it as an ideology fit to undergo legislation and be adopted across all states, while the conservative Right tends to support gun ownership as a constitutional right for all, not a privilege for some, often cowering away from any legislation to curb the widespread availability of firearms. Foreigners are especially prone to greatly underestimating as to how deeply entrenched gun-ownership is to the American identity. The brevity of the 2nd amendment is its master-stroke, placing crystal clear emphasis on the token responsibility of the public at large to act as a militant counterweight against the possible outcome of a radically oppressive federal government.

From the constitution,

Amendment II:

“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.”

What many often fail to realize, is that the constitution is a living document with the inherent capacity to be amended to suit the needs of the nation as it advances, should the general consensus of those in power deem it a necessary course of action. 

This document was written in an era when the most powerful firearms available consisted of single shot muskets that fired lead balls with great inaccuracy and were clumsily inefficient in their reloading process, brandished by soldiers who went up against Red-coated opponents that marched on the open battlefield in perfect rank and file. The very concept of gas-operated, full bore machine rifles with 30 round magazines were as scarcely imaginable to the 18th century psyche as the notion of an unhinged individual set loose in a civilian tavern possessing the magnitude of firepower in a rifle or pistol that could claim dozens of lives in a heinous act before being gunned down by minutemen or taking his own life.

I’ll say it loud and clear: The dogmatic interpretation of the 2nd amendment is the preferred ‘catch all’ shield gun-fanatics of every stripe use to hide behind while they remain unwilling to adapt to the necessary changes of our time and accept that it is a document 224 years overdue for a revision that would keep pace with the issues of the 21st century, specifically, mass shootings and gun-violence.
It is explicit, not just in granting a proliferation of firearms to a ‘well-regulated militia’, but to the public at large with absolutely no discretion as to how this was to be implemented once the nation matured. The founding fathers were some of the wisest men humanity has produced, yet we cannot delude ourselves into thinking that they had the foresight to anticipate the technical and sociopolitical challenges that the country would face hundreds of years into the future. 

 The inclusion of the second amendment is predicated entirely on anti-authoritarian sentiments that play on the layman’s fears of state-run tyranny by levying firepower in the hands of the masses to keep the balance of power in check. This may have been relevant in an 18th century group of colonies forming a new nation from scratch, though it is now outmoded without legal safeguards that can quantify an individual’s ability to properly handle a firearm. Congress has long been influenced by the NRA and the gun lobby. They have this nation by the balls. They’ve consistently lobbied against any progressive legislature that proposes enacting restrictions on gun ownership.


Gun Violence is a cultural problem.

Make no mistake: mass shooting events are not simply going to dwindle in occurrence. This trend is only going to perpetuate and it’s going to fester, because we live in a violent, tribal, gun fetishist culture that browbeats any iconoclastic dimwit that challenges the prevailing worldview upheld by the majority of gun enthusiasts.  These people fail to recognize the rampancy of gun-culture and the unmitigated availability of weapons poses a threat to almost everyone, and they let it get in the way of their better judgment. Sadly, this is a direct consequence of a whole host of factors, the least of which, being congressional ineptitude, bureaucratic red tape, and the backing of a militant gun-lobby which panders to a crowd-source that is ultimately fearful of their ‘liberties’ coming under scrutiny in any way shape or form. 

I am a supporter of a citizen’s right to own guns. I support open-carry as well as concealed carry. As a responsible gun owner, I am by no means in favor of abolishing firearms (Not that it would ever happen in the U.S), although I strongly believe there should be a rigid system of safety measures in place to help ensure that fire-arms are maintained by responsible and well-disciplined citizens.

Can there be anything more hilarious than that idea? 

“Responsible and well disciplined citizens.”  

Just think about that for a moment.

Consider the millions of gun-owners in this country: just how many of them realize what an incredible responsibility owning a gun truly is? The amount of power one has over life and death is immense, and the mental discipline necessary to not only wield a gun properly, but to fully grasp just how extremely slim the margin of error one has in a circumstance where they could be found justified using it against another human being in accordance to the statutes of self defense in their state.
This isn’t even yet taking into account the sheer amount of training and mental fortitude necessary to prevent accidents and mishaps when even handling a firearm, loaded or not. To shirk the responsibility of the kind of mental fortitude I refer to is to embrace a level of idiocy that would make the ghost of Charles Darwin cackle with glee should you ‘accidentally’ plug your best friend in the nads with a hollow-point round.

Or, you know, your three year old nephew taking one to the forehead. Whoever happens to be in the pathway of the bullet at the time.

An effective system of gun control would drastically reduce the instances of gun related violence. Other countries have statistically proven this to be the case. Enacting such a system into law will not prevent mass shootings and gun violence, but it would represent headway in the right direction. Having these countermeasures in place will alleviate the problem, though nothing can ever truly prevent it.

The fact of the matter is we are not in control. 

We never will be and the wiser among us know this to be true.

 Somewhere, in the back of our minds, lurks this undeniable logical conclusion, even if some of us are reluctant or unwilling to face that fact. It’s a hard pill to swallow. So long as we live in a civil society that is armed to the teeth with individuals who possess free-will, it is utterly impossible to completely prevent these treacherous events from occurring. If a deranged individual is determined to get a hold of fire-arms, they’re gonna get em no matter what the cost because they have nothing to lose. And when one has nothing to lose, the very notion of cost becomes meaningless. Whether through the black market, theft, 3D printing, or self assembly, that craven individual, possessing enough resourcefulness, will find a way to acquire an arsenal no matter how hard our society makes it for them.

This is the price we pay. 

Allow me to cite an article from the National conference of state legislature:
“Under 18 U.S.C  § 922(d): It is unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person “Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.”

By more actively prosecuting and convicting any individual(s) found complicit in selling or giving fire-arms to a person who is mentally deranged, we will be putting pressure on negligent sellers and private owners where it is needed , and that should give enough incentive to help provide a drop in the overall rate of gun crimes and mass shooting events. State law on fire-arms restrictions varies, though heavy-set uncle Jim-bob with his moustache-goatee and Camo-cap scowls and spits his chewing tobacco in disdain at the idea of any penalties or restrictions put in place. He’s probably packing more firepower in his Chevy Silverado than Washington had in an entire regiment. Hunters and sports shooters alike will hide behind their hobby to legitimize their cause while avoiding the implications unfettered gun access has on society at large. Many of these hunters are indeed well trained, responsible, and are no happier to see gun-violence occur than your average liberal arts major dwelling in downtown Manhattan, but they would rather see a Columbine happen every year than take steps to support gun control.

When machine pistols and rifles are so easily accessible to disturbed hormonal teenagers, gangbanging thugs (Yes I said it) and schizophrenic post-teenage angst males with a score to settle against their peers, then the outrage and condemnation should be especially vocal within the ranks of NRA members. Many of which, are trophy hunters, sports shooters, and gun collectors. The gun-lobby needs more people calling for change within its own support base, and we don’t see this happening.

The following bullet points have been re-iterated by many a left of center gun-control advocate. Sure, skip ahead to the last paragraph if you feel you probably aren’t reading anything new.
My resolution methods pertaining to gun control are fourfold:

1: Require federal criminal background checks along with standardized mental health evaluations in place as standard protocol when purchasing ANY firearm with a pass/fail outcome. Establish a waiting period of several years if failed. Prosecute, to the fullest extent of the law, those who have either given or sold a gun to someone with an established history of criminal felonies or known mental disability severe enough to hinder their competence in handling a firearm.

2: Mandatory gun training classes and gun safety course with a certified instructor. Again, employ this on a pass/fail basis.

All firearms should then be registered and a Federal firearm holder’s license would then be obtained. Increasing fines with severe penalties leading up to prison time should be on the table for judges to sentence transgressors as they see fit. Mandatory minimums are a terrible idea, and only serve to tie the hands of judges and fill up our already overflowing prison system. Enforcing these licenses would be a logistical nightmare to the bloated bureaucracy of our federal government, but it represents steps in the right direction.

We require licenses to drive several thousand pound motor vehicles at high speeds so why not issue licenses to own firearms? I am not referring to a concealed carry permit, but a certified license issued just to possess a firearm whether bought from your local Wallyworld, the flea market, gun show, or a hand-me-down rifle from uncle Jim-Bob wearing his mossy-oak camo cap. Is this going to stop Jim-bob in rural flyover-country from giving a hunting rifle to little Aiden on his fifth birthday without a license or training course? No Sirree, but I would damn well support his incarceration for gross negligence. 

3: Amend the constitution to include the mental competency of citizens seeking gun-ownership.

‘Whoa there! How extreme and un-american! How dare you attack the Second amendment and my God given rights!’

Not so fast, Jim-Bob. This isn’t NASCAR. 

It’s very clear the Second amendment has a built in failsafe that accepts the implementation of gun control legislation. I’ll get to that in a second.

In the same way that chattel slavery and Women’s inability to vote were considered inconsequential during the formation of this country and would later become blights on our nation’s history, some of the most pressing issues were purposefully neglected to be dealt with at a later date. I would successfully argue that the widespread gun violence we are experiencing today is the unforeseen crisis that the second amendment has provided a proverbial shelter for without specifying the extent of its reach. It is a pressing crisis that we need to deal with in our day and age. Amendments have been made to the constitution to keep up with the times when our civil liberties reached a boiling point, and it is high time that gun-control be addressed in the same manner.
So, let us also draw attention to the fact that the 2nd amendment contains an inherent bid for revision by examining its first four words.

 “A well regulated militia…”

A militia? Regulated by whom? 

Lets look into the Miriam Webster definition of the term ‘Regulated.”
Full Definition of REGULATE:  transitive verb
1 a :  to govern or direct according to rule
b (1) :  to bring under the control of law or constituted authority (2) :  to make regulations for or concerning <regulate the industries of a country>
2:  to bring order, method, or uniformity to <regulate one's habits>
3:  to fix or adjust the time, amount, degree, or rate of <regulate the pressure of a tire>

According to the constitution, if we expect our gun carrying citizens to be a militia then they must be regulated like one; and regulation on firearms means strict adherence to a set of rules, protocol, and above all else, ‘mental competency’ with severe penalties for those who transgress the law. I propose that the amended clause be very specific as to the nature of regulation stated in the 2nd amendment so that it applies ONLY to those individuals with the mental faculties who have proven themselves, under a standardized evaluation, to be worthy of possessing a firearm. 

4: Better mental healthcare systems in place to treat those at high risk and prevent these incidents before they happen.
This one’s crucial. Perhaps the singular most important solution in putting the brakes on gun violence and mass shootings is to help prevent them before they even begin. Detractors will often state “Oh no! The ‘Mentally ill’ are wrongly accused, and are far more likely to be victims of violence themselves!” 

While our nation pours billions into the military industrial complex, our healthcare system has become a barely functioning mess. There isn’t nearly enough community outreach that could catch a lot of these incidents in their early stages. There aren’t enough programs to fund counselors and mentors who can see the warning signs and the red flags in young people and help set them straight.
This is a direct consequence of our healthcare system’s inability to properly diagnose and treat these people. Instead society goes about labeling them as dangerous sociopaths and lumps them all in with the others that Americans consider ‘undesirables’ with disabilities which run the gamut from PTSD, ADHD, to anxiety and depression. Our healthcare system has proven utterly hapless at the task of weeding out the minority of maliciously mentally ill from the majority of innocuous mentally ill who just need proper care and treatment and can barely help themselves.

To those against adopting any measures that restrict gun-ownership, I say you are outmoded and on the wrong side of history.  You need a wakeup call to become enlightened on this issue.  For many across the country, firearms represent one of the last bastions of masculinity in modern America. 

But wait! 

Just opt for the model with the pink handgrip and it is now a symbol of female empowerment! Yes ladies, you too can help fight the patriarchy by keeping your hot-pink AR-15 locked in your chifforobe!

 Even the notion of fostering a discussion on enacting gun-control is unthinkable to some of these screaming man-children who feel threatened that their shiny toys are going to be taken away from them. This paranoia masks deeply rooted insecurities within the ranks of gun proliferation advocates and is one major reason why meaningful measures fail to even get off the ground: The pushback and mass-rallies following the introduction of a gun-control bill would shake the nation. Having the FBI seize Jim-Bob’s  rifle collection, should he be found guilty of an unrelated federal crime without a possessing a firearm holders license would be lethal affair for agents making the bust because you better believe he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

We would see hundreds of WACO style incidents play out across the country. Fact is, there are millions of Jim-Bob’s out there, and many of them would rather perish in a blaze of glory rather than surrender firearms if convicted of a felony, which is why they petition the gun-lobby which funnels tens of millions into the NRA which are then ‘distributed’ into the coffers of local Politicians that agree to veto any restrictions on their racket. This is asymmetrically costing lives. Instead, much of the news media and politicians choose to shift the focus on the turban-wearing Boogiemen half a world away instead of confronting the enemy within.  The obvious reasons for this:

A) To prevent a massive popular uprising and/or riots.
B)  Its simply not profitable to target the gun industry in America. 

If it is not a willingness to act against the gun lobby, then what are we left with other than to conclude the brutal truth that the political elite in charge of the country would prefer to let these events run their course to help thin the herd? There are fewer resources to go around now anyway. Just let the little people kill each other off. 

After all, the richest 1%, as well as our senators and congressmen remain immune to the public interest since they have bodyguards and mercenary forces often amounting to the size of a small army that protects them at all times.  Political figureheads, presidential candidates, and even Billionaires and some CEO’s have what equates to a private platoon protecting them, except they wear business casual with black ties instead of jungle fatigues. 

The public at large is susceptible to its own monsters.

The victims have been High school students.
College students.
Movie theatergoers.
Amish schoolchildren.
Innocent first-graders and teachers.
Elderly African American churchgoers.
TV News reporters.

These are the events that make headlines on the news networks. They get the ratings. They bring in the cash. What evils society turns a blind eye towards are often those which hit closest to home.  I often wonder how many Americans realize that the vast majority of gun violence incidents consist of drive-by shootings in ghetto slums, confrontations on the streets, college campuses, and domestic violence disputes that occur every single day while working class America conveniently ignores them.  Most of these incidents do not even qualify as “Mass shootings” yet underscore the same pivotal problems we face, and add up to a far greater statistic than the sensational incidents that grab the headlines.

Until effective methods are in place that help restrict firearms possession to competent law abiding citizens,  these types of events will only perpetuate in an endless cycle of violence and we will grow numb and impotent every-time a maniac with a lead dispenser decides to go on a killing spree after posting a rambling Manifesto on livejournal while their actions make the primetime drama circuit where the talking heads toss around buzzwords like “shocked”, “appalled” and extend ‘heartfelt condolences’ that go out to the victims families as they try to pass it off as “breaking” news to their jaded, cynical audience; their actions analyzed ad-nauseum at Nine’O clock Eastern Standard by bearded old men wearing wireframe glasses to help ease our collective guilt. Our nation’s ethos is as hypocritical as it is incapacitated. So much so, that the mind balks at its absurdity. If this is the future that we are inheriting, it’s going to make the ‘Hunger games’ look like Sesame Street.

I can think of no better example to illustrate the profound dementia of our mass media and modern American culture when faced with gun violence than how we react to it when it hits the nightly newscasts: When it comes to enacting effective gun control legislation, we see the epitome of ignorance coupled with bureaucratic paralysis in our Capitols and courts, ritualized and watered down to be suitable for primetime programming and made tragic comedy to satiate the discriminating palates of God-fearing, white American suburbanites that will squabble for fifteen minutes amongst each other while our senators, congressmen, and their lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank with their NRA endorsed cheques after having accomplished nothing. 

Gun control means using both hands: It also means making a fucking effort to help keep them out of the wrong hands.

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