A Little Truth About Firearms

Let’s start with this: I’m a gun owner and enthusiast. Odds are good I know more about guns and gun-laws than you do, even if you’re a gun owner. Why? Because its my job to know where I can and cannot carry a firearm. It isn’t unusual for me to travel with a firearm, which means I need to know the laws and have permits in the states I travel through. Its a guarantee I have more permits than you.

Next, let us clarify the 2nd amendment, which says you have the right to keep and bear arms. Please note that this does not say “firearms.”  When the amendment was written, arms didn’t mean rifle, it meant weapon. Most people didn’t own firearms and, contrary to popular belief, the Revolutionary War wasn’t fought with muskets, it was primarily fought with pikes, bayonets, swords, hand axes and anything the revolutionaries could get their hands on. Under the Constitution you have the right to keep and bear a weapon, not have a howitzer in your back yard and an assault rifle in your pickup. Any different interpretation of the amendment is not as the Founding Fathers intended. Its not my opinion, it’s a fact of history.

Listen, folks, people are dying. Children are dying, because of firearms. Legally owned, legally purchased firearms. Why? Well, for one because people too stupid to own weapons have them. If you own a weapon and your child can access it? You’re a shitty parent and a worse gun owner. You simply shouldn’t have a gun. Ever. You really shouldn’t be trusted with anything more dangerous than a butter knife, because you’re irresponsible and lacking in judgement.

Our gun laws are a joke. It’s a simple fact. What’s worse is that most people, most gun owners, don’t even know the laws are a joke. They’re told about background checks and fingerprints and think that’s all fine and dandy, job done. Are you kidding me? Not having a criminal record doesn’t mean you’re responsible enough to own a deadly weapon. To drive a car in this country, we have to take weeks of driver’s education. We take written and practical exams. We periodically take supplementary exams, and we get checked by police on a regular basis. That cop behind you every once in a while? He’s running your plates for warrants and infractions. On the other hand, most people who own weapons have never had a real background check, nor are they ever checked to see if they’re safe gun owners.

Oh… you didn’t know most gun owners never had a background check? Its true. Only one in four background checks are actually completed, thanks to the NRA and Republican lawmakers. The NRA successfully lobbied for a rule that says if the check isn’t completed in 72 hours, the seller can sell the weapon anyway. Can you believe that? And if its older than 72 hours old, the department doing the checks doesn’t bother because Republicans decided it wasn’t necessary. The buyer already has the weapon, so what’s the point? (Citing the NRA, 1972, 1984, 1999, 2014) And the NRA is actually proud of this accomplishment.

Here’s another level of stupid: I’ve had a permit since I was 18. My first permit was issued in Florida, with no background check. You know why? Florida has (or had) a Federal waiver on background checks because their permits aren’t issued by a law enforcement agency. It was considered a “hardship” on the state to make them do background checks. I had weapons for years before ever actually having a background check. Yeah… that makes sense. Give an angry teenager access to assault rifles without a background check.

And the final kicker: Once you have a permit, no one ever checks your background again unless you’re actually arrested for a violent crime, which doesn’t include (in most states) domestic abuse. So… basically a guy gets his permit when he’s 18, renews it on time, never gets arrested. At 25 he’s married, and beats the shit out of his wife on a regular basis. All his neighbors know, police have been called but, like most domestic abuse cases, no arrest is made. At 27, he still owns the Glock he bought when he was 18 and he shoots and kills his wife with that legally owned firearm when she tries to leave him.  This scenario happens twice a day, every day in the United States. Seven hundred and sixty women a year are killed by their husbands using legally owned firearms because our firearms laws are pathetically inadequate to the task.

We don’t check gun owners for mental illness, either. In this country, every year, thirty thousand people commit suicide with legally owned firearms. fact, most every firearm related injury and death is committed with a legally owned firearm, in spite of the line of bullshit the NRA keeps trying to sell. There are 100 times more legally owned firearms that illegally owned. Even the shootings by criminals aren’t done with illegal weapons. They bought them legally… because our laws are a joke.

Most people don’t want to ban firearms, I certainly don’t want to. Owning weapons is an American thing. But people are dying. Children are being gunned down at school, at the movie theater, in line for popcorn or just walking down the street. Its time to stop lying, its time to stop pretending there is nothing we can do. We need reasonable firearms laws at the Federal level, and we need them now. We need to keep weapons out of the hands of the ignorant, irresponsible and unstable, its the bare minimum we owe our neighbors.