The Smoking Gun in America

By: Brendan Joyce –

The argument for gun control has increased dramatically over the last 2 weeks after the San Bernardino and Paris terrorist attacks that left many innocent people dead in cold blood by those wanting to instill fear in us. Let’s keep those people in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season and hope for a swift response from our government to take these terrible radical Islamic terrorist murders down.

The political left argues for more gun control which only takes guns out of the hands of law abiding gun owners. The political right calls for less control and allowing more people to own guns. In my opinion, they are both wrong.

Guns have been a staple of American Independence and Freedom since the introduction of the Bill Of Rights in 1789 and the final ratification in 1791. The 2nd Amendment states very simply:

“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.”

The 2nd has 4 words at the end that are a warning to government for trying to infringe upon those rights (shall not be infinged). The founding fathers were unanimous when stating the importance of the 2nd Amendment. One of the many arguments made by the left is that back in those days we only had muskets, and that is to be put simply, is wrong. The founding fathers knew of multi-shot weaponry such as the duck-foot pistol which fired 5 shots at once. They also created a patent system in the constitution showing they knew technology in the sciences, the arts, and industry were going to keep advancing long past their days in office.
The modern media will also have people believe that you can walk into a gun shop and buy a fully automatic machine gun, no questions or paperwork involved. This just simply isn’t the case. The National Firearms act of 1986 outlawed machine guns for civilian use and the National Firearms Act of 1936 outlawed short barrel shotguns and rifles. The media tends to highlight how easy it is to buy a gun. This just isn’t the case. Buying a firearm today is a very complicated and tedious process.
In order to purchase a Firearm, you must go to an FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed Dealer) and fill out an ATF Form 4473  . This form is the application to transfer a firearm from an FFL dealer to the person buying the gun. You must provide a valid form of identification (such as a drivers license or state ID) and Your Social Security number. After the form is filled out, the applicant signs the form stating that all the information provided is valid. If you do lie on the application, it is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison or a $250,000 fine. The FFL dealer also looks the information over with the SSN card and ID to varify it is a valid identification card and SSN. Then the FFL contacts NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)(Run by the FBI) and is connected with a representative of NICS. The FFL representative states their FFL ID number, and provides the NICS operator with the information provided on the application and NICS uses that information to research your record. After typically about 30 minutes of searching, the NICS operator either proceeds, denies, or delays the purchase.
Typically it will be a Proceed or Deny, but a delay would be if you have a common name like “John Smith” and they would want more information from you to send in additional paperwork to prove that it is actually you. NICS checks for a criminal record in all 50 states as well as a conviction or court records regarding mental illness. Pennsylvania also does a secondary background check for handgun purchases which is done through the PA state police (PICS). The age limits to buy rifles and shotguns in Pennsylvania state that you must be 18 and 21 for handguns.
Now that you know the process, you can decide for yourself if the process needs to be more strict or not.
The big debate as well is if citizens should own AR-15 pattern semi-automatic rifles. In 2013, according to FBI violent crime statistics  the number of people killed by rifles (this is all rifles, not just the AR-15 type rifles) was 285 (Which is slowly declining every year). The number of people killed by clubs and blunt objects (such as hammers) was 428 (which is almost double that of rifles). Yet the media will have you believe that AR-15s are the ultimate mass shooting killing machine known to man.
1,490 people were killed by knives or other cutting instruments. This is over 5 times the number if people killed by rifles. 687 people were killed by hands and feet as well. With all this crime data at the government and media’s disposal, why don’t we talk about bans on knives, hands, or hammers? The high capacity magazine ban being suggest as well is also a sham. It takes your average shooter only seconds to reload a fully loaded magazine, and criminals already have their hands on plenty of high capacity magazines.
Over the last few decades, violent crime is down as a whole by about 20%. Currently we are at an all time low in violent crime since 1978.
Now, I’m not going to write an entire article and say that everything is okay with society’s current gun problem, because in my opinion, we need to overhaul our purchasing system to obtain guns instead of looking at individual guns and wanting to ban them based on cosmetic features.
Here is my thoughts on how we could fix all of this for a long term solution to cutting down on violent crime involving firearms. We should make the system very similar to obtaining a drivers license. Have a written test to educate those on the safety of firearms and the laws regarding firearms and the proper use of firearms. The next step should be a test of skill involving firearms showing that you know how to use your firearms safely and efficiently. Then you should get a thorough background check and mental health exam to show you are mentally competent and free of a criminal record.
The final documentation will be a firearms license. Those passing will be issued a physical license to purchase firearms and ammunition and have it renewed every few years to maintain lawful gun ownership. This would allow law abiding citizens to get their hands on guns and keep the mentally ill and convicted criminals away from legal gun ownership.
At the end of the day, not even total gun control would stop attack such as those in Paris and San Bernardino (France has some of the strictest gun laws in the world and California has the toughest gun laws in the country as well as a high capacity magazine ban and “assault weapons” ban), but with a good system in place, it allow law-abiding citizens the ability to purchase and carry firearms for the protection of themselves and family.
Total freedom of purchasing guns is absurd and total control is absurd as well. These tragedies will keep happening into the future and even the most perfect system will not work to prevent criminals from obtaining guns.
I believe firmly that we are having a societal change in how we value life in today’s culture. The media tends to always highlight events such as this for weeks, but will never make a big deal of the number of people killed by criminal gang violence. The government wants to control something tangible, when in fact the real problem is an intangible problem. The mentally sick and ill are drawn to these events because they see them as a way to get their name recognized.
As a nation, we need to address these problems and it will be up to our generation to deal with the coming issues and repercussions of these shootings. The 2nd Amendment was created in order to protect our freedoms and taking away the 2nd Amendment would give us no guarantees on those freedoms.
A once famous German author and leader once wrote “to conquer a nation, you must first disarm it’s citizens”. That man was Adolf Hitler who passed the German Gun Control act of 1938. The law simply disarmed the Jewish people who were then thrown into death camps and concentration camps to be exterminated from the German population. This is just one example of many throughout the 20th century and even the 21st century on how tyranny in the world government is still a valid argument.
Our generation will be the generation who could put our foot down and change all of this. We could be known as the generation who made a difference in the nation, or the one who destroyed it. People need to be educated and be able to stand up to the injustices of the world. Guns are NOT a thing to be taken lightly. It takes a great deal of responsibility to own them and use them properly. With education and proper training measures to ensure the safety of self and those around us, they could be a valuable tool in that job. I understand that many people in today’s society are fearful of guns and would never want to own one, and I would never want to have someone armed who doesn’t fully understand the laws and responsibilities behind it.
I know I am one lonely average voice on the issue among many politicians and activists who pride themselves on the divide they create in our government. I understand many people will not agree with me on my opinions, but if I could for anything from the reader, it is this, please do your research and source out knowledgeable facts and information on the issue before you take a stance. Please look at hard evidence from crime statistics and other reputable sources on the issue and make an informed decision this election season on who more accurately represents your views. Your voice matters just as much as my voice and the many other voices around us. Thank you for reading!
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