Over the last few years, there has been a renewed drive by some to install rigid gun control laws across the country. The belief pushed by those who support such endeavors is that doing so will promote safety. However, it has been found that such endeavors have made little to no change in the level of violent crime rates across the globe. Not to mention that, in many cases, the level of rigidity that such laws embody is potentially outright unconstitutional.

Studies have shown that stricter gun control laws do not yield lower crime rates. For example, Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Yet, Chicago is also one of the most violent and deadliest cities in the nation, with over 500 gun-related deaths in 2012 alone, an increase of over 10% from 2005. Prior to 2013, Illinois where carrying a concealed weapon was illegal. In December, federal judges struck it down as unconstitutional. But, politicians in the state continue to push further gun control laws, including an assault weapons ban, despite the evidence that such laws aren’t working. Contrast that with Houston, a city that shares many of the socioeconomic, demographics, and criminal issues as Chicago does. Yet, Houston has almost half less as many gun-related deaths as Chicago does, with 217 recorded in 2012. Perhaps there are other reasons embedded that can account for this difference, but one thing is noticeable: Houston has fewer gun laws than Chicago. One reason the numbers could be low is that criminals can expect more people to be armed.

Endeavors such as background checks are used to attempt at finding an individual’s history before approving a gun license for them. This is preached as necessary to promote safety. While I do believe such a check isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t a foolproof way of deterring crime. In fact, some of the infamous events of the last decade or so have come from individuals that either had nothing or would never have been caught with one anyways. Adam Lanza more than likely would have been caught with a background check, but it meant nothing. He stole the gun he used to kill 20 schoolchildren in Sandy Hook, Connecticut from his mother.

In fact, one of the things that is hardly given much exposure on this debate is the notion of mental illness. Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter, had passed both a state and federal background check, on a few occasions had experienced paranoid delusions, symptoms of schizophrenia. He called the police in response to these symptoms, and the police simply told him not to listen to them. And that was it. Alexis would go on to shoot and kill 12 people at the Navy Yard, a gun-free zone. Seung Hui-Cho, the shooter who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, had been evaluated by several individuals 15 months prior to his rampage, but was never treated and fell through the cracks.

A study just released by Quinnipiac University found that states with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons tended to have higher gun-related murder rates than other states. Assault weapon bans were also found to not significantly affect murder rates at the state level. This mirrors some earlier studies that have been done in the area, especially the 1997 study from John Lott and David Mustard of the University of Georgia. The Quinnipiac study covered data from 1980 to 2009, while the Lott/Mustard study covered data from 1977 to 1992.

As was the case with Illinois, many of the laws on the books are unconstitutional. New York takes it further, not just having background checks and permits, but also long wait times (many a time leading to rejections…especially when trying to get open carry) and stating a reason for why you want one. Such things go against the constitutional right that every one has to own arms. No one should have to wait months for that, and especially there should be no reason given.

The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights states: “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 does this mean, you ask? The Founding Fathers realized that the freedom of the people depended on the ability of said people to be able to defend themselves against the potential tyranny/usurpation of the state/government. A militia is defined as a group/army of non-professional forces, a.k.a. citizens. In order to be able to operate properly (“well-regulated”), it would need to be well-armed. Therefore, the citizenry needed to be able to own arms. What wards off an ever-encroachment state/government is the knowledge that the citizens can defend themselves.

Therefore, when legislation is crafted, it should be with the idea that the citizen shouldn’t be unreasonably barred from owning a firearm. The focus on the tool should also be left behind, and replaced with a focus on the user themselves, especially when concerned with the topic of mental illness. Gun, hammer, screwdriver, broken light bulb, T.V. remote…Giraffe-shaped decoration…it doesn’t matter the tool involved, for those who seek to do harm to others will find a way to carry out their rampage/plan. It is time for more serious debate regarding this topic.

Sources:

More Gun Laws Do Not Mean Less Crime: http://benswann.com/more-gun-laws-do-not-mean-less-crime/

Harvard Publication On Gun Laws Resurfaces As Talks About Firearms Continue: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2013/08/30/harvard-gun-study-no-decrease-in-violence-with-ban/

Initial Thoughts on the Navy Yard Shooting: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/358625/initial-thoughts-navy-yard-shooting-charles-c-w-cooke

The real Navy Yard scandal: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-the-real-navy-yard-scandal/2013/09/19/ddfde26a-2162-11e3-a358-1144dee636dd_story.html

Va. Tech Gunman’s Records Reveal Disorganized Mental Health System: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/19/AR2009081902380.html?sid=ST2009081902390

An examination of the effects of concealed weapons laws and assault weapons bans on state-level murder rates: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13504851.2013.854294

Crime, Deterrence, and Right-To-Carry Concealed Handguns: http://www.terry.uga.edu/~mustard/ccw.pdf

Extra:

When it comes to gun rights, the United States is in a unique club of nations when it comes to a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Only Guatemala and Mexico have similar constitutional concepts, though they are more conditional.(http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2010/12/have_gun_want_to_travel.html) Some gun control proponents like to use such a circumstance to make a case against the 2nd Amendment as being from a bygone, outdated era…yet appealing to popularity really is irrelevant as looking at history can also lead to a notice as to why a right to defense against tyrants of all walks is so paramount (https://americainchains2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/dictators-and-gun-control/).

While some of those who support gun control like to use the Australian buyback program as being a great model to emulate (let’s forget the obvious constitutional and civil right violations involved if it ever were to come state-side, which is of course highly unlikely), research into the program comes to a far different conclusion on the “success” of the model (http://www.captainsjournal.com/2012/07/23/do-gun-bans-reduce-violent-crime-ask-the-aussies-and-brits/). And despite the claims by some about there not being a “mass shooting” in Australia since the 1996 law (again, comes down to how one defines what a “mass shooting” is, as different countries have different cultural views and appetites, as well as different conceptions of terms from one another. As a result, what statisticians might calculate for “mass killings” or “assaults” in one country won’t be the same necessarily as another), that isn’t really accurate: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australia-reloads-as-gun-amnesties-fail-to-cut-arms-20130113-2cnnq.html; http://bearingarms.com/npr-contributor-attempts-cover-australian-mass-shootings/

One again, as the narrative perpetrated by some about how there is no assurance that circumstances will change if people are allowed to carry guns (as if there is ever an assurance of anything in life) continues to be used, here are reports of just what being armed and able to defend can do that those who perpetuate said narrative fail to notice: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/10/03/do-civilians-with-guns-ever-stop-mass-shootings/; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/22/armed-texas-grandma-stops-would-be-robber-back-or-/; http://www.live5news.com/story/30483472/ccso-1-person-dead-after-13-year-old-opens-fire-at-suspected-burglar

Exactly what defines a weapon as “dangerous and unusual”? Such terms by themselves are fairly vague and depend very much on the beholder to be defined. The Heller case in 2008 made such a distinction by claiming those “most useful for military service” were the standard by which certain weapons would be outside of the protection of the 2nd Amendment (though such a standard again is debatable at times). However, in a recent court decision in Maryland, the majority concluded that the weapons in question were “dangerous and unusual” due to being…according to them…”exceptionally lethal weapons of war”. However, since such weapons are lawfully owned by millions of Americans, such a distinction seems dubious, as well as the fact that they are…assuming we know what qualifies as an “assault weapon” as the term is applied differently depending on who uses it…hardly as lethal as conventional claims would make it appear (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/sunday-review/the-assault-weapon-myth.html?_r=0). The other argument that weapons with “large-capacity magazines” are more lethal than those with smaller magazines might appear significant, but loses any sort of relevance when realized that such magazines are sold standard with handguns and such as well.

Yet another nation that has rampant gun control and supposed fewer guns…yet much more crime. So much for that “fewer guns equals less crime” narrative: http://www.tfp.org/tfp-home/news-commentary/what-about-gun-violence-in-brazil.html.

It is always those procedures done with good intentions that can end up having a deleterious effect. This new proposal seeks to limit ownership of firearms to those who are seen as unable to manage their own affairs due to “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease”. The problem is…what determines the categorization of such concepts? The NY Safe Act is a notorious example of such a scenario, where people are lumped together into broad categories that can end up denying constitutional rights to people that haven’t been convicted of a crime and/or have taken part in activities that are hardly questionable. Such things can end up villainizing people, and ultimately lead to some reneging on treatment which could perpetuate the problem. Indeed mental illness and backgrounds should be debated concerning public safety, but that shouldn’t be taken to such a degree where innocent people are thrown into the mix. The problem, as always, is finding that balance where rights and privacy are respected as well (http://redalertpolitics.com/2016/06/13/liberals-unfairly-stigmatize-mentally-ill-mass-shootings/; http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/mental-illness-gun-rights-and-medical-privacy/)

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