Even as you read the headline, it kinda grabbed you, and then made you stop and think, right? I mean, here at TTAG, most of us are unashamedly, unabashedly pro-gun. But despite what
professional tr0lls/ liberal gadflies/resident Progressives MikeB302000 and Magoo seem to think, we’re not “gun loons” ’round these parts, and we acknowledge that there are some people who really shouldn’t carry a gun. A effective way to determine if someone is pro-gun rights or pro-gun “control” is to look at their default position on the issue . . .
If you believe that “everyone should carry, except ______” (fill in the blank) you probably identify with the pro-gun rights camp. Conversely, if you default posture is “nobody should carry, except ______” (ditto), then you likely see yourself more comfortable with those that see “gun control” as the solution. So to help our more Liberal readers better understand where the rest of us are coming from, I thought we’d explore who we (as pro-gun rights supporters) believe should not carry a gun.
When debate goes from “the open and free exchange of ideas” to “oh YEAH?! We’ll YOU’RE an illiterate DOUCHBAG and you wouldn’t know a sentient thought if it bit you on your ass!” it’s time for everybody to take a chill pill and relax. When the debate reaches that level of hostility, nobody’s listening to the other side, and we accomplish nothing. And the debate over the private ownership and carry of guns, be it concealed or open carry has gotten a little heated lately. But oddly enough, when we stop yelling at each other, I think there may be (a few) areas of agreement, where we might (at least) acknowledge that we can see eye-to-eye. In that spirit, here’s my annotated list of who pro-gun advocates believe should not carry a gun.
- Criminals. Yep. Surprised? I think we can all agree on this one. If someone means to do another person harm, or expects to use a gun to force others to bend to their will, that’s universally a bad thing. But it’s not that simple. We have laws that forbid known criminals (defined as those with a criminal record in our courts system) from even being around guns. So how is it that criminals keep getting guns? Aye, there’s the rub. You see, while we all can agree that it’s bad for criminals to have guns, we diverge, sharply, on how to keep the guns away from criminals. Problem #1, criminals don’t obey the law. (It’s, um, how they became criminals in the first place.) So passing any law that regulates guns is likely to be ineffective, since they’ll ignore it anyway. Pro-gun rights advocates realize this, and realize that penalizing law-abiding citizens and stripping them of their rights is no solution. Those on the other side of the fence believe that our rights to own guns for self-defense are trumped by the public’s right to safety, and we should be willing to give up our 2nd Amendment rights in order to crack down on crime.
- Mentally Ill. Do I think Jarred Lee Loughner should have been able to buy/own/carry/use a gun? Of course not. Ditto for anybody that goes around threatening people, someone who’s obviously a threat to him- or herself and others, et cetera. Crazy people and guns don’t mix. But (as you might suspect) there’s a problem. Where’s the line? How crazy is crazy enough? And to get right down to brass tacks, how can we tell the merely eccentric but harmless people from the ones who are next week’s mass murderers? Until/unless science perfects some kind of “Minority Report” thingy that can predict the future, there’s literally no way to tell. And if you have laws that would deny someone their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms on the basis that you think they might do something bad, where does that stop? Wouldn’t you be able to throw them in jail then, on suspicion of being up to no good? Who gets to decide? Nope. As much as all of us would like to stop the next Columbine, Virgina Tech, or Arizona Strip Mall shooting before it happens, gun rights folks realize that this is a very slippery slope, and no law you pass will ever be effective at stopping crimes before they are committed. Those on the other side take a different view, again being willing to compromise the rights of the many to try and keep a very few from harming others.
- Children. Every so often, you look at the news to see some child has found a gun, played with it, and the result is a tragedy. Somebody (the child, another child, an adult) stood in the way of the bullet, and was killed. I wrote that preceding sentence in the passive voice on purpose, because the “gun control” crowd seems to think it’s the gun’s fault, when something like this happens. It wasn’t an irresponsible adult’s fault. It wasn’t the fault of a child who didn’t know better, was too young to understand the consequences, or hadn’t been taught gun safety. Nope. it’s the gun’s fault. On the pro-gun rights side, we understand that when you act in a careless and irresponsible manner, eventually Murphy’s Law is gonna catch up to you. Realistically, I think it should be left up to parents to teach their children gun safety, largely because some kids mature faster than others. Take two thirteen-year-olds. One may have grown up around guns, been hunting since they were in elementary school, be a good shot, and very mature for their age. The other’s never handled a gun, only knows what they’ve seen in the movies, and thinks that actions and consequences are two, totally-unrelated things. Would you keep a gun out of the hands of the first child, just because the second one shouldn’t have one? What if the first child lives on a ranch, rides fence, and needs to carry a gun for protection from coyotes and other predators? Back when my parents were in school, it wasn’t at all unusual to see gun racks in the back of the family truck in school parking lots. Nobody thought a thing about it. Today, the same thing would result in a SWAT-worthy incident, with national TV coverage.
- Old People. This is a tricky one. My dad died last year, at age 84. In his final months, he was too weak and infirm to be able to do much, much less hold and fire a gun. But when he was 83, I took him to the range a couple of times, and he did quite well, firing both his shotgun and his .38 Special revolver. Hit the target center-mass and everything. Pro-gun folks see 2nd Amendment rights as a “shall not be infringed” kinda thing. Anti-gun people see problems, and look at laws as all-purpose solutions. For those who think licensing is the answer, riddle me this, Batman – how many old people do you see behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, where you think “They shouldn’t be driving.” Yet, they hold valid driver’s licenses. It would be nice, perhaps, if the law could protect us from stupid stuff. But as commedian Ron White says, “You cain’t fix stupid.” And you can’t legislate it out of existence, either.
- Angry, Abusive People. We know the types. We’ve all heard the stories. Some woman leaves her abusive husband, and he comes after her. She gets a restraining order against him. It doesn’t work. He shoots her and sometimes then turns the gun on himself. Should this kind of guy have a gun? What about the employee who is uncooperative, creepy and downright scary? You know, the one who gets terminated, leaves work, comes back with a shotgun and takes out his boss and anybody else who done him wrong? Yeah. THAT guy. Should he have a gun? In retrospect, of course not. But how do you tell in advance? For if you passed a law that, say, disarmed someone who threatened another, or was perceived to be a threat to others, how would that work, exactly? And how would you disarm them? Give them a police escort? Confiscate their guns? How effective would/could that be? You see, pro-gun people realize that the world is an imperfect place and there’s nothing the law can do to fix that. Anti-gun people believe that the law can make the world (more) perfect.
- Idiots. Yep. They do exist. You know, the people that think the laws of physics don’t apply to them. The Jackass crowd that never see guns as something to be treated with respect and care. THOSE guys. But how do you keep guns out of the hands of people too irresponsible to handle them safely? The pro-gun camp advocates things like “common sense” and “training.” The anti-gun camp goes with “ban them,” “license them,” and “force them to get extensive, expensive training.”
Now if we were going to tell this story from the point of view of a “gun control” advocate, the question would be reversed. “Who SHOULD Carry a Gun?” for them, anyway, is an easier question to answer.
- Law Enforcement Officers (on-duty only). No argument from our side.
- Military (on-duty, and only when defending our country, preferably in some other country). Gotta diverge on that one. If our military were allowed to carry guns when they are on base (as opposed to treating military bases as giant ‘gun-free zones’) the tragedy of the Islamic Fundamentalist Doctor who shot up the Fort Hood down in Texas would have had a much shorter, much less lethal story arc.
- Public Figures/Rich n’ Famous/their bodyguards. I’ve got no problem with that. I do have a problem, though, when they preach against gun ownership, but feel it’s okay for them to own/carry guns, but the rest of us should go unarmed.
So let’s see if we can define the problem and stop with the outsized rhetoric. On both sides. We can agree that some people shouldn’t (and some people should) have access to guns. That’s not generally where we disagree. It’s on how to prevent the wrong people from having guns where we disagree. And frankly, I don’t see anything that’s gonna change that. You either see the 2nd Amendment as an inalienable right, or you don’t. You either acknowledge that laws and the police cannot protect people in every instance or you don’t. And you either see self defense as something that’s a reasonable compromise or you don’t. And it really is that simple.