Gun Control or Controlling Guns?
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World
All of you know I work in law enforcement, so I’m a bona-fide true blue certified court approved expert on guns (okay that was a bit of a stretch, but you get the point). I was talking to my children a while back about Martin Luther King Jr. and what he did for the rights of people. And thanks to the media (in my opinion the single greatest reason why people commit more unthinkable crimes by glorifying the crimes that are committed), the discussion turned to guns at schools when my son asked me why the world even needs guns? That got me thinking.
I’m a fan of researching things before speaking about them. So I made some calls to fellow experienced law enforcement officials, read two interesting articles about gun control (one on each side of the fence), scoured the internet, read the Second Amendment, and looked at President Obama’s proposed plans for guns before coming up with the following.
Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that difference is okay, as long as we continue to listen to each other’s opinions and continue to move forward.
First some brief statistics:
I think some people would be seriously surprised if they knew there have been 130 school shootings since Columbine (1999). I graduated high school in 1993. I did not see a gun at school, ever.
In the mass shootings between 1982 and 2012, forty nine were done with weapons obtained LEGALLY. Two shootings were with guns obtained illegally.
All over the internet, and throughout discussions lately about gun control, people are stating that there are FAR MORE deaths with baseball bats than firearms. This simply is not true. The FBI does many things right, one of them is impeccable research. Time and time again their reports on gun violence support the fact that deaths with firearms account for 65-68% of all deaths with some type of weapon. Blunt objects (which is likely where a baseball bat would fall under since “baseball bat” isn’t used as a single subject by the FBI) account for 3-5% of deaths with some type of weapon.
States with stricter gun laws have fewer deaths from gun related violence. This makes sense because these states have the resources to enforce the laws designed to curb gun related violence. Other states do not have similar resources.
What I think:
I think the right answer to gun control is somewhere right in the middle. People are killed by drunk drivers, but law makers are not moving towards banning vehicles. People die or kill people while talking or texting on their cell phones, but law makers are not moving towards banning cell phones. My point is, banning all guns is also not the right answer, particularly when the second amendment to the Constitution protects our right to own them.
For me, it comes down to people being responsible for their own actions. In addition, I firmly believe better education about gun control is needed as well as more laws in place designed to make it more difficult for bad people to get guns while maintaining our rights to possess them. The guns used in the Connecticut shooting were purchased legally and possessed legally. The woman (a victim no one seems to talk about) who owned them ultimately died when her own son stole the guns from her and killed her. Banning guns altogether would not have prevented the terrible things that happened at that elementary school.
Over the years, groups like MADD have tackled drunk driving by increasing education to our younger generations about the dangers of drinking and driving. The message has been driven home to the general public that drinking and driving will not be tolerated and people should make arrangements to have designated drivers. DUI arrests are up (from law enforcement aggressively investigating them), but fatalities from drunk driving are down. Supporting the fact that education is working. I think the same thing should be done with guns. Firearms are not going away, but we can teach more about gun safety, gun control, and identifying individuals who may need help before they get a hold of one and do something egregious.
I’d like to think gun control and awareness about controlling guns could have been done earlier in the United States, and I would like to believe it would have saved people like Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy. However sadly, it would not have saved the lives of these tremendously important figures in US history. Let us not forget these men and try to honor their messages by teaching our younger generations about guns. I don’t know when the right age is to start talking about guns with your children and young people, but my six-year-old brought it up so I say you can start there. The important thing is we must start somewhere. We owe to ourselves and our children to use our heads and make the right decisions on this matter.
C. L. Swinney