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Gun Control and Terrorism in the United States

Thoughts on Gun Control and Terrorism in the United States

An Article on Politics and Social Issues

[I began writing this well prior to the tragedies of this week and have been hesitant to post it because of the inflammatory nature of the subject. However, I have decided to post it (right or wrong) in reaction to the events of this past week.] — Burton

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

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.[75]

That’s it, the Second Amendment in its entirety!

After the most recent tragedy in Oregon -1, there as always, will be a renewed call for more gun control. Again, as in previous cases, those taking this stand are transferring the responsibility from where it should be, man…….to what has been made an easy target of derision………guns.

If the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombings and the events at the Boston Marathon taught us nothing else, they should have taught us that a gun isn’t needed to commit murder, particularly mass murder.

Cain killed Abel long before the invention of gun powder and the first firearm. Man has been killing man since the beginning of man’s existence. Is this not more evidence of the flaw, sin, and cruelty of man than any method he might use?

While all killings are tragic and guns and firearms certainly are effective tools; historical evidence suggests, nay even proves, if never invented or completely eliminated, man killing man would not cease. Does anyone really doubt that?

I feel compelled to state here that I don’t own a single gun or firearm. I am not now, nor have I ever been a hunter. At the same time I state, I have nothing against either.

Instead of the easy target gun-control advocates intended it to be, it has become a “tar baby”. The more they fight it, the more entangled they become.

The gun is not to blame………………its man that’s to blame. But since in almost all the current cases of multiple killings in a public place, the perpetrator is killed as well, and therefore he conveniently isn’t available for accountability, blame and persecution………..are we looking for a suitable substitute in the gun, or is there really some other reason?

I don’t like conspiracy theories, and I’m not suggesting one, but for those so inclined, a case could be made for the intended disarmament of the American citizen. Why else all the clamor and emotion directed at something that is clearly NOT TO BLAME!

We have raised a generation of young men with no moral compass or sense of what is right and wrong. They’ve never been disciplined or held accountable for their actions for fear of harming their self-esteem. We’ve removed all discipline from public schools. We’ve removed and prohibited any mention of religion or sense of patriotism as well. Fathers are marginalized to the point of being irrelevant………..but somehow GUNS are the cause. In my opinion when you really examine the facts and the issues at hand, the argument is quite transparent! So transparent in fact, as I reflect on them, I’m surprised they’ve gained as much traction as they have.

One argument put forth against the Second Amendment is that it no longer applies. After all, when it was written, we were still a new, virtually uncivilized, frontier nation. There were still Indians to fight and defend against. Men needed guns and muskets to provide food for the table. None of these circumstances exist today and therefore the need for individual ownership of guns and firearms is no longer required, necessary or valid.

“An imbecile habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but cannot be held in another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth.

You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays. You might as well say of a view of the cosmos that it was suitable to half-past three, but not suitable to half-past four. What a man can believe depends upon his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century.”  G.K .Chesterton, from A Year with G.K. Chesterton, Kevin Belmonte, Editor

Recently in a local paper there appeared, on the editorial page, clearly marked “opinion” an article entitled: “Comment: How the gun lobby rewrote Second Amendment” The article was written by Cass Sunstein, a Bloomberg View columnist, and director of the Harvard Law School’s program on behavioral economics and public policy. In it, he makes the case, quoting various lawyers and Supreme Court Justice, Warren Burger that the “Second Amendment ‘has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat ‘fraud’ – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.’ In the next year (this same Supreme Court Judge) proclaimed that “the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to have fire arms at all.”

Sunstein goes on to state, “Burger was speaking for the overwhelming majority of lawyers and judges. The Second Amendment reads: ‘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.” In Burger’s view, the opening reference to a “well regulated Militia” suggests that the Second Amendment was meant to forbid the national government from abolishing state militias.”

Now I don’t know if this was Burger’s view, or whether it is Sunstein’s interpretation of “Burger’s View.” Certainly, I make no claim to a mind, legal or otherwise, as sharp as Warren Burger – but the phrase, “…right of the people to keep…..arms, seems pretty clear, regardless of any other interpretation.

When you look up the word Militia, one definition is: a group of people who are not part of the armed forces of a country, but are trained like soldiers. If they are not a part of the country’s armed forces, they are not supported by the government. Tell me then, where are they to get arms, if they don’t have their own.

Let’s suppose for a minute that the gun control (total civil disarmament) advocates are right and completely successful in eliminating all firearms from private hands. No suppose, sometime in the future, we have allowed to evolve, a government not quite as benevolent as we have always enjoyed. A government that over time has removed more and more individual freedoms, (if not removed by the government, surrendered by an ill-informed mindset) a government that has become tyrannical, a government that we the people believe should be removed, i.e. overthrown. I suppose we could call out the State Militia, but….hey! wait a minute, they have no guns! Perhaps a ludicrous example, what say you?

I read somewhere recently that all but two, of the recent mass killings in this country were in “gun free zones”. Also, recently on a Facebook post there was something to the effect that:

  • We defend the President with guns
  • We defend our Embassies with guns
  • We defend the Pope with guns
  • On and On — can’t remember the rest, but the last was:
  • We defend our children with “Gun Free Zones”

I concede you can support any position with what’s posted on Facebook, ……..

To make a point, of all the killings in “Gun Free Zones”, maybe the killers didn’t see the sign. Maybe we need a bigger sign GUN FREE ZONE…………..there, that ought to do it! If the killer had only seen the sign, I’m sure he wouldn’t have gone into a “gun-free zone”. Why that would be illegal!! Ludicrous?? Ridiculous??

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “One of the marks of a certain type of person is that he cannot give up anything himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. An individual may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons – marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema, or firearms; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”

I will also state here that I have no argument against extensive background checks for the purchase of guns. Convicted criminals and the mentally ill should be barred from legitimate gun purchases. Some oppose this on the basis of targeting gun owners. If they know who has the guns and where he/she lives, they know where to go to take them away. To me, this smacks a little of paranoia. There is an obvious problem with the concept of “……..barred from legitimate gun purchases.” No matter how extensive a background check, there are ways around, over and through the process to acquire a gun(s) illegally; the simplest and most direct being to break into the house of a known gun owner and steal his. And they’d know who the gun owners are …..because they’re registered! Hope I’m not being paranoid!

Many arguments for or against gun control are fraught with logical fallacies!

Appeal to Emotion: School shootings, therefore gun control. “What if it was your child that was killed in those school shootings?” I would be devastated, just as I’m sure all parents who lose a child in that manner are. But I would be no less devastated if I lost a child in an automobile accident or to a deadly disease.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc:

This a conclusion that if ‘A’ occurred after ‘B’, then ‘B’ must have caused ‘A’.  An example being passed around the internet is a picture of people enjoying a peaceful day at the beach, purportedly in Australia.  The headline reads: Australia Enjoys Another Peaceful Day Under Oppressive Gun Control Regime.

“…the peaceful two decades that have followed are “probably” because the Australian government decided to strip us of our God-given right to own projectile weaponry capable of shooting down helicopters.”

The argument states Australia made private gun ownership much more restrictive 20 years ago.(‘B’). And for the past two decades, Australia has had no mass murders (‘A’). The implied conclusion is that B caused A. This example assumes that if one event chronologically follows another, the first event must have caused the second.

The fact is, mass murders in Australia were rare prior to the restrictive gun ownership law’s passage in 1996. Also define mass killings: Australia defines a mass killing as “a gunman killing five or more people besides himself.” “The deadliest shooting since 1996 occurred last year, when a farmer in New South Wales fatally shot his wife and three children before killing himself.” — 3 Killing six qualifies, killing only five does not.

“Critics have argued that gun violence was falling in Australia before 1996 and would have continued to fall even without the gun control measures. Others have suggested that even as gun-related deaths fell, people in Australia may have resorted to using other weapons to kill.” – 4

This presentation also qualifies as an Overgeneralization (also Hasty Generalization) Fallacy – The common fallacy of applying one or two examples to all cases (it worked in Australia, therefore is will work in America. One case, one example does not extend to, much less prove, all cases.

Also, Australia hasn’t really been targeted by Islamic radicals…………not until recently.

A test of those laws came in December 2014, when a gunman who had expressed sympathy for Islamic extremism took hostages in a cafe in Sydney. The assailant, Man Haron Monis, brandished a sawed-off pump action shotgun that he had obtained illegally. During the 17-hour siege of the cafe, Mr. Monis fired several times, once into a wall, before killing the cafe manager. At that point, the police stormed in, killing the gunman and another hostage in the crossfire. – 5

Today, December 2, – 2, the most recent mass killings, in what euphemistically is being called “soft-targets”, two gunmen using “long-guns”, not handguns, dressed in tactical gear, etc. killed at least 14 people in a mental health center in San Bernardino, California.

Perhaps, instead of dis-arming our citizens, we should arm and train more and more private citizens in effective use of firearms. Maybe this is a stretch, but if it was commonly understood that at any one time, where 50 (pick a number) or more private citizens are peacefully gathered, 20% or more of them may be armed – would that give gunmen pause? In such scenarios, the targets would not be quite so soft! Certainly chaos would ensue, but would it be any more chaotic than what is occurring now? And perhaps fewer innocent lives would be taken and the terrorists would be dispatched to Allah sooner, rather than later. Desperate times call for desperate measures?

(Don’t like it? Provide a better solution other than disarming the citizenry.)

Should we resort to such tactics? I don’t know, but our approach up to now clearly isn’t working! Wringing our hands and calling for more gun-control, clearly isn’t working! Nor is it the answer!

I really don’t think armed citizens will stop them. It will just alter their tactics, like detonating bombs in public places by remote controlled devices. The fact is, we are in a war with radical Islam and we must face that fact and behave and react accordingly.

While I’m willing to be convinced I’m wrong, it seems to me, further disarming the citizenry IS NOT THE ANSWER.

The focus and the solutions lie elsewhere!

I cringe to think of open shoot-outs in public places in our country, and I don’t have a satisfactory solution. If you do, please advise, but come with something more well thought-out and less naïve than more controls, constraints and restrictions on an already law-abiding citizenry. – Burton

  1. I started this piece, well before December 2, 2015 and have been reluctant to post it because of the controversial and inflammatory nature of the subject. – Burton
  2. In immediate response to the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino killings. — Burton

The source for 3, 4 & 5 cited above is The New York Times at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/world/australia-gun-ban-shooting.html?_r=0

I invite those with opposing views to visit and read, as the article makes a very good case for the effectiveness of Australia’s more restrictive gun ownership measures in reducing gun-related deaths and suicides in that country.

Does that one case necessarily prove it will work in America? I don’t know.

 

Copyright December 2015

14 Comments

  1. Brooke Benton Brooke Benton

    Billy, it is a very complex situation, but I agree if more citizens were armed perhaps these people would at least hesitate for a few more second, about walking into a mental hospital or a school of innocent children, thinking perhaps the fight back might be to large.? But on the other hand, they dont care, they want to die for Alah so what is the answer?

    The same was in Nam they didnt care if you killed them and they didnt care if you killed the women and children, and I remember being afraid of all the women and children not knowing who was good and who was not.

    That is the same here, in my opinion, not all Muslims are evil, they are a peace loving people,
    it is with all religions, merely radicals within their religion, and yes your right, we have been killing people since our creation. I have some Muslim friends that are scared to go to the grocery anymore especially the women, because they fear they will be killed for walking into a grocery store where a “permit to carry” person could plow them down. And I dont blame them. The hysteria has begun and that is exactly what ISIS is hoping for.

    Not sure I have a answer, either, but to give into their fear tactics is not it!

    Regards, Brooke

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Thanks Brooke! I do so appreciate your taking the time to read and comment. I realize my posts are rather lengthy, but for such complex issues, I find it difficult to address fully in just a few lines. Thanks, again, I appreciate your comments, thoughts and insight.

  2. Ira Bryant Ira Bryant

    Vet well thought out commentary Bill. I am a multiple gun owner and past hunter and completely agree with what you have expressed. I hope a lot of folks will take the time to read and digest the things you have suggested.

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Thanks, Ira! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and respond. I know my posts are rather lengthy, but hard to make a point on just a complex issue is just a few lines. At least for me. Thanks again!

  3. Steve Nesbitt Steve Nesbitt

    Billy, once again, you have written a very good, well-thought and well-researched timely article. I agree with your conclusions and how you got there. My particular “easy” opinion is this: bad people with guns usually cause big problems. Good people with guns do not. The Second Amendment is still supreme!

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Thanks, Steve! I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

  4. Carlyle Bailey Carlyle Bailey

    Don’t call me this morning — I’m on my way to Guns-R-Us. Thanks Bill — keep up the good work.

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Thanks Carlyle. I appreciate your reading a rather long post, but don’t know how to make the point in just a few lines on such a complex issue.

  5. gary clark gary clark

    On first response/impulse “when our president,elected officials,the pope, hollywood, heads of countries, and or companies dismiss all of their security then we will be able to discuss why I shouldn’t have a gun to protect my family, myself, my friends, my coworkers. Most of “us” do not have “armed protection, so as a law abiding citizen the best thing, for me, is a shotgun which requires “point in the general direction and pull the trigger” Been hearing about this since the 60s. Now we have people who wish to kill us for what we believe in” I may never live to see it – however, there will be a day of deliverance, a correction, a final act – to stop this behavior.

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Thanks, GW – appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

  6. John John

    Once again you have made a number of compelling points as well as provoked thought on a complex subject. You know where I stand on the subject. The founders were brilliant in their forming of the first modern republic from of government.

  7. John John

    A follow up comment. I am of the opinion that at the root of the problem here in America is something you touched on early. The Social and cultural ramifications of choices we have made as a society. I agree Fathers have been devalued, marginalized at the very least. The family has been decimated by staggering divorce rates. Where the nuclear “traditional” family exist it is largely a two income family requiring a significant portion of child rearing to be subcontracted out to a level of child care one can “afford” to invest in. We have become a nation that chooses not to revere certain time tested virtues, principles and other codes of conduct for fear of alienating some micro minority. If it “offends” 1 to 3 percent of the population whatever “it”is seems must go. Since our inception we were a nation of heterogeneous people but we were largely united in our core values. That is important context – core values never change they are the filter in which we pass all important decision through. Priorities on the contrary do change and can change with relative frequency. I believe this is arguably the root cause of a number of our sufferings as a Nation. Priorities have replaced core values and the majority has surrendered to the minority It an effort to ‘relax” and become more inclusive the champions of this idea used its momentum to sweep out the existence of widely held core values and consequently ushered in an area of secular humanism intolerant of rules or perceived restraints on ones personal desires. There is so much more but unsuitably lengthy for the comment section. I acknowledge my opinions are likely not entirely correct but I do believe elements are supported by accessible data.

  8. Sonny Ward Sonny Ward

    Bill:

    Great article both pro and con. I personally do not believe the US would be in a state of FEAR if we had not taken Saddam Hussein out. He controlled the Muslin population by killing anyone who challenged the regime. Thus the fear of reprisal held the populace in check. However, I do not support Saddam Hussein’s tactics. By taking Saddam out the US was in hopes a new government could be formed and take control of the area while keeping the rebels at bay. The new government had too many cleric leaders thus no formal government was formed with appropriate support from the many religious groups. When the rebel groups began their march to take control they in turn killed just like Hussein. These groups were mad as hell at the US for interfering thus the start of the ISIL movement for plotting terrorism and attaching the US. So…..guns became a big time issue in the US. Don’t know the answer to gun control, but do believe we need stronger licensing and regulation concerning who can own a gun in the US.

    • BurtonB BurtonB

      Thanks Sonny! Thanks for first taking the time to read the article (I know most are long, but I find it difficult to make a strong and valid argument on such complex issues in just a few lines) and second for your insightful comments. I do try, in all the articles to be somewhat objective and even-handed, recognizing and acknowledging there is always another perspective and point of view. It’s no secret, my political leanings are more toward the conservative, but I hope I’m not narrow minded and dogmatic. As to the Iranian situation, I don’t disagree with anything you said. And while its always admirable and desirable to bring our fighting men and women home, there is an argument that had we not pulled out of Iran and Afghanistan and maintained a military presence a different and more pro-American government would have had a change to take hold. However, my removing all American troops, a void was created. That void, now currently filled by ISIS. Whether we should have ever overthrown Hussein is moot, ……..we can’t put that Genie back in the bottle.
      Enough politics, hope you and Phyllis enjoy a very happy and productive 2016. On a separate note, I’m quite worried about our old friend Jim’s current condition.
      Stay well Sonny and stay in touch.
      Should you read additional articles, I hope you will share your thoughts and insight.

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