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Gun Control: It’s not about Banning Guns
Thursday, 19 April 2007 12:34
by Robert Fantina

With the tragic massacre at Virginia Tech fresh in the minds of the world, many nations are looking at the culture of violence and easy access to guns that characterize American society. It is inevitable that one side will call for the passage of strict gun control laws, while the other decries the possibility of life without firearms.

It is long past time for each side to get together, and begin to speak and understand the same language. ‘Gun control’ does not equate to ‘gun banning.’ Gun control seeks reasonable governmental oversight on who purchases and uses one of the most dangerous commodities on the market.

The motto of the prominent gun control group, the Million Mom March, is ‘Sensible Gun Laws; Safe Kids.’ Nothing in those five words implies the removal of guns from the possession of law-abiding citizens. What is implied is that by regulating gun ownership, the average citizen will be safer from gun violence than he/she is today.

Most gun control groups have never advocated, to this writer’s knowledge, the removal of hunting rifles from those who enjoy that sport. It has never sought to take guns from those who enjoy target shooting, or from those who feel they need to carry firearms for their personal and/or family protection. It has not sought to prevent those who wish to obtain guns for those purposes from doing so. What they have advocated is a policy similar to that of those who own and/or operate motor vehicles.

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Prior to being able to operate a motor vehicle, it is necessary for the applicant to obtain a certain age, which varies from state to state, much like gun laws may vary from state to state. He/she must first obtain a learners permit, which involves producing evidence of identification and age, and take a test indicating that he/she knows some rudimentary tasks associated with driving: what a stop sign looks like, how to properly signal for a turn, and what the average stopping distance is if traveling at 50 mph.

Once that test is passed, a date is schedule for the driving test. The applicant then practices operating a vehicle, either with a formal instructor, or with someone who has already been licensed. At the scheduled date, the applicant takes a driving test with a government employee, who determines if the applicant is sufficiently competent to drive a car. These steps are necessary since the applicant will be operating a large piece of machinery which, if used improperly, can injure and kill

A person who wants to own a motor vehicle must register it. He or she will provide the vehicle identification number to a state-registered agency, who will check to assure that the title (ownership record) is free and clear. The applicant will be presented with a registration card, which must be produced when demanded by a law enforcement officer, and license plates. These items identify the vehicle and its owner. Should the vehicle then, for example, be involved in the commission of the crime, if a witness documents the license plate number, the owner of the car can be located and questioned about the crime.

One wonders why it is asking too much for gun owners and operators to do the same. One can apply for a license to shoot a gun, practice with someone already licensed, and then take a test to assure competency. Before a gun purchase is finalized, a serial number can be produced, and the new gun owner can be presented with a registration form, indicating that he/she owns the gun. Should the gun be used in the commission of a crime, and be located, the owner can then be traced and questioned about the crime.

If a car owner reports that his/her car has been stolen, and the car is subsequently used in the commission of a crime, the owner would not be held responsible; the car was reported to have been stolen and no longer in the possession of the legal owner. If recovered, it can be returned to the owner.

If a gun owner, under these registration rules, reports that his/her gun has been stolen, and the gun is subsequently used in the commission of a crime, he/she would likewise not be held responsible; the gun, at the time the crime was committed, was known to be no longer in the possession of the rightful owner.

Most states have inspection requirements for motor vehicles. Once every year or two, the vehicle owner must take the car to a licensed inspection station to assure that it is in a safe operating condition: that the brakes adhere to some minimal standard, the lights are working, etc. If a car fails the inspection, the owner is advised why it failed, and is given a certain period of time, often thirty days, to make the necessary repairs. If they are not made within that time and the car is still on the road, the owner can be ticketed and fined. This policy is in force to assure at least some minimal standard of safety of all cars on the road.

Some states require some kind of background check for persons seeking to purchase firearms. Convicted felons, people on parole and those with a history of perpetrating domestic violence are generally not able to purchase guns in states requiring background checks. This policy is in force to assure to at least a limited degree that people purchasing guns do not have a known history of violent behavior.

The registering of cars and the licensing of drivers does not prevent unauthorized or incompetent people from operating motor vehicles. The inspections required do not assure that no unsafe cars are ever on the road. Thousands of people die in auto accidents each year. However, these regulations are necessary to establish some level of safety and responsibility. Without them, the number of traffic fatalities would skyrocket

Similarly, registering firearms and licensing those who use them will not prevent gun violence. However, over 30,000 Americans die by gun violence each year. It is expected that that number can be greatly reduced by the registration of guns and licensing of those who use them.

The licensing of drivers and the registration of cars is not the first step toward banning motor vehicles. These regulations have existed for years, and any talk of banning cars would be ludicrous.

The registration of guns and the licensing of those who use them is not the first step toward banning them, although one would think it is from the chorus heard from the far right every time such a thing is suggested. Doing so would not necessarily prevent another Columbine, or another Virginia Tech. But it would go a long way to minimizing the number of victims that result from a combination of rage and easy access to a gun.

Gun control is not a panacea; the culture of violence that is so ingrained in American society will take generations to purge, assuming there was any major desire to purge it. But the enactment and enforcement of reasonable restrictions on the purchase and use of firearms will be a major step in reducing the number of gun tragedies that currently plague this nation. But with studies showing it is not politically convenient, the number of innocent victims of gun violence is unlikely to decrease.
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Comments (10)add comment

a guest said:

the 3% solution.
1 - Cho was obviously motivated and had planned his attack out. That said, he could have inflicted even more damage if he had chosen to use some type of homemade bomb (the most deadly attack on a school in American history was perpetrated with a bomb). So banning guns, or any other implement of destruction for that matter, only chips away at the problem.

Your article talks about a "culture of violence". ...but what about the rest of our cultural characteristics that helped Cho become who he is. Take away guns, somehow keep people from being able to make homemade bombs (figure this one out and the US Army will be pleased) and you still have a deranged person who is going to lash out at the world in some way. Maybe our society has an obligation to people like that not just to take away all of the means of them hurting themselves and others.

...or maybe there are just deranged fucks out there beyond help that are going to perpetrate crimes against society.

2 - Yes, the VT massacre was brutal, ugly and disturbing. As are all murders. Total up the number of gun deaths last year. Compare that to the number of people killed in alcohol related driving accidents. Gun deaths pale in comparison. You're picking your inanimate enemy de jour simply because of the drama and media coverage of this incident.

Take away the media coverage. Take away emotion and fright. Look at a comprehensive study of non-natural deaths in American and guns don't really start to look like public enemy # 1.

Perhaps we should require a licence to drink alcohol?
April 19, 2007
Votes: +1

a guest said:

"Most gun control groups have never advocated, to this writer’s knowledge, the removal of hunting rifles from those who enjoy that sport. It has never sought to take guns from those who enjoy target shooting, or from those who feel they need to carry firearms for their personal and/or family protection. It has not sought to prevent those who wish to obtain guns for those purposes from doing so. What they have advocated is a policy similar to that of those who own and/or operate motor vehicles."

Which gun control organization supported shall-issue carry permits - which set objective standards for carry permit issue, the way we have for our motor vehicles?

Which gun control organization supported the repeal of the absolute bans on handgun ownership in Chicago, IL, and Washington, DC?

None of them, of course. Because whether the writer is aware of it or not, for the gun control organizations, it is about eliminating civilian gun ownership.
April 19, 2007
Votes: +1

a guest said:

Guns are our only protection from British Redcoats
I know my title is facetious, but this Atlantic Journal article outlines the point about lax gun acquisition clearly and plainly without my help.

I do give some credit to the previous poster's idea of requiring licenses for drinking alcohol. That's facetious, too, but it underscores a point: a tragedy like the Virginia Tech shootings gives us an opening to take incremental statutory steps to prevent another such tragedy.

Cho Seung-Hui was declared mentally unstable and a danger by a Virginia magistrate in 2005. I'm sure we can agree that this should be at least a speed-bump for him on his way to buy guns at the local gunshop.

By the way, the British Redcoats stormed into our nation's capitol one night in the 19th century and burned the city down. The local armed militia was not only ineffective, they actually ran away. But they kept their guns. According to a recent Harvard Public Health Study, those guns were likely to have gone on to kill not Redcoats, but militia members and their families in accidents and suicides.
April 19, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

Some additional information on registration and intentions of gun control advocates:


The experience of Canada, Great Britain, and Australia shows quite plainly that gun registration precedes gun confiscation. The late Nelson T. "Pete" Shields, the Founding Chair of Handgun Control, Inc., ( now The Brady Campaign) explained:

The first problem is to slow down the number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second problem is to get handguns registered. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition—except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors—totally illegal." (Richard Harris, A Reporter at Large: Handguns, The New Yorker, July 26, 1976, p. 58.)


"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in, I would have done it."
-Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, discussing the 1994 "crime bill", one of the largest gun control bills of the last 30 years.
April 19, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

listen to the author . . .
Let me ask, what is the FEAR respondents have of reasonable gun control. The words "Because, whether the writer is aware of it or not, for the gun control organizastions, it IS about liminating civilian gun ownership" -- how do you support that statement factually?
April 19, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

they do want to take them away...
If you think that gun control groups only want to enact "sensible" laws, then you haven't done your research. Here are some quotes from the horses' mouths:
"Until we can ban all of them we might as well ban none."
--U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum Senate Hearings 1993
"If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out right ban, picking up every one of them... "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in, I would have done it.
--U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," 2/5/95
"Gun registration is not enough."
--U.S.Attorney General, Janet Reno on "Good morning America," 12/10/93
And last but not least:
"Our goal is to not allow anybody to buy a handgun. In the meantime, we think there ought to be strict licensing and regulation. Ultimately, that may mean it would require court approval to buy a handgun."
-- Michael K. Beard, President of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence [Washington Times, 12/6/93, page A1]

The "sensible" laws are just what they think they can get through now.
The final goal is total gun prohibition.

April 19, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

mental illness
Official reports suggest that Cho was suffering from a mental illness probably inflicted due to the lack of interaction with others in the local community. Why coulden't he relate to atleast a few of the pupils who attended VT, the possibilities could be low self-esteem, lack of intergration or even bullying. The problem here is that Cho should have been treated much earlier for his mental condition because once you go past the point of no return you will try and get hold off just about anything to carry out your mission.
April 19, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

Frankly, I don't see the parallel in comparing guns to cars. The fact remains a mentally unstable person got a hold of a gun and shot up a school. Now why is that? Reports are Cho passed all the mandatory background checks. Now I'm reading in the news that by all rights, if the background check system had been more encompassing, he would've been denied because of his mental history. So while I don't advocate an outright ban of all weapons and having persons denied, it's still facetious to ignore a simple fact: Cho got a gun and shot up a school.
April 20, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

April 21, 2007
Votes: +0

a guest said:

No Gun Control
There are to many gun control laws now. They cannot all be enforced. If the Federal government and Virginia were enforcing their laws this trgedy would not have happenned. There are laws that keep guns away from mentals.

But to take guns away from law abiding citizens would be just wrong. How could we protect ourselves from criminals that have guns? The police only show up after the crime.

Many say that the more that have guns the more chance of someone using it wrong. I dissagree. I live in MIchigan. Every November 15th over 750,000 armed civillians go into the woods to hunt big game. That would be the third largest army in the world. Yet less than 2 or 3 are harmed by gunfire and those are usually self inflicted. THAT IS JUST MICHIGAN. This hunt takes place every year in almost every state in the union. Less people are harmed that when the miitary has war exercises.
April 27, 2007
Votes: +0

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