Thoughts on gun control and the Second Amendment from Tim Woods of Freeville, NY:
Let's begin this discussion by stating that the mass murders of school children are undeniably horrendous, tragic and evil. We all agree we must come to grips with the root causes of this violence and the ultimate solutions for stopping these tragedies from happening again. Using proper terminology and real-world facts is vitally important if the debate is to result in actual crime prevention and precious lives being saved.
These incidents are not just shootings. They are massacres. A shooting event is anything from Cub Scouts learning BB gun marksmanship to moms using a handgun to protect their babies from an intruder. The killing of 6, 13, 21 or 34 innocent students and faculty is a massacre. Let's call it what it is.
The plethora of new gun control laws being proposed by Governor Cuomo, Senator Feinstein and many others will be practically worthless for preventing crime in general and for specifically stopping future school or mall massacres. The legislature passing a new Assault Weapon Ban would be comparable to a New York state senator walking into a raging apartment building inferno and passing gas. The Senator can claim he is being proactive, but not only would it NOT put the raging blaze out, it would most likely add fuel to the fire. This ban is not a solution. Its a huge joke on the American people. Its a superficial, feel good "hey, look what I did" political strategy to win votes. It accomplishes nothing but turning normally law abiding citizens into criminals just because they agree with and will make crucial decisions based on historic interpretations of our US Bill of Rights.
There are multiple problems with these gun control proposals.
First, these politicians don't even know what an actual assault weapon is. It's been ILLEGAL for Americans to personally own an assault weapon without a special BATFE license since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934. That's right, 1934. That's because the true definition, the military definition, of an assault weapon is " a magazine, clip, drum or belt fed rifle, carbine or pistol capable of selective or constant automatic fire." Those type of weapons are commonly known as machine guns. Those weapons are already highly regulated and are not what these proposed bans are trying to eliminate.
Second, new semi-automatic rifles that just looked like a military-style weapon were prohibited from being sold or imported when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was passed in 1994. That's right, the weapons that our illustrious Congress and President tried to save us from were our hunting and sporting guns that just looked like a military machine gun. These terrible devices were bad because they might have a different style stock or front grip, or they might be black and ominous looking and have a muzzle flash suppressor or a bayonet lug. This is laughable. We think we are safer because hunting rifles that have a way to attach a bayonet are banned. In the last sixty years of crime reporting, I found NO US citizen that had been attacked or killed in our country by individuals using a rifle mounted bayonet. The FAWB was so ineffective that Congress let it lapse in 2004. In 2001, a Justice Department study revealed that fewer than 2% of State and Federal inmates used, carried, or possessed a military looking semi-automatic gun when they committed the crime they were incarcerated for. The weapon of choice of these predators was a stolen pistol, not a rifle or long gun of any kind. So the New York state government and President Obama want to take away weapons from law abiding citizens, weapons that are rarely used in crimes. If they succeed in doing this, then criminals, who couldn't care less what laws are passed, will continue to use guns that they either steal or buy on the black market. The criminals would have access to these weapons, but not the citizens they prey on. Great logic, eh?
Third, according to a Huffington Post 9 January Politics graphic, a fairly liberal source, the US has the highest per capita ownership of guns in the world at 88.8 guns per 100 people. No one knows if this is the real total since few criminals or citizens admit to owning illegal firearms. If we accept this statistic as being true, that means there currently are almost 280 million guns of all sorts in private ownership in the US. The same graphic claims that approximately 17% of these firearms are semi-automatic weapons or about 47.6 million guns. Now, here's the rub. The gun control lobby wants you and me to believe that its necessary to confiscate, limit the ownership of, track or outlaw 47.6 million weapons of a certain type. These are guns that are used everyday by law abiding citizens for self defense, target shooting, hunting and collecting. If the ban of "assault weapons" is put into effect, these safely used guns will instantaneously become illegal or severely restricted by simple political dictate. If we use the 2005 statistics of the National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice, 488,386 total crimes against persons were committed that year using a gun in the crime. So even if every one of these gun crimes involved the use of a semi-automatic weapon, which is ludicrous, the politicians and anti-gun believers tell us we have to get rid of 47.6 million lawfully owned and used guns because criminals used a gun of some kind in less than 1/100 of that number of crimes. This kind of logic was used during Prohibition. It didn't work then either.
Fourth, folks that claim no hunter or sportsman needs a semi-automatic gun or large capacity magazine either have a severely ignorant grasp of US history, or, they just want to obfuscate the gun control arguments. Nowhere in the original US Constitution, the BIll of Rights or any of the other constitutional amendments, does it mention hunting or sport shooting. What is mentioned in these documents and in the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and the hundreds of personal letters and commentaries of our founding fathers is the militia of citizens and the use of firearms for self preservation and the defense against tyrannical governments. The founders knew that weapons equal in firepower to the arms used by standing armies was the palladium that protected the common man and his precious freedom. The Second Amendment was not written to protect hunting. It was written to guarantee the peoples power to protect themselves from the abuse of their government. If you are honest with history, you cannot understand the goal of this amendment any other way. The people have the God given right to protect themselves from criminals, from the psychologically deranged and from their own government's abuse. In this day and age that means they have the right to possess and use semi-automatic rifles and carbines that use multi-round magazines. To arbitrarily decide that a magazine with seven round capacity is safer than an eleven round magazine is nonsensical. With this type of reasoning, why not choose eight round or six round or even four round magazines. The criminally obsessed villain or psychopathic mass murderer doesn't care how many magazines he has to carry. They will use whatever means necessary to kill the intended number of victims including rental trucks full of fertilizer or homemade chemical weapons.
Now is not the time to play games with this critical national security issue. As a retired Special Operations Forces officer and law enforcement team member, I ask you to keep the argument focused on what will actually keep our children and family members safe when they leave the security of our homes and venture out into the world. Do not lose focus in this debate. Do not let your political leaders lose that focus. Demand they come up with solutions that are supported by reality, verifiable facts and history.
God Bless You and God Help Us to find the truth and then to act on it.