Let’s Talk About Guns

I appreciate most of the comments from Friday’s column, and the restraint shown by most as we learned the details from the horrific incident in Colorado.  Words still can’t adequately address the tragedy.

But this being a political blog, and with the inevitable discussion of guns, gun owners’ rights, and the possibility of adding controls or tracking of purchases, we’ll now attempt a civil discussion.

The following was sent to me by a friend, and I’m posting it here to get the conversation started.  Please try to keep it civil and respectful of any victims from previous incidents.

It seems as though the discussion on gun ownership, gun rights, and the ability to carry (whether concealed or overt) is about to be amplified and thrown into a much more visible national debate than we are normally accustom. Both of the current viable presidential candidates are not exactly “gun friendly”. Obama is well… Obama. Romney likes to hunt rodents. Here in Georgia gun rights are something we cherish, and they are part of the lifestyle of many. While many believe that gun ownership is perfectly normal, there will always be those that believe it is silly, or irresponsible. This is what I would like to make the discussion about today.

I believe that it is a natural right for people to be able to protect themselves. I also believe that most people want to feel safe when they are in public. Do I trust the average person next to me to only hit the target they are shooting at when in a situation where live fire is necessary? For the most part… no. I think the requirements to carry concealed is woefully inadequate in this state. A background check, fingerprints and $50 to carry a weapon that in many cases can hold enough ordinance to kill everyone in a Waffle House at anytime of the day is lacking.

One has to wonder why a person has to take driver’s training, a “written” driving test, and then a driving test to be able to drive a car, but do not need to show any proficiency with a firearm to walk around a mall with 20 rounds of hollow points inside a waist band. While I agree that the chances that the majority of people who apply for the GFL have had some trigger time, and maybe even some training, I highly doubt that the majority have ever had live fire training on moving targets or in stressful situations. This all comes down to the fact that I do not trust the average person to be able to quickly and effectively score hits on a specific target in a populated area. Emotions, adrenaline, and the lack of situational awareness create a perfect storm of danger.

Do I believe an armed society is a safer society… yes. Do I believe that government can protect us in every situation… no, and I don’t want them to try. Do I believe that all of us can do more in our society to make it a safer place… yes, and I believe that firearm ownership and training are a step in the right direction.

What does the right to bear arms mean to you? Do you believe in universal concealed carry? Do you believe that certain convictions should preclude people from obtaining firearms?

94 comments

  1. mountainpass says:

    “A background check, fingerprints and $50 to carry a weapon that in many cases can hold enough ordinance to kill everyone in a Waffle House at anytime of the day is lacking.”

    Charlie I’m appalled that you would suggest a law-abiding citizen would want to kill everyone at Waffle House! Maybe you should take mandatory training for the state so as to exercise your 1A right.

    You do realize a person intent on doing so probably doesn’t have a license, nor do they need one. That’s where armed law abiding citizens come in. Just the thought that someone there might be armed gives most criminal pause, thus the reason they like robbing Tech students( Gun Free Zone ).

    The comparision to drivers licenses is moot as that is a privilege, not a right.

    Show me the stats where states that make their citizens be trained are safer than those states that don’t require that. In this state in the last 2 years instructors that are POST certified have shot and killed 2 officers inside training classes. Also show me where licensed citizens have shot others accidentally.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      That’s not Charlie’s writing, that is the writing of the friend that sent it to him, he just posted it here to startup a conversation about guns.

      But I do definitely agree with you that a person intent on doing great physical harm to others with a firearm probably does not have or need a gun license as gun laws are basically for law-abiding people, gun laws are not for criminals intent on using a firearm to commit a crime and/or great bodily damage to others while doing so.

      • mountainpass says:

        And that’s the problem with “Gun Control” laws, criminals never follow them. Nor do they care about laws forbidding robbing, murdering, raping, etc. The laws disarm the victims. Aurora had such an ordinace, and the theater had a no guns policy, “gun free zones” are “Victim Enrichment Zones.”

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “The laws disarm the victims. Aurora had such an ordinace, and the theater had a no guns policy, “gun free zones” are “Victim Enrichment Zones.””

          …see Georgia Tech.

          • James says:

            Mountainpass and LTDIG – the distinction you raise between “law-abiding citizens” and “criminals” for the purposes of a gun-control discussion is meaningless. James Holmes was a “law-abiding citizen” right up to the point where he murdered 12 people.

            • Calypso says:

              No, he did not follow the ordinances of the “No Gun Zone’ and that, I believe is the point of mountainpass. Only the law-abiding folks follow those regulations. It did not keep Holmes from either carrying or using the guns he had, it merely kept those who do abide by the law-the victims- from carrying guns for self-protection.

              If I put the wrong words in someone’s mouth, please correct me.

              • mountainpass says:

                Thanks Calypso.

                James the idea that he was “law-abiding” until….. How exactly do you think we should police that? He wanted to murder, no “gun control” law will ever stop that.

  2. griftdrift says:

    What does this even mean?

    “Obama is well… Obama”

    Sure, President Obama has expressed an interest in greater gun control, but the fact remains the only gun control legislation he has signed or advocated in the past three years was one that ALLOWED guns to be carried in national parks.

    As far as guns, let me show just how liberal I am.

    I’m a gun owner. I believe 99% of gun restrictions are window dressing to make us feel better without having any impact. There are a few that do have an impact (such as ones the writer mentioned, background checks, etc) and I’m fine with those. Unfortunately, there is a fanatical lobby in this country that believes even the lightest restriction is one step away from undoing the entire second amendment.

    Bottom line. We’ve got a lot of guns. Our regulations are not that overbearing but mostly useless. Trying to have this discussion in reasonable times turns people more irrational than five hits of LSD. Trying to have it in the penumbra of what happened in Colorado will just bring out the crazies.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Trying to have this discussion in the aftermath of what has just happened in Colorado has already brought out the crazies…Mainly on the left with the gun-control lobby screaming for the rest of the countty to have gun laws that are as strict as a New York City or a Chicago, where it is illegal for anyone other than law enforcement to carry a firearm in public, a law that somehow still has not prevented Chicago’s summer of extreme gun violence.

      Heck, NYC Mayor Bloomberg was one of the first to get facetime on TV calling for there to be a national conversation about gun control.

      …As long as it’s a national conversation about gun control that takes place on HIS terms.

      • griftdrift says:

        Oh horse sh*t.

        There’s been just as many, arguably more, crazies on the right making their pet arguments.

        And you just prove why these discussions are practically pointless. Most people mired in this issue care about blame than they do reasonable discussion.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          That’s odd…I haven’t seen too many people on the right, or for that matter, in the center, calling for there to be a ‘national conversation about gun control’ or for everyone to be made to carry firearms in the wake of the Colorado tragedy, only gun control fanatics, like Bloomberg who uses NYC legal resources to attempt to force more restrictive gun laws on other parts of the country, and Susan Sarandon, who stated that the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms only referred to muskets, despite the fact that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution clearly does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to muskets.

          • griftdrift says:

            Sorry. I’m not going to go down the rat hole of what said what tit for tat. The larger point remains. Both sides, as you did, immediately instinctively go to blame and persecution instead of actually trying to have a discussion as the above writer wished.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              I didn’t blame anyone about what happened in Colorado or why it happened in Colorado, I just merely pointed out those on the left that are clearly trying to take advantage of this tragedy to push forward an agenda of imposing stricter gun laws on the rest of the country.

              You’re the one that blamed people on the right of making pet arguments moreso than people on the left without offering even one example to backup your assertion.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  By all means please do. If the NRA or anyone else, left or right, is indeed trying to use this tragedy to push a political agenda then that is something that is deplorable and needs to be exposed.

  3. Jackster says:

    Anyone who feels the visceral need to either defend against danger or leverage a firearm for their own means will acquire one by any means necessary, regardless of the laws.

    With that being said, the only place I feel this need is when I’m in my car with my family. To me, this is where crimes of opportunity come into play, and there is usually no “situational awareness”.

    I feel the laws in place to buy firearms are superfluous, mainly because they do not accurately help to protect the need to defend oneself and family, nor do they actually hinder those who use firearms as leverage.

  4. mountainpass says:

    Also I want to point out that the average license in GA is about $75. If GA tried to require $75 to vote the cries would reach space. That cost restricts those in the areas most affected by crime, the poorer neighborhoods. Now add in the cost of training ….. if the right to bear arms wasn’t already out of reach for those folks it then would be now.

    I don’t believe a license should be necessary. I also believe someone released from prison and not on probation should be allowed back his rights. If a former felon wants to get a gun and become a criminal again no law will stop him, now on the other hand if he learned his lesson and wants one to defend himself in his life going forward so be it. If he can’t be trusted on the outside without a custodian then by all means get him locked away.

    I fully support that folks get training. Many Sheriff’s Offices are now offering it free, so check them out.

    • griftdrift says:

      “If GA tried to require $75 to vote the cries would reach space”

      Because that actually is unconstituational. 24th Amendment.

      Other than that strawman, I agree with a lot of what you say.

          • n0n_s3quitur says:

            Really? A “stronger argument” can be made for requiring a fee to exercise a fundamental right, than for requiring a fee for an activity for which you have no fundamental right? Fascinating.

              • n0n_s3quitur says:

                Your response is not on point. I’m aware of the 24th. You still have no fundamental right to vote. That is not what the 24th says.
                The 2nd is indeed a fundamental right. See Heller

                • griftdrift says:

                  No. YOU see Heller. It determined it was an INDIVIDUAL right not a fundamental right, whatever the heck that is. It also did not preclude regulation only a complete ban.

                  As to the 24th amendment. It does not grant an express right to vote but where there is a vote, it EXPRESSLY forbids charging people to vote.

                  You are truly fascinating.

                  • n0n_s3quitur says:

                    The 2nd Amendment is merely a codification of the natural individual (fundamental) right to self defense.

                    Yeah, like I said… I’m aware of the 24th and it’s implications. And it’s irrelevant to our discussion, except for purposes of exposing the injustice of forbidding a fee for an activity which is not even a right, but allowing fees for exercising a fundamental right.

                    • TheEiger says:

                      Well, we have found our two constitutional law professors. griftdrift is always right and whoever disagrees with him is smoking the reefer and non_s3quitur probably got his law degree online.

                      I honestly do not care how either of you want to interrupt the Constitution. I am of the opinion that felons should not be able to vote or carry a gun. Other than that, previous gun laws have failed to stop a single violent crime. See crime statistics for DC, New York and Chicago.

  5. ookoshi says:

    The problem with training and permit requirements is that it hurts the people who need to protect themselves the most, people in poor, urban, neighborhoods.

    A good firearm training class costs in the neighborhood of $150 or more. The permit itself costs a total of around $80. Now, for people like you and me, $150 plus $80 every 5 years is likely easily within our budget. However, it is an extremely self-centered view to not consider people who are in a much more disadvantaged situation.

    Living in the suburbs, or in less populated areas outside of Metro Atlanta, being able to protect yourself is important. But let’s be honest. The odds of my needing a weapon in the suburbs is *much* lower than someone who lives across the street from a drug dealer in downtown Atlanta. A person who is living there is likely doing so because they can’t afford to live anywhere else.

    So, let’s take this single mother who is working 3 minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet, living across the street from a drug dealer. How is it fair for her, to be denied the right to defend herself on the walk from her home to the bus stop, because she can’t come up with the $230 to get a permit, or take the day off from work in order to go down to the probate court?

    I understand the desire to want to do some extra checks before people are legally allowed to carry, but any permitting system that exists cannot serve as a barrier for *any* law abiding citizen. If it’s a barrier even to the most indigent of citizens, it restricts too much.

    I don’t think permits in general do any good, but I think that any permit system that exists has to be cheap enough (say, $10 for 5 years) such that the people who need protection the most can get it.

    • tmoore912 says:

      Don’t forget about the two day weekend she would have to take off work to get the training requirement taken care of. That right there is a huge barrier.

      With regards to training for safety’s sake……………………In his book MORE GUNS LESS CRIME, John Lott disproves the theory that States with training requirements have (or will have) less firearm accidents among the Licence holders than States with no training requirements.

      All a training requirement does is keep more people from carrying in that particular State. It does nothing with regards to safety, or safe gun handling. It is a feel good political move that has no basis in fact.

  6. Serious question here – couldn’t the government regulate ammunition? Have all the guns you want but it’s illegal to buy ammo being the extreme end of that coin.

    • Again not taking a position just curious what people think. I also think it’s funny that some people are sure something like an AR-15 or AK-47 is covered by the second amendment even though the founders literally had no conception at all of these types of weapons – they would be as foreign to the founders as the space shuttle.

      Ironically, these same people that are sure the Constitution covers an AR-15 that didn’t exist at the time typically also argue that the Constitution isn’t a living document and you should only interpret it in the context of it’s passage when they aren’t talking about guns or the second amendment.

      • n0n_s3quitur says:

        The populace had the same arms as the military of the time. I would argue the Founders WOULD wish the people to have equal armament, seeing as how the purpose of the 2nd was a defense mechanism against tyranny. Why then would the Founders approve the government a certain class of arms that the populace was not allowed to have?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Exactly. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment is a defense against government tyranny.

          Heck, just look at what is going on over in Syria where government forces are routinely slaughtering citizens who have not been allowed to arm themselves by said tyrannical government.

      • ookoshi says:

        The founders had no concept of the internet either. Is the government allowed to censor it because the founders didn’t envision it? No. That’s not how it works. A living document is someone who will ignore the 2nd amendment because it’s “outdated”, not that it can’t apply to modern arms now, just as it applied to modern arms then.

    • griftdrift says:

      Ammunition = arms.

      As many have pointed out ( the point of sentence construction ), the amendment was about militias. And a “well regulated” militia without ammunition is practically useless. I doubt a complete ban would pass Heller.

      Now, whether the government could limit the types of ammunition or the amount is another question.

      But that’s nuance. Which usually can not find a home in discussions of the second amendment. Now back to diagramming sentences with my new friend.

      • ookoshi says:

        Militia at the time included every able bodied male. That is why, based on sentence construction, even though the sentence mentions a militia in the preamble, the *independent clause* reads “the right of the PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It does not say “the right of the militia.”

        The Supreme Court has ruled on this, and Scalia went in depth into constitutional history to explain why the 2nd amendment is an individual right. If basic grammar and history are not enough to convince you, you are simply closed minded to the possibility that the 2nd amendment is an individual right, because you don’t like the results.

    • n0n_s3quitur says:

      That would be a de facto gun ban.

      Ammunition = arms just the same as a rifle or pistol = arms.

  7. CobbGOPer says:

    “I do not trust the average person to be able to quickly and effectively score hits on a specific target in a populated area…”

    Yes, well I don’t exactly trust the average cop to be able to quickly and effectively score hits on a specific target in a populated area either, despite their ‘training.’ If innocent people get caught in a gunfight, it doesn’t matter how well the cop or individual is trained. Chaos ensures at least one of those innocents will get hit, if not killed.

    Do I think more training should be required for citizens to get a concealed-carry permit? Yes. Do I think it will reduce the liklihood an innocent person will get shot if a public firefight erupts? No.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I don’t trust criminals not to shoot innocent people when brandishing a gun while committing a crime.

      Having someone around with a concealed carry permit be able to return fire at a shooter who is determined to commit as much destruction as possible to human life at the very least can improve the chances of survival of unarmed innocents.

  8. TheEiger says:

    An example of a concealed carry permit at work. I agree with a previous poster that said that gun free zones are Victim Enrichment Zones.

  9. Engineer says:

    Well, in order to hunt as a kid, I had to take a hunter’s safety course (which included material regarding gun safety and gun use), so I personally see no harm in making sure folks are educated in proper firearm use. I remember a while back that the cops around Albany had pistol training sessions for members of the public that wanted to learn about proper use and handling of firearms.

  10. jbgotcha says:

    Any discussion about gun control MUST include stiffer penalties for illegal guns. I think proficiency requirements, background checks, etc. are as important as increased penalties for illegal ownership and usage.

        • mountainpass says:

          There is no firearms registration in GA. The “owner” doesn’t need to be licensed to carry at their home, in their vehicle, or at their place of business.

          Now if said firearm has it’s serial numbers altered or comes back as stolen then by all means throw the book at them.

          I would welcome stiffer penalties for violent crimes committed with a weapon.

            • mountainpass says:

              Of course not, I was answering jbgothca’s question.

              I’m not sure anything can be done about stopping the mentally ill from snapping, other than someone they are in close contact with getting them help before they do.
              Here is a case( http://www.abc4.com/content/about_4/bios/story/conceal-and-carry-stabbing-salt-lake-city-smiths/NDNrL1gxeE2rsRhrWCM9dQ.cspx ) where someone who appears to have a mental problem, (I mean he bought the knife before he started the stabbing….why buy the knife?) thankfully a fellow there was carrying a gun and was able to stop the stabbing spree. We may never know the stabbers whole backstory but someone probably knew that he needed help.

              This thread was about “Gun Control” but the CO event is about mental illness, not “Gun Control.”

          • jbgotcha says:

            Whatever. You knew what I meant even if I didn’t have all the technical knowledge down.

  11. bruhsam says:

    Grist for the mill:

    National Motor Vehicle Deaths, 2010: 30,196
    National Firearms Deaths , 2010: 31,259
    Accidental: 600
    Suicide: 19,308
    Assault: 11,105
    Undetermined: 246

  12. John Konop says:

    The biggest safety issue in my opinion is more about how we deal with mental health issues. We have created the problem, because on a macro society treats mental health issues with a combination of denial, toughen up, harsh judgment………over promoting treatment. No matter what the laws are, we must create an environment that does not judge people for seeking help.The common thread with the tragedies is the lack of mental health treatment and or denial about the scale of the problem. Gun laws cannot fix a society that refuses to deal with mental health issues in a proper manner. BTW this is the same mistake with the War on Drugs….. We need to treat health issues as health issues first………………

    • Mike Stucka says:

      One (of very many) barriers to mental health care is the stigma attached to it. And this discussion of mental health care normally occurs in the wake of an awful, awful tragedy with which no normal-but-ill person would care to be associated with in any way. I mean, would you?

      Mental health care on insurance plans has long been treated as very different from physical health care — can you imagine a diabetic getting told he could get 10 weeks’ insulin, then they’re on their own?

      Civil commitment laws are also big points of contentment.

    • Three Jack says:

      John,

      It’s one thing to identify a problem, quite another to fund the solution. So how would you provide mental health treatment to those who cannot afford it?

      • John Konop says:

        First in many of the cases insurance was not an issue (except coverage might be an issue) , it was more to do with family and friends in denial………..Second many of the people with serious issues end up in prison which would cost more than treatment similar to the illegal drug issue. As far as poor people, I am not really sure, because I was thinking in terms of the latest issues ie Woodstock, West Virginia, Colorado……….economics was not an issue from what I read. I would think the least expensive way to implement a program for poor people would be through the schools, but have not really thought through all the issues ie funding, implementation…….. I do remember from a course in college, that mental health issues are more common in higher income families not the poor.

  13. Jackster says:

    So, if we could move away from a healthcare debate, I feel this is an exercise in the “Thought police”, whereby the definition of how an individual should handle either being threatened or threatening others is up for grabs.

    Romney and Obama are already on target with these points.

    • John Konop says:

      Jackster,

      In all due respect how can you separate the mental illness issue from the debate? You do understand that without proper medication you cannot apply the “Thought police” concept to someone who is serious delusional, psychotic, multiple personality disorder, bi-polar………… Obviously it is very difficult to control their behavior and or “thoughts” if they are having major episodes. You could debate that you could limit the destruction via either people being armed verse tougher gun laws. But in reality, I think that is an issue based on political BS, used to manipulate their base, over dealing with the real issue. This is why so many of us are tired of both sides. The core of this issue is about mental health, not a gun law debate in my opinion.

      • you says:

        Just a side note on mental health ….Any that has ever been “adjudicated mentally defective” or “committed to a mental institution” can not legally purchase a firearm.

        • John Konop says:

          First many family members avoid for various reasons dealing direct with family members with mental health issues as discussed in the above comments. Secondly, obviously the legal system has difficult time stopping people who have serve major episodes. Finally if the people are not on meds they can be ticking time bombs. BTW I challenge you to talk to people in the system ie judges, lawyers, police…………..they will tell you this is a serious problem.

          ……………The Beaver County Jail averages about 335 inmates a day.
          Steele-Smith said as of last week, 75 percent of the inmates were on some type of medication for mental-health problems, and 20 inmates either have major mental-health diagnoses or had been acting out and causing problems while in the jail.
          Four men who were supposed to be in the jail were in a state hospital because of their mental-health problems,………………

          http://www.timesonline.com/news/police_fire_courts/inmates-with-mental-health-problems-challenge-court-system/article_88e74e4a-5d3f-11e0-9be1-001a4bcf6878.html

          • Mike Stucka says:

            Relevant:
            http://www.macon.com/2010/09/17/1267708/suicidal-often-wait-days-in-ers.html#storylink=misearch

            Bibb County Sheriff Jerry Modena said his deputies are typically taking four or five mental patients a week out of the county for more intensive treatment.

            Modena said the county jail may be the largest mental health facility around, typically with about 200 people with only mental illness, rather than mental illness mixed with drug or other problems. That’s 10 times the number of beds at the Coliseum Psychiatric Center.

            Modena said county residents are paying to treat the mentally ill in jail, which is a bad situation for everyone. Without the jail’s treatment, more mentally ill people would be getting so sick they’d need to be sent to the state mental hospitals or the crisis stabilization units, he said.

            “Mentally ill people are ill. They’re not criminals, not somebody who’s just a bad person. They’re ill. They’re sick,” Modena said. “Instead of taking care of them, with beds more toward treatment, it’s a jail cell toward punishment. It don’t seem right.”

            Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2010/09/17/1267708/suicidal-often-wait-days-in-ers.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy

  14. Jackster says:

    You’re taking the bait for the manipulation by going down the mental illness path, and not staying the course.

    Both types of folks can feel threatened or can use a threat to get what they want. The debate here is what you do when you’re threatened (by the government, another individual, or some other fear / threat) or what lengths will you go to threaten others (brandish a fire arm, use it, use it a great deal).

    The mentally ill fall on both sides of that coin – this debate (and the thought police aspect) is about framing using a gun as an acceptable response to these very carnal feelings and needs.

    The mental health debate is a logical extension of this talk, but by definition tangential. It’s tangential, because everyone agrees that particular subset of the population needs special consideration and cannot be included when making policy decisions.

    Try not to take the bait – My original post made it clear that if you feel you need a gun for protection or leverage, you will get one, regardless of the laws in place. That goes for crazy folks and for non crazies.

    • John Konop says:

      Jackster,

      Ironically almost every time this issues comes up, it is about a person with serious mental health issues. I agree with your comment ……… My original post made it clear that if you feel you need a gun for protection or leverage, you will get one, regardless of the laws in place. That goes for crazy folks and for non crazies……and if that is true than this is about mental health issues, not gun laws.

  15. Jackster says:

    That’s where the manipulation comes into play. this thread is entitled, “Let’s talk about gun laws”, not “let’s talk about crazies”.

    The gun law groups don’t want to focus on the fact that the 2nd amendment is out of date…

    The pro gov’t folks don’t want to focus on the fact that police protection is inadequate when it comes to threats.

    So, either way, neither group wants to have a meaningful discussion about the place of firearms in our society…

    But there are those willing to have a discussion about mental health issues, and the Lefties and Righties are more than happy to talk about that than guns.

    • you says:

      Guns belong in the hands of any law abiding citizen who wants one to protect him / herself with deadly force. If you don’t want to use deadly force, get a taser, stun gun or pepper spray but carry something and know how to use in properly because you never know when you might need it.

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