Why Gun Control Doesn't Work
Originally appeared in "The North Texas Daily," Feb. 2, AD. 2000
President Bill Clinton's State of the Union Address ended, not with a call for change, but with a plea to make this "the safest, big country in the world."
In attempting to make this nation a safer place in which to live, Clinton suggested compromiseó pleasing both sides of the aisle in Congress.
One particular issue that has continually been compromised beyond common sense is gun control.
In his address, Clinton outlined his plan to curtail crime. Clinton said, "The House failed to follow suit in approving common sense gun registration." "Common sense gun registration" is the catch phrase for a plan that would place more Alcohol Tobacco Firearms agents and gun crime prosecutors on federal payrolls and provide funding for "smart gun" technology, which would keep children from accidentally firing a weapon.
But among the more radical details of common sense gun registration is the proposal of a photo identification system for gun buyers.
If the plan were to be made law, a gun buyer would have to present this card to purchase any kind of AFT-approved weapon. The card bearer would have to provide proof of competence in using a gun and must not have a criminal conviction to attain the license, which would have to be renewed annually to be effective. The compromise seeks to keep criminals from attaining handguns, while well-meaning citizens who only wish to defend their families could easily apply for the right to bear arms.
Past Compromise Failures
We have already endured the Brady Bill saga, in which the government would have cracked down on illegal gun buyers. It seemed to be a great idea.
Regardless of what the Second Amendment says, who actually wants a convicted felon purchasing a lethal weapon that can fire multiple shots per second? I would not want that.
In the Brady Bill compromise, America's 65 million gun owners would retain their right to buy firearms, while the government would have a chance to regulate who may obtain them.
However, the original five-day wait law did little to protect innocent citizens. According to the publication, "Implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act," published by the Federal General Accounting Office, only seven criminals were convicted of illegal attempts to buy handguns during the first 17 months of the law. That is hardly reason to pursue federal gun legislation any further. Washington, D.C., enacted a ban on all handguns in 1976. By 1991, the District of Columbia's homicide rate had tripled, while the rest of the nation experienced a 12 percent increase.
A handful of States have tried similar approaches, but only to witness a rise in gun crime. Individual cities have attempted to reach a legislative compromise between gun owners and those who fear an armed populous. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington make up for 5 percent of the U.S. population. According to the National Safety Council, they account for 15 percent of all murders. Yet, despite Washington's obvious failures, those cities each have had draconian gun control legislation on the books for many years!
According to a 1999 report published by the ATF, less than 0.4 percent of all handguns (and less than 0.2 percent of all firearms total) were used in a crime.
This statistic would indicate that 99.6 percent of all guns were not used to commit violent crimes! The National Safety Council estimated in 1995 (while the Brady Bill was the hot-button issue of the day), firearm fatalities killed 0.5 percent per 100,000 deaths. Car accidents claimed 16 percent. Poisoning killed 4 percent.
Even choking ended more American lives than firearms, with a fatality rate of 1.1 percent!
True Common Sense
With the statistics clearly stated, it is obvious that firearm deaths, while still a problem, should not be a governmental concern. Nor should gun control take precedence among other items of importance during a State of the Union Address. Gun crimes become more common when gun control legislation is approved. Why can we not learn from history and stop passing futile laws that do nothing to benefit us? A compromise is defined as a settlement between two or more rival parties or individuals. It seems to me that the parties who seek to control or prohibit gun control are reacting solely upon speculation and fear.
Why should we compromise our Constitutionally-guaranteed right to defend ourselves, to satisfy a core of cowardly politicians and special interests who react in fear?
Why should we allow Bill Clinton to make a compromise-filled mess out of the simple routine of buying a gun? We should not allow our Congress to portray our rights to defend ourselves as a scapegoat for violence.
I am by no means suggesting that we all start packing heat. But there are already way too many laws on records ≠ all the result of compromise.
We do not need more useless, cumbersome laws that would attack a relatively rare problem. Love is the only compromise I would suggest for the gun control controversy. Both sides should agree to that. Violence is never the answer. But one dreaded day, if riots break out and vandals start to break in, that loaded pistol safely locked away in your bedroom closet would no longer seem to be the cause of all American violence.
Rather, it would be the guarantee that you and your loved ones will be safe from the vile alter-ego of human nature.
Andy Hogue can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org