Gun Control in The United States


This was originally written on June 15, 2016. I’ve edited it in an attempt to better express what’s being said. 

Sadly, gun violence, most noticeably on a mass scale, continues to happen in the United States. Each time it does happen we as a nation bring up the topic again. Should everyone have the right to have guns? Should the capabilities of guns be limited? What is the purpose of the right to own a gun? How are other countries who don’t allow their citizens to own guns doing? What do they have or miss when contrasted with the US?

Last night one man gunned down and killed at least 50 people in Las Vegas. The discussion has begun again. When I originally wrote this article, it was June 15, 2016 and President Obama used the recent attack in Orlando to talk more about gun control.

President Obama had said he’d like to restrict people on FBI watch lists from being able to buy guns. They’re already restricted from flying. That makes sense. I see the logic in it. I’m not sure I love the power that can be exerted on people just out of suspicion, but it makes sense.  Except it restricts the 2nd amendment to The Constitution – the right to bear arms.

The right to bear arms is not a privilege, like driving, it’s a right. Not everyone has a constitutionally protected right to drive. Laws could be made to prevent people from driving. Same as with the no fly list – being able to get on a plane and fly is not constitutionally protected. The right to bear arms is protected. It’s a right, not a privilege. With a right any barrier to your ability to exercise that right, even getting a license or having a waiting period, could be considered impeding your constitutional rights.

I complete understand if people don’t think that sounds reasonable. Owning, carrying and wielding a gun is no joke. Maybe it should be more difficult to do than get on an airplane to go from Tulsa to Cincinnati. But currently, that is not the law.

If you don’t like The Constitution you have to change it, not just ignore it. If you feel people should not have guns, then articulate it and get it voted on to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Putting more power into the hands of the FBI that will restrict Constitutional rights of individuals without trial seems like a violation of some fundamental laws of The US.

One argument against gun control is the proverbial cat is out of the bag. It’s too late.

  • There are many guns in the US as people.
  • There are multiple plans freely available on the Internet to 3D print guns.
  • Flame throwers are legal in nearly all states and available for sale.
  • There are instructions available all over the place to make pipe bombs and explosives from commonly available ingredients (fertilizers, etc).
  • You can kill an awful lot of people with your car.
  • Guns are outlawed in cities like Detroit, Baltimore and Chicago, which have massive gun violence problems.
  • And in China and Israel, where they regulate gun ownership pretty carefully, people have been buying kitchen knives and stabbing people.

So the idea of disarming people to prevent them from hurting each other seems problematic. That doesn’t mean we should throw our hands up and do nothing. It doesn’t mean that guns aren’t tremendously deadly. They just aren’t the sole means of killing people, and regulating them won’t make them all disappear.

Some people question the sale of certain types of guns, saying they’re not for hunting, sport or home protection. This assumes that’s the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. The media perpetuates this regularly, such as a recent editorial from the NYTimes that said, “The sale of “modern sporting rifles” is a thinly disguised campaign to put even more military-style weapons in civilian hands.”
I grew up in New York and lived for 10 years in NYC. The prevailing wisdom there is, guns are for the police and military, and for citizens, they are for hunting, and could probably be kept locked up somewhere. I’m now in Texas, where a lot of people I know have concealed carry licenses, and people view their responsibility to defend themselves, their friends and family until police can get on the scene as a burden and an honor expected of them as devoted citizens.

As with many arguments, part of the problem with the gun control issue is the two sides aren’t talking about the same thing. One side is confident the 2nd Amendment is for hunting, home protection and militias only. The other side is confident it is for all those things and to keep the government in check. There are even interesting debates into what the term ‘arms’ means and meant when the 2nd Amendment was written. ‘Arms’ is pretty ambiguous. You could make an argument that all armaments including battleships and attack jets are arms. I don’t think you’d get far with that debate, though.

The laws and debates over what types of guns should be legal, where you should be allowed to take them, if they should or shouldn’t be concealed, what waiting periods and training are necessary all make up volumes of laws that vary by state.

All of this is to say, make sure you’re framing your discussion on this issue properly to make sure those who you think disagree with you are real people, not imagined adversaries. The real people might disagree with you, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Articulate your arguments with facts, and try to understand the other perspective. Arguing in a confrontational way that doesn’t allow people to change their mind if they understand what you’re saying doesn’t do anything productive, it just allows you to scream that you’re right, and get patted on the back by your echo chamber.


developer, writer, speaker

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