Let’s Talk, about Guns.

With recent tragedy fresh in mind, I thought I’d share my feelings on guns, and the touchy subject of gun control.  First, a little background about me.  I’m proud to be a naturalized Citizen of the USA.  Before gaining that status, I occupied limbo – holding the unenviable state, of being stateless.  You see, I left the country of my birth a very long time ago – Zimbabwe, is most reluctant to renew the documents of non-residents, five generations… for nothing.  Does any of this matter?  Good question, my answers follow.

On freedom’s scale, Zimbabwe must rate as one of the worst.  Most of the things the Zimbabwe Government holds dear are anathema to me.  For example, rampant censorship, absolute control of all media, zero freedom of speech, and complete gun control.  {About now you’re thinking you know my stance, read on – I may yet surprise you.}

Contrast Zimbabwe to the USA, and you realize we live in a virtual paradise – least in my mind we do.  In the USA, the very idea of censorship is abhorrent to most people.  The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms.  {Now, you’re positive you know where this leads – again, I say read on.}

As a former citizen of a country with virtually no civil liberties, I hold civil liberty in high esteem.  Indeed, as a naturalized Citizen of the USA, I have little doubt I treasure my newfound freedom far more than most born in the US Americans – few of whom have had to live beneath tyranny’s oppressive fist.  Every time I see something erode civil liberty within the USA, my heart sinks – seldom regained, are liberties lost.  {I knew it, I hear you say… you’re wrong.}

To me, government has a single purpose – service to its citizens.

Now contrast my abhorrence of erosion of civil liberty, which gun control most definitely is, with my belief that a government is obliged to protect its citizens – finally, the quandary reveals itself.

Though this is a cliché, it is also undeniably true – “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Without a person operating it, a gun does nothing.  This is the real issue, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be distracted from it with emotional rhetoric.

People in the USA kill other people – and it seems their preferred means of achieving this, is with a gun.  While we can legislate away guns, we can’t legislate away insanity.

To me, that’s the real crux of the matter – insane people using guns against innocents.  With the actual problem identified, it seems the solution to the problem is very simple.  Keep guns out of the hands of those people who should not have them.  In my mind, there are two types of “those people” – there are criminals, and there are the mentally unstable.  Neither should be permitted to possess firearms.  Period.

In the case of the criminals, this is a no-brainer.  Since they choose to step outside the law, they relinquish their right to certain of its protections, and certain of its privileges.  Indeed, criminals used to be termed outlaws.  Outlaws, or criminals if you prefer, have no business possessing firearms.  Once someone becomes a convicted criminal, they never have the pleasure of owning a firearm again – no excuses, no rehabilitation, no parole… the end.

The question of mental instability is far more difficult.  Identifying mentally unstable people is complex – it will require unpopular laws that could impinge on civil liberty, without extreme care and oversight by the citizenry.  However, once identified, unstable individuals shouldn’t be permitted to possess weapons with which they have the potential to hurt themselves, or others.

In summary, laws impinging on the Constitutional right to bear arms do nothing to solve the real problem.  Remember what the real problem is and has always been – guns in the hands of the irresponsible.  That is where our legislative efforts should be focused – eliminating the possibility of irresponsible people possessing firearms.  Gun control…  I’m all for it, if it’s handled in that fashion.

{originally posted on She Writes.}

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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