Some Sensible Gun Laws for a Change

February 26, 2011

Hooray for the western states!  Many of them are in the process of enacting long overdue and sensible gun laws.  Perhaps spurred on by the unstable times we live in or just a sense that people should have the ability to defend themselves, states from Wyoming to Arizona are about to pass laws which will allow gun owners to carry their firearms on college campuses and carry concealed weapons without a permit.

In light of the Tucson shooting in which Jared Lee Loughner shot and wounded thirteen people, including U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, and killed six others, these laws are just common sense.  After all, one of the individuals that apprehended Loughner and terminated his shooting rampage was Joseph Zamudio who himself was carrying a 9mm semi-automatic pistol at the time of the attack.  According to Zamudio, when he heard the shots outside the Safeway supermarket he immediately rushed to the scene to help.  While most bystanders would have hit the deck or run in the opposite direction, he claims his carrying a gun emboldened him to act.  This episode makes one wonder how many lives could have been saved if Virginia Tech students had been allowed to carry firearms on campus in  April 2007 when Seung-Hui massacred 32 of them?

Of course, stories of armed private citizens saving life and property happen all the time.  Back in 1995 the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology at Northwestern University School of Law published a study that indicated that law abiding gun owners use their weapons for defensive purposes as many as 2.5 million times a year.  This calculates to guns being used 60 times more to protect innocent lives than being used to shoot in the commission of a crime.  Thus, loosening gun laws will only make us safer because they will give responsible gun owners more of an ability to intervene in crisis situations like the Tucson and Virginia Tech Massacres.

Of course, one of the criticisms of the anti-gun movement is that we would be less safe if everybody in society carried a gun.  But, that is not what these laws would do.  People and private property owners should and would have choice in the matter.  Nothing would force an individual to carry against their will or a private entity to allow firearms on their premises.  Most folks who own guns understand the enormous responsibility that comes with it.  Our hero Joseph Zamudio was empowered by his gun to act, but he didn’t shoot it off wildly and endanger others.  As a matter of fact, he ran into the face of self-sacrifice and didn’t fire a shot.  Zamudio is indicative of most gun owners – they are ready and willing to help in time of emergency while maintaining the utmost care for public safety.

At the end of the day, government cannot be everywhere to protect us against bad guys.  U.S. citizens have a natural right to self defense.  In light of the violence from Mexico’s failed drug war spilling over our borders, the loosening of laws to carry a concealed weapon in America is indispensable to our self-defense.  Additionally, as the Founding Fathers knew well, the best defense against tyrannical government is an armed citizenry.  This is a lesson all too many people around the world know well.


Putting Things in Perspective

January 21, 2011

To be sure the shooting in Tucson, Arizona a couple of weeks ago was a horrific incident.  A U.S. Congresswoman and many of her constituents shot in broad daylight at essentially point blank range is enough to make many wonder just how ill American society has become.  Certainly, as a nation we should mourn the loss of human life especially the loss of child innocence – the tragic death of eleven year old Christina Taylor Green.

The reaction of America to the shootings from the President to the media to ordinary Americans has been predictable especially as it pertains to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  On a daily basis the media informs us about her improving condition.  We are updated on the ever expanding memorial of well wishes located outside of her hospital room window.  The President and her colleagues in Congress are forever telling us that she is a person of strong will, a hero, and someone who is dedicated to public service.  Many, including President Obama, have called the shooting a “national tragedy”.

The problem with this overindulgence day after day is that it lacks perspective.  Congresswoman Giffords was the victim of an act that through her votes in Congress she has helped perpetrate on others.  Since being sworn into the House of Representatives in 2007 Giffords has fully supported funding for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever else our military adventurers have taken their road show.  The result of this funding has been carnage and chaos for millions in those war zones.

According to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh who I heard speak in Doha this week, the U.S. war machine has not lightened up and its violations of the Geneva Conventions have not lessened during the Obama Administration.  Hersh claims that we continue to torture prisoners at secret prisons in North Africa.  Assassinations through unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan have doubled causing increased innocent civilian casualties.  And those prisoners that are lucky enough not to be held and tortured are usually released only to be shot in the back as they leave the site of their captivity.  Ms. Giffords votes fund these activities.

Additionally, Hersh explained how the U.S spreads even more misery on local populations by supporting tyrannical rulers in the Middle East.  The U.S. gets natural resources and support in fighting the War on Terror and in exchange the autocrats are allowed to continue their despotic ways with the backing of our government.  Again, Congresswoman Gifford’s support of the War on Terror contributes to the agony of the millions living under dictators in the region.

Hersh wrapped up his speech in Doha by talking about Obama’s speech in Tucson.  He said, “I wish he (Obama) had the same compassion for civilians and the military on both sides in Afghanistan that he had for the slain in Tucson”.  And that is really the point of this article.  While the victims in Tucson should be mourned, Americans should reconsider our international crusade to rid the world of terrorism.  Do our policies encourage the same behavior they are meant to eradicate?  Are we any better than the terrorists if we perpetuate the same atrocities?  Is it just to kill and mistreat literally millions of innocent people in an effort to bolster our own security?  After all, they too were children, the elderly, and people who left behind others that miss them very much.  Personally, I believe President Obama was wrong.  The shooting of Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson, Arizona was not a “national tragedy”.  The national tragedy is the military actions of our federal government at the behest of the American people.  As a country, we need a perspective change.