Columnist Argues “Gun Problem is a First Amendment Issue”

John Archibald of The Birmingham News wrote a provocative article in last week’s Sunday Edition in which he argued that wanton gun violence is not a product of our right to, as he puts it, “bear-hug” all the arms we want, but a result of a failure to communicate about important gun-related issues, mainly gun safety.

“We need to talk about guns,” Archibald pleaded in his piece, because the “biggest threats to the Second Amendment are not the anti-gun, tree-hugging Greenpeace hippies. The biggest threats to responsible gun owners — and to public safety — are idiots with guns.”

Well, he makes a good point.  Idiots with guns do present a major problem for society. 

archibaldAs Archibald correctly noted, “Guns really don’t kill people. Idiots with access to guns kill people. They buy them on the black market, or by deception, and get their firearms training on MTV. They shoot into the air. They fire before they respect bullets.”

So, the question then becomes how does society prevent idiots from gaining access to firearms?  

One solution would be to educate idiots on firearm safety.  Archibald goes so far as to ask his local sheriff’s department if there would be a viable way to spread the word amongst the criminal element about how to carefully handle guns. 

He got an answer, albeit one that he wasn’t too surprised by.    

“I don’t think they give a rip about gun safety,” Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian told Archibald. “We would entertain the thought of even teaching them gun safety if they are brave enough to show up. Doubt we will get any takers.”

Yes, criminals with illegal guns (or idiots, whichever term you prefer) are not going to line up for police-sponsored safety classes.  That’s not a huge revelation.

Nevertheless, Archibald maintains that we need to push the dialogue forward; we need to talk about guns “in realistic, honest ways, without all the knee-jerk political baggage. We need to talk safety, and consequences. We need to discuss ways of limiting gun supplies to criminals without threatening the rights of responsible owners.”

Okay, so let’s talk about gun violence, gun laws, etc.

Two quick points to help frame the discussion: (a) From 2006-2010 the rate of murders and non-negligent homicides declined by 17 percent.  In 2006, the murder rate was 5.8 per 100,000 population, in 2010, it was 4.8 per 100,000 and (b) in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, accidental gun deaths were at a record low with .19 accidents per 100,000 population. 

crime-ratesBased on this evidence, it would appear that fewer idiots are gaining access to firearms or using them irresponsibly.

So, what’s changed? 

Well, I won’t argue that it’s the cause, but I will point out the correlation, that is, since 2005 there has been an expansion of concealed carry rights and self-defense laws across the country, such as Florida’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.  More law-abiding citizens are carrying today than ever before and crime and gun violence continue to decline. 

Could it be that idiots around the country are less inclined to do stupid things because of an ever-growing armed populace? 

Could it be that the responsible habits of the ever-growing armed populace are pervasive enough to impact the subculture of idiots? 

I don’t know.  But, what I do know is that gun control is not the answer.

In fact, looking at the underlying problem, I don’t think this has anything do with guns, but idiots in general.  In short, we have an idiot problem, not a gun problem.

To put it another way, for a society to produce fewer idiots with guns; it should not focus on reducing the number of guns (because, let’s face it, guns are ubiquitous); rather it should focus on producing fewer idiots (criminals, thugs, gang members, etc.). 

Therefore, a discussion on gun violence shouldn’t center on guns or even gun safety (although gun safety is important).  It should focus on creating an idiot-free society. 

This is not an easy discussion to have because there are many social, cultural and political implications, but it is one that would go a long way to help ending gun violence. 

Your thoughts?