Note: This is the original article that was submitted to seacoastonline.com. Certain edits were made to the original submission by Seacoast Media Group that weakened the article. You may view the edited version of the article by clicking on the link at the end.
Two common terms thrown about as part of the firearms debate are the words “reasonable” and “commonsense.” There is one thing you can be assured of when some people position these words while discussing their thoughts on firearms in our society. Should you disagree with their sanctions, then you are neither reasonable nor do you possess an ounce of commonsense. The conversation from that point descends into nothing more than “a dog chasing his tail” debate. This may make for a hilarious Youtube video, but is a useless way to move us closer to solving the matter of dangerous people misusing weapons.
A majority of this country does not own firearms (roughly 31% of Americans own a firearm). Some have suggested that should the majority desire, they can just outlaw guns. Well, not really. Unlike other countries we are a Constitutional-Republic, and although there are democratic tenets within our system, they are not the prevailing principles that guide our country. This country is unique in many ways, but above all else it is in the struggle of our birth, and the commitment to the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence and our national and state constitutions, that make us exceptional in the history of mankind.
These observations become key when discussing who should be permitted a firearm, and who should make that determination. What is reasonable is that no person with commonsense would want a dangerous person to have access to weapons. To this I am in total agreement. What is not reasonable is to place undue restrictions on law abiding citizens that are an affront to well-established natural rights. The right to self-preservation is paramount among all other rights. Laws instituted with good intention are abused every day by the very people we entrust to enforce them in a fair and equitable way; as a society we have all seen this play out. However, unlike other abuses in our society, those demanding strict policies, advocating for the possibility of a slight sense of security/safety at the real threat to individual liberty, turn a blind eye when the “state” purposely infringes on a person’s right to self-defense. This attitude sets a precedent that will be used to justify the restricting of other natural rights.
Stating generic laws without addressing the nuances in the way they will be implemented, and how and who will abuse them, is not an unreasonable objection. Polices such as “universal” background checks, banning so called assault-type weapons, requiring licensing of all gun owners, mandating safety courses, requiring the registrations of all firearms, permits for concealed weapons controlled by police chiefs, “red-flag” laws (a procedural endeavor to immediately address those who might be dangerous), extended waiting periods for a firearms purchases (these vary from 3-7 days or more), and limiting the quantity of firearms a person may purchase in a space of time are regulations some have brought forward as reasonable and commonsense. But the devil is in the details.
These recommendations sound simple, and on face value, commonsense. However, it is in the implantation and enforcement that should concern all reasonable people. Each of these laws may or may not have merit, but all are ripe for abuse, and history bears this out. “Governments are instituted among Men,” but sadly there are those that we entrust who have no qualms about abusing their position and promoting their agenda. The biggest concern many have is that these laws will be abused, will serve as de-facto policy to deny people their right to self-defense. And these concerns are not unfounded.
It is in the abuses that we find fault in the policy. Past and present law enforcement officials across this country such as Chief Parella (East Providence, RI), Chief Faulkner (West Covina, CA), D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, and Police Chief Metzler (Seymour, CT) and many more routinely denied law-abiding citizens firearm permits without just cause; interpretation – these citizens had to sue (at their cost) because the government unjustly denied them their right. Some of you who want stricter firearm laws applaud these types of maneuvers, not caring about these abuses because it fits your agenda, committing to the ethos that “the end justifies the means.” Actions such as these harm your cause, and hinder any chance for compromise.
Mandating “safety courses” become just another opportunity for abuse. Some states like CA and NY, design them to be cost prohibitive, overly time consuming, and poorly conceived with one purpose in mind: to discourage firearms ownership. Once again, those pushing for more firearms restriction turn a blind eye, because it suits them fine, which in turn erodes their phrasing of the words “reasonable” and “commonsense.” These polices have nothing to do with safety, unfairly penalize people of lesser means, and are not equitable in their application. And unlike a driver’s license, which is not a liberty defined in the Bill of Rights, successfully completing any of these courses still does not guarantee the right of the graduate to defend themselves. Hardly reasonable or commonsense.
When some people use the terms “reasonable” and “commonsense,” what they really mean is for the audience to sit down, shut up, and listen to a lecture. Claiming to want a “comprehensive conversation,” is flipped on its head, becoming an oxymoron that is interpreted to mean anything but an all-inclusive conversation. It is not that firearms owners are unreasonable or lack commonsense. It is because they see firsthand the overreach and true intention of some that push these types of policies. The real reason firearms owners don’t trust those that proclaim they want to have a reasonable conversation on commonsense firearms measures is because they know many of these people are being disingenuous and dishonest concerning their real intent.
We have become a culture falsely committed to the belief that by merely passing a law the problem ends. If that were true we would not be having this conversation. These policies turn law-abiding citizens into criminals, all under the pretext of reasonable and commonsense, and the not so subtle nudge that should you disagree with the course these laws will ultimately lead to, then you are complicit in the actions of those who walk into a school and slaughter innocent people. More damaging to this conversation is that people pushing stricter firearms laws enter the public tête-à-tête unwilling to admit they are not being absolutely honest. There are enough people who despise firearms that they believe that most, if not all citizens, have no legitimate reason to own guns, for whatever reason, period (https://preview.tinyurl.com/baneverygun). Some enter this conversation believing that committing “morally wrong actions are sometimes necessary to achieve morally right outcomes.” In other words, the ends justify the means.
For as much as some of you don’t trust people who legal own a firearm, at least we are being honest and open about our intent. Can you say the same?
Link to edited version here