Sunday, April 12, 2009

Guns Don't Kill People....Gun Nuts Wielding Guns Kill People!

Video Courtesy of

Gun owners in Utah have noticed a recent shortage for certain types of ammunition, specifically for handguns and semiautomatic weapons. However, it isn't clear why gun owners feel such an urgency to stock up.

I was in a gun shop recently in Taylorsville, Utah. There was a poster prominently displayed encouraging every gun advocate to register to vote because Obama would take away our rights to own guns. This poster was still lingering with it's message of fear five months after the election.

Where was the same right wing constitutional rhetoric when the previous president took away so many of our constitutional rights such as the right to be free of unwarranted search and seizure?

This issue came home when my 67 year old father came to my house looking to take possession of the Colt .45 I had sold him six years earlier. With some urgency he asked me to find the gun, the magazines, and any ammunition I had for the weapon. I exercised my 24 hour waiting period obligation (I lost the key to the lock on the gun and wasn't sure where I put it). My dad started going on and on about how he needed self protection and how he intended to get a concealed carry permit.

In a latter phone conversation he told me the Pentagon had decided to insist that all the .223 ammunition be recycled and not reloaded. My dad was convinced this was a government conspiracy to reduce the supply of ammunition to the masses. I pointed out three points:

  1. The Pentagon was run by a Republican.
  2. The order to recycle the brass rather than reload could be a measure meant to protect the military from lawsuits over defective brass. If the brass is recycled it would like be made into additional rounds and there was no indication that the .223 round was in danger of being restricted by the government.
  3. If the free market was still alive and well the ammunition manufactures would ramp up production to meet demand.

The next conversation we had regarding guns was the proper storage of a firearm in the car. I am a police officer and so I was a natural resource for this conversation. I also support the second amendment in that I believe that if we surrender any of our rights voluntarily we will likely never get them back. That being said, I also believe that a gun is not a panacea for all of our problems and many times it complicates the situation. I suggested he leave the gun at home unless he is going to the range or hunting or camping.

If the Zeppelin were made of lead it would have had more buoyancy than that statement in my father's eyes. He told me that he was going to get a concealed carry permit and he "needed" a gun for his protection. I told him this was not the wild west. He retorted that it was more like the wild west than it was in the 1950's. If I were to watch TV I would see many reports of people being car jacked or robbed and that possession of gun would thwart that.

AH HA! I know see where the paranoia comes from. There has not been a significant policy change in the Obama administration nor has any legislation been introduced. The likelihood there would be a change pushed through congress is minimal. The make up of the congress is still too balanced and the Blue Dog Democrats would likely vote against a ban. However, talk radio has drummed up the specter of a socialist regime and the limitation of gun rights. My dad spends hours listening to Rush, Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck. He believes every word they say. He spends his days and evenings watching the Fox News channel on his TV.

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The above story is interesting and tragic. We lost three police officers, all family men, and all here to serve the public. The suspect in this story was distraught, paranoid, and righteous in his belief that the government was going to take his guns. He used weapons designed to kill people, not animals, on the responding officers.

I am concerned that two storms are converging on the America we love. The belief that the government is going to take our guns and the belief that it is patriotic to take up arms to protect those rights. Pepper this with a healthy dose of racism and we could see a local insurgency that pales to the ones we have seen in the middle east. I believe in the spreading of hate, and paranoia the conservative news and talk radio outlets will create a self-fulfilling prophecy, gun violence will increase and so will the government's call the stop the blood shed. I am for lobbying to protect our rights, however, we are seeing unwarranted paranoia over legislation that has not been drafted, not been introduced, and not passed. If we spent more time studying the way our government functioned and less time assuming that a president can dictate law we might all sleep better.