Yes, we should have a debate on gun control

It didn’t take long for gun control advocates to start spouting their usual rhetoric following yesterday’s attack on Republican congressmen. Mike Lupica wrote a New York Daily News column asking if now was the time to finally have a debate on gun control in Congress. He attempts to paint the issue as something which is finally hitting home for Republicans because one of their own, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, is clinging to life in the hospital.

Maybe now we can have another debate about guns in America. It just won’t change anything in Congress — even though the shooter was shooting at them this time.

The comments were echoed in a New York Times editorial which fretfully worried about a future where everyone was armed.

That’s an entirely reasonable reflex. All people in that situation, unarmed and under fire, would long to be able to protect themselves and their friends. Yet consider the society Americans would have to live in — the choices they would all have to make — to enable that kind of defense. Every member of Congress, and every other American of whatever age, would have to go to baseball practice, or to school, or to work, or to the post office, or to the health clinic — or to any of the other places mass shootings now take place — with a gun on their hip. And then, when an attack came and they returned fire, they would probably kill or wound not the assailant but another innocent bystander, as studies have repeatedly shown.

That is the society the gun lobby is working toward. Is it the one Americans want?

Lupica, NYT, and other leftists want to have a debate about gun control. They’re right, but just on the wrong topic. The issue isn’t really about gun control, but about why there are so many rules to getting and carrying a weapon.

Let’s look at the requirements in Washington D.C. to get a concealed carry permit, where most House and Senate members live while Congress is in session. This includes the notion Metro Police need to approve the reasons for anyone wanting to get a permit. It’s important to note these rules are from 2014, and may be in the process of being changed due to legal action.

The Act permits the Chief to issue a concealed pistol carry license to a person who: 1) a) demonstrates: good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property; or b) has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol; and 2) is a suitable person to be so licensed…

The regulations go further to say, “The standard that a high crime area by itself does not establish good cause is language that appeared in the District’s prior concealed carry regulations and also appears in New York regulations,” which is completely bogus because it gives the state far too much power to declare winners and losers. Metro Police also require a whopping $536 in fees (i.e. taxes) to get a conceal carry license, including $400 for Firearms training instructor certification. It’s easy to sit there and mewl that Congress members have access to the cash, but how many people actually want to hand the state this money for their right to own guns? What happens if someone files a Freedom of Information Act in hopes of getting the database of gun owners in the nation’s capital, which Gawker did to people in New York in 2013? It’s no wonder law abiding citizens aren’t interested in packing heat in D.C..

So what about Virginia, where the actual shooting took place? Virginia does have reciprocity agreements with the rest of the U.S., but it doesn’t mean it’s that much easier to conceal carry. There are eleven states which do not require permits to conceal carry, including Arizona (Senator Jeff Flake), Kansas (Congressmen Roger Marshall and Kevin Yoder), and Mississippi (Congressmen Trent Kelly and Steve Palazzo). This means Senate and House members would have to get a non-resident permit to conceal carry in Virginia, including a $100 fee. They could open carry without a license in Virginia, but baseball uniforms and athletic gear aren’t exactly conducive to gun carrying, and most athletic wear options are conceal carry. It’s possible staff members could open carry, but how often do staff members come to practice? Virginia could try to pass repealing these requirements, but given Governor Terry McAuliffe’s “93 million people a day” gun violence declaration, it’s doubtful it would even pass.

These are questions Lupica and the other gun control advocates don’t appear to be asking, or even considerings, when they complain about guns in America. They’re just like those on the right who are blaming the shooter’s apparent political philosophy and the media for what happened yesterday, instead of the shooter himself. Gun control obsessors want to blame the gun, instead of the actual shooter, who had a criminal history and appeared to be subject to fits to rage. It’s completely possible laws should exist to keep people from getting weapons, but that’s an extremely slippery slope, especially when it’s the state deciding the circumstances of whether someone should be armed or not.

It falls on individual adults to make decisions on whether to cause violence or try to protect themselves (and others) from it. I know people who willingly, and pro-actively, hand over their weapons to friends, or keep them out of reach, when they get extremely angry or depressed. This way they don’t harm themselves or innocents. I know people who carry weapons so they can protect others if violence breaks out and a police officer isn’t around. There are also people who prefer not to arm themselves out of fear or just because they don’t want to carry a weapon, which is their wont. A debate about gun control is fine, as long as everyone is willing to admit it should be the individual, not the government, which decides if they want to be armed or not.