During the past week, I have engaged in a number of conversations concerning the horrific tragedy that took place in Newtown, Conn.
As a father of two little girls, one in second grade and one in kindergarten, I cannot fathom the pain and suffering those who lost a child are going through, and I’m sure those who lost an adult loved one grieve no less. Words do no justice, but as President Barack Obama said, all the people of our nation are with the victims and their families.
Hopefully, there is some solace in that fact.
Being a member of society who strongly supports the Second Amendment, I cannot help but participate in meaningful dialogue about the coming onslaught of gun control initiatives.
I am a hunter who shoots. My passion for firearms is rooted in time spent afield, and guns are part of that experience. Yet there are millions of Americans who actively shoot but do not hunt. These folks simply enjoy shooting guns, but they are not the threat to our society.
Let’s first establish an agreement that firearms are nothing more than a tool — lifeless objects operated by the hands of man. So we can agree firearms are not to blame for this tragedy and all others like it; people are.
However, many argue that if these killers could not obtain firearms, then mass murderers would not be able to act out their horrific plans. Many also claim inner-city violence and suicides would be reduced.
Yet there is simply no evidence to support this. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people, including 19 children, with a bomb made from materials anyone can acquire.
The problem is our society.
And at the center of it all is the media attention these maniacs receive.
In most cases, the people who are acting out these atrocities are societal outcasts. They’re loners who, by definition, are lonely. I assume most want to be accepted. They want to be popular, to have friends and engage in a normal life. Yet for some reason they don’t have this.
Perhaps it’s because of mental illness. Perhaps it’s something else. But for whatever reason, their desire for acceptance turns to anger, which is then fueled by a desire to show us all we are mistaken and that they are deserving of attention.
And as a society we have come to show them that they will have attention, lots of it, if they act out in such a manner. By tuning in and watching it, we are all as guilty as those who broadcast it.
So now we are left with a bunch of talking heads promoting political agendas. And they’re on both sides of the aisle. Watching legislators discuss gun control is a window into just how uninformed so many of our elected officials are. Many of these people have no idea what they are saying and are trying to govern on opinion as opposed to fact. A congresswoman on television said “It’s harder to buy a car than a gun.” That’s simply ridiculous.
The truth is, every time you try to buy a gun, the retailer must perform a background check with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. This mandate, which was initiated as part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on Nov. 30, 1998, is governed by the FBI. According to the FBI website, its purpose is to “determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives, and protecting people from harm — by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands.”
It often takes law-abiding citizens, including millions who have never committed a crime in their life, days to be cleared for firearms purchase. Then serial numbers are recorded, and you are linked to that gun, forever. Few criminals and killers are going to Bass Pro or a local gun shop to buy a gun. They’re buying them on the street or stealing them from legal owners.
It’s scary to think such uniformed people can be elected and then are given the power to change our nation. Just think about how many other issues they are addressing that they also have no understanding of.
So now the mainstream is coming after assault weapons. Well, that should be an easy win, since assault weapons, which are fully automatic, are already so heavily regulated the average citizen cannot own one. Semiautomatic weapons are not assault weapons.
My duck-hunting 12–gauge shotgun, my dove hunting 20-gauge shotgun and my 30-.06 deer rifle, which was manufactured in the 1960s and handed down to me by my grandfather, are semiautomatic.
The truth is, any gun regulation that is passed is a crack in the dam. We all know once the water starting pouring through, the dam won’t be standing much longer. There are people who want all guns to go away, and they will systematically attack our rights until their agenda becomes reality. Anymore, I can’t say with confidence that it’ll never happen.
If we are going to fix our society, it has to begin with family values. We stop buying children videos games where the object is killing as many people as possible. We need to stop camping in front of stores to buy iPhones. And above all, we must stop giving criminals a result they desire after committing a heinous acts.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears Saturdays in the Daily Journal.