Gun Control: Have We Gone Too Far?

The Simon, CA
Sept 20 2004

Gun Control: Have We Gone Too Far?
A fundamentally flawed piece of gun legislation just died. Here’s why
the rest should too.
By Matt Hutaff Sep 20, 2004

“Tyranny is always better organized than freedom.” – Charles Péguy

It took three shootings over the course of ten years to spur Diane
Feinstein, the Grand Dame of California politics, into spearheading
the 1994 Assault Weapons Act.

“It was the ultimate shock,” Feinstein said of the final spree that
claimed six lives in a San Francisco law office. “Someone comes in,
aggrieved, and goes right through the place.”

And you know what? Such a response makes sense. After all, when 34
people are killed in three totally unrelated situations years apart,
what other alternative is there than stripping away the rights of
law-abiding citizens?


Gun control is the ultimate extension of the “government-as-parent”
scenario which posits that Americans are either too stupid or too
ignorant to take care of themselves. While I won’t argue that our
nation is plagued with an overabundance of idiocy, it is not the
responsibility of the government to baby-sit everyone and make sure
they don’t stick a fork in a light socket.

Such a mentality towards gun regulation only punishes the average
citizen by depriving themselves of the right to defend their person
and their property. Criminals aren’t likely to care about where they
find their firearms because, hey, they’re criminals. When they rob a
store the last thing they’re worried about is whether or not their
handgun is licensed.

Yet that reaction is what we’ve come to expect from our society. When
one lone nutjob storms into a school and kills five people, public
outcry doesn’t lay blame on the criminal who committed the crime, it
lands on the society that gave him free access to a semi-automatic
weapon and the legislators who, despite campaign promises to the
contrary, cannot see the future and foretell every human tragedy that
will ever occur in his or her jurisdiction.

Hey, there’s a chance an airliner could be hijacked – should we be
allowed to fly with that kind of danger hanging over us? Drink too
much water and you’ll die – why not regulate its consumption?

Because doing so would be as vain a pursuit as trying to make sure
that every person who is ever wounded or killed by a firearm deserved
it. Wise up – you can’t standardize life.

However, it appears common sense is kicking in on Capitol Hill, as
Feinstein’s bill shuffled off into the political sunset last Monday
afternoon. Having passed its ten-year anniversary, the bill required
renewal or expiration. It was quietly ignored.

And with good cause. Opponents of the bill will correctly highlight
its overall impotence at keeping weapons out of people’s hands.
Numerous loopholes allowed the guns to stay on the market with small
cosmetic changes or minor alterations in accessories. Many that
weren’t modifiable were often protected by grandfather clauses that
exempted pre-ban guns. Feinstein herself has admitted that “we could
have written a better bill.”

But while I herald the death of a law that, by the Department of
Justice’s admission, had no impact on crime reduction, there are
bigger issues at play. How can firearms be regulated in the first
place? Who benefits from such regulation?

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution plainly states
that “a well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a
free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not
be infringed.” There’s no wiggle room on this. The Founders of our
nation wanted to make sure that, if we wanted to, we could arm and
defend ourselves. Strangely, the past fifty years have only amplified
the need for such protection.

Why? Some would argue that the notion of gun rights in this day and
age are antiquated, a relic of our rural past. Few Americans need to
hunt to survive, critics say. And it’s not like we’re expecting the
British or French to invade any time soon.

While these things are true, the Founding Fathers didn’t draft the
Bill of Rights to better prepare us from the hordes of berets and
fish n’ chips from rampaging unchecked throughout the land. The
personal freedoms guaranteed to every American by that living
document are there to protect you from the tyranny of our own

Think about it for a moment. The First Amendment protects you from
being persecuted by the government for what you say and believe. The
Fourth Amendment defends your right to privacy, the Fifth guards you
from incriminating yourself in court and the Sixth guarantees you
won’t be subjected to a show trial if you’re ever prosecuted. These
ideas are so simple and obvious it seems silly to write them down,
but they are all rights that a crooked government would love to abuse
or discard if they weren’t.

In the past four years we’ve seen numerous attacks on many of the
liberties we find sacred. Censorship, the PATRIOT Act and secret
“Star Chamber” trials have eroded the fundamental freedoms I noted
above. Police forces and National Guard units are militarizing
against their own citizens. And lest you think this is a recent
phenomenon, federal Civil Disturbance plans like Operation Garden
Plot and Department of State Publication 7277 have been around for
decades, ready and waiting to strip you of your rights to defend
yourself before killing you for disagreeing with the government.

History has shown that gun control invariably ends in total gun
restriction and genocide. Don’t believe me? Ask German Jews or
Armenian Turks – two ethnic groups unable to save themselves from
violence. It’s estimated that 56 million unarmed victims fell in the
20th century alone. Crimes like these are precisely why the Second
Amendment was written. In the end, you may need to make sure you have
the same firepower the military has.

So I wholeheartedly support the ability for any citizen of this
country to purchase the exact same weaponry available to its own
army. If you’ve got the inclination and the wherewithal to buy a tank
or a rocket launcher, go for it. If our arms manufacturers can sell
automatic weapons to foreign countries that have no specific
allegiance to the United States, why can’t they sell them to
Americans who have a vested interest in securing themselves? Profit
is profit.

Am I advocating another Ruby Ridge or violent insurrection? Hardly. I
just think the playing field should be level and that people who want
access to these weapons shouldn’t be denied because some
irresponsible ass might do something deadly with it. The presumption
of innocence is one of the basic tenets of American society.

Does everyone need to arm up? That’s a personal decision. Should they
have the possibility?

You’re damn right.

Canon Fodder is a weekly analysis of politics and society.