Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Common sense gun legislation

Advocates of gun control legislation frequently feel the need to burnish their proposals with the adjective "common sense." Thus, appeal is often made to public support for "common sense gun control legislation." One of the first requirements of common sense legislation is that it accomplish its intended purpose. "Gun control" legislation that does not control guns, or more specifically, does not reduce criminal gun violence does not legitimately bear the appellation "common sense."

Cosmetic legislation that serves only as an emotional bromide can legitimately be called neither common sense nor gun control. Gun violence is first and foremost violence, and it is the pathologies that predispose certain individuals to violence that are at the heart of the crisis. Seung Hui-Cho, Eric Harris, James Holmes, Anders Breivik, Jared Lee Loughner, and Aaron Alexis all perpetrated mass shoootings of strangers, and all had previously been referred for psychiatric evaluation. What is equally troubling, is that all were relatively intelligent and capable of intricate planning. It is inobvious how magazine capacity limits or ammunition surcharges, or outlawing firearms with flash suppressors would have thwarted disturbed but cunning minds. It is quite likely that they would outsmart the most heartfelt of firearm restrictions. It is also worth noting that Anders Breivik killed eight people with a bomb, and that James Holmes rigged his apartment with incendiary devices. The essence of a mass murderer is a malignant motive and will. The weapon to be used is secondary.

Whether or not some idea qualifies as "common sense" depends upon context. If a community were suddenly gripped by a violent crime wave, in which the authorities could do little more than show up after the fact, it might certainly be "common sense" that the citizenry be armed in its own defense.

The people who insists on retaining the right to own firearms for their own personal use do not thereby condone the actions of psychotic murderers; they do not provide the impetus to slaughter by mentally unstable, but quite resourceful miscreants. They do not excuse the acts of madmen; the people who focus on the weapon rather than the act do. The people who support the Second Amendment do not condone the lawless gunfire in gun control venues such as Chicago or Washington DC. They do not assume moral culpability for refusing to play along with the deluded fantasy that "common sense" gun control legislation is anything of the sort.

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