Prague Twin

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Thoughts on Gun Control

Now that it has become clear that Cho Seung-Hui was certifiably insane, the question of gun-control has be addressed. Should people who have been determined to be a threat to themselves, as this man had, be allowed to purchase firearms?

I think the answer to that question from any sane person is a resounding, "no".

When I talk about the right to bear arms (1, 2), I don't consider that right to be free of limits.

One of the main complaints I'm hearing, especially from New Yorkers, is that guns are much too easy to purchase in this particular state in question, Virginia. As much as I hate to think that there should be a federal mandate, it seems a little strange that the States can interpret the Constitution however they want.

But more importantly, what we should be looking at is what are appropriate forms of gun-control, and what are not. This case highlights the need for proper background checks. Here in the Czech Republic, I can get a gun, but I need three things before I can get my license.

First I need to take a very simple training in how to safely handle a gun, and pass a test at the end. No big deal.

Second, I need a note from my doctor that I am both physically and mentally fit to own a gun. There are no medical tests or psychological examinations needed, but if I had a history of mental illness, my doctor would not give me the paper. This is a better system than a data-base because medical information remains in the hands of the doctors, and not on some government server. If I did have a history of mental illness, I wouldn't have to disclose that to the government. Only if I want a gun do I have to more or less prove that I am healthy. Again, no big deal.

Finally, I have to provide the police a reason for wanting a gun (hunters and target shooters have a bit of an advantage here, but I can just say "self-defense" and that is enough), and they have to sign off that I don't have a criminal record. Again, no big deal.

So I am not opposed to a similar system for the U.S. Perhaps instead of the class, you could just pass a proficiency exam, so that those who already know how to use guns don't have to waste too much time.

Sure, it seems like a hassle, but owning a gun is a very big responsibility, and like anything else you do in society that has the potential to harm others (like driving a car for example), you have to prove to society that you are capable of handling that responsiblity.

Obviously, Cho Seung-Hui was not.

(Tomorrow I will post some thoughts on gun-control that I think are not acceptable or useful.)


  • Praguetwin, some very sane, workable and thoughtful comments. If only people would consider options. I find, too often, that once a debate gets going, most people want to sit in their own camp and not consider any kind of compromise at all. I find it laugable that New Yorkers would be pointing fingers at VA as being too easy to obtain a gun. Even with all their gun laws, far too many illegal weapons are being used to commit crimes on their own streets.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 7:03 PM  

  • You are right, people like Cho Seung-Hui should not be allowed to own firearms. I am bothered by people/organizations that seem to feel everyone should give up their firearms to make the country a safer place. Yesterday I heard someone say they didn't think one armed student or teacher could have saved 32 lives this past Monday. He went on to say, but if they could save one wouldn't that be worth it? I'd say yes to that. Some of the laws we have to make us safer make being out for the night more dangerous than no laws at all.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 8:22 PM  

  • David, I can't help thinking that if Professor Librescu had been carrying a firearm, he probably would have stopped Cho, thus saving many lives. You're right, of course, giving up guns will not stop violent acts. Many guns in this country got here illegally or have been obtained illegally (ie robbery,etc) and are not likely to be turned in. It's a concept that just can't work.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 9:21 PM  

  • Isikoff in Newsweek writes that current laws should have barred the mentally ill Cho from being able to buy guns in Virginia - but did not because of lax enforcement and/or lax reportment of mental illness.


    By Blogger reality-based educator, at 12:19 PM  

  • Rocky,

    Thanks. At least the NRA supports the notion that insane people should not be allowed to buy guns.

    Also, you are right about illegal guns as well: they cause problems. What New Yorkers are complaining about is the fact that at one point almost half the guns being used in New York had been purchased legally in Virginia. But even without those guns, the problem doesn't go away.


    I am bothered by the same thing. The laws are well-intentioned by ineffctive. Romunov had a great quote the other day. He said, "Having a gun-free zone in the U.S. is like having a pee-free zone in a public pool."

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 1:50 PM  

  • federal law trumps state law and pre-empts it where it wants to pre-empt it. The Brady bill was federal and the original waiting period was later modified to allow instacheck using a variety of databases NCIC being the most useful. As I posted a few days ago, immigration status and adjudications of mental illness and hospitalization are hit or miss on the databases of insta check and Isikoff as you noted goes into some of the reasons why. I think the crazies lose their 2nd Amendment rights and so do most of the NRA--we're not crazy--and I think it's really more important than whether you picked up a process of property felony (like lying to Congress or theft). Good post here and in follow up.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 12:01 AM  

  • Believe it or not, areas where guns are not heavily regulated in the U.S. usually have their own very effective customs that self-regulate firearms without the intervention of draconian laws. People teach one another to handle firearms safely, they protect their children and since civilized areas perfectly correlate to areas with few firearms laws, no-one goes around shooting one another, such as in New York or Washington, D.C. The heavily armed areas of the U.S. are the safest, most polite, and coincidently, the most "free".
    By the way, much negative propaganda is spread against the NRA. Just for the record, NRA members are completely non-violent, law-abiding citizens. Your neighbor, uncle, boss, or father is probably a member!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:56 AM  

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