Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Perception Issue

If you ask most people in this country whether we have gun control, they'll say no we don't. If you ask them why, they'll say something like "because the NRA keeps it from passing.

This may seem impossible to those of us in the gun world, but the vast majority of people in this country are entirely ignorant about gun laws... in fact I'd wager to say the majority of gun owners are even ignorant.

Frederik Pohl is a quite well known science fiction author; who has recently decided to start a blog. In one of his first posts, he mentioned his wife was a college professor, a former state rep, and worked with the teachers union in her state; and in the comment thread someone made some disparaging comments about such unions.

She responded with a defense of her union; but also an attack against the NRA, and gun rights supporters:
"So I take exception to my union’s being linked by my husband with an organization like the National Rifle Association. I admit, their members are primarily not lobbying for financial gain either, but I also do not believe that the majority of people who are card-carrying members of that organization are as fanatic as their leadership in defending the right of anyone to bear automatic assault weapons. Many of their members are simply hunters or collectors who want to join an organization which is supposed to defend their right to own rifles and shotguns."
I see this thing everywhere, all the time. It is completely and utterly false; but usually it is motivated not by bigotry, but by ignorance; as most people are informed only by those hostile to gun rights, and their accomplices, the media.

As gun owners, as gun lovers, as gun rights activists, and as those who support human freedom; we MUST correct such perceptions wherever they arise.

We must do so politely, and in an informed manner; and we must engage anyone who is willing to listen; rather than simply shouting "what part of shall not be infringed don't you understand" and "from my cold dead hands" over and over again.

I left this rather long comment; which I hope they choose to publish (update: they did publish it) but even if they don't perhaps at least one or two people will be more informed, and will not take the medias pronouncements to heart so uncritically:
I realize you mean well here, and you make your comments out of ignorance; but as you are angered by people speaking about teachers unions without direct knowledge or understanding; you should recognize that your statements on guns and gun rights are similarly ill informed.

From what you have said, and how you have said it, I'll wager your information and perceptions of the NRA, gun rights, gun owners and shooters are primarily created and informed by media and lobbying groups hostile to guns and gun rights.

Oh and by the way, there is no functional difference whatsoever between a hunting shotgun or many hunting rifles, and the so called "assault weapons" banned under various state laws (and federally from 1994-2004); excepting that the banned weapons are in fact LESS powerful than weapons typically used for hunting.

The common perception, falsely created by anti-gun lobbying organizations, and reinforced at every opportunity by an uncritical and largely anti-gun media; is that such laws keep machine guns out of the hands of criminals. This is completely and utterly false.

Machine guns are legal in the United States (in about 40 out of 50 states)for civilians to own by the way; and always have been. Since 1934, they have been subject to strict federal regulation and background checks; and they cost enormous sums of money (the cheapest are around $5000 and they can easily exceed $100,000).

Since machine guns were specially regulated in 1934, only two crimes have ever been committed using lawfully owned machine guns; and both were by police officers (both were instances of domestic violence).

These "assault weapon" bans;and there is sure to be another proposed shortly now that Obama has been inaugurated; do nothing more than restrict lawful access to law abiding citizens, weapons that LOOK LIKE machine guns.

There are constant calls for "reasonable gun control" when in fact we already have a HUGE amount of gun control in this country.

Most people hear this repeated propaganda about "easy access to guns" etc... and simply assume that it's a wide open field for everyone to buy guns willynilly out there with no control. This is also utterly false.

It is illegal for a felon, the mentally ill, the legally incompetent, substance abusers, and anyone who has been convicted of a crime of domestic violence, or has a domestic violence restraining order against them; to own, purchase, or possess any firearm. It is also illegal to sell, give, or loan a firearm to those people.

Firearms can only be sold across state lines by federally licensed dealers. Firearms cannot be sold mail order. Firearms cannot be purchased over the internet without first being shipped to a federally licensed dealer (unless both the buyer and seller are in the same states, and that state allows private sales without a dealer).

All firearms purchases from federally licensed dealers must be approved through the national instant background check system; which verifies that the person the gun being sold to is not prohibited from owning or possessing firearms under the law.

And that's just federal. There are 28,000 federal, state, and local gun control laws in this country.

And not one of them has any impact at all on criminals. Criminals don't buy guns from federally licensed dealers. They don't buy guns from law abiding citizens. They buy guns from other criminals. The law doesn't do a thing to stop them, BECAUSE THEY ARE CRIMINALS.

I could go on like this for hours, but I hope I have illustrated my point. If you want to make such a comparison, please educate yourself first; and don't count the media or those who oppose that which you'd like to talk about as valid sourcees. You wouldn't treat any academic subject in such a manner, you shouldnt treat this subject as such.

If we don't do this, we lose. It's that simple.