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COLUMN archives back to April 26, 1999

TRANSCRIPT & COMMON GROUND archives back to July 2007

Today: Guns in the USA.

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Today: Guns in the USA. 
 
Bob: Despite what you might think, Cal, I don't hate guns. I might hate the 
havoc they unleash on our society, but I'm not your typical no-gun-is-a-good-gun 
liberal.
 
Cal: Well I, too, hate the havoc that criminal behavior unleashes on our 
society. I will say, though, that I'm pleased that our Constitution still means 
something, as the U.S. Supreme Court once again confirmed in upholding our 2nd 
Amendment.
 
Bob: You mean the conservative majority's  outrageous decision to strike down 
Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban? The conservative right may have cheered the 
decision, but this is the same crowd that champions states rights and judicial 
restraint. Hypocrites, all of them. If this decision wasn't so dangerous, the 
ruling would be laughable. 
 
Cal: I was delighted to see that the one who successfully brought this case  was 
an African-American Democrat from Chicago's South Side. How perfect. The 
gentleman merely wants to defend himself against gangs who shoot up his 
neighborhood and have no intention of obeying any gun law, no matter how tough.
 
Bob: The same old NRA song. The 2nd Amendment was intended for the arming of a 
"well regulated militia" against tyranny from the government. It was written 
after the U.S. went to war against the King of England's oppression of ...
 
Cal: It's over, Bob. It's the law of the land, now sealed with two Supreme Court 
cases. We have precedent. First the District of Columbia's Heller case, and now 
this.  By the way, the Founders understood - far better than today's gun-control 
lobby - that only tyrants and criminals have anything to fear from law-abiding 
individuals who own guns and properly use them in defense of personal and 
national liberties. 
 
Bob: The Chicago City Council, in a 45-0 vote after the Supreme Court decision, 
was able to put some roadblocks in the way of this insanity. Under the new law 
gun, owners cannot take their guns outside even on their own front porch. They 
must take a four-hour gun class and one-hour of training at a gun range. The new 
law requires gun locks where children live and denies them to people involved in 
violent crime, domestic violence or alcohol abuse. The Supreme Court may decide 
that it's legal to own guns, but it can't control the hurdles required to get 
guns.  
 
Cal: Reasonable safeguards are one thing, but if cities simply try to circumvent 
the law of the land, and short-circuit the 2nd Amendment with onerous 
restrictions, you bet the court will eventually hear about it.  
 
Bob: Your "onerous" is probably my "sensible." 
 
Cal: I would remind you that all of these attempts to get around the court 
ruling will not deter law-breakers. They will simply make it more difficult for 
law-abiding gun owners - and those who wish to legally own guns - to use them in 
self-defense. Chicago keeps passing stronger gun laws that  deter the lawful, 
not the outlaws. One weekend last month, 54 people were shot in Chicago. Ten  
died. Not one of those shooters was deterred by gun laws, but the victims might 
have defended themselves if they had had a gun and were able to fire back. 
 
Bob: The last official count of gun deaths of children comes from the Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1999, it reported 3,385 children died 
from gunshots. All this talk - and it's just talk - about preventing crime if we 
all armed ourselves wouldn't come close to saving the lives of 3,385 kids, some 
of whom were shot accidently in their own homes by their parents' guns. This is 
insanity.  
 
Cal: I guess you'd better put a straight jacket on me. Consider this: Last 
month, a man in Forestville, Md., shot a guy who forced his way into his home. 
The home invader had a gun and started shooting at the resident. Fortunately, 
the resident was able to reach his gun and kill the intruder.  If a criminal 
suspects someone is armed, he is less likely to attack. Most of these characters 
prey on people they believe are unarmed. 
 
Bob: The strongest advocate of the Chicago gun laws are the city's police 
department, and for good reason. They fear - justifiably so - that when they 
enter houses on a domestic violence call, for example, that legal guns will be 
used against police. Ditto paramedics who go to homes in a medical emergency. 
It's reasonable to assume that  more police and paramedics will die as a result 
of the Supreme Court decision than criminals will die at the hands of 
homeowners.
 
Cal:  I am not a fundamentalist about the 2nd Amendment. There are some gun laws 
I endorse. You have already listed some of them. But I don't want a lock, for 
example, to be so difficult to remove that someone can't unlock it fast enough 
to use his gun when threatened by a criminal who has no gun lock. 
 
Bob: The ol' lock excuse. How many stories have you read about where if not for 
the safety on a gun, the crime victim would have been able to take care of his 
attacker? On the other hand, how many stories do we read about the child being 
killed from an unsecured gun? I rest my case. 
 
Cal: Hardly! I'll give you this, though: Something must be done about gun shows.  
Only seven states require background checks for sales of guns at these events.  
I'm also all for mandatory training and renewed licensing every few years. But I 
am not for limiting our 2nd Amendment rights. I like the idea of a criminal not 
knowing whether I'm armed. 
 
Bob: You're quite right about the gun shows. I was talking recently to the head 
of the D.C. police department's weapons training program. He told me that the 
majority of guns used in the commission of a crime in D.C. come from gun show 
sales in nearby Virginia.
 
Cal: Please answer one serious question: How will stricter gun laws keep people 
who are intent on using a gun to commit a crime from getting one? 
 
Bob: I'm not saying gun laws will stem the flow, but simply tackling gun shows, 
for instance, will make a dent. How big of a dent I don't know, but it's a 
start.  And since at least some criminals get their handguns from NRA-protected 
gun shows, perhaps we should close gun shows or force them to do background 
checks.
 
Cal: Let's start with background checks. And yes, I also support mandatory 
training for people who want guns. Certainly I'm pro-gun, but I also see wisdom 
in allowing states and localities to limit the types of guns that one can 
possess. No bazookas or automatic weapons, for example. No guns for felons, of 
course.  But I maintain that the last line of defense against criminals and 
tyranny is a well-armed, law-abiding individual - and that's what the Founders 
intended when they wrote the Second Amendment. 

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