Friday, February 18, 2005

Freedom & Gun Control... how do they balance?

I was recently reading an article documenting again that the UK has the highest violent crime rates for a first world country, in the world. I couldn't help to wonder if stronger gun ownership rights couldn't help their problem. No matter how you feel about guns, there is a pile of evidence on both sides of the argument, leaning in favor or against gun ownership.

For me, however, I look at the issue from a different, possibly deeper angle. I grew up in a home, where my dad was a career officer in the Detroit Police Department. Furthermore, my dad was and still is a prolific author in the firearms and law enforcement press. The end result was regular exposure to firearms during my childhood and adolescent years.

Throughout his career my father arrested a lot of people who had no business possessing or using guns. Also, he dealt with a lot of people who legitimately needed and used firearms for home and self defense. Ultimately, over his career as a cop, he came to the conclusion that people should have the right to own firearms, but if they want to own them they had a responsibility to get trained on gun safety. If they wanted to take it a step further to carry a concealed firearm, they needed to get formal tactical training, including training on appropriate response levels for differing situations. This position makes sense to me. If you want to drive in the U.S., you have to get a license to drive. If you want to carry a firearm in the U.S., the same should be true. Both a vehicle and a gun can be used as deadly weapons.

However, just as I have the right to obtain my drivers license and drive where and when I want, until such time that I prove myself undeserving of this activity (e.g. I drive drunk, or become physically impaired to the point that I cannot drive), I too should have the right to own and bare arms, as I feel necessary or wish. No one can or should question, without warrant, my right to drive a vehicle, and no one can or should question, without warrant, my right to own and carry a firearm. And, just as a severe traffic violation can strip you of your divers license, I believe a felony should strip you of your right to buy, own, and/or carry firearms. That makes perfect sense to me.

OK... now let me interject something before people reading this start to think I'm some militant nut from northern Idaho. I own three firearms. Two hunting rifles, and one pistol. Unless I am using them, they are always in my gun safe. I have never had a concealed carry permit, and hence have never carried a firearm on my person. I view this whole issue as much more of a matter of principle, than daily survival, for myself. Though I readily recognize that for some people in this country, carrying a firearm on a daily basis is an essential part of their survival. If you don't agree with this statement I would suggest that you have lived a sheltered life, and are naive in the extreme. A great many places in America look, smell, and react nothing like po-dunk Nebraska/Oregon/Utah/take your pick.

Where I get really irked is when liberals attempt to dictate, without any reason to believe that I would be incapable of safely handling firearms, or that I would possibly commit a crime with a firearm, my right to own and lawfully use firearms. And, for me, this is not just an issue of not wanting to be treated as a juvenile.

More importantly, to me, it is a matter of preserving freedom of choice/agency in all reasonable areas of life. The problem is that liberals attempt to equate gun ownership to many of the true evils in this world, that should be regulated, such as prostitution, murder, child abuse, etc. Those are all things I do not have the right to take part in. They clearly have an impact on others rights, freedoms, and safety.

I believe that in a society where we hold so dearly the concept of innocent until proven guilty, we should all be given the benefit of the doubt, until we prove ourselves unworthy. In 20 years as a Detroit Police Officer, my father arrested countless people. Only once did my dad arrest a person for committing a crime with a firearm which that person legally owned. That is out of the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of legally owned firearms in the city of Detroit. If this is not a testament to the general responsible nature and competency of law abiding citizens who own firearms, I don't know what is.

People think you can just ban firearms nationwide and make the problem of gun violence disappear. Those same people should do their homework, and figure out why the bobbies had to start packing heat in the UK, where guns have been tightly regulated for many, many years.

Years ago I read a study about a relatively rural Florida county that was experiencing extremely high crime rates, including violent crimes, relative to similar counties. Ultimately, the county sheriffs department took the drastic step of inviting law abiding citizens, with clean records, to become volunteer deputy sheriffs. In a desire to restore normalcy to their community, many local citizens accepted the call and were deputized. This provided these citizens with the training and authority to both enforce the law and carry firearms. Within months the crime rate fell by something around 87%.

One more quick example... over the past decade or so, gun laws have started swing back in favor of the law abiding citizen. States have made it easier to obtain CCW's, and to purchase firearms, while simultaneously closing loopholes that used to make it easier for criminals to purchase guns. Michigan was late to get on board with this trend. During John Engler's last term as govenor, he and the republican legislature of Michigan finally passed a law to ease the process of obtaining a CCW. Prior to this change, if you wanted to carry a weapon as a private citizen, you had to go before a board and state your case for why you needed to carry a firearm on a daily basis (e.g. your occupation took you into harms way). Michigan's current govenor, a democrat by the name of Jennifer Granholm, was the state attorney general at the time that this new CCW law was going through the state legislature. She fought, with many others, against this new legislation. She claimed it would result in higher crime rates, more gun deaths, and overall would make Michigan a more dangerous place. She and the other opponents were DEAD WRONG. She was forced, during the gubenatorial debates, to do a 180 on this issue. She literally apologized during the debates, and said she was wrong on this new CCW law. In fact, the change in the CCW law had resulted in a reduction of crime in the state of Michigan, and more importantly, had enabled more law abiding citizens to defend themselves in ways that were not likely options under the previous law.

Sufficed to say, Michigan's experience is not unique.

Who's a redneck? (Hey everybody, I 'm actually just practicing posting a picture. Hope I didn't scare anyone.) Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"Lost"...and getting loster

For four years now J.J. Abrams has been writing kick-ass roles for women on the television show “Alias.” The main character Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is a strong and complicated woman who embraces both her femininity and her aggressiveness in her work and home lives. Many other female characters on the show are bold decision makers and clever schemers. Why then are the all the women on Abrams’s new show “Lost” so completely over powered by testosterone? More than forty people, pasts riddled with murder, shame and marital deceit, are stranded upon a deserted island yet within a short time they become dependent upon the men for their survival and well-being. It’s not as though the women characters are weak. However the efforts put into developing them as strong leaders are obviously lackadaisical. One might argue that Jack is considered to be the main leader because of his past as a doctor and that Locke is in charge of finding nourishment because of his knowledge of hunting, but why did such vital roles go to the men? Many of these women made terrifying and bold decisions in their lives before crashing on the island, yet suddenly when they are in a crisis they become dependent and submissive, leaving their fate in the hands of a few ‘strange’ men. Is it possible that Abrams has used up all his female know-how on Sydney Bristow and Irena Derevko or is it really that hard to conceive of a matriarchy as a successful form of life?