There’s More To The Gun Debate Than Guns

unting has been an enjoyable activity for me since I was a teenager.  Still, I have never feared that the “government” would confiscate my guns.  Nor have I ever considered that my guns are needed to protect against a tyrannical government.  These paranoid rantings of conspiracy theorists and the National Rifle Association simply don’t resonate with me.  But I am very concerned about gun violence.

Last week the nation experienced another gun tragedy at a high school in Parkland, Florida, with 17 confirmed dead and many injured.  The death toll could rise, but it won’t matter to those who oppose any type of gun control.  They will rely on the same old tired arguments against new laws to restrict firearms by claiming the problem is mental illness.  That’s what they always do.

The gun rights advocates have numerous stock answers for their position:  They’ll say that Chicago has very strict gun control laws but shootings there are the worst in the nation.  Or they’ll claim that if we take guns away from law abiding citizens only criminals will have guns.  The NRA’s favorite is: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

I’ve heard usually reasonable columnists argue that any type of gun control law will lead to banning of all guns.  They oppose taking that “first step.”  But previous legislation provides no support for this theory.  Fully-automatic weapons have been tightly controlled in the U.S. for many decades but these laws didn’t lead to gun confiscations.  So-called assault rifles were banned for 10 years in 1994 and that law didn’t cause significant erosions of other gun rights.  I think the first step argument is totally specious.

Republican politicians will tout their membership in the NRA and vow that they will “protect Second Amendment rights.”  But what are those rights?  The Constitution states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

These somewhat vague 25 words have been the subject of untold pages of legal documents and tense political debates.  But what do they really mean?  Well, I have a theory as to why they were added to the nation’s founding legal document:

“Militia” appears more times in the Constitution than “army.”  The Founders were very familiar with the long history of militias in the colonies, and how valuable they were in the Revolutionary War.  In the late 1700s state militias were seen as a primary defense against insurrections and invasions.   And they had displayed their worth at Concord, Massachusetts   I believe the roots of the Second Amendment can be traced to the seminal battle that occurred there.

As tensions between the colonists and the British heightened in 1775 the King’s soldiers were ordered to march on Lexington and Concord to capture and destroy the local militia’s guns and ammunition.  This started the American Revolution with the “shot heard round the world.”  The citizen soldiers there forced the invaders to retreat back to Boston.

Is it any wonder that the Founders wanted to make sure “militias” couldn’t be disarmed?  I believe they would be shocked at how the Second Amendment is being interpreted today.

The NRA and gun rights advocates go way beyond simply opposing laws that control the types and uses of guns.  They pressured Republicans in Congress to prevent the Centers for Disease Control from studying the health effects of gun violence and to prohibit national records of gun ownership.  They make the ridiculous claim that the government might use the records to confiscate all guns.

There is no way the federal government could roundup the estimated 270 million guns in the hands of private U.S. citizens.  Republicans who say this could happen are totally ignoring the rule of law.  To begin with, such an operation would be an impossible task that would require complicity by the military, the Congress and the Supreme Court.  Even the liberal American Civil Liberties Union would fight it tooth and nail.

But I would submit that the debate should not be totally about regulating assault rifles or any other gun-related activity or device; it should also be about preventing organizations like the NRA from “buying” the legislators who pass our laws.

The donations that various high-profile Republicans get from the NRA were documented Thursday by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle on her “For Fact’s Sake” program.  These numbers are simply appalling.

Bill Cassidy (R-LA) – $2,800,000

Rob Portman (R-OH) – $3,000,000

Joni Ernst (R-IA) – $3,100,000

Marco Rubio (R-FL) – $3,300,000

Cory Gardner (R-CO) – $3,900,000

John McCain (R-AZ) – $7,700,000

President Donald Trump – $21,000,000+

It’s clear that gun rights groups and their conservative supporters flood the congressional races with tainted donations.  Money is the life-blood of political campaigns and special interest support can make the difference between winning and losing.  Let’s face it, the number one objective of politicians is reelection.  Anyone who presents a politician with a large check owns a piece of him, and the larger the check, the larger the piece.

Until we have strong, enforceable laws to limit contributions to political campaigns, special interest groups will continue to unduly influence elections.  And the wishes of “we the people” on guns and other issues will be suppressed by organizations like the NRA and the officials they help elect.

About eeldav

I am a retired corporate attorney who has lived in both Europe and Asia. While working my responsibilities took me to over 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
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11 Responses to There’s More To The Gun Debate Than Guns

  1. Greyfox76 says:

    Oh, my. It looks like gun rights advocates will be on your trial, er..trail. I totally agree with your comments about campaign contributions. When Al Gore lost his bid for election to President he said “Current Campaign Contribution rules will destroy our democracy”. The NRA(I’m a voting member) opposed the CDC study because the outcome of the study would only be to condemn the private ownership of firearms. The Supreme Court has decreed the 2nd Amendment is an individual right as well as the right of a Governor to have his own army(militia).
    You are right about not being able to confiscate 270 million(?) firearms but what would happen is anyone owning a gun who didn’t turn it in would instantly be a Federal criminal and subject to prosecution at the whim of the Federal District Attorney.

    Finally, and most important of all, banning guns will DO NOTHING TO CURB THE CRIMINAL MISUSE OF FIREARMS. It is a red herring based on cosmetics and emotion. We don’t blame THINGS for human mis-behavior. We don’t blame alcohol or the vehicle for drunk driving, we blame drinkers and drivers. By the way, remember Prohibition? Well intentioned but ignorant people used the Constitution to ban the manufacture and possession of booze. It was a disaster. Alcohol consumption went up, millions became subject to Federal arrest/prosecution and it gave foundation for organized crime and the Mafia. We know tobacco causes cancer but we can still buy cigarettes while we assist those who want to quit.

    If you think mental illness is not a major factor in mass shootings you are living in denial or worse. The Sandy Hook shooter murdered his mother and stole her weapon–two major crimes before he ever entered that school. The guy who shot the Congresswoman was determined to be deranged. The Virginia Tech shooter(37 dead) was an active mental patient when he started his rampage–oh, by the way, he went from room to room and building to building because he knew there would be no armed individual anywhere to stop him. The Virginia Tech campus is a “gun free zone”, you see. The students foolishly relied on compliance with such fictionally effective rules to remain safe.

    Mitch Albom, the well know author and columnist, once wrote “… there could be a large pile of weapons of all kinds and types out in the parking lot and most people wouldn’t give a damn to even go out and look. Some might be tempted to steal a few items and nobody would begin a shooting spree….”

    Ron, as long as we cannot agree to begin finding real solutions to violent crime we will continue to witness these mass shootings which are so eagerly brought to us by “if it bleeds, it leads”, media.
    Lets begin to do the really hard work of finding Constitutional means to identify, track and confine those who are a danger to themselves and all of us.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      I must address the widespread false association of mental illness and mass shootings. It’s insulting to the millions who suffer from mental health issues. Following your logic, there must not be any mentally ill people in Australia and many other countries.
      From NBC News:
      Dr. James Alan Fox, a criminologist with Northeastern University and author of “Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder,” said it’s dangerous to assume that the mentally ill tend to commit these shootings.
      As Fox asserts, the belief that the mentally ill are more likely to take part in a mass shooting appears to be a misleading. There were 198,760 homicides committed by a firearm in the United States between 1999 and 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistic. Despite the high number, the APA report from 2016 says that fewer than 1 percent of firearm homicides are committed by a person diagnosed with a mental illness.
      Dr. Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, said that these mass shootings highlight Americans’ desire to reaffirm a stigmatization of the mentally ill as “ticking time bombs” to avoid more difficult conversations about gun violence.
      “Mass shootings are horrific and terrifying,” he said. “But if we really want to stop gun violence in this country, everyday gun violence is predictable and could be stopped. Ending everyday gun violence would help end mass shootings as well.”
      Metzl has researched the correlation between mental illness and gun violence, and he said that it’s a tenuous connection at best.
      “There’s no mental illness diagnosis that explains causality,” Metzl said. “There’s no mental illness whose symptoms are shooting anyone else. Most mental illnesses cause people to withdraw from society.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill Johnson says:

    “Follow the money” will expose and lead us to solutions, as you concluded in your column. After we see that Trump is defanged by his money connections, let’s concentrate on the NRA and its false facts. I vote for Robert Swan Mueller III for heading up the Justice Department under our new President.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Judith Weigner says:

    Another really good blog which I’ll share with many. I so agree with the main problem being the unlimited money in our elections. I mostly blame Mitch McConnell for this as he’s spent his whole political career making sure that money continues to flow. They should all hang their heads in shame!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Brigitta Lawrence says:

    Well written and researched!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Paul says:

    I often leave comments such as what follows on newspaper opinion columns on gun control. I suggest that readers read retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s 2014 book, “Six Amendments,” in which he advocates amending the Second Amendment to emphasize that gun rights extend only to “militias.” Justice Stevens’s meaning is that the Second Amendment, as originally intended, refers only to our military and National Guard troops, and his amended version of the Second Amendment would prevent individual citizens from accumulating their own arsenal of assault weapons. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, a conservative Republican, has written two columns in 2018 advocating entire repeal of the Second Amendment as the solution to America’s gun violence problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Greyfox76 says:

      I agree with the facts of your review. It IS the intention of some to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Ron seems to think you are wrong and any such talk is reactionary or hysterical. I don’t. I think it is fair to say that the Founders had this kind of intense discussion in mind when they made it so difficult to add or delete from the Constitution. We are all free to press for those kinds of things for which we have a passion. The NRA is a successful lobby because it recognizes, organizes and focuses the will of it members.
      Sort of like the ACLU, NAACP, AMA, AFL/CIO and many others. The NRA is NOT a monolithic organization. Most members agree with some policy’s and not others.

      If we could find a way to start trusting each other not to eliminate the other persons position we could then actually begin to discuss what “common sense” changes in our society would help reduce violent crime. A National Criminal Database would work if it were assiduously maintained for accuracy and currency. Then increases in fair minded enforcement would be needed. As long as gun owners, target shooters, hunters and collectors were protected from the kind of arbitrary and capricious behavior to which they too often have been subjected in the past, we could discuss background checks, gun owner licensing, “assault rifles”, etc., etc. in a cooperative and positive manner. Thinking that magazine capacity, bump stocks and other extraneous “things” are worth addressing is a waste of time. As well, non- stigmatized mental health care MUST be on the table.


    • Paul says:

      May I “amend” my comment regarding the gun debate? Following Sunday’s huge march by young people around the world, in today’s New York Times, retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens has written a column advocating outright repeal rather than amendment of the Second Amendment. You can read it here:


  6. Well written as usual and you have started a good dialogue among your readers. I will toss some gas on the fire— the NRA is a terrorist organization with no interest in the national health and well being. Only interested in the unfettered right of any American, regardless of mental health status, to own and CARRY a weapon, indeed own and carry MULTIPLE weapons. LaPierre is the single most effective lobbyist in the country and he backs his views with lots of $$. This NRA monopoly on elections has to end and soon. Maybe Soros and Blumenthal can use their resources to end the “service” of pawns like Rubio??


  7. pierre hart says:

    My understanding is that the i the militia were intended to quell the concerns of those who were concerned about the Federalists’ concentration of power at the national level. Given the nature of the fight for independence, there was lingering concern for authority being imposed from above. The militia could be under state or local control and therefore, an organized resistance to the excesses of federal authority.


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