In the wake of the heartbreaking tragedy in Connecticut and recently in Aurora, the subject of gun control reemerges. Some want all guns banned, while others simply want limitations specific to assault rifles.
The problem with gun control laws is that only law-abiding citizens will follow them. Criminals by their very definition are not law-abiding. Thus, the laws won't limit their use, but rather embolden them upon a virtually unarmed population.
And for those who say that the ban would mean fewer assault weapons on the street, think about drugs.
On the other end, we hear, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Well, yeah, crazy people. But we can't ban "crazy." Otherwise the halls of Congress would be empty.
As long as there are humans, there will be "crazy," and you cannot regulate sanity.
Some say that we should arm teachers. Well, teachers are not exempt from "crazy." Plus, we must consider the potential hazards of arming untrained civilians who may overreact to a situation that ends up causing more harm than good.
However, the idea of schools hiring a police officer for each location does have merit, both as a deterrent and for actual protection.
Gun ownership is a constitutional right. The Second Amendment 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."
Why was this right established, and as No. 2, immediately behind "freedom of speech"?
While we revere our Founding Fathers, whose bravery created the greatest nation on Earth, they were initially considered to be a band of outlaws. How would their revolution play out in today's society?
It was a different time and the challenges of living in a hostile wilderness with unknown enemies, and the lack of sufficient law-enforcement, made gun ownership essential for survival.
Yet there was a degree of foresight in the creation of the Constitution. It was the understanding that you cannot expect that others will always be there to protect you and that in this country, we pride ourselves in being self-reliant.
The ethos of building the American Dream was grounded in "don't expect others to do for you what you can do for yourself."
Police are not always nearby during a crime. Whether you are in a rural area where the local police department might be an hour away or in an urban neighborhood where gangs rule the streets and there are not enough police to handle the large population; either way, you must be prepared to protect yourself.
Criminals know the whereabouts of police officers better than the officers' supervisors. Their survival depends upon it. Yours depends upon the ability to defend yourself.
Recently, a New York newspaper published the names and addresses of all registered gun owners. While it was certainly an invasion of privacy, it could also be viewed as a message: "Criminals beware, you may be leaving in a body bag." That's one heck of a deterrent!
People often cite Swiss laws of gun ownership and their extremely low crime rate as an example of how arming the population works. While those statistics are true, we must keep in mind that every adult male in Switzerland under the age of 30 must be prepared at a moment's notice to report for duty and he must bring his military-issued gun from home. Thus, these citizens are military trained and equipped for national security, which is a bit different than private gun ownership. But it does create a sense of comfort and normalcy to gun ownership that extends well beyond their military service commitment. This knowledge does appear to inhibit crime, as there are no easy targets.
Which brings us back to what limitations, if any, should be imposed in the United States and more importantly, will it have a positive or negative impact on gun-related crime?
The "people kill people" argument is valid, but what do you do? I offer for consideration that we regulate the criminals, not the general population.
You cannot bring a knife to a gun fight. If someone breaks in with an assault rifle, unless you are a highly trained sniper prepared in advance for the assault, you will lose.
The idea is to eliminate criminals from having assault rifles. You cannot keep them from purchasing the weapon even though none of these criminals would pass a background check because guns change hands among street vendors. If it is regulated, then the concept of supply and demand simply comes into play, and they just pay a bit more for it.
The key is in deterring the criminal from wanting an assault rifle. We must make the price too high to pay, and it's not about the money.
What if committing a crime with an assault weapon carried a mandatory life sentence regardless of whether it resulted in a death? While most criminals have a built-in social structure in prison due to their connections, making a prison term much less of a deterrent than it would be for the average person, they still don't want to spend the rest of their life in prison.
While this solution does not address "crazy," because we cannot regulate "crazy," it would greatly reduce the criminal use of assault weapons without infringing upon constitutional rights.
There are no simple answers. There will always be crimes of passion and those committed by people with actual mental-emotional instability with no "edit button" to inhibit them from acting upon irrational thoughts. But gun regulation would not work in either case, as their determination to kill supersedes any logical argument, and weapons of all sorts can be obtained regardless of regulations.
Besides, most would consider a mass murderer to be crazy. Additional gun laws won't impact crazy.
Let's get past political rhetoric and create a sensible resolution that directly targets the problem, because we already have too many angels in heaven.
Jacqueline Cartier, who has more than 25 years of political communications experience and is the president and CEO of Winning Images, recently moved back to Eagle-Vail from Washington, D.C. She can be reached by email at WinningImages.Cartier@gmail.com or by phone at 202-271-4165. Visit her website at www.winningimagesbycartier.com.