Cracks ‘n guns

Responsible Gun Ownership

This morning I was listening to coverage of the tragedy at the DC Naval Yard. So sad.

Then I heard someone being interviewed say this, “We had a fellow who had some emotional issues. He fell between the cracks, but restricting people and what kind of firearm they can own and things like that, you start getting into a very slippery slope.”

Here’s the problem I have with that statement – it assumes that we have actual cracks in the system to fall through.

There are no cracks.

Because in this country, while you have to take a class and test to demonstrate competence to drive an automobile, nothing impedes a person from going into a gun store and buying a shotgun capable of killing as fast as the shooter can reload.

There is nothing between the gun and the deranged shooter. Nothing.

So, stop saying someone just “fell through the cracks” as though there are actual barriers between someone hearing voices in their heads, calling police about paranoia and a Remington 870.

There are no barriers. There are no cracks.

Maybe there should be.

Just sayin…

Gun Safety and Alchohol

Responsible Gun Ownership

Like most folks, I have my morning reading. I tried getting the paper for about six months but frankly all that accomplished was a great deal of recycling. I’m a product of my generation. Every morning, after my run/PT, I love to sit at the table sipping coffee and checking my morning websites.

I get the GunsAmerica blog notifications every few days and read those regularly. Like most gun websites there is the usual diatribes about the government taking all the guns and libs making life difficult for everybody. (Since I don’t vote necessarily liberal or conservative – depends on the issue – I love taking the middle road, moderate, also like my generation. We hate tags.)

This morning, I was looking through a post on Ruger’s new 1911 and some new idea for storing your handgun next to your bed when this thought occurred to me: the gun lobby needs to get out ahead of their image problem.

Currently, what I read on a regular basis (and this is skewed because I don’t spend much time doing so) seems to focus on the “threat to the second amendment” and “those crazy gun-hating, america-bashing, licentious liberals ruining our country as fast as they can” sort of stuff. Not helpful. Makes gun owners like me want to run away, fast.

I like to think I’m thoughtful. I like to think that I approach issues in a nuanced, reasonable way. I don’t really think it’s all that helpful to have massive rallys where everybody shows up armed to the teeth with their favorite automatic weapons. I mean, really, do you think that you are scaring the government? Really? The guys with Abrams tanks? The guys who can control a hellfire missile from around the globe? Do you think that the “evil government” is afraid of large groups of people with automatic weapons? Been there, done that. Not helpful. Makes you look crazy.

How about responsible gun owners take a page from the responsible drinkers book. Everyone knows that cool, responsible drinker who sips their slick Disaronno on the rocks is not making InBev a ton of money – the real money makers are the folks who unhealthily consume massive volumes of alcohol on a regular basis. The drunken orgies where people legally and illegally down thousands of dollars worth of fermented mash – not pretty places. Not something anyone wants to see in a sexy commercial. Just like the guy who smoked a few cigs a week after important events or to unwind from the day does not make tobacco companies any money – the real money maker is the guy who goes through three packs a day and had intense brand loyalty. That’s gold.

Everyone likes to see the moderate, cool consumer. I like to see the responsible gun owner. The videos I see about firearms usually resemble something like Boondock Saints meets the Matrix (“we need guns, lots of guns…”).

What if every gun company made a concerted effort to put the responsible gun owner out front. Try really hard to put out the message that the “right to gun ownership” comes with a huge responsibility to take public safety seriously. Messages like:

If you have a gun – lock it up. 

If mental health issues run in your family, ensure that who has access to weapons is able to responsibly use that weapon. 

If you are angry and depressed, get help, don’t purchase a weapon. 

Responsible gun owners take classes in firearm safety. 

Responsible parents teach firearm safety. 

Make sure when selling a gun, it’s to someone responsible. 

I’m sure there are more and better messages out there. I think that this approach would be a first step by gun owners to at least try to show they care about public safety rather than doubling down on “it’s our right to own whatever we want, shoot whatever we want, whenever we want.”

Responsibility and Gun Control


I just bought a gun. Two actually.

I’ve been a gun owner for years and really enjoy shooting. I’ve owned about 20 different firearms since I became legally able to own them and currently own about a dozen. Like everything, its cyclical for me. I went through a “whatever I could afford phase” wherein I bought really, really, cheap guns; an “automatic weapons” (I refuse the title assault weapon – it’s pejorative and unhelpful) phase wherein I purchased multiple weapons that would deliver lots and lots of rounds downrange fast; a long hiatus wherein my “post deployment” blues caused me to put all my guns away and not shoot for years; and my current phase which is interested in hunting/historical replica shooting. I have a desire to own (a replica) of every gun the US Army has used in it’s history – kind of a bucket list sort of thing. Currently, I own two. I have a long way to go…

I say that to highlight that I care about owning firearms. I believe in owning firearms. I have a right to own firearms. I also recognize this:

Owning a firearm is a massive responsibility to myself and my community.

Simply put, owning any firearm means that I have at my disposal the means to kill very easily. The more rounds I can shoot, the faster I can shoot them, and the faster I can reload them simply adds to the severity of that responsibility. If I choose to purchase a a firearm, I am assuming the responsibility for how it is used.

Currently, the conversation that I have read/heard/witnessed seems to be stuck on bans/mental health/original intent/the AR15 is the new musket. All of which I believe frame the discussion in an unhelpful manner.

1. Bans generally do not accomplish what they set out to do and just create sub markets off the radar. Look at our bans in history: alcohol, prostitution, drugs, etc. Not particularly successful in stopping anything.

2. Do we really want to do down the road of mandating that a social worker report anyone who should not shoot a gun? Depressed? No shooting for you!

3. The AR 15 is nothing like a musket and who cares anyway. Going down the road of “original intent” is not usually helpful since we can say whatever we want about what they meant. Cause the Founding Fathers really cared about a woman’s/minorities right to own a firearm…

None of these conversations help us to get a reasonable place where there are some rules and expectations on those who desire to exercise their 2nd Amendment right!

I would compare this to the freedom of religion. The constitution guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion. However, one cannot just do anything they want to call it their faith. Churches have to obey zoning laws. Polygamy is illegal. One cannot just state that meth trips are a part of their faith and justify a church sanctioned meth lab. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of child abuse. Traditionally, a church’s advise to a parishioner is confidential and a conversation between a congregant and minister is held in the highest confidence. Not anymore. Pastor’s are mandated reporters in many states and here in Kansas City, a bishop was held responsible for suppressing the actions of a priest. One cannot just do whatever they want and cover it in religious freedom.

Or the 2nd Amendment.

“Shall not be infringed” That boat sailed the first time a town said that you couldn’t bring a loaded musket into church or the saloon. As America westernized (I’ll say that since there were certainly active, functioning civilizations long before the Pilgrims landed) and started to apply English common law on these shores, regulations around the use of firearms came with it. Certainly they would have been different than they are today but that goes with common sense. Their laws matched their tools and our laws ought to match ours.

It would be silly to apply the road rules of say, 1900, to the massive Petersen Truck that has the ability to pull tons or freight at high speeds. Laws need to match risk.

I know, I know. Criminals won’t obey the law. Got it. That’s why they are criminals and should be treated as such. If a criminal has a gun illegally or someone buys a gun for a criminal, they should be treated accordingly. Got it.

Here’s a common sense idea: treat a weapon with varying levels of regulations related to risk.

Clearly, my single shot .410 is a dangerous weapon. It can absolutely kill, maim, wound. However, there is much less risk associated with that firearm than, say, an AK47 variant which has the ability to lots of lead very quickly. They are different firearms with differing capabilities. They should be treated differently, that makes sense.

I believe that anyone who wants to own an AK47 should be able to. I also believe that there is a grave responsibility one should also have to assume when purchasing that firearm. One should be able to afford it, demonstrate that they are responsible, upstanding citizens, can care for it (i.e. keep it out of the hands of those who should not have access to it like children), and, above all, be able to deploy it effectively.

Not all of those things can be governed. However, some can. What if a person had to take a class (like is required to get a Concealed Carry Permit) in order to own/shoot a certain class of firearms (like we already do with fully automatic weapons)? The ability to fire a hundred rounds as fast as a person can squeeze a trigger is not something to be taken lightly!

What if a person was held accountable for distribution of a firearm? I.e. if I sell a firearm to someone else, I am responsible to report that sale otherwise I’m in trouble for trafficking a firearm to a criminal. Lets put the burden of responsibility on the person who owns the gun. Again, it’s the idea that owning a gun comes with the responsibility for safe use.

I recognize there are laws on the books for this – good – lets find a way to leverage technology in such a way that it makes the laws easier to enforce rather than harder.

There are lots of creative ways to mitigate risk while protecting rights. Many more than I could think of to be sure. That’s the conversation that needs to happen – not fruitless fighting over bans and original intent.

What if we framed the conversation – how do we mitigate risk effectively – how can people utilize their rights in a way that is safe for the community.

By the way, I’m all for a well-regulated militia. I’m all for people getting together, training, shooting, holding each other accountable.

Reasonable regulations are always appropriate when there is significant risk involved. We do this with cars, money, drugs etc.

I like shooting. I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I do not believe that I need to “demonstrate a need” in order to own a gun. I also believe that I should be held accountable if a gun that I own falls into the hands of an unstable person, minor, or criminal by my negligence.