In last week???s State of the Union address, President Obama stated “in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun”. He failed to reference that the overwhelming majority of these deaths came specifically from handguns. If President Obama and fellow democrats like Senator Feinstein and Governor O???Malley really cared about stopping firearms related deaths, they would focus on handgun specific legislation. Yet they continue their endless attack on so called “assault weapons” or what are more commonly called “rifles”. It is far easier to go after scary sounding assault weapons than it is to truly protect their constituents by targeting handguns.
If the objective of any proposed gun control legislation is to stop deaths caused by firearms, it logically makes sense to focus on the types of firearms that play a part in more deaths — handguns. Almost double the number of individuals who were killed in Newtown are killed by handguns every single day. To the families of those killed by handguns in incidents not making the headlines, their pain is no less intense and the event no less sorrowful. Yet handgun deaths continue to play out, day after day after day.
More consideration must be given to the size of the firearms in question. Due to their conceal-ability and portability, handguns are more often accidentally discharged, used to commit suicide and most importantly, used to commit pre-meditated crimes. Rifles are used far less for these types of activities. Given that, firearm size should be the driver of the current gun control debate. Critical issues like portability and conceal-ability are being ignored. The gun lobby and the political right insist that the Second Amendment guarantees our right to bear all arms with no restrictions. Meanwhile, the media, the liberal establishment, and the White House continue to beat the drum for reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban and to push forward other capacity limiting legislation.
In the People’s Republic of Maryland, my home state, I propose that all new gun buyers purchasing firearms that are less than 30 inches in length be required to obtain a license for their firearm. Gun purchasers with firearms over 30 inches will not be required to get a license. This generational-long effort will drive new gun buyers to purchase non-portable, non-concealable firearms which are over 30 inches in length. This approach will save lives yet still allow citizens to protect themselves and maintain their fundamental right to bear arms.
The question remains, does this approach infringe on Second Amendment rights? Yes, this approach does infringe on handgun rights by making it a more onerous process to get a handgun compared to a rifle. It infringes upon our second amendment rights in a similar way that machine guns are restricted and licensed. Given the inherent design of handguns, I believe it should require additional scrutiny, training, and licensing. I also believe the rights of rifle owners should take precedence over handgun owners. Our country’s history details the importance rifles have played in the development of our nation. No additional restrictions should be placed on rifle owners other than universal background checks. In terms of magazine capacity, capacity should not exceed the standard issue of our military and law enforcement agencies. Ultra high capacity magazines should require special licensing or be banned outright for civilian usage. This could serve as a model for other states as well.
This approach aggravates both sides of the aisle. The left can’t let go of the assault weapon concept. Perhaps referencing “Assault Pistols” in pending legislation will satisfy those who have tactfully utilized the assault weapon concept to their advantage for years. The right needs to recognize that handguns and rifles are different in form and function and treat them accordingly. The current conversation should focus on two categories of firearms available to the general population: handguns (less than 30 inches, license required) and rifles (greater than 30 inches, no license required).
In summary, if any legislation is needed, it should focus on the type of firearms that contribute to the most crime-related deaths — handguns. The proposed Assault Weapon Ban violates our most basic Second Amendment right and does little to protect citizens and save lives. If the stuff ever hits the fan here in the US, I want an AR type rifle like the FAR-15 or the FAR-308 which are proudly manufactured right here in Maryland by Fulton Armory. I’ll pass on a handgun.
The biggest hurdle to this fact-based approach is that right or wrong, a handgun culture exists in the constituencies of both parties. Neither party wants to offend their base. In order to change this dynamic there needs to be a generational shift which drives rifles to be the home defense weapon of choice across America. Requiring licenses for new gun purchases that are less than 30 inches in length can start that shift. Leadership on both sides needs to step up and do something that may actually save lives while protecting second amendment rights.
On a side note, if anyone knows where I can purchase a 308 lower at pre-hysteria rates, please let me know and thanks.
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