My Two Cents: Gun Laws

So, this is one of the most hotly talked about topics in the blogosphere at the moment, mostly from people in America.  Normally I steer clear of political topics because I generally don’t have a well-formed (or I suppose well-educated) opinion.  This is potentially true in this case too, however I do have a unique insight and overview of the whole thing as I’m not from the US, and I’ve grown up in a very different world when it comes to guns and the laws that surround them.

In my humble opinion, Australia has a fantastic system when it comes to guns.  You firstly need a licence which I believe also requires background checks.  I can hear the American pro-gun uproar at the thought of it: “What do you mean, a background check?  It’s my right to have a gun!”.  Tying in with that, to obtain a licence you absolutely have to be over 18.  Sorry, underagers, but you have next to no chance of picking up a weapon unaccompanied down under.  Secondly, anyone who owns gun/s must have their serial number registered to them.  No, you can’t just go to a gun show and pick one up.  (Side note: who the fuck even thinks gun shows are legitimate entertainment anyway?!).  Thirdly, anyone who owns gun/s must have a secure storage place for them.  The authorities can check.  Cue pro-gunners: “How is that going to help if someone is breaking in?  Where’s the security in that?  What’s the point?”

See, the thing about all these laws is, it means less people have access to guns.  A lot less.  By having less guns, it means they’re less likely to fall into the wrong hands.  We almost certainly will never have a re-enactment of America’s Sandy Hook shooting.  Firstly, because most families simply don’t own a gun.  For the ones that do, they are stored under lock and key, far away from curious little hands and minds.

With our stricter laws, we don’t have gun shows or easy-to-find gun shops.  We don’t stock ammo in everyday stores.  Kids with mental issues – such as the case with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris – can’t just got out and pick up a couple of rifles.  Even if they were of age, chances are they’d have gotten knocked back before even being able to obtain a gun licence.

“I’m sure if they were desperate enough, they’d have found a way to get their hands on some guns.”

That may be true, I can’t completely deny that.  Mentally ill people can do some pretty desperate things.  That being said, Australia hasn’t had any mass shootings at all since before tougher gun laws were introduced in 1996 – and even that shooting was done by someone of age.  We certainly have our fair share of people with mental issues and disabilities.  The gun laws – no doubt coupled with a great health system – have stopped school shootings from happening.  Put simply, it’s just too hard.  Even if they could find someone with a gun (in the populated cities and suburbs I’d say that would be difficult), the person they’re taking the gun from is registered to it.  It would take the police no time at all to trace it back to them.  Who wants to risk that?  Nobody.

“But the right to bear arms is in the constitution!”

Yeah.  So what?  While I appreciate that Americans see the constitution as the be-all-and-end-all, I just don’t get it.  Maybe because Australia doesn’t really have anything similar, I just don’t really follow the logic.  It was written hundreds of years ago.  A lot has changed since then.  We have access to better technology, better heath systems, better education than when that was written.  Why can’t it be changed?  Or I guess, more to the point, even if it says it, why does it mean everyone should have a gun?  Just because you have the right to do it, doesn’t mean you need to.  I have the right to eat fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner…it doesn’t mean I do it.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

I seriously can’t stress how idiotic that line is.  It seems to crop up every time a pro-gunner opens their mouth.  You’re being stupid.  If the guns weren’t there, less people would be dead.  I don’t care how you want to look at it, you can’t kill half as many people in a physical attack (such as a stabbing) than you can with a weapon.  Nobody is suggesting that simply by having a gun, you’re going to kill someone.  However by having a gun, it means you have the ability to do it easily and efficiently without getting into any form of combat whatsoever.  No, the gun doesn’t pull it’s own trigger, but the person behind it likely wouldn’t commit the murder at all without it.

“I only have a gun for protection because everyone else has a gun!”

This I understand.  Completely.  It’s just a reflection of how out of hand gun control is in the States.  If you feel you need a dangerous weapon just because you’re worried other people might use their dangerous weapons on you, it’s time to take a good hard look at why you both have them at all.  Australians don’t feel the need to own guns because we know that our neighbours likely don’t have any to turn on us with, and if they do, they’ve had proper screenings before they’ve been allowed one.  The gun problem isn’t going to get any better if you keep letting people buy them for protection.

Just because we are on the other side of the world, doesn’t mean we don’t feel the impacts of the school shootings Americans go through.  We see it on the news, we read it in the newspapers, we see it on social media.  All those broken families, crying faces, people asking why.  Our whole nation asks that same question too.  Why?  Why do you keep letting this happen to your children?  You watch on in horror, you hang your flags at half mast, you mourn for them…and yet you do nothing to fix the problem.  Do you honestly think this problem is just going to go away?  That it will fix itself?  That disturbed people will just decide to seek help instead of acting out their fantasies?

Wake up to yourself, America.

Collumbine happened back in 1999.  This has been an ongoing issue for SIXTEEN YEARS.  It isn’t going away.  It won’t fix itself.  Mentally ill people aren’t seeking help.  Stop putting guns in their hands.  Stop letting innocent lives be ended prematurely for a constitutional right.  Isn’t it a basic human right to live?  To feel safe in your own country?  To go and get a education without fear?  Until something changes, we will continue to watch in horror as more mass shootings occur, I guarantee it.

*Full disclaimer that I’m not meaning to offend people with this post.  I understand that Americans have been conditioned to believe guns are a part of life.  Also, if any of my facts are incorrect, I apologise.  I’m not an expert.  This is just one person’s view on the whole issue.

11 thoughts on “My Two Cents: Gun Laws

  1. Jessa, First, Thanks for following my blog.

    I, too, plan to be writing on this topic soon. Before I do that, I have some other projects to accomplish that I am procrastinating on by reading blogs. I appreciate your point of view on the situation that we are facing here in America. The frontier and the outback have a lot in common, yet some very different aspects as well. If I’m not mistaken, Australia still falls under the crown of England, correct? The US broke away as England was taking much advantage of the colonies in the 1700’s. Our Constitution was set up to assure that such practices wouldn’t happen again. The constitution is designed to change as the world changes. For instance, the article we are talking about here is a change to the constitution. It is the 2nd change that took place.

    Why is that important? Well, our nation is still working out the problems with the system. I, for one, am not against owning guns (though not offended by anything you had to say above) but i am also in favor or responsible gun ownership. I won’t have a gun in my house that doesn’t have a trigger lock on it that the key is under my control. I also grew up with guns all around my house (my dad was a gunsmith). Those guns worked perfectly fine, but were works of art, not weapons. Being that my dad made them, there is no registry or serial number. When I think of Australia I think very quickly of the Sydney Opera House (I’m a musician). Imagine someone telling you that you can’t have the Sydney Opera House because it can’t be registered correctly. Yet, your laws as you explain them, would do exactly that.

    To some, the answers all seem so easy. I wish they were. I am dreading the day I get an “active shooter” call (I work for an emergency call center that answers calls similar to your 000 number). Taking away guns could solve some problems, but not all of them. Registering guns may make a difference, but when Hitler rose to power in Germany, the first thing the regime did was took guns away based on the state’s gun registry. And, in our nation, for reasons I have not figured out, all of the gun laws that come to be restrict the responsible and innocent gun bearing individuals. The criminals still get their hands on the guns they want through whatever means. That may be the hardest part to overcome in our legislation.

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    1. Thanks for your input. I wasn’t aware of some of that stuff (in particular about how the constitution came to be). Yes, Australia is still part of the Monarch…though I’m sure should a vote as to whether to remain part of it were held today, we would happily go our separate ways.
      I get what you’re saying about gun registration. I have only briefly looked into it, and I think there are some exceptions to the rule in Australia, though whether that would cater for your particular situation I’m not sure. Either way, should stricter laws be brought in over there, I’d guess they’d have to take that kind of thing into consideration while making the changes. I’m not saying gun registration is the sole reason for our lack-of-shootings, but I do think it would help in the aftermath if the shooter isn’t known. That side of things I guess isn’t the main issue anyway – my point was to stop the shootings in the first place.
      I definitely agree the hardest part about fixing the problem will be to stop the criminals getting them. They aren’t going to go along with changes willingly. I guess that’s where it’s up to the government to come up with something that will allow the police to step in and force them to comply with whatever the new law is. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but doing nothing isn’t the answer. John Howard – our Prime Minister in 1996 – understood that. I don’t envy him having to tell a nation he’s changing the rules, but I’m glad he did.

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  2. What you have to also take into account is the fear and mistrust that a lot of Americans have for their government (a version of the HItler argument). This doesn’t really hold up, though, because the government will always have bigger and more powerful weapons than its citizens. Additionally, gun lovers in our country are usually pro-military and pro-war (or you can call it protection from “others” like undocumented immigrants and, currently, Muslims). Gun owners often remind me of men who buy expensive and fancy cars to boost their self-esteem.

    And I agree with you about our Constitution — it was written a very long time ago by rich white men who owned slaves. Gun owners use it to bolster their arguments, but it doesn’t actually say that every citizen has a right to own a gun:

    From Wikipedia: 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…

    In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence” and limited the applicability of the Second Amendment to the federal government. In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”.

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    1. That’s really interesting. As an Australian, we never studied the constitution – obviously – and all we ever hear about guns and the constitution is the “right to bear arms” part. It makes more sense after the clarification…though as you said, gun owners seem to overlook it, which I guess defeats the whole thing.

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  3. I don’t know much about guns. I am an American and I don’t feel the need for a gun, although I don’t have anything against people who. What I do see an issue with is the idea that it the mentally ill running around with guns while refusing to get help. It is easy to call someone ill when the are shooting people, but that is called a criminal. Mentally ill people are not any more dangerous than other people, more less so.

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    1. This is true, I completely agree mentally ill shouldn’t be all grouped as shooters. I didn’t mean for my post to come off that way. I do think a majority of people who are shooters are mentally ill however. They give all mentally ill people a bad name, in much the same way as Islamic terrorists give a bad name to Muslims when they shouldn’t.

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      1. I think the problem seems to be that not living in this country you have no chance of understanding that once someone is now a shooter, it is easy for them to report that they were mentally ill. There is no diagnosis before or after. They say these things to make the public feel safer. These people are not mentally ill, they are criminals. There is no diagnosis.

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      2. That could well be true, you’re right. I only see some of the story. That being said, normal people don’t generally go and shoot up places. I’m not a doctor or a psychologist though, so who knows? Criminals aren’t people I pretend to know a lot about. And you’re correct, ultimately, that’s what they are.

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      3. I don’t know to much about normal. What I do know is that when an airplane or two crashes into a few buildings, the call them terrorists, not mentally ill. So maybe we should just step it up from criminal to terrorist because that is what these shooters are and I think we can both agree on that!

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  4. I’m an American, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. I’m not against gun ownership altogether, but I think gun ownership and registration should be treated in a sensible and responsible manner as you describe in your country.

    I was raised in a pro-gun, anti-government-interference household. My dad once bought a gun out of a car trunk from a guy in the shadows of a restaurant parking lot. His deepest fear about “gun control” is that if the gun owners are registered or licensed, the government will have a lists of households to confiscate guns from when the One World Government takes over for the New World Order — part of a set of paranoid crazy beliefs held by my community of origin. Yeah.

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    1. Wow, out of the back of someone’s car? That’s intense. I kind of get the paranoia (I don’t believe in it, but I get it), but at the same time even if that theory eventuated, it would be years – decades – from now. And in the mean time (and until then) all these unnecessary shootings are happening. It’s a similar thing to the mentality of the end-of-the-world extremists. While they stock up and hide out for an eventuality that may or may not happen, they’re missing all the things happening in the present. I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t care theories or beliefs people hold, but it bothers me they’re refusing to fix the present in case the future is bad…when if they fixed the here and now, their predictions are less likely to happen.

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