I promised readers I would offer commentary on the gun control debate. Here we go!
I am a United States Marine, a Captain of Marines, a father, a husband, a federal agent, a combat specialist, trainer, and tactician, I am a zombie outbreak expert, I am a zombie apocalypse survival expert, and I am a Certified Texas Bad-Ass. While guns play a central role in increasing our chances of surviving a zombie apocalypse, we have all seen with our own eyes the harm that gun violence and gun crime causes in a community particularly when guns are in the hands of assholes and/or lunatics.
Just this weekend, several pro-gun shows and rallies had incidents of accidental gun discharges and injuries, direct evidence of why I like to avoid gun shows and gun rallies, and any other event where the average American Joe gun owner is attending in large numbers. You see, I know the average American Joe gun owner and he’s more a part of the problem than he is a part of the solution.
I believe gun violence and gun crime is an epidemic in America. I believe something must and can be done to stop this epidemic. While my stance may seem contradictory to what I said in my previous zombie apocalypse survival articles (please read them; thank you if you have), and while my stance may certainly fly in the face of most of the zombie movies, games, and all zombie print/reading content you can find, not that I agree with contentions that these devices contribute significantly to the epidemic, you can clearly see in many of my articles my understanding of what is the matter with guns being in the wrong hands. I have never shied away from a position that guns in the wrong hands is a bad thing even in a zombie apocalypse.
I have also previously been very pointed in sharing what I think about the NRA’s agenda to keep profit money flowing into the hands of gun companies. Oh wait, you may have thought the NRA’s agenda was to defend our freedoms; to protect the Second Amendment. I understand your confusion about the NRA. It’s okay. Take a minute and think about this. Take a deep breath. They are protecting your right to bear arms AND they are ensuring the profitability of the gun industry. If this sounds like a difference without a distinction, it’s because you are not very smart. Think about it some more. Don’t be a goober to the NRA. Write that on your hand if you need to. I will give the NRA credit for giving a very loud voice to a very noisy few—gun nuts, gun dealers, and gun manufactures.
Peel back the idea that gun owning citizens are what keeps America from becoming a dictatorship and you see one of the strangest ideas the NRA will have you believe. So those of us who own guns are the hard line in the sand against an oppressive government? I’m pretty sure the true line in the sand is called Democracy. President Obama could try to “take over” but what about the term limits? Will he get ‘er done before 2016? The NRA would have you think he will, unless of course you send the NRA your money so they can defend your right to buy all the guns you can afford.
Does anyone remember when David Koresh used his stockpile of heavy weapons to battle the US government? No, I didn’t think so. The whole Branch Davidian “we have guns to stop the government” lasted about as long as a Star Trek episode. I will give the NRA credit for being cleverly opportunistic in today’s world of mass media. It says something about America when you can disrespect the President publicly and have people send you their hard earned money. In fact, this president has made more money for the NRA than any other president in the history of the NRA. The blight of the common people (gun business) has scammed the common people into believing it is the common people and the common people are the blight. The sad thing is that it’s all too easy to do. The NRA model sounds something like this: President + tyrant + Hitler + take our guns + Constitution + the President is Muslim + We the people... = send me your money now + buy an NRA membership now + buy more guns now while you can + repeat repeat repeat + cha-ching cha-ching!!
I get it. The NRA has gun safety training classes. Fighting gun control while offering gun safety classes is a crazy hypocrisy. Sure, most can't comprehend what I mean by this.
Okay, enough ranting on the NRA. I support our President and everything he can do to reduce gun violence in this country.
President Obama said on Wednesday that in the month since the Newton tragedy where 26 people were killed, more than 900 people were killed by guns in the US. That’s a whopping 900 in about 1 month, about 30 a day for a month. So about 10,000 people every year? People who are murdered and victimized by someone with a gun? It’s counterintuitive to argue that we can’t do anything about this. Only about 3,000 people were killed in 9-11 and we went to war twice over that. More Americans are killed yearly in America by gun violence than there are American military members killed in war abroad every year. This is an epidemic.
So, again and first of all, as a zombie outbreak expert and as a zombie apocalypse survival expert, I commend President Obama’s initiatives and executive actions to end our gun violence epidemic.
Here is the President’s very impressive and moving gun control speech from 1/16/2013: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/president-obama-unveils-sweeping-plan-curb-gun-violence/story?id=18228472
I have some take-away comments and lingering concerns.
Foremost, I like that our President did something that tightens up the system that has allowed too many guns to go into the hands of too many, criminals, social derelicts, and ill-minded people. I have spent a life’s career studying guns, working with guns, and handling guns safely. I have proven myself to be a certified honorable gun-owner. More guns in the hands of people like me is a great thing; fewer guns in the hands of people like those who have made the news lately is a great thing. Now this may sound like a difference without a distinction, because it is.
Basically, the President did a lot of good and his executive actions are significant, but also he did not do enough. The executive actions are necessary, but they hardly make mass killings and other gun crimes significantly less likely to occur in the future. Let me explain.
Guns are regulated at the highest federal levels, much like a lot of things such as alcohol, tobacco, driving vehicles, flying aircraft, piloting boats, joining the military, voting, and a few other licensures. Think about it all. The federal government establishes the national standard voting age, drinking age, and other minimum standards for big ticket items like how young is too young to buy tobacco products or how fast is too fast in a boating lane. I wanted the President to raise the minimum age for buying guns to 25. Right now the minimum age nationally is 18. It is a crime almost everywhere for a person under the age of 21 to just be in the possession of alcohol, even a closed container of alcohol. I myself was briefly detained and subsequently charged for underage possession of alcohol when I was 19 years old for several beers in the trunk of my car that I forgot were even back there and this was on a military base (Camp Lejeune, NC - 1987). Making it similarly criminal for persons under the age of 25 to possess guns and purchase guns would take an incredible number of guns out of the hands of those most likely to commit gun crimes. Sure, I can accept some special considerations for those who serve in the military honorably and other law enforcement and security services.
Here is a good place to point out how stringently careful most military, law enforcement, and security guard weapons licensing and certification efforts are and to cover a second additional opportunity to significantly impact gun crime, which the President missed. Security guards, police officers, and military service members all have to certify, pass classes, and recertify, some on an annual basis. Even ROTC units in high school and college do this. The average Joe in this country has to do the same to maintain a drivers license; hardly ever is this done annually unless there is a problem such as for a drunk driving incident or elderly persons. You know what? You have to get a hard license just to hunt and fish in most states and municipalities. Why is there no requirement for the average Joe gun owner to have a hard gun license that can be issued, revoked, and restricted based on nationally standardized requirements? Why not? This is a tough one for me. I would gladly report to the gun owner’s version of the DMV to test and prove my worthiness to own a gun. Perhaps some day when I am too old to properly and safely operate my gun, they can require me to sell it and give it up. Why not? Who feels like the government requires drivers, pilots, hunters, and home builders to go through too much crap just to do what they want to do? If anything we can read the daily news and come away feeling like the government doesn’t ask enough people to do enough stuff to certify their responsible potential for doing what they want to do. You have to have licenses to own dogs!
Criticism of the President’s executive actions?
Banning high-capacity ammo magazines is pandering. I remember when this particular ban was in effect back in the 90s. A gun store would sell you a pistol, say that old reliable 9mm, and the magazine that was included with the purchase could only hold up to 10 bullets. It wouldn’t take much effort at all today to find magazines that hold more bullets especially today through Ebay and other online sources. This is a watered down effort.
Banning the manufacture of assault weapons is also pandering. First of all, exactly how can you institute a real 100% ban on the manufacture of something that almost every law enforcement and military agency must have? Wouldn’t gun companies still have to manufacture those guns at least for those agencies? Furthermore, without banning the possession/ownership and the purchase and the trade of assault weapons, this plan at best is really going to just force someone who wants to own an assault weapon to go and get it from a non-US company or buy it from someone who already owns one. Can our President ban the manufacture of AK-47s manufactured in Italy? If he made it illegal to possess, purchase, trade, sell, and own an AK-47, then wow; that would be something. Is it feasible to ban a gun by name? “We hereby ban all AK-47s!” The gun nut then says, “Yee haw! I get to keep my AK-46s and BK-32s!” By this I mean to say, a gun company will simply just change the name of the banned gun, maybe add a new sight to it, and keep making essentially the same thing as before.
This pandering also will have to deal with the question of what exactly will the President define as an assault rifle. Any anti-personnel rifle technically is an assault rifle, but perhaps the President will include something about magazine capacity and rates of fire and ability to fire automatic. Maybe the definition will be entirely subjective. Maybe the definition will include some sort of aesthetic interpretations based on what a politician thinks an assault rifle looks like. Is a sniper rifle an assault rifle? Sniper rifles do not have high-capacity ammo magazines.
Let’s keep it real... In the hands of the wrong person, what rifle isn’t an assault rifle? Let’s keep it real... You can buy a standard hunting rifle and then with a couple hundred bucks, the right parts, a screwdriver, and a quick perusal of a few videos on YouTube, convert your standard hunting rifle into an assault rifle. Let’s keep it real... You can buy a standard hunting rifle and then with a couple of hundred bucks, the right parts, a screwdriver, and a quick perusal of a few videos on YouTube, convert your standard hunting rifle into an automatic firing high-capacity ammo magazine assault rifle. I’m suspicious that this sort of ban is pointless.
The real strength of our President to change and influence our deeply engrained gun culture is with federal contracting. I would bet both my kidney’s that every American gun manufacturer is a federal contractor. Uncle Sam is the biggest gun and firearms customer, probably in the world. Uncle Sam has pretty deep pockets and holds quite an audience when he starts to write checks. Uncle Sam owns more guns and assault weapons than anyone. Should the President flex his fiduciary muscle and put the American dollars where his mouth is, you could see the rate of manufacturing of assault style weapons drop significantly. Now consider the laws of supply and demand. They make fewer assault rifles, so the price goes through the roof, and no one except snooty rich folk can afford them, the sort of elitist people who hardly ever commit gun crimes.
Consider the underground market for illegally purchased guns. The idea that you can walk into a gun show and buy a gun without a background check is an amazingly bad thing that had to be stopped. Every time I go to a gun show I walk away feeling creeped out and worried about all of the weirdoes you can see there. Gun shows are the derelict’s playground. I saw a strange and odd-looking little guy walk in, pay cash for a 50-caliber sniper rifle with nobody asking him any questions before he walked right out the front door with that thing strapped over his shoulder; I thought it was extra odd that he was such a little puny fellow and the sniper rifle was actually bigger than he was, making that very memorable for me. I’m not saying this little fellow can’t legally have a sniper rifle; I am saying we would all have much better security in knowing that he was legally cleared to have it and in knowing that if he gets weird on us, then someone will show up to legally take the sniper rifle out of his hands.
Does anyone think gun shows and mass gatherings of gun nuts is a safe place to be? If you do, it's because you're not very smart.
The need for better police networking is long overdue and is something that every American should support. Why should you be able to commit a felony in Alabama and then move to Texas and no police agency there has any record of your out of state conviction? Likewise, the connection between mental health registries and crime and gun registries is long overdue. How can we all be comfortable when a clinically diagnosed basket case can walk into any gun store and buy any gun, walk into any gun show and walk out with his own personal arsenal of sniper rifles and his own stockpile of ammo? Who really thinks it’s un-American to say, “I’m sorry sir. You’ve been flagged and I cannot sell you this weapon”? I personally think it’s un-American, un-patriotic to complete that sell.
Finally, think about those 900 people again. Gun violence is often random. Who among us expects to be the victim of a gun crime or someone in our family to be the victim? Will these executive actions help reduce this number in the coming months? Can we do something significant about the underground gun market? Do we as a society care about the uncommonly high rate of gun violence in the inner cities contained and perpetuated within the bubble of impoverished socioeconomic status? Can we stop Big Willie from hanging out on the street corner, selling unmarked guns out of the trunk of his car in New Orleans or Los Angeles and Uncle Jake from selling unmarked guns from the back of his pick-up truck on the back roads of Florida or Arizona? There is statistical evidence that the get tough on gun crime initiatives of the early 90s made a dramatic impact in the gun crime rates. We should put those strategies back on the table. If criminals know they are going to jail for possessing firearms, if citizens know they will be fined for not registering their guns, if we put some muscle behind our laws, I know we will all be better for it.
Certainly the President didn’t check with me before he took action. But if he had, I would have suggested he push the envelope of negotiation tactics. When you know THEY are going to fight everything you propose, then your best strategy is to propose the sky and the moon. Give them something to really go crazy about. Then you can seem to meet them in the middle of the road by caving in on a few of their demands. If you really want 50, then ask for 110 and then make THEM feel really good about the fact that you only got 65.
Let’s play this negotiation tactic out, simplified...
I want 110.
You’re a tyrant. You’re like Hitler. You’re a Muslim. No way are we going to give you more than half of what you want, you socialist!
Okay, I feel your concerns. You have valid points. I want you to meet me at 75 and we can both save face.
You’re a jerk. We are not your peons. You’ll take 65 or else we will keep calling you names.
Okay, I’m at your mercy. I’ll take 65. Compromise is the sign of a strong democracy.
See! We made the tyrant cave in. Send us more of your money and we’ll always be able keep him honest.
Since I wasn’t consulted, then we will ultimately get what we get. It is what it is. Barry Goldwater once said, “Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
We have to do better and we can.
I would gladly show up in Texas, first in line and register everything I have and then take the test to show I’m worthy.
“Mr. Allen, what is your reason for having all these weapons?”
“I have these weapons so I can survive the zombie apocalypse and fight to save the world when needed.”
“Thank you Sir for your service to our country. Sign right here. Your license is approved. We’ll see you in two years.”
Yes yes yes...sure I'll tick-off a bunch of you die hard gun nuts and survivalists. I'm okay with that because I'm right. So save your comments and threats. I won't read them. I will gladly jump through a few extra hoops to do my part to make America safer and to keep and protect my right to own guns while limiting almost everyone else's right to own guns.
...because when the zombies come, you will be glad I have my guns.