Here is where I will lose friends. In this emotional debate on "reasonable" gun laws there is one issue neither side looks deeply into; the rights of a criminal. Bear with me here. For many years I have been very uncomfortable with our criminal justice system which brands a convicted criminal for life, regulates him to a lower class strata for life and prohibits him from ever owning a firearm for self protection. Is anyone ready to stand up and declare that we never convict an innocent man? Are we to dispense with Christ's admonition to forgive seven times seventy times? Are we comfortable with the reality that by permanently branding a man as a felon we will subjugate him to the status of an angry bum, a sure recipe to create a repeat offender, thus another victim? Chris Matthews referred to these human beings several times in the video I posted (Sputterings). He called them, "Criminal...Nut...Addict...Wife Beater" at one point and "Nut...Crazy Person"; "Criminal...Wife Beater...Addicts...Dregs"; "Felon...Nut...Criminal...Wife Beater" subsequently. Having written them off as permanently undesirable, he directly asked Mr, Pratt if he would be willing to sell a gun to such a person. Mr. Pratt replied "Of course not.", but I would like to look closer. A criminal goes through three distinct legal conditions.
The first condition is prior to committing a crime. Here he is still innocent. This is where Aaron Alexis was when he legally bought that shotgun he planned to use at the Navy Yard. There is no possible way the government can discern anyone's intent when buying a gun. This is why the background checks do not work. Most of the shooters got their guns elsewhere or were "clean" when checked. This is also the condition a person who will never commit a crime is in. He is identical to the planning criminal except rather than being a future criminal he is merely a potential victim. Restricting firearm sales will only make our society a more victim rich one. If we create a system that filters potential criminals then we violate their rights as well as our own.
The second condition is when he commits the crime and is guilty. Here, he has no right to remain free. Here is where the police are serving their purpose in investigation, arrest and conviction. This is the condition in which our system must separate such a man from the general public. I pray that our courts and officers work diligently to convict the truly guilty and accurately avoid convicting the innocent. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of this not being the case. Regardless, a convicted felon must be incarcerated and is not a threat to innocent people.
The third condition is after serving his time and having paid his debt to society. Here is where the debate heats up. If we are to have any hope of avoiding recidivism we must give the convicted felon the hope of returning to the normal legal condition. We must give him that goal of wiping out his past mistakes, learning a better way and living the rest of his life well. Today, we do not do that. Today we convict him for life of any crime. Today we take Chris Matthews position and consider them eternally sub-human. If I had my way, once the state releases a convicted felon back onto the street, they destroy his records and release him from his prior life. This would not put us in greater danger because as Mr. Pratt tried to point out, a unrepentant, hardened criminal who intends to harm again will get a gun regardless of our best efforts to prevent his acquiring one. However, by giving a released felon a second chance he may re-think such a path and fly straight. Either way, now that he is back to condition "one", he is a human and he deserves that much respect, that much benefit of the doubt and the right to protect himself. We must always keep in mind the "deal" we ask of God, "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Further, is anyone willing to defend the position that by permanently labeling and restricting a convicted felon we are preventing crime?
Again, this is why background checks and registration manifestly do not work, cost millions of vainly wasted dollars and cause harm. This is why Mr. Larry Pratt and the Gun Owners of America continue to oppose them. They do not prevent crime and they restrict our ability to keep ourselves safe from the indiscernible - the plotting criminal.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Liberals who truly believe that government action can solve society's moral problems cannot comprehend the positions held by conservatives, who seek a more individual response. Case in point, if you can stand it, is to watch Chris Matthews attempt to brow beat Larry Pratt, the head of Gun Owners of America on the issue of universal gun registration.
Mr. Matthews point which Mr. Pratt tried to respond to but was continuously interrupted, needs to be countered. Before that, there is one argument that comes up regularly and drives me crazy every time I hear it. "The First Amendment on freedom of speech even has reasonable limits. You cannot shout "FIRE!" in a movie theater." The fallacy of logic here deals with restricting the ability to do an action versus the wrong of doing it. If we were to equate gun registration and restriction to the shouting a false warning in a theater, we would make it law that everyone entering a theater would have their mouths taped shut so as to prevent some one evil person from shouting. We must lower the entirety of the population to the trustworthiness of a psychopath. Now we are safe from that malicious shout, however what happens when a fire truly does break out in that theater? No one is able to shout a warning and all die. This analogy cross references perfectly with the "Gun Free" zones. Notice that our most notorious "Gun Free" zones (Virginia Tech, Newtown, Navy Yard, L.A. International Airport...just to mention the recent few) were not free of guns after all.
Mr. Matthews put great faith in the government's ability to sort through our citizens and find the bad guys with precision, keep track of them and keep guns out of their hands. Wow! Mr. Pratt was trying to counter with the obvious fact that these bad guys get guns regardless of the government's efforts and that the only effect of these registration schemes is unarmed victims of mass shootings in "Gun Free" zones. Consider the performance of the government in anticipating the murderous actions of Aaron Alexis, the mass murderer of twelve legally disarmed victims inside a heavily secured "Gun Free" military installation, the Navy Yard. Mr. Alexis had a security clearance along with an ID badge which gave him access to the Navy Yard. I strongly suspect that ID badge came with a background check. Mr. Alexis legally bought that Remington 870 shotgun from a reputable gun store in Virginia within a week of his rampage. I know for a fact that he was subjected to the Brady Background check on that occasion. Here is the huge problem with the Universal Gun Registration / Background Check idea. There is no way we can predict anyone's actions. Mr. Alexis was clean as a whistle. If we were to create a filter sufficiently tight to have barred Mr. Alexis from buying that shotgun it would have to bar anyone from ever buying a shotgun - the exact place Mr. Matthews wishes us to be. Remember this the next time you travel through an airport screening station. Suffering the indignity of a pat-down or subjecting your body to radiation rich full body x-rays while meekly allowing TSA goons to riffle through your personal belongings as you try to "prove" your innocent intent, is the "safe" world of Mr. Matthew's dreams. Again, it is a world wherein we lower everyone to the common denominator, that of a psychopath.
How do we prove a negative? We can all wring our hands and demand government action as we count the dead. But before you urge such action consider the millions of people who are not dead simply because they had ready access to a gun when the unthinkable started to happen. This is Mr. Pratt's position. Support him! Join Gun Owners of America today! Or, support Mr. Matthews...it is your choice.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Those safe gun free zones are neither safe or gun free. Does this symbol give you the warm and
fuzzies? Do you feel safe when inside posted gun free zones? If so, why? Why would anyone feel safer surrendering their ability to defend themselves based on the naive idea that the lunatic will respect the gun free zone? The idea was originally designed to protect school children and we have seen the tragic results of that.
Following a couple of bad school shootings the security was beefed up by spending a lot more money, installing metal detectors and hiring "security guards" to operate them. Feel better now? Now we have seen massive shooting tragedies on military bases and even at a major airport. The LAX shooter simply walked up to the million dollar security portal, pulled out his rifle, shot a Transportation Security Agency guard and walked through the metal detector. Dutifully, the metal detector beeped as he walked through. Then the dying really started.
I was once ranting with a friend of mine about the ridiculous waste of money and the commensurate loss of liberty that the TSA was forcing upon our airline passengers. Knowing that I am a pilot for a regional airline, he thought he had a trump card when he asked me if I would mind it if my passengers were armed. He was shocked when I stated emphatically, "Of course not!" There is nothing different about being defenseless on an airplane or in a retail shop. If someone tries to kill you, you will want a gun. The 911 disaster would never have happened if it was known around the world that those gun crazy Americans allow passengers to carry firearms. Terrorist and crazy people look for the easy prey. They look for the places where they will have the upper hand for that brief, victim-rich time before law enforcement can react. That is why there are so many victims at these shootings.
Our country needs to get rid of all of these gun free zones, even at the airports, and allow our responsible citizens to defend themselves and those around them. Short of that, I would recommend that we stay away from gun free zones as much as possible.