This past weekend, 4 different gun control bills were proposed in the Senate. All 4 were voted down despite the fact that 2 were proposed by democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and 2 by republican senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Cornyn of Texas.
While the Democrat and Republican bills differed in their relative levels of restrictiveness, all 4 addressed background checks of prospective gun buyers and the sale of guns and explosives to people on terrorist watch lists. Both of which are especially poignant due to the shootings in San Bernardino and the attack last week on the gay club in Orlando in which shooters would have failed to be able to purchase weapons if there had been increased background checks based on a more comprehensive terrorist watch list.
Gun control is a very tricky subject and it essentially has become more polarized than ever. In general, liberals want more restrictions on who can purchase guns as well as a limit on specific types of guns individuals can purchase. Conservatives tend to view any restrictions on gun ownership as a violation of the second amendment.
I for one am actually glad to see that the bills did not pass. That is crazy, I know. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary and have ranted about gun control for years now. But I had a recent moment of clarity when I discussed politics with my Uncle Bear.
His daughter, my cousin, asked me what the book I was reading, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, was about. He very thoughtfully explained Rand’s support of unfettered capitalism and her idea of the virtue of selfishness. What struck me was how he acknowledged Rand’s shortcomings. He said that “with capitalism, as with everything in life, the extremes are never the answer”.
So what does that have to do with gun control? Take Senator Feinstein’s (pictured below) bill, the “no fly, no buy” amendment. If that had passed, anyone on the no-fly list would be restricted from buying a gun. While this seems ok on paper, the no-fly list is not flawless.
Republican Senator Cornyn (pictured below) proposed a similar bill, but the attorney general would be able to delay a gun purchase for up to 72 hours by a suspected terrorist or an individual investigated for terrorism in the last 5 years. Additionally, a court order could be sought to delay the purchase further.
This is why gun control is so tricky. It is a highly polarized and highly politicized argument with very valid points on both sides. Granted, both sides love to spout off some bullsh*t, but once you sift through all the emotion and garbage, you come to see good points that are offered from both sides. Yes we need to keep terrorists from accessing guns, but we cannot just throw out due-process. Democrats are worried that it may take more than 72 hours to compile strong enough evidence while republicans are worried that if there is no deadline for providing evidence, then none will be sought.
There is no quick fix to the gun control debate. We must come together and meet in the middle. While scumbag groups like the NRA seem to get a hard on every time they have the opportunity after a tragic mass-shooting to remind our nation that the only solution to bad guys with guns is more good guys with guns in churches, Starbucks, college campuses and schools, we also see groups that are so opposed to gun violence they are willing to throw away certain unalienable rights just to get rid of guns.
Neither argument works because they deal entirely with extremes. Neither arming everyone nor trying to disarm everyone will work. We need to meet in the middle somewhere where we can have a civilized discussion. (For the record, this author believes firmly that no gun-control bill will ever work until we also acknowledge the need for increased mental healthcare).
Everyone in America wants an end to these tragedies and mass-shootings, but as my Uncle Bear said best, “the extremes are never the answer”.