I am, by some people's standards, an evil man.
Not in my personal life: I don't beat my wife, drive drunk or live off the government dole. I don't take what's not mine, nor ask for anything I have not duly earned. I consider myself moral, perhaps a bit of a prude.
And not in my professional life. As a cop, I survived my career with my integrity more or less unscathed. My personnel file was always filled with more commendations than most other officers. I left law enforcement with honor, after I had been permanently sidelined by a whacked out crack dealer.
In fact, I'm much like you. I mow my lawn during summer, and curse the heat of the day while I'm doing it. I'm an avid boater and motorcyclist. Yes, I'm probably a lot like you. Except in one area: I am the owner of not one but several of those horrible "assault weapons." As such, I am not defined by my actions but by my possessions.
I bought the first "assault weapon" when it was apparent that our government wanted to ban them. I had an opportunity to join the police rifle team, and the rifle was a requirement to play with the rest of the boys. So I got it while I still could inexpensively. That rifle was the Colt AR-15, and extremely similar to the one I had carried as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. The other weapons I acquired over the years mostly as investments. Occasionally, I take one on long trips because in my area of the world the highways are not safe. It makes sense to have a means of protection that doesn't require a reload after six shorts. And as any cop can tell you, pistols aren't real good man stoppers. I carry a pistol when I'm not expecting trouble, as a means of insurance. When I go to the areas where evil stalks its victims, I go better prepared. The rest of the time, my firearms are kept locked away in a manner that makes them inaccessible to anyone other than myself or my wife. The one exception to that rule is the shotgun (also an assault weapon") I keep next to the bed. I am a responsible firearms owner and user. I am not a member of the National Rifle Association (I got tired of their constant begging for money) or of a "militia." I am certainly not a "gun nut" or a nut at all. But do understand this much: I own firearms for one purpose, and one purpose only. That purpose is to kill people who would seek to seriously hurt or kill me. To me, guns are no more than tools for legal self-defense. I would prefer not to involve myself in violence. bur then again, I prefer life to death. I grew up around firearms and all of my careers involved their use. I am competent with them. Perhaps better than most. I am also a police-trained martial artist and good at those skills, also. However, I realize that there are situations that I cannot use my physical skills to extricate myself from. I realize the necessity of guns for self defense.
The government's current agenda towards firearms puzzles and frightens me. It is a purely political agenda born of ignorance and purposeful misinformation. This misinformation is disseminated to the public on a regular basis by politicians who are just as ignorant as the agenda they espouse. These politicians would have you believe that you are just too irresponsible, too immature, and simply too stupid to own firearms. Not just "assault weapons," but any firearms. Organizations such as "Handgun Control, Inc." are steadily eating away at your right to own firearms. Organizations like Handgun Control have a singe agenda: to eliminate the existence of all firearms in the United States. They cite the growing epidemic of violence in America, and postulate that this violence will decrease if we are disarmed. They also state that firearms are a direct cause of our preoccupation with violence, and that by disarming the people of the United States we will all be safer. These organizations point out the growing threat of street corner drug dealers armed with AK-47s and Uzi machine guns. They would have you think that a gun in our home is more dangerous to you than to the common criminal.
They have lied to you every step of the way.
The lackeys of Handgun Control cite statistics that seem to agree with their arguments. However, a sage man once said this:" There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics!" These lackeys of the gun haters have deliberately misled America by manipulating statistics. There examples of this manipulation are:
1. Suicides in which guns are used are counted as "homicides." The last time I checked, the legal definition of suicide had little to do with homicide. It's also my experience that people who are prone to committing suicide will use any method available, and usually the one that offers the quickest respite from pain. If not a gun, then a local train track. Or anything else. It's the end result that is desired, not the means of obtaining it.
2. Lawful cases of self defense in which a victim kills an attacker are counted as homicides, also. It matters not if the police, a judge or jury count the killing as legitimate self defense.
3. Police-related shootings are also counted as homicides. Imagine that....
I can say that with ease. I have been on the streets of some of the toughest neighborhoods in the world as a cop and as a soldier. I have seen violence in every shape it assumes. I am no stranger to rapists, robbers and murderers. After experiencing this violence, I am convinced that guns are not the problem. People are the problem, and criminals are the biggest problem of the whole equation. I have seen people killed with kitchen knives, sticks, rocks, broken pieces of mirrors, and yes, guns. But of all the ways I've seen people hurt and kill one another, guns factored in least of all. It's just that gun-related incidents most always get the most press. If you don't believe me, check to reports at your local police department. Sure, you will find gun violence in some reports. But the predominance of violence is done in far more personal ways, such as with hands, fists and impact weapons. Kitchen knife deaths outnumber handgun violence almost every year. Guns simply aren't satisfying enough to most people.
I've also seen many people use firearms to defend themselves successfully against attacks in their homes and on the streets. In fact, I've seen a great many more unarmed victims than I have armed victims. I've also seen stupid accidents and incredibly ignorant uses of firearms by some -people, along with some senseless tragedies. But after examining these cases, I've come to the conclusion that most of those people were idiots in several (or most) facets of their lives. A gun just exacerbated their condition. I once met the corpse of a man (he was long gone when I got there) who had shot himself in the femoral artery and bled out before anyone found him. When examining his body, I found that he had several old gunshot wounds. I interviewed his erstwhile girlfriend, and discovered that this idiot had the unfortunate habit of getting high and playing with guns. He had manages to shoot himself five times previously. If it had not been guns, it would have been something else--like swallowing too many chia pets at once. My point is that you cannot guard idiots against themselves. Some fools are bound to get themselves hurt, or hurt someone else. That's why cars crash with such annoying frequency.
This battle over our nation's firearms has been going on since long before I was born. I remember the era of the seventies, and the hoopla over "Saturday Night Specials." These were purportedly cheaply made, inexpensive firearms that anyone could buy. There was a consistent effort to ban these firearms. People said they were the tools of drug dealers, and that no one other than a criminal would carry one. My father, who was a cop than and is now, spouted this rhetoric often in our home. One day, I asked him what such a gun looked like. He got a confused expression on his face, and admitted that he couldn't tell me. Up until then, I had thought "Saturday Night Special was a brand name. It wasn't, and isn't. It was simply a term for any small firearm someone could buy for under fifty dollars. This means that we were condemning an affordable means of self protection, nothing more. God forgive that the poor should have the means to protect themselves. It would be a travesty.
I've often had the pleasure of inspecting firearms for senior citizens who live on fixed incomes. The first question they ask me is: "Is this a 'Saturday Night Special'? I assure them that it is not, although the guns they show me are almost always purchased now for less than fifty dollars. Most senior citizens are scared, and realize that the world has changed into a place far different than the one they grew up in. The little twenty-five-caliber pistol they have beside their bed allows them to sleep a little easier at night. Who are we to deny them that little bit of emotional and physical security? A cheap gun is the most some can afford. Why should any of us care how much they pay for their weapons? Let's put it another way: If some human predator came slithering through your grandmother's bedroom window some night, would you condemn her for using a cheap gun to defend herself? Or would you rather see her eat cat food for a month in order to save up the thousand dollars needed for a high quality pistol? Of course not, but that's the situation some people are in. It's all they can get.
Let me clue you into a little secret, my friends. If you think for one moment that there are sufficient numbers of police to protect every single one of us, you are dead wrong. If you think there will ever be sufficient numbers of police to protect every single one of us, you are again sadly mistaken. The Supreme Court has ruled several times over that the police do not have an inherent duty to protect you, and are not responsible for doing so. To extend this logic a bit further, if there are serious problems on one side of town, a police department could lawfully put all its cops over on that side of town and leave you totally without protection. Just ask the shopkeepers in the hardest hit areas of Los Angeles how well the police protected them during the Rodney King riots. Protection is largely a personal matter these days, and you should see to it that you're not left out in the cold when you need it. Protection for you could mean a cheap "Saturday Night Special" or an "assault weapon." So long as you use it legally and responsibly, who cares?
Much of the same emotional (and nonsensical rhetoric that surrounded "Saturday Night Specials" now surrounds "assault weapons." Ask someone for a description of an assault rifle, and you'll find that it defies description. You may hear the words SKS, AK-47 and AR-15 touted about, but that isn't a description. In fact, the Senate couldn't really define "assault weapon" when they tried to do so. So what they would up doing was outlawing weapons that they did not like the looks of. They characterized assault weapons as being capable of firing one round each time you pulled the trigger, having a bayonet lug and having a military appearance. Here's what I mean: Slap a bayonet lug on a six-shot revolver, and it meets the definition of the Senate's assault weapon bill. The military carried revolvers for years, and some military aircraft pilots still do. People also tend to believe than an assault weapon is something that can pump out 500-600 bullets a minute, and that's not the case. A simple semi-automatic twenty-two caliber rifle does everything an assault rifle does. But that doesn't make good press, so you won't hear facts like that on the news.
Nor is it true that today's drug dealers are carrying "assault weapons" around everywhere they go. Most of the dealers I busted weren't carrying guns on them. That that were carried something small, and concealable. Half the time, the guns they carried weren't even in good enough condition to fire. Most street corner dopers are addicts themselves, and aren't interested in buying anything but their next fix. Are there exceptions to this? Sure, I found a few Tec Nines and other "assault weapons" on criminals before. But what you probably don't realize is this: Our nation has over two hundred years of gun history in its past. I have personally taken guns away from crooks that were made in the early 1900s. There will be a steady surplus of guns for the crooks for another hundred years to come, even if we stopped manufacturing them and banned then all. The criminals will always have access to guns. And if the guns are gone, it's easy enough to make your own. Ever hear of a "zip gun"? A piece of car antenna, a rubber band and a twenty-two cartridge, and you are set. Gangs and prison inmates have been making them for years now.
If we allow the ban on firearms to continue to take its present course, the only people who will not have guns are the law-abiding citizens. The criminals don't care about your laws, or your bans. The criminal will continue to break the law in any manner they choose. If that means putting their banned guns to your head, blowing your brains out and taking whatever they want from your twitching corpse, so be it. They can live with that, but you cannot. You need a means of protection from the predators.
We already have an effective means of punishing those who misuse firearms in our country. It's called enforcing the law. Lamentably, though, we do not do this. Many states have minimum mandatory prison sentences for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. But prosecutors use these tools as bargaining chips, in attempts to get plea bargains from criminals. We should lobby for strict enforcement of the laws already on the books, instead of trying to turn our citizens who legally possess firearms into criminals. I am not a danger to you, nor are most gun owners.
If you start to give away your Constitutional rights, then there will be none. What might be next to go? Perhaps freedom of speech or the free press. Our Founding Fathers were specific in the fact the citizens of the United States have the right to bear arms. Our Founding Fathers were forced to defend themselves from a tyrannical ruler and his army. To prevent this from occurring again, the Second Amendment was created. It is painfully obvious that our Founding Fathers wanted us to have guns to prevent the recurrence of tyranny in this country. This was their true intent, that citizens should have the means to protect themselves from harm, no matter where it comes from. That is the environment from which our country sprang, and the intent that the Constitution was written with. We have the best country and system of government in the world--bar none. However, it will only remain such if we continue to protect our rights. If one say you need protection from the local armed robber or rapist, you'll be glad that you won't be persecuted for shooting him--unless there are no more legal guns to use. We need to concentrate on putting criminals who use guns in their crimes behind bars, and leave the rest of the population alone. No one would advocate banning cars because some drunk uses his irresponsibly. Why apply a different standard to those of us who responsibly own and use firearms?
Dylan Kurz can be reached for E-Mail at Dylangerr@Aol.com