26 September, 2009

Well, I do like Peanut Buster Parfait or a Nut Brown Ale after a trip to the range.

"Our love of guns is nutty." So writes retired chemistry professor Peter Hansen. Professor Hansen opines that when Ed Thomas, a local football coach lost his life to someone using a gun to murder him, no one asked where the gun came from. Nor was it stolen or not.

The professor makes the statement that acquiring a handgun is about as easy and as common place as buying a tennis racket. In order for me to purchase a handgun through a shop, I must fill out BATFE form 4473 and a background check is ran against the information I provide. I am allowed right there to take the gun with me, or I have to wait up to seven days. Now, just imagine if the government regulated tennis rackets like they regulate guns. We'd have the NRA, the National Racket Association and their mascot Ricky Racket telling kids that if they find a tennis racket to leave the room and go tell an adult. If Serena Williams went on a tirade about taking the ball and shoving it down an officials throat, that would have her in jail so fast. Her tennis skirt would spin.

A year ago, USA Today reported that "a small but growing movement (has) been under way at universities and state legislatures to allow students, faculty and staff to carry guns on campus." Gun advocates maintain that had Virginia Tech's students and faculty been armed, far fewer than 32 of them would have been killed in the 2007 mass murder. Of course, gun advocates ignore the far greater likelihood of more frequent suicides, accidents and murders that would result from arming our campuses.

And it's a movement I support. The debate is ongoing here in Missouri with aspects of law enforcement supporting the notion. As far as accidents go, it is far more likely that someone will drown than have an accident with a gun. For example, in 2005, there were 789 accidental deaths from firearms here in the U.S. That means the risk is 0.30 per 100,000 people. Or to put it another way, about the same as buying the farm in a plane crash.

As to suicide, the Word Health organization found long ago that by removing one method of suicide does not lower the overall rate. It just means a determined individual will find the means to kill themselves.

Gun control, however, is different. I fail to understand how any intelligent thinking person can believe that more guns, carried by more people, at more locations, will result in a safer and more peaceful society!

Really professor? Let's look at Chicago,why don't we? Murder in this midwestern metropolis is rampant. In fact, Illinois is one of two states that does not allow any sort of concealed carry. Yet, it has one of the highest murder rates in the country.

Why do Americans fear that law enforcement officers cannot adequately provide for public safety? Why do Americans fear that strict handgun laws will inevitably result in hunters being denied their hunting rifles and shotguns? Other nations with very strict gun laws allow hunters to hunt.

The average response time for law enforcement in Washington D.C. for a Priority One call, was 8 minutes and 25 seconds as of 2002. Yet the criminal takes only a split second to pull the trigger and alter his and your life forever. And just so the professor understands, no where in the constitution does it mention hunting.

To those who interpret the Second Amendment as an unqualified right to gun ownership, I ask, why did James Madison write, "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." Why didn't he simply write, "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed?" Why the reference to "a well regulated militia?" the five freedoms of the First Amendment are prefaced with a qualifying phrase.

Like our language a lot of other words that over time change meaning, militia as written in the constitution meant any able bodied man. As there were no modern police departments, it was up to the common citizenry to 'police' their communities. First colonial, then state, and now Federal law all define exactly what makes up a militia. All able bodied males 17-45 and members of the National Guard up to age 64, excluding those who have no intention of becoming citizens and active duty military personnel.

Furthermore, in 1789, when the Bill of Rights was submitted to Congress, what was meant by "arms"? Most guns possessed by hunters and farmers of that day were smooth bore muskets. Might those 18th-century congressmen have taken a different position had they observed the firepower of a Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 Magnum revolver?

I'm surprised the professor even attempts to make this argument seeing as his field of study is chemistry. Like any other field of engineering, firearms have advanced techologically. I think professor, that your 18th century congressmen would have been impressed at the level of craftmanship. Your own field has given us composites to make stocks with. Metallurgy has given us stronger alloys resulting in lighter materials for soldiers, police and common citizens to fight, protect and hunt with.

Me, I think once I'm done with my laundry as I write this post, I'm going down to the bar for a nut brown ale.

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