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Finding appropriate balance on gun control

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  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 27, 2012 12:22 a.m.

    George W Bush said he would be happy to sign a re-authorization of the assault weapons ban. Mitt Romney also supported it at the time, although he has certainly reversed himself on that position by now (surprise, surprise, surprise).

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    July 27, 2012 5:26 a.m.

    What is there to discuss? There can be no gun controls, we have to live with these tragedies and do something about the causes of people going crazy for economic despair.

    This tragedy and many other previous tragedy's are directly related to the economy, foreign invitationals occupation, and forced in to a life of poverty. Just as in all 3rd world countries poverty and despair make people do desperate things, even assault their friends and neighbors.

    Our forefathers were wise to acknowledge the despair that an oppressive governemnt can place on a people so this is why we have this right to own guns and defend ourselves from oppression and anarchy in government.

    If there is to be a discussion, let it be about rights and oppression and despair.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    July 27, 2012 7:13 a.m.

    We should start by looking at the absence of gun deaths in Canada, and start working towards a Canadian model of gun control. They are a much safer country because of their firearm restrictions. And while we're at it maybe we should take a look at their health care system!

  • Mike in Texas Cedar City, Utah
    July 27, 2012 8:54 a.m.

    The NRA never rests, and this article is just one more evidence of that fact. Demonize those that "seek political advantage" in the aftermath of a mass shooting and declare that passage any new gun control laws would be both ineffective and unconstitutional.

    Those that fight solutions are the problem. And the problem is mass murder by legally obtainable assault weapons designed for military use sold to anyone with the cash to buy them. People die because we keep finding ridiculous gun industry reason for not controlling access to these weapons of mass destruction. There is nothing sacred about the 2nd amendment. It, like all other constitution provision, is eligible for amendment. The founder's could not have foreseen the destructive capacity of modern assault weapons. The Gun industry would have you believe that new laws will not work and that the 2nd Amendment was written on stone by the finger of God. People die in the name of profit.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 27, 2012 10:34 a.m.

    An excellent and well reasoned article. We need more sensible people like this writer among us.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 27, 2012 11:26 a.m.

    When journalists learn to read, they will see the words, "shall not be infringed" as part of the 2nd Amendment.

    If Michael Gerson chooses to limit the number or type or magazine capacity of the guns that he chooses to keep and bear, that is his business. He is not authorized, nor is Congress authorized, nor is the President authorized, nor is the Court authorized to put limits on gun ownership.

    That is the Supreme Law of the Land. There is no higher law that supersedes the Supreme Law of the Land. There is no higher authority.

    Anyone who suggests limiting our rights, when THAT particular right has the words attached, "shall not be infringed" is either very ignorant of the law or he is an enemy to the people, an enemy who is trying to take away our guaranteed RIGHTS.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 27, 2012 11:35 a.m.

    Ah, Mike, Mike, Mike . . . .

    I'll bet your tune would change dramatically if you or any of your family were ever in the line of fire of some nut case with a semi-auto jammed with extra capacity clips.

    Of course that is assuming that you survive after you fail in your pitiful attempt to protect them by blazing away with your CCW -- perhaps even causing a few collateral casualties in the process.

    Two questions: 1) Have you ever actually been in combat? 2) Why do you refuse to understand that attempts to "limit your RIGHTS" are simply sensible people trying to establish sensible rules for firearms our Founding Fathers never imagined could possibly exist?

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    July 27, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    Take away a mass murderers gun what is to prevent him from throwing?
    gasoline bombs into the crowded theater?

    This would have killed even more.

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    July 27, 2012 12:54 p.m.

    cjb. Evil must be eliminated, and sometimes you must do it one step at a time. Your comment is an NRA talking point. For now gas bombs are not killing people are they? Assault weapons are. You can be part of the solution or you can rationalize the problem. That is just what the Gun Manufacturers and the NRA want you to do.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    July 27, 2012 1:44 p.m.

    Interesting that Vermont I believe has no restriction on guns, yet a tiny incident of gun violence. I believe that if a person in the movie audience had carried a gun things might have been different. I also suggest that in a country like Iraq if every home had an AK-47 and the home owner had honest property rights things might be different there. My son lives in Rockwall County, Texas. It is a fairly well off county. It has the highest concealed carry rate, and the lowest gun crime rate. One of the problems is we get the carry card, but don't actually carry the gun around.

  • Jon W. Murray, UT
    July 27, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    Maybe if he had used smaller clips his gun wouldn't have jammed and he would have been able to continue reloading and firing and killing more and more people.

    It's impossible to play "what if" with these kinds of things. The big problem is identifying those who are about to go off the deep end. We can't really do that very well, apparently. And even if we could, our mental health system has changed to not allow involuntary committments so if wouldn't matter if we could.

    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. " - John Adams

  • L White Springville, UT
    July 27, 2012 2:09 p.m.

    Mr. One Old Man,

    Even God, himself, values our agency above all. He has told us what he would like us to do but then He allows us to do as we please with no forceful restaint from him even when his children decide to kill each other. Are we wiser than God? Do we know something that he does not know?

    The price of freedom is accepting the fact that some people will misuse that freedom and that some of us will pay an awful price.

    How can we ever become more than mere animals if we let government lead us around with a ring in our nose to keep us from hurting ourselves or others?

  • Mad Hatter Provo, UT
    July 27, 2012 2:58 p.m.

    Why is it that whenever there is a major tragedy involving some gunman with semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity ammunition clips, conservatives say: "Now isn't the time to talk about keeping this from happening again"? It seems they want to wait until the incident fades from memory and then they don't do anything because nothing is happening to focus attention on these types of weapons.

    The whole situation is: If something happens, don't talk about it because we need to grieve; if nothing has happened, it is not necessary to talk about it.

    We're not talking Second Amendment issues. We're talking about high-powered, military-type semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips which allow firing large numbers of bullets at a time, and closing legal loopholes which undermines background checks on the purchase of guns by people with the intent to harm others. There is no effort to keep people from having guns for purposes of hunting, target shooting, and personal ownership.

    It just doesn't make any reasonable sense other than to accept the tragedy and keep the profits going to the gun and ammunition manufacturers.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 27, 2012 3:02 p.m.

    Mr. White, with all due respect, that is one of the most silly comments I've ever read.

    Doesn't the Lord expect us all to use wisdom? Where is the wisdom in allowing anything to go with respect to firearms?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    July 27, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    It is appropriate when a tragedy occurs to consider the question if any factor could've prevented the tragedy. If a societal tragedy doesn't prompt us to look at the system then we are being irresponsible and ignorant.

    That said.

    If someone is determined to commit mass murder and mayhem it will be difficult to prevent all such events. But should we then adopt the attitude it is not preventable so why try? Do we not purchase car alarms or home alarms to deter some would-be criminals? There are numerous examples of things most of us do to try to prevent tragedy befalling our families.

    Do we want our police forces out-gunned? Do we have a system of justice which consists of a trained, equipped force to deal with crime and a criminal justice system to prosecute crimes? Should we move toward citizens becoming judge, jury and executioner? How many countries have such a system and what are the results? What is their quality of life?

    Broadly looking at the statistics the states with the lowest (per capita) gun ownership rates also have the lowest firearm death rates.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 27, 2012 5:27 p.m.

    It's not the gun as a machine that's a problem. It's the gun as a culture.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    July 27, 2012 6:05 p.m.

    The First Amendment is not absolute. One cannot shout "Fire" in a crowded theater.
    The Second Amendment is not absolute. One cannot shoot firearms in a crowded theater.

    I'm a bleeding heart liberal, blue through and through, but I have enough rightwing paranoia to believe that an armed populace helps keep the government honest. And I'm willing to accept that the "militia" in the Second Amendment refers to individuals and not a national guard. That said, however, I find it interesting that the only place the word "regulate" in any form appears in the Constitution is in the Second Amendment. We have vast regulatory bureaucracies (EPA, FDA, etc.) on the hazy basis of the Interstate Commerce and General Welfare clauses, and yet in the one area where the Constitution explicitly mandates regulation (and "well regulated," at that), regulation is resisted tooth and nail (presumably, nails on cold dying fingers).

    The use of "well regulated" implies that the Founders could conceive of unregulated or poorly regulated militias and intentionally chose stronger control. At the very least, this seems to support inventory control and proficiency standards for gun owners.

    I rarely agree with Gerson, but today he's right.

  • gray man Orem, UT
    July 27, 2012 11:01 p.m.

    old man
    Two questions: 1) Have you ever actually been in combat? 2) Why do you refuse to understand that attempts to "limit your RIGHTS" are simply sensible people trying to establish sensible rules for firearms our Founding Fathers never imagined could possibly exist?
    two answers plus one: yes I have been in combat.
    why do you refuse to understand what the second amendment was about?
    why do you refuse to understand that the founding fathers fully expected individuals to be able to own the same small arms that the military owned?

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 27, 2012 11:13 p.m.

    A question: Are any weapons not covered by the second amendment? How about grenade launchers? How about flame throwers? How about Predator Drones? Which weapons can civilians own? You can't really draw the line at military vs civilian equipment, because an ordinary hunting rifle is much further advanced than any military weapon the founders could have possessed.

    I support the right of law abiding citizens to posses guns, but there has to be a line somewhere. Where is it?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    July 28, 2012 6:00 a.m.

    Re: "We're not talking Second Amendment issues. We're talking about high-powered, military-type semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips . . . ."

    It's sad that liberals no longer seem capable of even recognizing Second Amendment issues. They've disingenuously defined away the problem for so long, they appear to have convinced themselves normal people actually take them seriously.

    Real people will never understand why liberals are so intent on placing criminals in a position of advantage over us. But, rather than trusting them or their pandering liberal politicians to define the criminal threat for us, real people look to the ACTUAL criminal threat in deciding how to protect against it.

    Those trained in military or self-defense tactics recognize that area, or fully automatic weapons are not particularly useful for self defense in an urban environment. But high capacity magazines? Criminals have plenty of those.

    And always will, no matter what the law says.

    So, why would liberals insist we stop and reload after every 10th round, while criminals keep plugging away at us?

  • gray man Orem, UT
    July 28, 2012 6:21 a.m.

    liberal larry
    if you want to live in Canada, then move to Canada.
    What we should be looking at is that every municipality that allows concealed carry has a lower violent crime rate then the more restrictive communities. why aren't we demanding the right to carry and honoring the 2nd amendment.

  • gray man Orem, UT
    July 28, 2012 6:25 a.m.

    Roland Kayser,
    Intelligent people can reevaluate their data, readjust their conclusions, and change their opinion accordingly, surprise, surprise.

  • gray man Orem, UT
    July 28, 2012 6:30 a.m.

    Truthseeker
    "Broadly looking at the statistics the states with the lowest (per capita) gun ownership rates also have the lowest firearm death rates."
    totally false. the communities that allow concealed carry and 2nd amendment rights have the lowest violent crime rates.
    why do you think police stations are never attacked?

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    July 28, 2012 8:02 a.m.

    We should really look at what is driving people crazy.

    That aside, we're not hearing of mass stabbings in countries with strict gun laws. People just arn't inclined to stab thier wives and kids and then stab themselves in the head either.

    If you are buying an assault style weapon because you think you will have to fight the government, you are largly UNDERplanning. You will need a large airforce. Just ask anyone still alive of the former Iraqi guard.

    If you're really scared of the government and it's awesome power you may want to support shrinking the military. It saves money and is easier to defend against - a twofer that achieves supposed conservative goals. Yet if you really just want any lame excuse to buy that next weapon that makes you feel strong - carry on.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    July 28, 2012 8:13 a.m.

    Very gray. You know what country has completly unifringed gun rights? Sudan.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    July 28, 2012 8:27 a.m.

    The ironic thing is that the first thing the largely conservative Bush army did in Iraq and Afganistan was to seize guns to "make it safer".

    Have any of you conservatives opposed the confiscation or Afganstanian or Iraqi's guns? Where is the outrage? Shouldn't you have been handing them more guns to make it safer? World peace? Easy, just hand out guns to absolutly everyone even children. No requirements, definetly no licenses or qulifications.

    Conservative agenda : A gun in every hand - oppose at all costs a chicken in every pot.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    July 28, 2012 8:27 a.m.

    Lagomorph

    The act of shouting "Fire" is the crime. Ownership of a firearm is not the crime. The use of a firearm for illegal purposes is the crime.

    You stated that an armed populace helps keep the government honest and you said that "militia" refers to individuals; but, then you stated that the government should control the "militia's" access to firearms. Huh?

    If "well regulated militia" refers to the individual, and if "shall not be infringed" is an absolute right - just as it says it is, how can turning control of firearms over to the government protect the "militia" from the government?

    Agency comes with accountability. Those who violate that accountability will be punished AFTER the crime is committed, not before. After all, anyone can shout "Fire!", but the act of shouting "Fire!" requires accountability.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    July 28, 2012 9:32 a.m.

    Re: "The ironic thing is that the first thing the largely conservative Bush army did in Iraq and Afganistan was to seize guns to 'make it safer'."

    That's not what we did.

    We did seize caches from known and suspected bad guys and prohibited carrying guns in certain places. But we assumed law-abiding homeowners would need their guns to protect themselves during a very lawless time and left them alone.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    July 28, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    When the country was founded owning slaves was considered an absolute right. The founding fathers were not perfect in any way. To cling to the idea that thier words "shall not be infringed" as forever binding is as logical as arguing that slavery should still be legal and practiced.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    July 28, 2012 10:39 a.m.

    may 2003 ; US to implement gun ban in Iraq

    The interim US administration in Baghdad announced a gun amnesty yesterday before a total ban is implemented next week in an effort to stamp-out the lawlessness that now pervades the streets of all major towns and cities here.

    Iraqis will be urged to turn in all handguns, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and any extra tanks or anti-aircraft artillery pieces that may have been overlooked during the coalition's initial searches.

    A Pentagon spokesman explained: "The security situation has deteriorated to such an extent that there's folks out there with all sortsa' mass weaponry and they're not hesitatin' in usin' it. I mean it'd be insane to just let people run around the streets with sub-machine guns and semi-automatics, so we really got no choice but to outlaw 'em."

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    July 28, 2012 10:50 a.m.

    Actually Mike Richards, shouting "fire" is not a crime. It's the result of shouting "fire" that matters. You could be a hero or villian depending on the circumstances.

    I keep hearing gun nuts explain that they are arming to defend themselves against the government. But that doesn't make sense since the government's military is too powerfull to defend against with (giggle) 40 year old, Soviet, Communist, Marxist, derated AK-47's. (oh, the irony!)

    What conservative gun nuts seem to be preparing for is a neo-confederate state and civil war.

  • cavetroll SANDY, UT
    July 28, 2012 6:22 p.m.

    @ Mike Richards
    "When journalists learn to read, they will see the words, "shall not be infringed" as part of the 2nd Amendment."

    Gerson is not proposing limiting gun ownership. However, using your common tactic ,nowhere in the US Constitution does it mention magazine capacity. Limiting magazine capacity does not infringe on anybody's right to gun ownership.

    I'm not saying I don't agree with you in limiting gun ownership. I have many guns myself, most for my employment. I enjoy my guns, I refuse to let anybody take them from me. I also refuse to be a victim, so I protect myself as best I can. Obviously, the same cannot be said about some others.
    As for "gun free" zones, if your firearms is properly concealed, nobody will be the wiser.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    July 28, 2012 10:28 p.m.

    Lagomorph
    I find it interesting that the only place the word "regulate" in any form appears in the Constitution is in the Second Amendment.

    KJK
    Note that the term "regulated" at the time of the Constitution meant "trained" or put into proper working order. It did not mean to restrict.

    The Bill of Rights is all about limiting the power of government over the people, not limiting the rights OF the people. The 3rd amendment prohibits troops being stationed in homes. The Founders envisioned the citizenry to have the same weapons as the regular army so that the army can be repelled and can't be used to suppress the people. It prevents marshal law. The 2nd Amendment is therefore about securing a free state as it itself states. It is what secures all others rights we as citizens enjoy.

    Our system is set up to allow abuses rather than risk infringing upon peoples' rights. This is why we allow criminals to go free on technicalities and require "beyond reasonable doubt" to convict people.

    I doubt the Aurora shooter would have done what he did if he expected someone to shoot back. There's the solution - PEOPLE SHOOTING BACK!!

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    July 30, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    KJK: "Note that the term 'regulated' at the time of the Constitution meant 'trained' or put into proper working order. It did not mean to restrict."

    Fine. As I said in my OP, this supports an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that proficiency standards are an allowable precondition of gun ownership. Gun owners should be required to know how to operate their weapon and be able to hit the target. Otherwise, the citizens fighting government tyranny will do their cause more harm than good.

    Was James Holmes part of a well regulated militia? Although he sported the wardrobe, it is not evident he was either "trained" or in "proper working order" (fortunately, he couldn't operate his weapon without it jamming, which saved untold lives).

    I'm all for protecting the rights of the citizenry. I just agree with Gerson (a rare event) that some rational middle ground exists where both gun rights and public safety can be maintained.

    KJK: "I doubt the Aurora shooter would have done what he did if he expected someone to shoot back."
    I think that wearing full body armor indicates an expectation that someone would shoot back.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    July 31, 2012 8:10 p.m.

    Lagomorph
    KJK: "Note that the term 'regulated' at the time of the Constitution meant 'trained' or put into proper working order. It did not mean to restrict."

    Lagomorph: Fine. As I said in my OP, this supports an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that proficiency standards are an allowable precondition of gun ownership.
    KJK: Since an educated electorate is necessary for a successful democracy, perhaps passing a test over the candidates and issues should be required for voting using that same logic. If rights have preconditions, then they aren't rights.
    I think that the “well regulated” phrase should force the Feds to train all willing citizens.

    KJK: "I doubt the Aurora shooter would have done what he did if he expected someone to shoot back."

    Lagomorph: I think that wearing full body armor indicates an expectation that someone would shoot back.
    KJK: Good point. This just shows that we need more armed citizens.... who would have shot him outside the protected torso and then finished him off while he was writing in pain on the ground. The greater the likelihood of death, the greater the deterrent. That's why police stations are never robbed.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 12:14 p.m.

    KJK: "...perhaps passing a test over the candidates and issues should be required for voting using that same logic..."

    Much as I want an educated, rational electorate, the Constitution prohibits certain limitations on suffrage (e.g. poll taxes). Your test could be problematic. On the other hand, my point was that under my interpretation of the Second Amendment, compulsory training for weapons could be constitutional.

    KJK" "This just shows that we need more armed citizens...."

    This just starts a coevolutionary arms race, where arms and armor get exponentially bigger. Was it Justice Scalia who recently said he thought the Second Amendment covered handheld rocket launchers? What kind of body armor protects against an RPG?

    How about cultivating a society that does not idolize violence, that seeks nonviolent solutions to problems, that has a working health care system that provides good mental health care and identifies the mentally ill before they erupt into violence? I prefer to participate in society unarmed and trusting my fellow man, rather than walking in fear and loaded down with iron.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 4:44 p.m.

    I'm all for not idolizing violence. The shooter was getting mental health treatment. There is no easy solution that respects the rights of all Americans. We tolerate criminals being freed on technicalities to protect the rights of all. Perhaps this too is the price society must pay to ensure the rights of all.

  • Celticwolf Syracuse, Utah
    Aug. 5, 2012 5:35 p.m.

    To find an appropriate balance on gun control you should sign up for a firearms safety class. They teach you all of that very knowledgeable stuff. Plus after knowing it you should be less insecure of your neighbors owning guns.