What is "Gun Control"?

In the wake of the horrific tragedies that have occurred recently in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, along with violent crimes taking place throughout our nation on a daily basis, there has been a lot of talk about "gun control" in America. It has been a hot topic on every news station and invokes intense debates where proponents from both sides argue passionately as they present their cause as being "right". Apparently, the case has been made... or has it? "Gun control" has been defined to me in at least a dozen different ways by well-meaning people who care about saving lives, which, as a responsible firearms owner seems like an irony. It appears as though this controversy has created more confusion and misinformation than it has clarity on any level. The general media has gone as far as to demonize law-abiding citizens for owning firearms in any amount or capacity. But what does "gun control" on a national level even look like for us in CA, the state which already has some of the strictest firearms laws in the country? Many of the regulations proposed by "gun control" activists are either already enforced in our state or would have little-to-no effect on firearm crimes nationally. 

I'm choosing to use quotations around the term "gun control" because the term itself is so loosely defined and created around an ideology that is anything but controlled. The pervasive problem is not the weapon with which a criminal choses to use to inflict harm, but rather the mentally unstable person behind the weapon. When a person has the intent to injure innocent people they will find a way. 

It is important to note that a large percentage of firearms used in homicides or violent crimes are illegally obtained which would negate the need to enforce stricter "gun control" laws, laws which would only apply to law abiding citizens. How can we regulate firearms bought and sold on the streets? Creating "gun free zones" in private residences is like putting out billboards in our front yards saying "we have no way of defending ourselves if you force your way into this house and try to rob us or injure us". One survey found that *60% of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed. 40% of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed. These are very frightening numbers! By denying law-abiding citizens the right to purchase and own firearms for self-defense in their homes or on their person, for the safety of their family, and potentially (for CCW) other innocent citizens who might be targeted, we are essentially taking the guns from the good guys and putting them in the hands of the bad guys. 

Another common tool used throughout the media for the purpose of promoting gun control is a general number of deaths caused by firearms each year. But when looking at statistics about the number of firearms deaths in the US, the numbers are rarely broken down to show how many were gang-related, police intervention, accidents, or suicides. These categories add significant meaning to the numbers that are often thrown around in heated debates or "gun control" propaganda. A disturbing number of deaths caused by firearms are suicides, followed by homicides (a large percentage of these are gang-related), and then legal intervention (police involved), "accidents" come in 3rd, and an undetermined cause is the smallest percentage of firearm deaths. Even though these statistics are from 3 years ago, they have largely stayed the same in the years since. Looking at the numbers in this way makes it difficult to argue the point about widening restrictions on legally purchased firearms. 

Firearm Deaths in 2014

**taken from the CDC report: Deaths: Final Data for 2014; and WISQARS

"Gun control", in general, is not the answer to curbing violence. Although there is room to improve upon the existing laws in order to close the loopholes through which would-be criminals can obtain a firearm, vague and sweeping regulations added to our already restrictive laws would do more harm to law-abiding citizens than it would to lower crime rates. We need to make it more difficult for the bad guys to get firearms, not more difficult for the good guys to be able to defend themselves. 




*Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, James Wright and Peter Rossi, Aldine, 1986

**CDC & WISQARS https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/nvdrs.html

Which direction is the SAFE direction?

The Story:

A man in an upstairs apartment was attempting to clean his 9mm Glock when he negligently discharged a round through the floor, through the ceiling below, and into a woman's leg who was in the apartment just under his. She is, at this time, in critical condition with a life-threatening injury. 

Which rule was violated?

  1. Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded. 
    • He thought it was unloaded so he attempted to disassemble it to clean it
  2. Never cover anything with the muzzle you are NOT willing to destroy.
    • Pointing down or even towards the walls is not always a guaranteed safe direction
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.
    • Even when you think the firearm is unloaded, practicing this rule can prevent an "accidental" discharge 
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. 
    • He needed to consider that there could be people in the apartment below, or even on the other side of the walls

How could it have been avoided?

Check, check, and check again. When it comes to safety, being 100% sure can never be overstated. ALWAYS check the chamber AFTER you remove the magazine, and then check it again. There are countless stories, a lot of them ending bad, of people who were so sure that the firearm wasn't loaded and it ended up being that they were wrong. ALWAYS treat EVERY firearm as if it is loaded, even if you "know" that it isn't. ALWAYS consider what is in front of your muzzle, and then what is beyond that - bullets can penetrate walls, floors, ceilings, hedges, etc... And never, ever put your finger on the trigger unless you are on target and ready to shoot. 



"Accidental" shooting = Negligence

The Story:
A teenager is at his girlfriends house in Escondido, CA when, according to him, she says she has a gun in her dresser and asks him to look at it. In his own account he describes picking it up and, because the safety wasn't on, "it shot him". The bullet went through his hand and into his girlfriend. They both went to the hospital and lived another day. 

Which rule was violated:
According to the 4 main safety rules of Firearm Safety, lets examine how this negligence occurred, because he broke every single rule.

  1. Always treat every firearm as if it is loaded
    • He didn't handle it as if it was loaded.
  2. Never cover anything with the muzzle you are NOT willing to destroy
    • He pointed it at multiple things that he shouldn't have.
  3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are on target and ready to fire
    • His finger was obviously on the trigger since a handgun is an inanimate object and can't grow legs and walk around shooting people.
  4. BE SURE of your target and what is beyond it
    • Not only was he not sure of his "target"(his hand), but he didn't even consider what was beyond it (his girlfriend). 

How could it have been avoided?
This story is a sobering example of why firearm safety training is so important. It could have ended so much worse! He should never have touched that firearm. The handgun should have been locked up or stored safely so that it couldn't be tampered with by an "unauthorized person". If a child had found that gun and caused injury to himself or someone else the gun owner would be looking at a possible felony. If the teenager had killed himself or someone else the gun owner would be looking at a criminal offense. Firearm safety education, for the firearm's owner or the teenager could have potentially prevented this narrow mishap.