Gun Crime

Gun Crime Blog

Are we talking about crimes committed with guns, or are we talking about owning guns being a crime?

Pause for a deep breath: No one thinks it is OK–under any circumstances–to use a gun in a crime. Yes, using a gun makes the specific crime of murder easier than using a knife or a vehicle, and makes crimes in general, e.g., robbing a 7-11, easier.

Continuing the deep breath: No one, at least no one I know about, is advocating banning the private sale of all guns, and confiscating all existing guns. That’s right up there with deporting all illegals; both are logistically completely impossible. (Even if somehow that is what you actually wanted.)

We need to answer two question here:

  • How do we keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally unstable and those who shouldnot own firearms while allowing others to own a reasonable amount of allowable firearms?
  • What constitutes an “allowable” firearm?


The answer to No. 1 starts out easily: Dramatically increase the penalty for using a gun in a crime. Guns are a value-neutral tool; however, when used in crimes their value goes from neutral to darkly criminal. I added “darkly” because if stealing cash from a home is a crime, threatening a family with a firearm during the robbery is darkly criminal. And if you have ever had a loaded gun pointed in your direction in a threatening manner, you’d likely see it the same way. Conversely, when used in self defense, by a citizen or law enforcement, or by the military to protect us from an invading force, guns are not only good, but the only tool that could have saved us.

The answer to No. 1 continues in a very rational way. Implement background checks anytime a gun changes hands. Stop the mentally ill and those on the No-Fly list from purchasing guns. Put an upper limit on the number of guns a private citizen can own. I do not believe that arsenals were contemplated in the First Amendment. It was not the Founders’ intent for a single person to arm broad sections of the militia.

The answer to No. 2 is equally straightforward. Automatic (fires rapidly until empty with one trigger pull) weapons should continue to be banned. Semi-autos (requires a trigger pull for each discharge) should continue to be allowed. An AR-15 is semi-automatic, as is a Glock 19 pistol. Even modern revolvers (not considered to be semi-auto) can continue to fire until empty with each trigger pull. Banning firearms that require more than a trigger pull to fire until empty would unfairly and unnecessarily leave stable, law-abiding citizens with only single-shot pistols and bolt-action rifles.

The key to this week’s blog is finding effective ways to keep firearms away from the unstable and lawless, and to allow reasonable access to firearms to the stable and law abiding.

“Who needs an AR-15?” I get it that it is tempting to say, “Hey, who needs an AR-15, anyway?” This question in designed to produce one answer, “No one.” Try this one, ‘Hey, who needs a Lexus? Or a Mercedes?” Answer: No one. And what family of three needs a 3,000 sq. ft. home? Or who needs a flat screen TV? Let us never allow the government to limit us to what it things we need. We should always be allowed to have what we want, can afford and can deal with responsibly.

“But losing one life to gun violence is one too many!” Really? Does it seem that some folks are willing to take away the relatively easy-to-take guns–the ones owned by lawful citizens doing relatively little damage? Do you know anyone who is advocating for going into the gang neighborhoods and taking away those guns?

Training. This is not a limit on the First Amendment, but an extension. No one should be able to own a gun without extensive, documented initial training, and regular refreshers and practice. The training that states require to have a concealed carry permit is a joke. If that is all the training you have, you are more likely to harm yourself or a bystander than a bad guy. The word militia in the amendment implies a level of training. Remember: Every right comes with an equal–or greater–responsibility.

Let’s share thoughts on the Gun Crime topic, including expanding the conversation to include the thought that the Founders might have included the word “militia” to cover the possibility that an armed citizenry was the best defense against a tyrannical government. Yes, even here in America.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs

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21 Responses

  1. Jonathan Luden Reply

    Solid points across the board, and structured in a way to welcome much needed, and long overdue discussion. Upper limit, and reasonable amount. I can’t imagine what that would look like while remaining ‘reasonable’ to both entrenched sides of the equation.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Thanks, Jon! Yes, for some the upper limit would be 2 or; others might thing 50 is the right number. My intent was to help structure the discussion in a way that we are no longer yelling, “NRA-bought fascist” and “Constitution-Hater Traitor” at each other. Let’s produce results with reason. Hey, someone should start a blog like that…:).

  2. Bill Mortimore Reply

    The large majority of this country agrees with your answers.

    How do we get our legislators to implement what this large majority wishes?

  3. Jerry Schulz Reply

    Thanks for providing a platform for this important discussion Will.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Jerry, many thanks for your contribution. I have come to be heartily sick of all labels. The political ones, e.g., liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, Left, Right, etc., are misused to the point where they are all-but meaningless. I voted for Jimmy Carter in part because I heard a politician (the first time for me) describe himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Even useful bifurcations like that one have become misused. When used honestly, political labels, like nutrition labels on food, should be used to honestly identify the “contents.” More used labels like LGBT, Libtard, Trumpist, ALt-Right, Alt-Left, etc., are used–along with the political labels as nothing more than a way of saying “I’M Right because I am a…” And you are wrong because you are a…” Let’s solve the many problems we face together, including the building gun issue. Results. With. Reason. Not Shouting With. Agendas.

  4. Charlie Reply

    I’ve always had trouble making the connection between “militia” and the right to own and bear arms. A quick look at the definition indicates that in colonial times a militia was basically all able-bodied citizens eligible for military service or a locally trained and raised military force. I have always considered that the National Guard is the modern equivalent of a militia, but the NG has become so federally funded and regulated that they hardly qualify for the original definition. Today those survivalists who inhabit the back woods seem to fit the original definition better than does the NG. BTW another definition of militia includes terrorists and rebels in opposition to the regular army. Let’s not go there.
    I agree that the wording of the 2nd Amendment seems to imply that the intent was to have a civilian force able to oppose a tyrannical government. It could even be argued under that interpretation that it is every able-bodied citizen’s patriotic duty to own and be able to use a firearm.
    The problem is that what’s tyrannical to you and me may seem like a reasonable exercise of responsibility to someone else, and vice versa (for example the issue of gun ownership and regulation). It’s interesting to note that the Supreme Court plays fast and loose with other parts of the Constitution, defining a right to privacy, which is not stated per se, and using it to justify what many call infanticide, while sticking pretty close to the right to bear arms part.
    As a personal decision on owning a firearm, I considered all of the possible outcomes and only one of six is positive. It could result in 1) stopping an intruder, 2) an intruder using it on a family member, 3) a family member accidentally shooting himself, 4) a family member intentionally shooting himself, 5) a family member accidentally shooting another family member, or 6) a family member intentionally shooting another family member. Given the remote possibilities of any of the above, including 1), it’s not worth the time and expense. I have nothing against a gun hobbyist owning and using firearms for legal purposes. It’s just that the cost/benefit analysis doesn’t work for me and probably doesn’t work for anyone thinking of obtaining a gun solely for home security.
    So what are we to think about the firearms industry and their NRA lobby opposing the reasonable limitations that you propose? It could be that they have been taking their position as an opening for negotiation expecting to be talked down to a more reasoned approach, or it could be that they are truly avaricious, not willing to give up a cent of profit for the common good. Who am I to judge?
    One final observation. It seems that whenever one of these incidents occurs, there is a cry to enact some sort of laws when almost none of those proposals would have prevented the incidents. Either the perpetrator was already violating existing laws, or the proposals would not have applied.

    • Will Luden Reply

      “It seems that whenever one of these incidents occurs, there is a cry to enact some sort of laws when almost none of those proposals would have prevented the incidents.” Great point, Charlie. Why do yo think that is the case? Ignorance, or a desire to chip away at guns until there are no more?

  5. Charles Reply

    Good stuff, but concerns me when the govt determines the upper-limit. Also the govt needs to begin enforcing the thousands of gun laws already in the books. Enforcement is the key, but politicians are too taken up in window dressing like banning so-called “assault” rifles, which are nothing more than dressed up 22s.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Charles; thanks for your comment! I left the “upper limit” deliberately ambiguous. I seems like there needs to be one, e.g., 250 AR-15s for one person would be more than a red flag. I stopped shrot fo laing our a range because I want that to be discussed and determined when people come together to achieve Results. With. Reason. Not Shouting With. Agendas.

  6. Chip Reply

    • How do we keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally unstable and those who should not own firearms while allowing others to own a reasonable amount of allowable firearms?
    • What constitutes an “allowable” firearm?

    Since I tend to be long winded on this subject, ill put my bottom line up front which is to modify the Bill of Rights and change the laws. But beware, the path of removing laws that protect the few is the same path that ends a Constitutional Republic in favor of a Democracy. Your favorite protection could be next. The other option is to have this country rediscover it’s moral foundation, im not going to hold my breath on that one.

    Murder is murder, be it knife, ligature, hammer, bomb, fertilizer, box cutter, airplane, or a firearm. Take away the one “bad” item and the next item moves to the top of the list. Continue that until all of the bad items have cycled through the top of the list and then they are all equal by virtue of additional penalties. In my opinion, they should be equal now, murder is murder. It doesn’t seem likely to me that someone who has gone so far as to commit to committing murder will be swayed by additional penalties for the method they employ.

    Look at the leading cause of death in the US. Imagine if the media reported on every auto accident (covered under unintentional deaths by the CDC and is 4th on the list)? You think 24/7 news is bad now. We would have long ago sued Ford, GM, and Chrysler out of existence since cars are clearly so dangerous. Firearm deaths while tragic, pale in comparison to how Americans are most likely to die. 10th on the CDC list is suicide half of which are committed with a firearm and those suicides accounts for 2/3rds of all firearm deaths. Remove suicide and the gang related gun violence in 5 major US cities from the equation, all with very restrictive firearm laws, and the gun death story changes to a statistical non-story…sadly.

    We keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and mentally unstable via ATF form 4473 (in use since 1968) that is filled out when you buy a firearm from a licensed dealer. What isn’t covered federally is person to person transactions. That said, I firmly believe that the end user is responsible for how a tool is used, not the tool itself, the salesman, or manufacturer. There are approximately as many firearms in the US as people (not sure how thats knowable). Firearms are available to anyone who wants one as laws are easily circumvented by the criminally minded. As I said before, if one is already going to murder someone, breaking another law to get the tool is not going to stop them. You need look no further than all of the gang violence in the major cities of this country. Im guessing that not one of those end users would pass a background check yet all have access to firearms. Background checks keep honest people honest at that moment in time, nothing more. It seems a little silly to require my friend, who already has 10 guns, to undergo a background check because he wants a rifle for antelope hunting that I no longer want.

    Who needs a firearm and who defines reasonable amount? The wonderful thing about the United States of America is the individual can decide for themselves. The same way an individual can decide how many cars to own that can be driven significantly faster than the speed limit, by a drunk or drugged driver, or used in a crime. Or how much bad food they can put in their body. Or to disrespect the National Anthem or burn the flag. Or a plethora of other issues some, even a majority, of the people don’t agree with. As mentioned in my opening paragraph, we don’t live in a Democracy, we live in a Constitutional Republic where individual liberties are protected and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and are still, at least for now, valued above public opinion. Thank goodness that Constitution protects the few from the many.

    A little history, not that you asked. Fully automatic weapons are legal if you have a National Firearm Act Class III license. The reason we don’t see these kind of firearms used in more crimes is because they are extremely expensive and most are in “gun nut” collections. Collectors with large to enormous collections of firearms aren’t the problem. In fact, many collectors are collecting strictly for an anticipated return on their investment and some do very, very well. Civilians have had access to semi automatic firearms with a caliber greater than 22 since Winchester came out with the Model 05 in 1905 and Remington came out with what was renamed the Model 08 in 1906. The M1 Garand wasn’t issued to the Army until 1936. Civilians have always been very well armed in this country as compared to the average soldier.

    Where am I coming from? Im a person who’s pursuit of happiness involves the enjoyment of firearms. This, despite the fact that my father was murdered with an assault rifle. I’m smart enough to know that the rifle required a human to operate it and I hold that individual person responsible, not his mother, father, friends, availability, lack of laws, extra laws, the NRA, or Colt.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Chip, many thanks for a thoughtful response. I was shocked and saddened to read about your father’s murder via an assault weapon. My sincere condolences.

      I think we agree on many–if not all–of the key points. I did not address the legality of full-auto via class 3 licenses; that’s way too subtle for my audience. I wanted the folks who have been inspired to work to ban all semi-autos to know that a pocket Ruger .380 is a semi-auto. “Oh,” is the usual response when I point that out. They are being taught that semi-auto equals evil assault weapon=should be banned. BTW, any weapon that is semi-only, and does not have a selector switch, is not an assault weapon.

      And, yes, while no one wants to go back to the lives- and gas-saving 55 mph speed limit, many are willing to ban or all-but-ban firearms. The former would save more lives than the latter, but would be inconvenient for almost everyone. While the latter would save far fewer loves, it impacts far fewer voters.

  7. Billie Cullipher Reply

    I agree with your comments, but I believe that a lot of the violence in our country could be solved by an improved Mental Health System for all …..mental illnesses, our Vets who come back with PTSD and anger issues, homeless and the poor. And working in Healthcare, I know that the availability of Mental Health Care is inadequate. Definitely 90% of the mass murderers in this country have not been extreme terrorists, but mentally ill. I believe that this is the root of lot of the violence here and not if you own a gun or not. But if you own one, you should know how to use it responsibly.

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