Miller: There’s no viable center in state gun debate
RICH MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org January 24, 2013 5:58PM
Democratic Lawmakers Introduce Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 Legislation
Updated: January 25, 2013 2:24AM
If you want to understand why little to no progress will likely be made on gun control here in Illinois or nationally, just look at the abortion issue.
Abortion is a hugely emotional and divisive issue in this country. At the heart of the matter is the belief by the extreme opposition that no legal right to an abortion ought to ever exist, while those on the other extreme view any tiny, baby step infringement as a giant leap toward prohibition.
Both sides are well-funded, well-organized and have reams of studies, talking points, experts and lawyers to back them up. Both sides demand purity from anyone they support. Vote against a bill that uses government regulations to run abortion clinics out of business and you’re deemed a heretic by the hard right. Vote for a bill to allow parents to be notified when their underage daughter is about to have an abortion and you’re branded a traitor by the hard left.
The ball simply cannot move unless one side manages to take over a state government and then lets the courts sort it out.
Like the pro-life activists, most gun-control advocates either want to change the Constitution or vehemently disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions. That was made obvious in Illinois when the state Senate took up a bill recently that would’ve banned the sale of most popular handguns and required that all gun magazines be registered with the state, even though magazines have no serial numbers. The arrogance and ignorance of the people who drafted that bill cannot be overstated.
On the other hand, the extreme pro-gun folks have a dangerously warped view of reality in which their firearms are somehow the only thing standing between “the people” and “tyranny.” Never mind that we live in a democratic, constitutional republic with a solid history of more than two centuries of ever-expanding rights. Because of this “sacred gun” fantasy, any government restriction on their rights, as they see them, amounts to a tyrannical abuse of power. Some of those folks ought to try visiting a real dictatorship to see how ridiculously they are overstating their case.
As with the abortion issue, the extremes pay for the political megaphones, so we usually only see radical proposals from both sides. Far-reaching gun bans on the one hand, opposition to any regulations on the other.
A requirement that gun owners securely lock their weapons in safes may have done more to prevent the recent Connecticut slaughter than almost anything else.
Adam Lanza stole the guns he used from his mother, whom he also killed before his murderous rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Yet, requiring that gun owners lock up their weapons is not even being discussed, even though all the responsible gun owners I know keep their pistols, rifles and shotguns locked in gun safes.
With rights come responsibilities. So, to my mind, the right to own a gun ought to come with a responsibility to make as sure as you possibly can that your property doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
But the NRA has staunchly opposed such measures in the past as an outlandish burden on gun owners. And antigun politicians would rather focus on “sexy” poll-tested issues like assault weapons bans, even though the last federal ban was a joke. Connecticut’s assault weapons ban was modeled on that now-expired 1990s era federal ban, so the assault weapon used by Lanza was legal.
There just is no viable center, so there can be no negotiated solution.