Let me start out by saying that I’m not totally unsympathetic to gun rights. I’m not opposed to people having guns. I’m not even opposed to people having lots of different kinds of guns. I get it that people go shooting for fun, or that they like to hunt, or that guns are part of their culture. Guns aren’t necessarily part of my culture, but that’s ok. But even though people should be allowed there guns, I don’t think it’s too far-reaching to say that there should be limits on deadly weapons. If you’re a convicted violent criminal, you probably shouldn’t be allowed to own a bunch of guns. If you’re a convicted terrorist, or if you’re convicted of conspiracy to commit a violent crime, I’m ok with not letting you have guns either. I’m ok with not letting people carry concealed weapons in certain public places. If you buy a gun, I think you should have to undergo a background check, and that getting a gun license should involve some sort of safety training — just like driving a car. A lot of these rules are already in place, obviously. Basically, guns are a responsibility with great potential to cause harm, and should be treated by the government as such. So, great.
But the gun lobby isn’t ok with that. The gun lobby seems to think that any person, no matter how many times they’ve proven their propensity for violence and unpredictability, should be able to have a gun. Take, for example, this NPR story, which highlights the gun lobby’s decision to try to tackle one of the most common-sense gun control laws out there: The law regulating gun ownership for those convicted of domestic violence.
Similarly, Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said there’s going to be a lot of groping as to where to “draw the line.” He expects court tests on assault-weapons bans, bans on armor-piercing bullets, bans on concealed carrying of guns and many other gun restrictions.
Glenn Ivey, chairman of the board of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, asked: “Will that apply to cars? Will that apply to yards? Will people be allowed to carry them on their person under this interpretation of the Second Amendment? How far will this go before it runs into the point where reasonable regulation is going to be permitted?”
Herb Titus, counsel for Gun Owners of America, agrees. He sees challenges, as well, to registration and licensing restrictions, to age restrictions for gun ownership, and to limits on the number of guns that can be bought at one time. But first in the pipeline of challenges, he says, will be challenges to laws banning guns for those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.
Putting aside the question of why someone needs armor-piercing bullets, you would think it’s pretty common sense to say that people who beat the crap out of their intimate partners are probably not the kind of people who we, as a society, want owning weapons. We know that domestic abusers tend to be repeatedly violent — beating up your partner is rarely a one-time thing. We know that domestic abusers tend to get increasingly violent. We know that women are killed by their abusers at horrifying rates, and are often killed by guns. We know that domestic abuse is under-reported and under-convicted.
So really, gun lobby? This is your great Constitutional and civil rights issue? The rights of people who have been criminally convicted of violent crimes to own guns? (Here, I’ll take a minute to point out that we limit the rights of people with criminal convictions all the time; we limit their liberty, but we also impose a series of restrictions from blocking voting rights to taking away drivers’ licenses to monitoring by the state to restricting where they can live and travel. Not all of these restrictions are good, in my opinion, but at least some are justified. Point being, the ban on gun-buying is not an anomaly).
A lot of Americans are sympathetic to the rights of gun-owners. But you know who most people are actually not super sympathetic to, at least in theory? Domestic abusers. So if the gun lobby decides to advocate for gun ownership rights for domestic abusers, I sure hope that liberal and feminist groups will take them on, and loudly. I have a feeling they’re shooting themselves in the foot with this one, if you will.
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