Can we talk about gun control now?

A reasonable plan for firearms safety in a post-James E. Holmes America.   Photo: Image

FLORIDA, July 23, 2012 — In the wake of the Aurora shooting, gun control has once again risen to the forefront of our national discussion.

On Friday morning, Michael Bloomberg suggested that it was time for this year’s presidential candidates to stop beating around the bush and deliver a substantiative policy address about firearms safety.

Two days later, during an interview with Fox News Sunday, Dianne Feinstein spoke of how hard it is to debate an issue like gun control, especially in the midst of an election year. Nonetheless, she did call for a serious discussion regarding the availability of assault weapons.

Over the last two decades, gun control has become the eight-thousand-pound elephant in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge, much less talk about. This is understandable as the pro- and anti-gun lobbies are among the most brutal, if not vicious, players in the viper’s den of American politics.

Following the Jared Loughner savagery, I outlined my own plan for keeping firearms away from violent criminals.

Regardless of my proposals, I knew that a large segment of the American population would strongly disagree with them out of fear that the government will do the unthinkable; confiscate legally owned weapons. This concern is not entirely unfounded, as many a left wing public officeholder has floated the idea. Needless to say, door-to-door roundups would be an assault of horrific proportions on the most basic freedoms which we as Americans enjoy.

Nonetheless, reality dictates the necessity for enhanced gun safety measures. Should the scenario exist that scores of libertarians and even a few self-styled conservatives dream of, one in which obtaining a firearm would be conceivably as easy as purchasing a pack of batteries, bedlam would undoubtedly erupt.

This leaves us with a most difficult question: How can guns remain readily available to those willing to purchase them while we ensure that they are not falling into the hands of madmen-on-the-brink?

I believe that the answer is a government mandate subjecting any individual wishing to buy a firearm to a thirty day waiting period before his or her weapon of choice can be taken home. During this time, local authorities could utilize federal, state, and — of course — their own resources to conduct an extremely thorough background check on the purchaser in question.

Should he or she show no disqualifications for owning a gun — such as a history of severe mental illness, relevant criminal record, or lack of proper credentials — pickup could be arranged at the purchaser’s nearest police precinct after registration.

In the event that he or she fails to meet eligibility standards, one of two things might happen following a series of rigorous psychiatric evaluations over a sixty day period. Essentially, the purchaser would be reconsidered for ownership or denied with no possibility of a refund from the store in which the firearm was bought.

I realize that some may see this as an undue burden on potential gun owners, but it would be, at least from my point of view, a change for the better in our society. People in true need of a firearm would not be barred from purchasing one, and those seeking to buy weapons for dubious purposes effectively prevented from doing so. The realities of our changing times demand new approaches to old problems; failing to realize this will only harm us all in the long run.

Guns are now, have been, and always will be an essential component to the culture of the United States. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, despite what some might say. However, it must be made that only decent people are afforded the privilege of owing a possession with the capacity for such destruction as a firearm.

Anything less would be sheer barbarianism, as James E. Holmes and Jared Loughner have so horrifically proved.

FLORIDA, September 3, 2012 —  Ayn Rand meant many things to a great many people during her life. Taking this into account, it should come as no surprise that her legacy remains the subject of immense controversy.

Despite this, very few actually know much about the hugely influential philosopher. It is easier to blindly criticize or follow her ideas rather than reach an understanding about who she actually was.

Rand was born into a family of wealthy Jewish merchants in St. Petersburg, Russia during 1905. She grew up as the Tsar’s harsh, sterile rule succumbed to the grueling, hardscrabble tenure of Vladimir Lenin. After communism became the law of the land, Rand’s family lost everything and she was left with little future. In college, Rand read the works of Aristotle and other great Western thinkers. Her scholarship developed in her a burning desire to escape from the Soviet Union.

Eventually she got her chance.

On her arrival in the United States in 1926, she is said to have wept at the sight of New York’s skyline. She settled in Hollywood, where she was able to continue her philosophical studies while working as a screenwriter. As time passed, her interest in film waned. She turned her talents toward writing novels, in which she developed and publicized her now-famous philosophy: Objectivism.

In 1943, The Fountainhead was published. Its plot revolved around a forward thinking architect frustrated by a persistent stream of small minds. The book became a runaway bestseller and gave the world its first widely read taste of Objectivism.

Soon after that success, in an effort to further articulate her Objectivist principles, Rand began working on what would become her magnum opus. Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged outsold The Fountainhead, and found its place among the 20th century’s most influential works of American fiction.

The dystopian tale of America after the small percentage of its movers and shakers go into hiding, Atlas Shrugged communicates Objectivism’s bedrock concept: rational, non-aggressive individualism. Both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged became so widely read that the Modern Library listed the latter first and former second on its list of the twentieth century’s best novels.

Rand’s literary success allowed her to promote Objectivism full time until her death at the age of 77, in 1982. Boiled down to a single sentence, Objectivism can be described as utilizing reason to achieve maximum personal and professional productivity. One of the few contemporary philosophies solidly rooted in classical principles, it stands as a compelling alternative for many who are disenchanted with other dominant belief structures, such as existentialism and postmodernism. After the dawn of the new millennium, Objectivism gained a considerable amount of mass interest and shows no sign of losing it.

Rand is frequently called selfish, greedy, sophomoric, and far worse for her strong emphasis on pure reason and enlightened self-interest. However, it is undeniable that she stands as one of the most pivotal figures in the history of American philosophy. Insofar as contemporary literature is concerned, she simply has no parallel.

I am no member of the Ayn Rand fan club, to be sure. As a matter of fact, when it comes to unregulated international trade, her views can only be described as sophomoric at best, and disastrous at worst. 

Nonetheless, she adhered to her principles when it was easy to abandon them. She stood up for Western Civilization at a time when much of academia thought it to be repugnant. She persevered in the face of too many hardships to mention, and did so with the utmost integrity. In short, Ayn Rand lived the American Dream in the most comprehensive sense imaginable.

For all of this, no matter how strongly one detests her politics, she ought to be revered.

Much of this article was first published as A Shot in the Dark; Finding the Right Solution for Firearms Safety on


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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