America can't get a grip on gun control

This is the case even one year after Sandy Hook. Photo: Associated Press

OCALA, Fla., December 16, 2013 — Just more than one year has passed since the Sandy Hook shooting. 

Twenty children and six adult faculty members died in their Connecticut elementary school in Sandy Hook. A troubled young man targeted them, among others, with an assault rifle. He procured this from his mother’s stash after he killed her the same morning. 


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This young man would commit suicide before police could deal with him.

Images of the massacre’s aftermath circulated around the country, leading to a renewed push for gun control. The Colorado recall might go down in history as the closing chapter in this effort.

By any rational account, the post-Sandy Hook push was a collective failure. While New York and Connecticut predictably passed strong, if not draconian, firearm safety laws, Congress failed to do so. 

That came despite Republican support for certain gun control measures.


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Simply put, the future of gun control looks bleak. As many a sage mind may have foreseen, the most recent debate would ultimately be driven by Second Amendment fundamentalists and anti-gun absolutists. 

Compromise was never going to enter our nation’s rapidly devolving political mainstream. Certain public officeholders from both parties did try to turn the ship around, but they were largely brushed aside. 

In the past, this column has featured a bold plan for gun control, which would essentially be a background check accompanied by firearm registration and other directives. While the idea is good for both personal and public safety, it appears infeasible at this time. 

America just isn’t ready for any wide-ranging, though nonetheless reasonable, firearm safety policies. Our state of political affairs is far too turbulent to produce anything positive.

All of this begs a simple question: What is gun control’s purpose? Or, more specifically, who is the intended target of gun control policies?  

Perhaps this is the basest, yet most prescient, question of all: Who should be allowed to own a firearm?

It seems obvious that early American senators and congressmen secured the right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense or hunting game. They did not intend to give Constitutional protections to violent criminals. Therefore, is it not in the spirit of the Second Amendment to say that anybody should be given a gun for any purpose whatsoever.

This is where firearm control comes in, as well as where it ends.

Decent people should not have their rights infringed on account of a troublesome minority. Surely, most of those who want to purchase a gun through the legal process are concerned about protecting human life or catching a few pheasants, among other wildlife.

Indeed, the sons and daughters of the Second Amendment are urban businessmen who walk to their cars late at night every night, battered housewives who fear that their estranged husbands might murder them, deer hunters who are trying to feed their families, movie stars who fall victim to the terrors of a violent stalker, convenience store owners who are at risk of being held up, and many more.

While the gun grabbers would not like to admit it, these Americans are the rightful inheritors of the Second Amendment’s legacy.

The Second Amendment fundamentalists, on the other hand, make no distinction between concerned citizens and homicidal maniacs. They believe that there should be no regulations of any kind insofar as the sale of firearms is concerned. They think that everyone has the irrevocable right to buy a gun just for the sake of it.

Their ideology is rooted not in the concept of self-defense, but self-identity. Radical anti-gun control activists evaluate their own personal worth on the basis of firearm ownership. In this regard, they are no different than the nouveau riche fellow who can’t stop talking about how much his new Mercedes-Benz cost, and why it is so much better of a car than yours. 

For the radicals, owning a gun is not a precautionary measure, but a status symbol. This is why they tend to lose their marbles when any mention of firearm control is made. If practical restrictions are passed into law, then their race to own the biggest, most dangerous gun will be halted. 

Perish the thought. 

Hopefully, more Americans will come to recognize that the Second Amendment is not to be trampled upon, yet ought to be interpreted in a reasonable fashion. 

While the political debate over gun control is unlikely to improve during the foreseeable future, if enough people search for common ground and ignore extremist voices, then a new generation of legislators might come about.

If nothing else, this is a solid start.


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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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