OK, Stephen Nash, I’m a gun owner and I’m speaking up. (The News & Advance, Aug. 18, “It’s time to speak up, gun owners”)
I am also a Republican and an NRA Life Member. And you are correct: Most gun owners and most NRA members have no problem with common sense — what you termed “sane” — gun laws. I don’t believe that any informed gun owner has a problem with reasonable background checks or other rational methods of keeping guns out of the hands of those who might use them inappropriately.
Unfortunately, that is not what you and the party you represent are advocating. Listen to the campaign promises of your party’s presidential hopefuls: mandatory gun buyback programs; presidential executive action to confiscate all guns if Congress does not mandate it within 90 days of the 2020 election; higher taxes on citizens that own guns; another investigation, this one on the NRA; penalties on financial institutions that deal with gun manufacturers; and on, and on, and on. And the really hypocritical aspect of all this is that they all have guns. They are always surrounded by gun-toting individuals; they live in walled communities with armed bodyguards; they don’t live or go anywhere without the protection that they arrogantly are determined to deny to others.
Sufficient laws are already in place, but they have no effect if they cannot be enforced. In the same issue of The News & Advance in which your column was published was an article on page A9 about the Dayton shooter. The information from his high school that would have identified him years ago as someone to keep an eye on was denied to enforcement agencies by student privacy laws. We don’t need new gun laws; we need to repeal laws that prevent enforcement of the gun laws, and then we need to enforce the gun laws. Also, the laws you want enacted will only affect law-abiding citizens that we all know don’t commit these atrocities. All of the shooters are deranged criminals who know they are breaking the law by shooting people; do you honestly believe they will obey laws that prevent them from legally obtaining guns? And I absolutely cannot believe that only 87 percent of NRA members polled said they want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. NRA members are among the most common sense, patriotic people that live in the U.S., and I cannot believe that every single one of them did not advocate preventing criminals from having guns ... unless there was more to the question they were asked than just that.
Look again at page A9. There is another story about church congregations starting to train and arm individuals for protection at services. I have been waiting for years to read stories like that, describing how sites that are consistently being targeted by shooters are starting to defend themselves. It is beyond me why it has taken years for everyone to wake up. You want to take guns away from people and designate more areas “gun free zones.” If you want to fix the problem, you should be screaming for more people to carry guns and elimination of “gun free zones.”
Look at every tragedy that has occurred, and you will see one common denominator: They all happened in places where the shooter knew that he didn’t have to worry about people shooting back. Every single one of them was a “gun free zone,” so the cowards knew no one would be armed. Be honest for a minute: If you wanted to commit a crime like that and had to choose between a school, church or public event vs. a gun safety training event, a gun sales location or an NRA convention, which would you choose? And you don’t need to reply out loud — we all know the answer.
Go back and look at how these crimes often end. Often, it’s not the police that take down the shooter, but a citizen in the vicinity who is armed and has the guts to act. That is what we need more of. The police simply cannot respond as quickly as we would like once situations like these develop. But if more people openly carried weapons, more lives would be saved, including those of the shooters, as these amateurs would be too intimidated at the sight of trained and armed individuals to open fire.
Let’s look at some statistics. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 16,000 homicides are committed each year. But homicide is actually No. 15 on the list of leading causes of death in the US. The CDC also reports that 88,000 people die from alcoholism each year and drug overdoses kill over 70,000 annually, while a Johns Hopkins University study reported that over 250,000 people die each year from medical mistakes. Those numbers dwarf the annual homicide figure. I am in no way trying to minimize the horror of 16,000 murders each year, but if you really care about people dying, wouldn’t your time and labor be better spent to eliminate the deaths of those 400,000 people, instead of working to take away the constitutional rights of 327 million U.S. citizens to prevent 16,000 deaths?
Of course, it would. Unfortunately, you aren’t really interested in saving lives; what you want is simply that all guns be taken away from the public; that the public be left totally incapable of defending themselves against criminals (or others). And you do it insidiously, tiny step by tiny step; win this skirmish and then look to push the envelope again, in another way, until you finally achieve what you want in the end: total disarmament of the U.S. public. I know that, not only because of what I wrote in the previous paragraph, but because there have been other stories in recent months: of people being assailed and killed by people with knives, but you and your party don’t advocate the removal of knives from the public; of terrorists killing people by running into them with automobiles, but you don’t advocate the prevention of automobile ownership by the public; of masked liberal antifas assaulting and grievously harming innocent people without you speaking up; of elected Democrats advocating assaults on Republicans, anti-Semitism and other anti-American sentiments, without you publishing a column in opposition.
I’m betting you’re saying I’m wrong. OK, prove it. You wrote that you want background checks for every gun purchase, background checks on gun shop employees, reports of lost or stolen guns to police and minimum standards for concealed carry gun permits. I will agree and support that, and I believe the NRA and all reasonable gun owners will also. If you start publicly and vehemently advocating for a much stronger Second Amendment to be enacted that clearly recognizes, once and for all and with no future challenges to it, the right of mentally capable, law-abiding and trained U.S. citizens to keep and bear arms, openly or concealed, and throughout the U.S., across all state borders. I’ll look for your column starting your campaign.
Hopkins is a resident of Madison Heights. He wrote this column for The News & Advance.