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Monday, August 25, 2014

Gun Control: A Conversation with a Friend (3)

This series of posts is a conversation about gun control between me and an American friend living in Canada. Today's comes from my friend Jeremy. The first and second posts are here.

Hi Cory,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply and the link to that article. The issue of gun control (or the nearly complete lack thereof) is one that riles me up a bit. While understanding the significantly differing cultural views towards violence helps to make sense of why there have been no real changes in gun laws (and why there won't be for the foreseeable future) except to actually make guns more prevalent in public, I think that the "more guns as deterrent" idea simply goes against reason. The US is already, by a good margin, the most heavily armed country in the world (the runner-up is that other beacon of democracy and freedom: Yemen). Adding more guns to a gun-saturated culture in order to reduce gun violence sounds to me like the alcoholic who wakes up with a hang-over and decides to have a stiff one to feel better rather than to consider consuming less alcohol. To me, the overarching problem is accessibility. I think I read that something like 40% of gun purchases are at shows where background checks are famously not required, allowing anyone, convicted felons included, to purchase weapons that are as removed from the muskets the founding fathers had access to as iPads are to feather pen and ink.

There's also the issues of stand your ground laws (which seem to me to simply allow an aggressor to claim victimhood and then rub out the only potential witness to a murder) and the fact that so many easily obtained US guns are being used in the Mexican drug wars (a link I will try to dig up is about US weapons being melted down, turned into musical instruments, and toured with, performed on by Mexican musicians). Ahh, easy guns and border security wrapped up in one, but this is a rabbit hole that gets deep and twisty so I'll stop.

None of this has anything to do with hunting and home defense, which I think are perfectly legitimate functions for guns. But the way the floodgates have opened up in places like Florida, Georgia, Texas are disturbing.  I think the Charlton Heston quote provides a window in to why gun control is so necessary but also unobtainable: when he talks about the exhilarating sense of freedom that comes from gun ownership, I think he really means the intoxication that comes with the realization of possession of power, wrapped up in wood and blue steel. And two things I think are 100% certain in life are man's basic sinfulness, and how power corrupts people. Open-carry + stand-your-ground + average-sleep-deprived-American = I'm not sure, but I don't think it's good.



  1. "...something like 40% of gun purchases are at shows where background checks are famously not required..." Gun shows are no different than posting a 3"x5" card on the laundromat bulletin board; if you are a firearms dealer you MUST run a background check, if you are a private seller, then the laws of the state in which the weapon is being sold apply.

    "to purchase weapons that are as removed from the muskets the founding fathers had access to as iPads are to feather pen and ink." (1) Did you not listen to that little voice inside your head when you wrote that? If the second amendment doesn't apply to modern-day weapons, then the first amendment doesn't apply to anything written by modern-day devices, nor does the fourth amendment proctect you from the police using x-rays to scan your house.

    (2) You have some serious research to do. Here is a partial (note: PARTIAL) list of weapons available prior to the Founding Fathers submitting the 12 proposed amendments to the states for ratification...

    ► The Ribauldequin was a late medieval volley gun with many small-caliber iron barrels set up parallel on a platform, in use during the 14th and 15th centuries.

    ► An unknown German gunsmith before 1600 crafted this oval-bore .67-caliber rifle that was designed to fire 16 stacked charges of powder and ball in a rapid "Roman candle" fashion. One mid-barrel wheel lock mechanism ignited a fuse to discharge the upper 10 charges, and another rearward wheel lock then fired the remaining six lower charges.

    ► The Cookson Repeater (a.k.a. Lorenzoni System), circa 1680: 12 shot, lever-action breech-loading, repeating flintlock.

    ► Lorenzoni Flintlock Repeating Pistol, 7-shot and 9-shot versions, circa 1680.

    ► The Puckle gun, circa 1718, a tripod-mounted, single-barreled flintlock weapon fitted with a multishot revolving cylinder, designed for shipboard use to prevent boarding. Could hold 11 pre-loaded rounds in a cylinder and fire 63 shots in 7 minutes.

    ► The rapid-fire, Ferguson Rifle, breech-load flintlock, patented 1721.

    ► Girardoni Air Rifle, circa 1780: 22 round magazine, .46 caliber air rifle. (Thomas Jefferson owned two, and gave them to Lewis & Clark for their journey).

    ► The Nock Volley Gun, circa 1780: seven 20-inch .60-caliber barrels, one in the centerline with the other six clustered and brazed around it like a handful of flowers.

    ► The Ottoman Empire had 9-and-11 barrel cannon as early as the 1300's.

    ► And we shouldn't leave out the 44-barreled mortar designed by A K Nartov and builtfor the St. Petersburg Arsenal in 1754.

    Get back to us if you find more interesting weapons. We'd like to hear from you!

    1. Please see the following link in regard to which weapons were actually used in the Revolutionary War as opposed to the totality of weapons that existed at the time.
      The more pertinent issue is that at a certain point, individual rights can be restrained for the well-being of the most people. Freedom of speech, which is perhaps the greatest freedom we have, is a restricted right. (
      Are there any instances when the types of arms a private citizen can possess should be restrained? I for one would take my chances in a movie theater if a lone gunmen got in with a musket that took 15 seconds between shots, as opposed to what was used in Aurora.