Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I don't have to be careful; I've got a gun.

Where do I begin when talking about online gun suppliers...?

Perhaps with our 2nd Amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I've seen this interpreted (by lay people, of course) in two different ways:
  • Since America needs a militia to keep us secure, people should be allowed to have guns so as to take part in that militia.
  • Since America needs a militia to keep us secure, people should be allowed to have guns to protect themselves from the militia.
Whichever of these you prefer, the end result is the same. People are allowed to have guns for security's sake. The 2nd Amendment doesn't begin, "Hunting being necessary to supply food to the households of a free State," though that surely would have been a given at that time. It seems to specifically guarantee guns to maintain security against other people with guns.

As a result, people-killing guns are available to the general population in America. I can go online and buy a handgun right now if I wanted to. So what?

The big 'So' is that crazy people with murderous intent can also go online and buy a handgun right now if they wanted to, provided they aren't crazy enough to be prohibited from it by federal law. And a couple crazy people did: both Cho Seung-Hui of the VA Tech shooting and Steven Kazmierczak of the Valentine's Day Northern Illinois U shooting purchased handgun equipment from sites run by TopGlock.com, an online gun supplier.

The guy who owns and runs TopGlock, Eric Thompson, seems to be really unhappy about having supplied guns to crazy people. He said, "I’ve spent the past weekend feeling absolutely terrible that my company has been linked to both of these heinous crimes. I assume it is just an unfortunate coincidence, but I also believe I now have a special responsibility to do all I can to try and prevent further loss of life." He, of course, is cooperating with police. In fact, he has a collection of police-cooperation stories on his site. He seems very proud of his record of helping police lock crazy people up so they don't shoot people anymore.

Eric Thompson also notices that the whole "gun free zone" thing is only really followed by sane people. Crazy people who bring guns into a gun free zone will be basically unopposed except by the police. So Eric Thompson's initial solution is to get rid of gun free zones and promote sane people carrying guns, so that when crazy people decide to shoot up a school or something, well-trained armed sane people will be able to stop them quicker. A strategy that is very much in line with the 2nd Amendment.

Everyone, including Eric Thompson, think that the merits of this strategy are debatable. Which is why he's starting up the website GunDebate.com, to talk about the best ways to prevent more loss of life from crazy-people shootings.

Some people, like Greg Laden, put some of the blame for the crazy-people shootings on the gun distributors. In fact, he came up with a creative new motto for Thompson's website: "Online Gun Suppliers don't kill innocent college students ..... [sic] Crazy guys kill innocent college students. The Online Gun Suppliers just supply them with the tools they need[.]"

To sum up his arguments (and if you think I'm being unfair, look at the damn post yourself):
  1. At least two crazy people have gotten their guns from TopGlock.
  2. TopGlock sells a lot of guns to people.
  3. Eric Thompson has a list of stories where people using his guns have acted against the law, and where TopGlock has helped police track down those people.
  4. Eric Thompson does not have a list of stories where people using his guns have helped to save lives.
  5. [Implied point: TopGlock and Eric Thompson supply guns only to criminals.]
  6. Eric Thompson should be stopped, don't you think?
I disagree, and here's why:

The American Constitution guarantees that people will be able to acquire people-killing guns in order to maintain their personal security. Ok? I didn't write the law, but that's how it stands. I don't think that's gonna change.

Unless we come up with some kind of magic mind-reading murderometer that can tell you the intentions of someone buying a gun, non-obvious crazy people and criminals will be able to buy guns from legitimate sources. And even if we had a murderometer, and could prevent every potential psycho from buying a gun legally, there are many illegitimate means to acquire guns, and those means are very much less hard to track. If a crazy person somehow acquires a gun, it's doubleplusgooder for them to use a legitimate, trackable source than an illegitimate, untrackable source (though it would of course be best if they never acquired one at all). If internet purchasing gives the illusion of anonymity, all the better. The bad guys think they're getting away with it. The good guys have an easier time catching and committing the bad guys.

Plus, so long as gun distribution is legal and common in the USA, I'd much prefer that it be done by people who really want their guns to go to the good guys and not the bad guys. Eric Thompson really seems to care about that. He may not be 100% correct in his solutions, but he's at least on our side, and willing to talk about it. I don't think that needs to be stopped.

What do you think? Comments welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment