Friday, December 28, 2007

Guns and Criminals

Alphecca posted a story about a violent felon who wants to use the Second Amendment to beat a gun charge. Commenters brought out arguments I’ve seen time again:
*Even criminals have the God-given right of self-defense;
*Criminals should not have unfettered access to guns;
*If someone can’t be trusted with a gun, they should be in jail.

This issue and arguments go right to the heart of our legal system. It puts a criminal in jail based on the severity of his crime, not what’s in his heart and mind. Punishment is based on actions. If a criminal steals a purse, we lock him away for say a year. That criminal may come out of jail with a true attitude adjustment and never steal again, or he may come out a worse criminal. We can’t tell which way that person will turn.

We know our system is imperfect, but the idea of locking away someone until he’s no threat is quite disturbing to me. We would have to rely on government to determine how long someone is a threat to the rest of us. I don’t want government to have that power. They don't have a crystal ball and I can't imagine a worse way to limit freedom.

That leaves us with the question of how to protect society. A violent felon will get a weapon by any means necessary. Therefore, the best defense we have is self-defense. We should make concealed carry permits easier to get or better yet adopt Vermont-style carry nationwide. We should be able to carry anywhere a police officer can carry—i.e., cops can’t carry a gun in jail and neither should we.

Violent felons have a legitimate right of self-defense, but they will abuse any tool—knife, club, gun—that they possess. As a society we should say certain criminals have proven themselves too violent to own a gun legally and bar them from buying a gun where the rest of us shop. It’s an expression of our outrage at their actions.

There is a selfish reason why I support restrictions. I don’t want to go to my favorite gun store and watch some over-muscled guy with prison tats and a pallor picking out a gun. He may want it only for self-defense, but….

At the same time, there should be a limit to any restrictions. First, the criminal has to have committed more than one truly violent crime. Then, if the released criminal stays honest for five years (or ten or whatever) all restrictions are lifted.

I know many won’t agree with having any restrictions at all and I am ready for the rotten tomatoes coming my way.

No comments: