Saturday, March 5, 2011

Are guns on the short list of the most important problems facing our state?

Apparently, that's what the Arizona state legislature believes. I'm not sure really what to say about the stream of guns related bills coming from the Republicans of this great state. Do we have a gun problem?

The politics of that surround guns is a little bit like abortion or gay marriage in that you have to lay down your opinion to establish your cred with either party. It's identity politics. And it's rare to see a balanced discussion on this issue. Because the right to bear arms is codified in the US Constitution, the Republicans seem to have the upper hand on this issue which is why you see most Democrats running away from it.

But can't you preserve the right to bear arms and still regulate it? Gun restriction laws do have merit and don't necessarily violate the second amendment.

My relationship with guns, well... I don't have much of one. My parents never owned guns. I never really went hunting. I've shot guns once or twice, but it's not something I'm really craving to do. But I have no problems with those who do own guns. And as long as they don't point a gun at me, then we're cool, right? But I'm not sure I want co-workers bringing guns into work. Nor, do I really like the idea of people wandering around a shopping mall with guns in holsters. I don't think too many people are doing this - those that do, I would guess, are in the minority.

So, what is the point of all this emphasis on changing our gun laws?

"B1201 contains several other components that gun rights activists have been pushing, such as prohibiting government agencies from adopting rules that are more restrictive than what’s expressed in state law, and allowing a person to sue for damages if a local ordinance, for example, violated this bill’s provisions.

But the bill’s main provision would abolish existing statutes that prohibit people from bringing firearms into a public building or event after being requested to surrender them for storage.

Instead, the bill would allow a government agency or municipality to ban firearms on its premise only if it could provide for a security officer, install a metal-detection device or other machine that screens for weapons and post a readily seen sign that prohibits firearms.

In addition, the establishment must also have a secure firearms locker near an entrance.

The proposal, however, still exempts school districts and community colleges from areas where firearms are allowed. Another bill working its way through the Senate specifically prohibits educational institutions from preventing people with carry permits from having weapons on campus.

SB1201, which the Senate passed by a party-line 21-8 vote, is but the latest of several proposals that seek to further ease gun restrictions in the state. Many of those measures have been successful in the past."

Can you see why we get made fun of by Steven Colbert:

This bill, to me, seems somewhat symbolic, but it also seems to have fear at its core. We had some high profile shootings both in Tucson and around the country over the last several years. And now all public buildings either have to be locked down with security where everyone is scanned for weapons airport style, or everyone now can enter these buildings fully armed ready to defend themselves.

For one thing, shootings of this sort are extremely and statistically rare. I don't have the statistics on hand, but I would guess that more people die through accidental shootings from careless gun owners or from the violence in inner cities among the poor.

None of these laws are really going to affect me much. I'm guessing most teachers or students will continue to choose against carrying a weapon into the classroom even if they are legally allowed. I'm also guessing most people will leave their guns at home when visiting a public building.

And if someone wanted to commit mass murder, are we sure that a crowd of heavily armed people will be a deterrent? I'm not sure if I would feel safer if a bunch of people pulled out their weapons and begin returning fire? I doubt most people with guns would even attempt to do so.

Mostly, I think these gun laws are mostly a waste of time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Scott, do you think criminals that see the "no guns" signs at State buildings will be a deterrent for them? Of course not. So this new law is just instilling more common sense back to the situation. Don't worry about this law Scott -- it's not for you. It's for people like me that will be out there protecting you from the bad guys. :)

-David G.