Many attribute to the National Rifle Association that “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Probably we could add to the category outlaws: Police, military and certainly a few well connected folks. What the statement points out is the average Jack and Jane will not be able to own firearms for self-protection.
As an aside, personal protection as a rationale for firearms ownership is not unique to the United States. Other nations include it as a reason for gun ownership including Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, East Timor, Estonia, France, Honduras, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, and Serbia. As is often the case, the devil-is-in-the-details, because in most of these countries, registration is required and open carry, and carries without a permit are prohibited. Ownership may involve significant bureaucratic overhead which has a definite chilling effect in achieving the purpose.
In any case, the tragedy in France defines that even in highly regulated firearm markets, guns are available to criminals and terrorists at affordable prices and they can easily be used for tragic purposes.
The linked article from The Telegraph explains how the trade in guns, rockets, and ammunition works within Europe. The key is that markets are dynamic and the law is often static made imperfect by corruption and inconsistent enforcement. In these instances, for those not risk adverse and with obsessive purpose, a transaction to purchase a firearm is easy. For those of us who are law abiding, we will constantly have to weigh the consequences of violating the law against our best judgment of what it takes to protect ourselves and our families in a worse case scenario.
Many well-meaning folks want more regulation in the United States even when they are confronted with the facts documented in The Telegraph. These hopeful American (including our President and Presidential candidates Clinton and O’Malley) believe that limiting firearm purchases or even legislating against firearms ownership as Australia did, will solve a problem. The verified conclusion is that unless you live on an island and/or live where firearm violence has been historically rare, making firearms illegal most likely will not operate this way – at least until we achieve a perfect world.
I see these folks as gentle and hopeful, not bad qualities unless they work against my fellow citizen’s safety. I see the hopefuls as wanting to have a polite white-cake-cotillion ball in a biker bar. It probably will work for a while, but when the beer flows and emotions rise, the hopefuls will not be prepared to manage their problems and their legislative folly will leave the rest of us with few options and significant peril. This is not gun-nut-sky-is-falling hype but observable phenomena in middle Europe, Eastern Europe, North Africa and even Mexico.
Senator Bernie Sanders has spoken best about this when he said. “Folks who do not like guns [are] fine. But we have millions of people who are gun owners in this country — 99.9 percent of those people obey the law. I want to see real, serious debate and action on guns, but it is not going to take place if we simply have extreme positions on both sides. I think I can bring us to the middle.”
We do need to discuss firearms, but we need to do this in the context of the Second Amendment, its tradition and the rights it extends, and the needs of populations, both urban and rural. Many countries with a strong leader and monarchical tradition have focused more on limiting firearms ownership to preserve governmental presence, while America has recognized as superior to governmental presence, the cherished, individual right of self-protection. This must be preserved, but the ways and means need to be considered and the evidence must be objectively evaluated to map out common-ground by people of various philosophies and political bents.
This will be no easy process and it will not be a polite endeavor in a biker bar. It is critical to demonstrate to the American people we are working towards some improvement that recognizes the safety of every citizen and guarantees the rights we truly hold.