of Gun Owners
by Dr. Michael S. Brown
FBI reports that violent crime in the United States is at a thirty year low.
from state governments show that citizens who hold concealed weapons permits are
among the most law abiding in our society.
States that issue permits demonstrate a larger drop in crime than those
outside the U. S., strict new gun confiscation laws in Britain and Australia
have had no significant impact on crime and a national gun registration scheme
in Canada is being criticized as an expensive failure.
for a few high profile shooting incidents covered excessively by the media and
exploited by politicians and gun control organizations, the gun control debate
would be fading away.
participation in the campaign against guns cannot be blamed entirely on a
liberal bias. The ratings-driven
media must follow the dictum, “If
it bleeds, it leads,” so
producers and reporters routinely emphasize gun crime coverage, using
frightening terms like “assault weapon”, “powerful”, “deadly” and
“automatic” which increase the public fear of guns.
Armed criminals of any sort are called “gunman”, regardless of the
nature of their crime.
politicians feel they must exploit whatever emotional issues are available to
increase their public exposure. They
use dramatic, but factually unsound phrases like “guns flooding the streets”
and “cop killer bullets”.
New laws of dubious value are constantly proposed.
Some even threaten robbery victims with prison if their stolen guns are
later used by a criminal.
organizations and celebrities portray gun owners as ignorant, irresponsible or
worse. Celebrities have been known
to state such extreme views as announcing that those who own guns, regardless of
their legal right to do so, should go to prison. Somewhere between 60 and 80 million Americans own guns.
The unreasoning fear and suspicion of gun owners resulting from this
campaign are obvious in the following examples.
school “lockdowns” after harmless gun sightings have become common.
In Springfield, Oregon, students were terrified when a man with a gun was
reported near the school. It turned
out that the disassembled and unloaded gun was being taken to a nearby pawn
shop. In Banks, Oregon, students were kept in lockdown for over
three hours while state police were called in to hunt down a man with a gun seen
in a nearby field. No such man was
ever found and police speculated that perhaps some poor fellow was simply
walking to a nearby skeet shooting range.
Clemente, California, a school groundskeeper who had won a large sexual
harassment settlement from the local school district was the target of a
dramatic SWAT team raid on his residence. He
was held on one million dollars bail for the heinous crime of possessing
allegedly stolen rakes and buckets. Someone, perhaps seeking revenge, tipped off the police
that the man had a large gun collection.
reports contained no mention of the man making threats or plotting violence; he
simply owned guns. A school
district administrator was quoted as saying, “I’m personally horrified that
someone who has daily contact in the vicinity of children and teachers owned the
arsenal he apparently had.” Other
officials crowed that they had prevented another Columbine.
It is unlikely that the man will receive justice in a culture that
vilifies gun owning citizens in this manner.
large university in Seattle, a white collar employee with an excellent work
record was involved in a minor dispute over computer access.
When he was called into the administrator’s office to discuss it, two
campus police officers were present. “We
know you have a concealed weapons permit. Are
you armed?” He was not, but the
damage to his reputation had already been done.
Apparently, a coworker who was competing with the man for a position had
tipped off the administration that he was a gun owner.
original dispute was all but forgotten and the employee was placed on indefinite
leave to await the slow results of University justice while word spread across
the campus that a “gun nut” had been exposed.
group can claim constitutional protection, it should be gun owners who have
their own specialized amendment in the Bill of Rights.
Unfortunately, the long campaign against them is now producing a
predictable result. In many parts
of our society, anyone who owns a gun is automatically considered dangerous,
violent or just plain different.
the American system is famously self-correcting. Behind the rhetorical fog, legal scholars have been
researching the meaning of the Second Amendment.
Agreement is growing that it really does apply to individuals, not the
military, and sometime in the next Presidential term, a majority of Supreme
Court Justices are expected to believe in a return to the original intent of the
the political pendulum will swing back to center or perhaps beyond, but one
question will remain. If this
minority, with such powerful constitutional protection, can be demonized in this
manner, who can say which group will be next?
Dr. Michael S. Brown is an optometrist in Vancouver, WA who moderates a
large email list for discussion of gun issues in Washington State. You can reach
the rest of his archive here.
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org