Gun Control Debate: Pro vs Con

Text saying Gun Control Debate: Pro vs Con, with images of gun without lock next to gun locked up, showing gun rights vs gun control
Recent mass shootings have moved the gun control debate back to center stage. As arguments and protests heat up, there are a lot of misguided and fallacious arguments made by activists on both side, and all the political noise and stupid slogans and sound bites just confuse the issue. So here are the essential pros and cons of gun control distilled into an easy to understand format.

Gun Control Debate: Pro Gun Control Argument

The pro-gun-control movement has galvanized behind the high school students from Parkland, Florida, whose friends and peers were gunned down by another sociopathic, narcissistic, disaffected, angry, and resentful young man, who decided to take out all his frustrations by killing as many of his schoolmates as he could, as quickly as possible.

No doubt, as so many other school shooters before him, he was trying to make some kind of deranged statement that would survive him. (See, How to Stop Mass Shootings: Eliminate Rewards for Future Copycat Criminals). He probably imagined (correctly) that after his death, journalists and talk show hosts would be speculating about what made him tick, why he did what he did, what signs of trouble he may have shown that were ignored, etc. The next potential school shooter has seen that these tactics work to get the sort of personal attention and notoriety that some lonely and anti-social teenage boys seek, so we can bet that there will be other mass shootings at schools in the future.

The Parkland students are making a powerful emotional appeal. Every American voter has been a schoolchild once, and most voters either have children or plan someday to have children. So this emotional appeal hits most voters right in the gut. What if it was your child pinned down by gunfire at school, or worse, what if your child was one of the casualties?

Fear is a powerful motivator, more powerful than facts, logic, or even pleasure. And for most people that have children, they would rather suffer harm than see harm befall their children. Fear for the safety of your children is about as fundamental a fear as can be imagined, so people desperately want to address this fear.

But how do you protect your child from a school shooting? You can arm yourself, but unless you work at your child's school -- and even more, unless you are physically with your child at school throughout the entire school day -- arming yourself is not going to make a bit of difference if a sociopath decides to shoot up your kid's school.

So what do you do? Arm teachers? Well, that assumes that the teachers will actually want to be armed, that they will obtain the training and tools to face potential threats, and most of all, that your child's teacher will be among those who do so. From those I've known who teach, I would not rate this as a likely scenario. Most teachers support gun control, rather than expanding gun rights. And few people go into teaching thinking that they will be called upon to physically protect their students from gunfire. Some teachers may choose to arm themselves and get tactical training, but most will probably not.

So what choice does that leave you, as a parent? Get more police officers in schools? There have been police officers at many of the schools that have had mass shootings, and that hasn't stopped these mass killings from happening. And in some cases (like Parkland, Florida), the initial officers on the scene have held back, because they have been outgunned by a teenager armed with military-style assault rifles.

So what choice is left to protect your child, except lobbying your elected leaders to expand gun control laws. That will make you feel like you're doing something meaningful and effective. After all, the recent school shootings would not have been so deadly if the young shooters had not been able to buy a gun, or if they had not been able to obtain a high-powered semi-automatic rifle with high-capacity magazines. If you restrict the would-be killers' access to guns, then you should be able to restrict their ability to kill so many schoolchildren.

That, at least, is how the pro-gun-control side of the debate goes. But the other side is not without its own powerful arguments, as well as forceful emotional appeals. Fear motivates voters to want gun control, but fear also motivates voters to want to own guns for protection.

Gun Control Debate: Anti Gun Control

On the other side of the gun control debate, advocates of gun rights also appeal to fear as a motivator. And this is not always illegitimate. Guns do offer protection. Violent crime is a fact in many American neighborhoods, and the police cannot guarantee your safety in all times and places.

Recently, the National Review had an anti-gun-control article by David French, entitled "Why the Left Won't Win the Gun-Control Debate," (accessible at, that succinctly and vividly conveys the primary reasons why so many Americans want to own guns, as well as the reasons why so many liberal attempts to promote gun control have failed, even as the incidence of mass shootings have increased.

Basically, people don't want to be robbed by the government of the tools they need to defend themselves and their families against criminal violence. Period.

And despite the disproportionate attention that the media pays to mass shootings, the reality is that mass shootings are much more rare than regular old crimes like robbery, rape, aggravated assault, etc.

Unless you walk around with your own posse of young toughs, or spend all your free time training in a dozen different martial arts, you will need a deadly weapon to protect yourself against a criminal attacker. If you are an average Joe or average Jane, who is middle age and a little out of shape because you work all day in an office or factory, you will not be able to fight off a criminal attacker bare handed. You will need a gun.

And if you have ever faced the very real threat of criminal violence or actually been attacked by a violent criminal, you will know that this is no idle fantasy of being Rambo or John Wayne. The right to keep and bear arms is premised on your most basic survival instinct.

Gun Control Debate: Pro vs Con Videos

Here are some videos that address the pros and cons of gun control.

Gun Control Debate: Conclusion

The gun control debate is not going to be over any time soon. It's dominated by extremists, who don't want to listen to the other side, who want to spend their time beating up straw men, rather than acknowledging any valid arguments the other side may have, and who don't want to compromise anything or give up their all-or-nothing positions. That's why normal, reasonable people need to make their voices heard too.

We should be open to some forms of gun control that can realistically prevent teenage sociopaths from getting ahold of weapons designed for infantry and police SWAT teams. At the very least, law enforcement alarm bells should be triggered when a young suburban nihilist starts stockpiling assault rifles, ammo, body armor, tear gas canisters, etc.

But we must also protect people's natural and constitutional right of self-defense. All law-abiding adults, who undertake to obtain the training and knowledge needed to own and operate a firearm responsibly, should be able to keep and bear arms freely.

For a more thorough analysis of the gun control debate, pro vs con, see Gun Control Arguments: Pro Gun Control vs Anti Gun Control.

How to Stop Mass Shootings: Eliminate Rewards for Future Copycat Criminals

Photo of no-gun image and text with words How to Stop Mass Shootings and caption about eliminating rewards for copycat school shooters of infamy through media coverage
How to Stop Mass Shootings? Eliminate the payoff to Copycat Criminals.
The conversation about how to stop mass shootings needs to include more than a discussion of gun control and mental health. We also need to be talking about the role the media plays in perpetuating this cycle of sensational violence. Specifically, we need to address the rewards the media promises to future copycat criminals: shoot up your school, and we will have the entire country talking about and paying attention to YOU!

How to Stop Mass Shootings: Stop the Media Hyper-focus on the Shooters

Here's how to stop mass shootings: enforce a media blackout after these horrific crimes occur. Eliminate from the public eye every identifying feature of these mass shooters: their lifestyles, their psychological history, their social media rants, their deranged personal narratives, etc.

Obviously, the government cannot mandate that consistently with the First Amendment in America, and the media is highly unlikely to show any self-restraint anytime soon (it's all about ratings and advertising dollars). As it turns out, the real constitutional barrier to resolving the issue of mass shootings lies not with the Second Amendment, but with the First.

However, because the media companies do care about advertising revenue, it would be possible (at least in theory) to target their advertisers with threats of boycotts due to the way the media sensationalizes these mass shooters after the fact, thereby giving these savages the 15-minutes of fame -- or rather, infamy -- that they so desperately were craving when they plotted their crimes.

What Motivates the Perpetrators of Mass Shootings (especially School Shootings)?

To really stop mass shootings, we have to ask, what is it that mass shooters are trying to get? What reward, however perverse or insane, are they seeking? If you can get the answer to that, and if you can thereafter take away that reward, then you can stop future mass shootings.

As child psychologists have long pointed out, if children can't get positive attention, they will seek out negative attention. To an immature mind, negative attention is better than no attention at all. And to get that negative attention, the child may even commit antisocial acts that will cause severe self-harm. Why? Because the child believes -- or simply feels on a primal level -- that the self-harm is outweighed by the promised reward of future attention, even in the form of infamy.

Prior to shooting up Columbine, the criminals talked among themselves about how a movie would someday be made about them, and they speculated who would direct and star in it. And in the aftermath of Columbine, dozens of disaffected, delusion, angry, and antisocial teenagers saw that the quick and effective way to become significant -- to matter enough so that people would talk endlessly about you and wonder what made you tick and speculate about what might have been going on inside your mind to make you do the things you did -- that the way to become notorious and infamous, was to shoot up your school or some public place, to take a lot of lives quickly with your favorite assault rifle, and then turn the gun on yourself as the police closed in. For kids who were sick and tired of being an insignificant nobody, this was a surefire recipe for becoming a somebody overnight, and it is no surprise that copycat crimes started springing up all over America.

Stop Mass Shootings by Eliminating the Rewards that the Shooters Seek

There are multiple ways to address this issue. The two that have been getting the most attention are (1) eliminating the free and easy access that sociopaths have to assault rifles and other weapons of modern warfare and (2) flagging, monitoring, and treating individuals who are becoming mentally ill to the point that they pose a real danger to the health and safety of others. Both of these are important, but they are not enough.

Imagine if the media had reported on Columbine the same way they reported on an IED attack in Iraq. Imagine that the media focused its reporting on the event itself and its horrible impact on the victims and their familes and communities. But imagine that the media had not even mentioned the names of the shooters, except perhaps in passing. Imagine the portraits of the killers had never been plastered across the front pages and television screens from coast to coast. Imagine that no one knew or cared what music they listened to, what video games they played, what idiotic and narcissistic drivel they had written about in their journals, what stupid clothes they wore or what moronic name they had given to their so-called mafia. Imagine that the world carried on as if the specific identities of the deceased shooters really did not matter all that much, as if those young sociopaths had never even existed.

And then imagine that they plague of school shootings had been nipped in the bud. Because none of the other sociopathic schoolkids would have seen that they could achieve notoriety by shooting lots of their schoolmates. ANd without a real promise of that sort of perverse reward -- i.e., attaining significance through an infamous and shocking crime -- these other sociopaths would have found other outlets for their narcissistic and antisocial ambitions.

I don't expect the media to change anytime soon. But we can all do our part on an individual level to stop mass shootings. We can (1) let the media know we won't be watching or reading their coverage of the sordid lives and delusional fantasies of these mass shooters, (2) follow through and actually stop watching and reading news stories that provide these mass shooters the kind of individual attention that they were really seeking, and (3) refuse to discuss or even consider the identifying characteristics of these young sociopaths. If we refuse to give them the attention they want, then we can put an end to the trend of mass shootings.

Additional Articles and Videos about How to Stop Mass Shootings

For additional articles on how to stop mass shootings, check out The Atlantic, "The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders: Here's How," by Zeynep Tufekci, and The New Yorker, "Thresholds of Violence: How School Shootings Catch On," by Malcolm Gladwell. Also, check out the Gun Control Arguments Facebook page at

Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit

photo of gun with text "nationwide concealed carry permit?"
Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit?
This article will explain why the United States should have a nationwide concealed carry permit (or nationwide reciprocity of state-issued concealed carry permits). Such a permit would be consistent with the Second Amendment, which does not limit its protections to citizens' home states, and it would protect well-meaning people from being prosecuted as felons for making honest mistakes when they travel across state lines. There may be problems with the lax standards that some states have for issuing permits, but these could be addressed with a nationwide concealed carry permit that sets its own standards. 

The 2nd Amendment Warrants Nationwide Concealed Carry Permits

The Second Amendment says that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. It does not say that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed in their home state. Nor does it say that the rights of the people to keep and bear arms that not be infringed, except when the people are in New York, New Jersey, and California. The Second Amendment grants the people a federal, or nationwide, right.

As it is now, we have a patchwork quilt of conflicting state laws that provide "pitfalls for the unwary." Or "gotcha" moments, where licensed gun owners inadvertently cross state lines with a gun that's perfectly legal where they live, but which exposes them to felony prosecution in a neighboring state.

Nationwide Concealed Carry Permits Would Protect Good People Who Make Honest Mistakes

Having a nationwide concealed carry permit would protect well-meaning gun owners from felony prosecution for an honest mistake. For example, Shaneen Allen, bought a gun for protection after being robbed a couple of times in her hometown of Philadelphia. She got a Pennsylvania license for concealed carry, and all was going well ... until she crossed the New Jersey state line, without realizing she still had her pistol in her car. She was pulled over for an improper lane change (i.e., police talk for racially profiling someone and stopping them in the hopes of finding evidence of drugs or outstanding warrants). Ms. Allen volunteered to the officer that she had her pistol in her purse and that she was licensed to carry in Pennsylvania (a few miles away), and the police officer promptly arrested her. Suddenly, a hard-working single mother with no criminal record was turned into an accused felon, all for doing something completely legal in her home state, just a few miles away. After a long legal battle, Shaneen Allen was finally pardoned by New Jersey Gov. Christie.

The story of Shaneen Allen is, unfortunately, an all too common farce in some of the states with crazy gun laws and no respect for the Second Amendment, states like New York, New Jersey, and California. Surely, New Jersey could have found a much better use for the money and manpower it spent on incarcerating and prosecuting Shaneen Allen, who was never a criminal threat to society. Yet she was treated as heavy-handedly as someone who had used a gun to commit a crime. To protect good people who make an honest mistake in exercising their rights under the federal constitution, we need a nationwide concealed carry permit.

Recent Legislation to Create a Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump pledged his support to nationwide reciprocity for concealed carry permits. See, I don't agree with the Donald about much, but I think he has a point when he says that we give nationwide reciprocity for driving a car, which is a privilege, but not for keeping and bearing arms, which is a right.

More recently, the House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. See, This bill is now pending in the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

We'll see what happens now. With the recent focus on mass shootings, such as those in Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida, lawmakers will probably be showing more restraint in expanding gun rights. I don't believe the recent mass shootings should affect the bill about nationwide concealed carry. After all, concealed carry permits were not an issue in either of these mass shootings, since the shooters used AR-15 assault rifles, rather than pistols. However, you can see that the political considerations would be affected for some Senators, who may not want to be seen as being too pro-gun rights during the aftermath of multiple, sensational mass shootings.

Potential Problems with Nationwide Concealed Carry Permits

Obviously, there are lots of critics of the move to create a nationwide concealed carry permit (or to mandate nationwide reciprocity for state-issued concealed carry permits). I believe that the most salient concerns center around the question of what standards will apply for someone to obtain a nationwide concealed carry permit.

As it is now, the states have varying standards for determining whom they'll issue concealed carry permits, as well as varying requirements for gun owners to comply with in terms of certification and training. Some states are very lax in this regard, while others are much more strict. Good arguments can be made for some minimum standards in terms of training and legal knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of gun ownership and use, especially when it comes to a nationwide concealed carry permit, that every state and municipality would have to recognize

Another concern, which is probably a concern for gun ownership in general, is protections for those who may be harmed by gun owners' negligence or recklessness. Obviously, this concern is linked to the question of standards, since stricter and more rigorous requirements would hopefully result in gun owners who exercise more appropriate competence and carefulness. However, the law could be amended to add requirements that gun owners maintain personal liability insurance in order to qualify for nationwide concealed carry permits (or for their state-issued permit to be recognized as valid in other states). This would be helpful for existing concerns that gun-control advocates have: protecting victims of gun violence.

There are fair questions about how to make a nationwide concealed carry permit work. But questions of how reciprocity would work is a distinct issue from whether there should even be reciprocity in the first place. Based on Second Amendment concerns, this fundamental right under the federal constitution should be nationwide in scope.

And you could make the argument that state-issued concealed carry permits should be recognized nationwide, without some universally agreed upon set of standards. Assuming that the states have acceptable standards in place to ensure that they are not issuing permits to (1) violent criminals, (2) psychotic individuals, or (3) people with no training or exposure to firearms except for what they've observed in the movies, then why should states not have to recognize the permits from other states? They have to recognize judicial decisions, marriage licenses, etc., so why not carry permits?

Other Gun Control Arguments

If you enjoyed this article about whether there should be nationwide concealed carry permits, please check out more gun control arguments at Or visit the Gun Control Arguments Facebook page at

Video about Nationwide Concealed Carry Permit Legislation

How to Stop Mass Shootings

Photo of AR-15/M-4 and AK-47 assault rifles with caption How to Stop Mass Shootings? Ban Assault Rifles
How to stop mass shootings? Ban assault rifles!
Here's how to stop mass shootings: take away the tools of the mass shooters.

And before you object that we can't stop all mass shootings or that most gun deaths don't occur from mass shootings, it would help to personalize the tragedy of mass shootings by imagining such an event happening at your child's school. Instead of thinking about it in terms of impersonal statistics, think about it in terms of real lives destroyed and real families and communities torn apart.

Maybe it's impossible to stop all automobile-related deaths, and maybe carjackings are the cause of only a small percentage of automobile-related deaths; but those are not good reasons for ignoring carjackings when they do occur. And it's definitely not a good reason for ignoring a sudden uptick in the number of carjackings.

Similarly, it is possible to stop some mass shootings, and to reduce the impact of those that do occur. We shouldn't ignore the tragic loss of life caused by mass shootings, just because more people die from regular, run-of-the-mill gun crimes that don't make the front pages or national news.

If we can stop some mass shootings, and if we can minimize the number of casualties when mass shootings do occur, then we have saved lives and spared family members the awful ordeal of losing a loved one.

There's no question that the frequency and severity of mass shootings have been going steadily up the past few years, and certain patterns are emerging about these mass shooters and their weapons of choice.  

What are the tools of mass shooters?

What are the tools of mass shooters? So called "assault rifles." Semi-automatic, military-style, high-powered rifles, that are designed to kill large numbers of human beings quickly and efficiently.

Plenty of new stories and op-ed pieces have been written lately about how the AR-15 (the civilian equivalent of the military's M-4 or M16) has become the weapon of choice of mass shooters. [See, e.g., The New York Times, "With AR-15s, Mass Shooters Attach with the Rifle Firepower Typically Used by Infantry Troops:"; Business Insider, "How the AR-15 Became the Weapon of Choice for America's Mass Shooters -- and Why It's So Deadly:"]

As an Army veteran, I can see why the civilian version of the M-4 is the domestic terrorist's go-to weapon: the M-4 is easy to use, has little recoil, fires at a high velocity, fires quickly, fires accurately (especially when outfitted with a good scope), is lightweight and easy to carry, etc. For these reasons, it makes sense that mass-shooters prefer the AR-15, so it should also make sense -- if we are really serious when we ask how to stop mass shootings -- that we would eliminate the opportunity for mass-shooters to get their hands on an AR-15.

Why does anyone need an assault rifle?

But the real question is this: why does anyone need an assault rifle? For protection against criminals? Get real. Unless you are walking around town carrying your AR-15 at the low ready, your weapon won't be very effective against the type of predatory criminal assaults that typify violent crime in America. Most people who own assault rifles keep them at home, where they are more likely to be stolen while the homeowner is away than they are to be used to defend the home against intruders. (Check out this article about gun statistics by the LA times if you doubt this:

The fact is, assault rifles are not defensive weapons; they are offensive weapons. That's why in the military, infantry are issued M-4s and M-16s assault rifles, not M-9 pistols; the military police (MPs) in garrison are issued pistols. Just look at the first half of the term "assault rifle." Making an "assault" means going on the offensive. If you want a weapon for self defense, use a pistol or even a revolver. If you need to fire rapidly at people who are 150 to 300 yards away, then it is very unlikely that you are acting in self defense. 

Your best weapon against criminals is your own mind: i.e., maintaining what the military calls "situational awareness." Situational awareness can help you avoid or escape the danger altogether. After all, the most effective way of surviving criminal violence is by not being there when it happens.

But if you leave your situational awareness at home (easy to do in our multi-tasking, ADHD, gadget-driven society), you can have your AR-15 in your car or even slung across your shoulder, and you can still become a victim of violent crime. The best rifle in the world won't do you much good against a criminal predator who catches you daydreaming in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So why do you need an AR-15? To hunt? Ok, so some people actually do use the AR-15 to hunt for various reasons. (See, Time, "Here Are 7 Animals Hunters Kill Using an Ar-15": But I am pretty sure there are alternatives out there which may not feel as cool and fun to use, but which would also not be as quick and easy for a sociopath to use to go on a mass-shooting spree. Nobody's talking about banning all hunting rifles -- or even most hunting rifles. Just civilian variants of military rifles that some people use for hunting.

So why else do you need an AR-15? To ward off government tyranny? To keep America from becoming a military junta or third-world-style banana republic? Two points in reply to this concern.

First, as in the "First Amendment," your political awareness, involvement, and engagement is much more meaningful than your weapons cache at home. Much more meaningful. Use your freedoms of speech, press, and assembly to keep the powers that be in check. In America, that will work much better than stockpiling assault rifles and body armor. Believe it or not, there are Middle Eastern countries where the civilians are much more heavily armed than the civilians in the United States are. Does that mean they are more free from tyranny? Not at all. The saying "an armed society is a polite society" must have been uttered by someone who had never been to Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon in the last few decades. Sometimes, an armed society is an out-of-control society, with very little freedom.

Second, which is more likely to happen in the next year: a military takeover or a mass shooting? You can sit in your bunker with your AR-15, waiting for the thought police or the Illuminati or Freemasons to try to take over the world, and the odds are really very low (1) that such a takeover will happen and (2) that you will be able to stop it from happening if it does. America, let's do a simple cost-benefits analysis here. What is the cost of allowing free and easy access to military-style weapons, and what are the benefits? A speculative safeguard against some far-off possibility of a military takeover, on one hand, versus the repeated tragedy of mass-killings of schoolchildren across America. Which is more likely to occur? Is the cost really worth the benefit?

So why do you need an AR-15? Because it's fun to shoot at the range or in competitive shooting events? That's true, it is. But again, is it worth the cost to society as a whole?

But even if we don't ban assault rifles, can't we levy such heavy restrictions and high taxes on them that, like the fully automatic submachine guns of the Al Capone era, they become super-expensive collector's items that ordinary criminals and crazy sociopaths can't easily get hold of?

How to stop mass shootings?

So here's how to stop mass shootings -- or, at the very least, reduce the frequency of mass shootings and minimize their impact when they do occur: eliminate the easy access that criminals, crazy people, and sociopaths have to military-grade assault rifles.

I know the NRA wants to focus all the attention on mental health. Don't get me wrong, mental health is a big issue that does need to be addressed. But sometimes, as apparently was the case with the shooter in Las Vegas, the warning signs just aren't clearly there until the guy goes on a mass shooting spree. Focusing only on mental health ignores the other big issue: how easy it is for just about anyone to get an assault rifle designed for military combat. All it takes is a few hundred dollars, a few YouTube videos, and a couple of hours at a range, and an everyday schmuck can turn himself into a wannabe Rambo and go out in a blaze of infamy, tearing apart lives and communities in the process. No amount of mental health screening is going to catch all those schmucks; we've got to make it harder for them to get their hands on assault rifles.

Even if someone does commit a mass shooting with a pistol or a regular hunting rifle, it is statistically less likely to be as massive a mass shooting. A bullet fired from a handgun tends to cause less damage than a bullet fired from an AR-15, especially if there is any kind of distance between the shooter and the victim. And if the shooter is not able to fire as many bullets, that gives more people time to escape, or simply survive until police arrive. And when the police do arrive, they're less likely to feel so badly outgunned that they have to wait for backup before assaulting the shooter's position.

So let's stop acting like it's impossible to stop mass shootings. Even if we can't stop all shootings, if we reduce the number that do occur and diminish their impact, then we have at least stopped some mass shootings. And we can do that without depriving people of their right to have a firearm for self defense, or to go hunting, or to engage in target practice at the range or competitive shooting.

I know that there are many out there who will disagree, so share your thoughts and objections by commenting on this blog, or on our Facebook page at Put forward your ideas about how to stop mass shootings, or at least limit their frequency and impact. Also, check out this overview of gun control arguments, pro vs con, including a discussion of assault rifles:

How to Stop Mass Shootings? Videos for and against banning assault weapons:

Gun Control Arguments: Pro Gun Control vs Anti Gun Control

[Editor's Note: The following article was originally published as "Gun Control Arguments: Pro Gun Control vs Anti Gun Control" on the website Meditations On Life at February 20, 2014, by D.S.D.]

Gun Control Arguments: Pro Gun Control vs Anti Gun Control

photo of gun and lock with caption Pro Gun Control Arguments vs Anti Gun Control Arguments
Pro Gun Control Arguments vs Anti Gun Control Arguments
It’s no surprise that gun control arguments tend to be fiery and emotional, with logic and civility getting blown away by feelings of fear, frustration, and anger. Most pro gun control or anti gun control arguments tend to be full of fallacious reasoning, red herrings, and ridiculous emotional appeals, even when made by the highly educated.

We’ve all heard the cliched definition of “insanity”: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That’s a pretty good description of our discussions on gun control.

An horrific shooting stuns the nation. People panic—everyone thinking “what if that happened at my job or at my children’s school?”—and they cry out for change. And then the same unimaginative solutions are offered by each side, and we end up with the same stupid compromises. And then a few months later, another horrific shooting occurs.

And neither side is happy with our gun laws. Gun owners feel their rights are being infringed, while gun control advocates are frustrated by the incredible ease with which a criminal or crazy person can get hold of a gun. For the most part, the compromises between gun rights and gun control tend to be worse than either total gun control or no gun control at all!

But there are better and more imaginative solutions to the issues of gun rights and gun violence. To attain those solutions, we have to acknowledge the strengths of each position and understand the rationale behind it, and we have to be honest with ourselves about the limitations of our own side. And we need to identify and prioritize the values of both gun owners and gun control advocates, to see where those values coincide, so we can achieve a sensible solution that people on both sides of the debate can support.

In this article, I begin by addressing what I believe is wrong with the gun-control arguments that typically occur in the mainstream media. I then set forth in turn what I believe are the strongest pro gun control arguments and anti gun control arguments, and give an analysis of each. I conclude by stating my own opinions as to what gun control measures are needed, and which present gun control measures should be abolished.

What’s Wrong with the Gun Control Arguments Taking Place in America Gun Control 

As an issue is very interesting; however, the debates one typically hears on the subject are often not.

When the subject of guns or gun control comes up, passions instantly burst forth in one direction or another, and the arguments blindly go wherever the emotions take them. As David Hume put it, Reason is a slave of Passion. This is especially true when the subject is gun control.

The average gun-control argument goes like this. Mr. Pro Gun Control throws down his newspaper, shakes his head, and exclaims, “Another victim of gun violence! Why is it so easy for any average idiot to buy and carry a gun in this country?! With all the violence in our cities, we have to enact stricter gun laws!”

Ms. Anti Gun Control gasps in horror and shouts, “Are you kidding? With all the violence in our cities, the last thing we need to do is disarm law-abiding citizens with more stupid anti-gun laws!” And that’s the entire argument.

Most of the pro gun-control arguments amount to little more than “I am afraid of guns; lets ban them!” And most anti gun control arguments are little more than “I fear violence, but my gun makes me feel less afraid; you better not try to take away my gun!”

Even where the arguments are dressed up in fancy facts and constitutional arguments, they are guided by feeling. Maybe if we talk frankly about our fears, we could actually get somewhere.

The Voice of the “Silent Majority” Is Absent from America’s Gun-Control Arguments 

There’s something else that keeps us from having an adult conversation about gun control: the extremists are dominating the debate.

Most of the people who make their voices heard nationally on any issue tend to be extremely passionate—and to have quite extreme views. It takes so much to develop national influence, that most normal people don’t have the time; they have to work and raise families. They have well-rounded, balanced lives. On the other hand, your extremist with a one-dimensional life tends to devote everything to his chosen cause. The extremist makes his voice heard; the moderate does not.

This is especially true of the debate regarding gun rights vs gun control, and most gun control arguments wind up being little more than bombastic shouting matches.

So gun control is an emotional issue, and then the only people who make their voices heard in gun control arguments are the extremists. It’s no wonder the opposing sides feel so misunderstood.

And with no real substantive conversation about the core issues, what ends up happening is that solutions are cobbled together ad hoc out of political expediency. We wind up with compromises that create more problems than they solve and which wind up being worse than either total gun control or no gun control at all.

Gun Control Arguments: The Middle Ground

I am pro gun control, to a point, and anti gun control, to a point. I think I’m probably like most people in that regard.

I want sane, law-abiding citizens to be able to defend themselves from criminal attack, and I therefore want sane, law-abiding citizens to be able to legally obtain the necessary means for successful self-defense, which may include a firearm.

I also want society as a whole to be able to defend itself from insane or violent criminals, which means that our elected leaders should enact laws that keep crazy people and violent criminals from getting guns.

That’s the middle ground on gun control; something that would give us the best of both worlds, as much as possible. Both sides have legitimate values they’re seeking to advance, and there’s a kernel of truth to the arguments of each side.

So let me take a step back and state briefly what I think are the best arguments pro gun control and anti gun control, and then analyze each. Please note that this is a synopsis of each position, so I will not give every reason for or against, just the highlights of what I believe are the best arguments.

Pro Gun Control Arguments

Pro gun control arguments generally go as follows: (1) handguns and assault rifles are useful only for killing people; (2) because we value human life, we should ensure that such guns are not available for those who would kill people without justification; (3) there is a correlation between private gun ownership and the rate at which guns are used in unjustifiable killings; therefore, (4) to reduce unjustifiable killings, we should restrict guns to police and military.

At this point, I’m not evaluating this argument, but only trying to describe it.

Handguns and Assault Rifles Serve No Purpose Other than Killing People

Photo of AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles with caption Pro Gun Control Arguments: Assault Rifles
Pro Gun Control Arguments: Assault Rifles

Guns are essentially killing machines. Unlike most other weapons, such as knives or tire irons, guns are not very useful for any other purpose than killing.

In particular, hand guns and assault rifles are essentially tools for killing other humans; they are not very useful for hunting (i.e., killing animals), and they are certainly not very useful for purposes other than killing.

The killing of human beings is generally harmful, whereas the preservation of human life is generally good. Our society’s laws should promote the overall good of its citizens, while limiting what is harmful. Since the purpose for which guns are used is generally harmful, rather than good; and because our laws should promote the overall good and limit what is harmful; our laws should therefore limit the use of guns.

We Must Ensure that Guns Are Only Used where Necessary, i.e., where Use of a Gun Is the Lesser of Two Evils. 

There are cases where the killing of a human being is the lesser of two evils, and is therefore necessary for ensuring the overall good of society. These instances are the exception, not the rule. Therefore, we should limit the use of guns to only those instances where killing other humans is necessary.

The Best Way to Ensure that Guns Are Not Used Improperly Is to Restrict Them to Police and Military Personnel 

To most effectively limit the use of guns to only those instances of necessity, we should limit the possession of guns to police and military. This ensures that those given the awesome power of carrying guns (i.e., killing machines) are also accountable to the people via their elected leaders and the officials those leaders appoint. This also protects us from mob rule and vigilante justice.

More Privately Owned Guns Equals More Gun Crimes 

Allowing private citizens to own guns causes more harm than good. There is a direct correlation between rates of gun crimes and rates of gun ownership. See, e.g., The Guardian, High Gun Ownership Makes Countries Less Safe, U.S. Study Finds; Fox News, Areas with Higher Gun Ownership Rates Have More Firearm-Related Deaths, Study Finds; but see also,, Congressional Study: Murder Rate Plummets as Gun Ownership Soars.

While it is possible that high rates of gun crimes induce people to purchase more guns, it seems more likely that it happens the other way around: more gun purchases leads to more gun crimes.

This especially makes sense in light of the fact that a significant number of firearms are stolen each year in the U.S. Between 2005 and 2010, about 1.4 million guns were stolen according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. See also, Washington Post, Five Myths About Gun Control; USA Today, ATF Report: 190,000 Firearms Lost or Stolen in 2012; but c.f ., Frontline, Hot Guns: How Criminals Get Guns(“Stolen guns account for only about 10% to 15% of guns used in crimes”). Every gun that is stolen is, by definition, in the hands of a criminal.

Thus, private gun ownership, even by the most law abiding among us, leads to more guns in the hands of criminals and to increased gun crimes. Private gun ownership causes more harm than good.

Pro-Gun-Control Arguments Based on the Second Amendment 

Many anti gun control arguments are based on the Second Amendment. In D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment to mean that individual citizens have a fundamental right to own a handgun, and the Court has found that this right applies to the states (and therefore local governments) via the Fourteenth Amendment. Based on these Supreme Court decisions, the Seventh Circuit determined in Moore v. Madigan that states cannot categorically deny all private citizens the right to carry a handgun in public. While this is only one circuit, the court’s analysis in that case seems persuasive in light of the decisions in Heller and McDonald.

So gun rights activists appear to have the upper hand when it comes to Constitutional arguments.

Gun-Control Advocates Should Seek to Change the Second Amendment

But even if these court decisions are right about what the Second Amendment “means,” we can always change the Second Amendment. The Constitution of the United States was not delivered to Moses on Mt. Sinai! We can change it! In fact, we should change it, where its provisions cause more harm than good. Just as we amended the Constitution to outlaw slavery or to bring about the popular election of senators, we should amend it to permit greater gun control.

Utilitarian Pro-Gun-Control Arguments

Pro gun-control arguments tend to be utilitarian in nature. What that means is that they are based upon the belief that laws and social policy ought to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Where Utilitarian Pro-Gun-Control Arguments Are Vulnerable

While I won’t go into a description of utilitarianism here, it has its weak points (e.g., the oppression of a small minority may benefit the vast majority, and may therefore be moral under a utilitarian analysis). Pro gun-control arguments, therefore, also tend to have the weaknesses inherent in the utilitarian position.

There are two general ways for a gun-rights advocate to counter the gun-control advocate. First, the gun-rights advocate could argue that gun control actually causes more harm than good to society at large. She could present her own studies and statistics that show that increased gun ownership causes a reduction in crime, or that guns are more often used to thwart crimes than to commit them. A noted example of this is the book More Guns, Less Crime, by John Lott, Jr.

The problem with countering the utilitarian premises is that the pro gun-control utilitarian will (1) attack the methodology of the pro gun rights studies and (2) bring even more data and studies in rebuttal. I’m not qualified to analyze the methodologies of these conflicting studies, but my intuition tells me that all in all, the data favors some degree of gun control.

The second (and in my opinion better) alternative is for the gun-rights advocate could deny the major utilitarian premise. Obviously, she would not be saying that the greatest harm to the greatest number should be our goal. Instead, she would be arguing that fundamental individual rights are more valuable than some abstract good for society as a whole.

This is similar to the arguments made for Freedom of Speech, even in circumstances where the “speech” seems to cause more harm than good, such as in situations involving publication of leaked government documents. In spite of the harm that such publications may cause to military personnel or to undercover agents, we allow the publications to occur. As a society, we have decided that our rights to free speech and a free press are more valuable than the utilitarian considerations, except in extreme instances where the speech has no redeeming quality, but causes great harm ( e.g ., speech such as perjury, shouting “fire” in a crowded building, false consumer advertising, etc.).

I think a reasonable gun control advocate would allow for gun rights, but would insist that there is a sort of sliding scale where the utilitarian and rights-based considerations are balanced. If too great a harm is threatened to the many, substantially outweighing the benefit of a particular activity to which a right is attached, the utilitarian consideration should prevail (similar to the rationale for allowing exceptions to the First Amendment protections in instances of perjury). And after Newtown and Aurora, I believe we have some powerful examples of tragedies that tip the scales too far.

So that is a recap of the typical pro-gun-control arguments. Now for the anti-gun-control arguments.

Anti-Gun-Control Arguments

I believe that the strongest anti gun-control arguments essentially say that (1) the right to defend one’s life from criminal attack is fundamental; (2) guns are sometimes necessary for defending one’s life from criminal attack; (3) therefore, the right to own a gun is fundamental.

Secondary to these points is a rebuttal of the evidence offered in support of the utilitarian position (i.e., an argument that gun control causes more overall harm than good).

Anti Gun Control Arguments Photo of image with text Ban Gun Free Zones
Anti Gun Control Arguments: Ban Gun-Free Zones!

The Right to Defend One’s Life from Criminal Attack Is Fundamental 

If any right can be fundamental, the right to defend one’s life and limb from criminal attack must be. Logically, our other rights would be of little use if we could not defend them against unlawful and violent violation. While police and military are officially tasked with maintaining the peace, they cannot be in all places at once. It is also no secret that in high-crime, poor neighborhoods, the level of police protection is often lower than in wealthy, low-crime neighborhoods. In some cities, unless there is a dead body (or money to be made from drug busts or traffic tickets, which is another topic altogether), the police will keep you waiting an hour or more after you call them. Residents of these places are rightfully doubtful of the ability of the police to protect them from crime.

Again, if you have a right to anything, you have a right to self-defense. As Hobbes put it, this is the only right that you can never fully transfer to the sovereign.

Guns Are Sometimes Necessary for Self-Defense 

Guns are sometimes necessary for self-defense. Even if every gun were removed from the planet, one can easily imagine instances where a gun would still be needed for self-defense. An elderly and infirm individual attacked by a strong, youthful, and athletic robber. An isolated individual attacked by a group. A woman attacked by a knife-wielding rapist. Private citizens sometimes need guns to defend life and limb successfully.

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Is Fundamental 

The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental. If we accept that the right to self-defense is fundamental and that guns are sometimes needed for self-defense, it necessarily follows that the right to a gun is fundamental.

Moreover, the Second Amendment explicitly say that this right shall not be infringed.

None of the other rights in the Bill of Rights are subjected to the sort of balancing test that we use for the Second Amendment. Imagine if we weighed costs and benefits to society at large when determining whether a criminal defendant should have the right to an attorney or to a jury trial. Or imagine if I could use my First Amendment right to free speech and free press only if I first obtained a state-issued permit. And let’s say I live in Kansas and am traveling to California on business. Imagine that when I got there, I could not speak freely the entire time I was in California, and that if I did criticize the California state government, I risked arrest and felony prosecution, all because my Kansas “Free Speech Permit” was not recognized in California. Sounds crazy, but that is what happens to gun owners, like Shaneen Allen, who exercise their Second Amendment rights in places like New Jersey.

Just as we would not tolerate such infringements of our rights under the other provisions of the Bill of Rights, we should not tolerate violations of our Second Amendment rights.

Some say that in the Second Amendment, the right of “the people” to keep and bear arms means only that states have a right to maintain a National Guard (i.e., a “well-organized militia”), but there are no other portion of the Bill of Rights that receives similar treatment. Where a right is reserved to “the people,” it means the people , not the states. Besides, with the National Guard being federalized these days, there’s really not much of a militia left at the state level.

But even if the Second Amendment doesn’t explicitly confer the right to own and carry a gun for self-defense, surely such a right is implicit in the Constitution. I mean, come on, the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution contains an implicit fundamental right to privacy, including a right to contraception and abortion and to engage with other consenting adults in whatever sexual activities you want behind closed doors. Now, this is in spite of the fact that privacy—and all the myriad things that have been granted the status of “rights” under the heading of “privacy”—are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution; and in spite of the fact that laws proscribing certain private sexual conduct were on the books when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified.

I’m not saying that I disagree with the right to privacy, or that I think we should have laws governing what couples do in the bedroom; but I am saying that if the Court can find a right to privacy, surely its holding that we have a fundamental right to gun-ownership is on a stronger footing.

The right to keep and bear arms is and should be fundamental, and it should not be infringed.

Gun-Control Laws Should Be Subject to Strict Scrutiny 

Because the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental, any laws burdening this right should be strictly scrutinized. This means that to enact valid gun-control laws, the government should be required to show that the law is necessary to achieve a compelling interest.

From the Supreme Court’s recent gun cases, I gather that it would apply intermediate scrutiny (i.e., in between strict-scrutiny and rational-basis) to laws infringing on the right to own a gun for self-defense, which would mean that the government must show that the law is substantially related to an important interest. This is the level of scrutiny used by the Court when analyzing gender-based classifications, and in that context, the Court has required an “exceedingly persuasive justification” for a law to be valid.

I think the same should be required of any and all forms of gun control: gun-control laws should have an exceedingly persuasive justification to pass Constitutional muster. This means that these laws should be based on a solid argument and solid data showing a real relationship between the law and its intended goal.

A vague sense of fear combined with conflicting data does not amount to an exceedingly persuasive justification. Under that standard, much of the gun control laws in the United States (and especially in places like Chicago and New York) should be invalidated immediately.

Some Gun-Control Restrictions Are Reasonably Necessary, and Some Gun-Control Restrictions Are Just Plain Idiotic 

There are certainly some restrictions that are substantially related to the important interest of ensuring public safety. These restrictions include laws prohibiting convicted felons (particularly those convicted of violent offenses), young children, and psychotic persons from possessing guns. However, there are other gun-control laws that are neither necessary nor reasonable, and which should therefore be abolished.

This is where I criticize the Supreme Court’s holdings in McDonald and Heller, for its acknowledgment of the “need” to keep guns out of “sensitive places” like schools. It is no coincidence that most of America’s mass-killings have occurred in these gun-free zones. Now I can understand a courthouse being a gun-free zone. But a public university? One should not have to forgo one’s right to defend oneself from criminal violence in order to obtain a post-high school education.

I’m a former college student myself, and I recall seeing the signs stating that possession of a firearm on university premises was a felony punishable by so many years in prison. Because I’m a law-abiding citizen, it dissuaded me from carrying a gun at school. But would the threat of a felony conviction and imprisonment deter a madman planning to massacre his fellow students and then kill himself? Probably not. It certainly didn’t dissuade the Virginia Tech killer.

 And what about keeping military personnel from carrying firearms in public just because their overseas deployment has ended? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, and in fact seems rather hypocritical. We give you a rifle and tell you to guard overpaid civilian contractors in a third-world country, but once you get home, we deny you the right to carry a firearm to protect yourself or your family.

For example, in the Victory Base Complex (VBC) outside Baghdad, Iraq in 2009, a soldier with PTSD snapped and shot five people, killing all five. See , Wikipedia, Camp Liberty Killings. But guess what, everyone else was carrying a firearm and ammo at the VBC, so this soldier was quickly stopped.

Later in 2009, at Fort Hood (a “gun-free” zone), a deranged jihadist shot 43 soldiers, killing 13. See , Wikipedia, Fort Hood Shooting. Had these soldiers been shot at by a jihadist in Iraq, they would have been able to return fire and defend themselves. However, our benevolent government stripped them of this right upon their return home, and they were slaughtered as a result.

Let’s see: 5 shot in a gun-carry zone (by an experienced combat soldier using an “assault rifle”), compared to 43 shot in a gun-free zone (by a medical officer using a handgun, not an assault rifle). Seems like our policy of creating gun-free zones cost some soldiers at Fort Hood their lives.

Domestic military bases are not the only places a veteran cannot carry a firearm. New York City has some of the most stringent gun-control laws in the country, and even though it is legally possible for a private citizen to obtain a concealed carry permit in NYC, in practice it is impossible. Impossible, that is, unless you are ultra wealthy or a celebrity. So a veteran—whom the federal government has trained in the use of firearms, firearm safety, when to shoot, and (just as importantly) when not to shoot—cannot carry a gun in NYC; but a movie star with no training whatsoever can. Gee, that makes a lot of sense.

And don’t give me that garbage about New York’s gun laws causing a drop in crime (Michael Bloomberg likes to make this argument). Those same gun laws were in effect there in the 1960’s, when NYC’s crime rates skyrocketed, and on into the 1970’s and 80’s, when violent crime there remained out of control. And Chicago has had even stricter gun laws than New York, but that hasn’t stopped the Windy City from making headlines with its homicides. Meanwhile, Alaska has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country, and one of the lowest murder rates. 

Two replies to Bloomberg and others who say strict gun laws reduce crime: (1) you can’t prove causation with statistical data, and (2) even if you could, much of the statistical evidence contradicts your argument.

Utilitarian Arguments for Gun-Control Are Based on Doubtful Data, Meaning that Utilitarian Considerations Should Be Trumped by Rights-Based Principles

With regards to the statistical evidence used in pro gun control arguments—even if you could prove causation with statistics (you can’t, just correlation)—the statistics and studies are disputed. For example, in More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics), John Lott points out that the types of crime that occur are different in countries with higher rates of gun ownership. In the U.K. (strict gun control), more than 50% of all burglaries are so-called “hot burglaries,” meaning that the residents are home when the burglaries occur. In other words, a home invasion. On the other hand, in the U.S., only about 13% of all burglaries occur when the residents are home.

In both countries, a resident would presumably call the police if he detected burglars in his home, so police protection cannot account for the difference. However, in the U.S., homeowners frequently own firearms, and “castle doctrine” laws allow them to fire at will upon criminal intruders. It is reasonable to assume that it is the presence of firearms that deters burglars from entering an occupied home, since the abundance of privately- owned firearms is the major point of distinction between the U.S. and the U.K. with regards to violent crime.

Also, while some studies show a link between gun ownership and gun crimes, other studies have demonstrated the opposite. See, An Interview with John R. Lott, Jr. And even if there is a link between gun ownership and gun crimes, there is no such link between the issuance of concealed-carry permits and gun crimes. In fact, concealed-carry permit holders are statistically far less likely to commit a gun crime—or indeed any crime—than the general population. The bottom line is that the utilitarian arguments are doubtful, and doubtful considerations about “the good of society as a whole” should not trump the fundamental right of a law-abiding citizen to defend herself against criminal attack.

The Ultimate Non-Sequitur In a Gun-Control Argument: Why Not Let People Own Grenades or Nukes? 

Some smart-aleck may quip, “Well, why not let people have hand grenades? What about nukes?” The proper response to this non sequitur is that we are talking about self-defense. Grenades are essentially offensive weapons, and in a civilian setting, there is simply no situation in which using a grenade would be advisable for self defense. In a civilian setting, one can accomplish every needed self-defense objective with a gun. Guns are distinguishable from other weapons used by the military.

How Effective Are Rights-Based Anti Gun Control Arguments? 

As noted above, anti gun control arguments tend to be rights-based in nature. How effective this is depends ultimately upon whether you are, at heart, a utilitarian or a Kantian. Suffice it to say that all these years after Kant , Bentham, and Mill died, we are no closer to any sort of consensus about moral philosophy than we were when they advanced their respective positions. We certainly won’t be able to resolve these questions here!

How you weigh the Constitutional arguments—and the role of the courts in resolving those issues—would also be determined by your beliefs about jurisprudence (i.e., philosophy of law). That’s another can of worm, so we’ll leave it alone for now and stick to gun control arguments.

Which Arguments Are Most Persuasive: Pro Gun Control or Anti Gun Control? 

After reviewing the pro gun control and anti gun control arguments, which is more persuasive? Neither is absolutely correct, and both have a strong element of truth. I think that we do have a fundamental right to self-defense, and therefore we have a right to the tools necessary for self-defense (i.e., guns). But that right certainly has limits.

I support background checks to ensure that violent criminals and psychotic individuals are not able to buy guns. I would mandate some minimal level of training and education before a person can buy a gun, and certainly before a person can carry a gun publicly. If we require would-be drivers to pass written tests, showing they know the rules of the road, and practical tests, showing they are able to operate a car without causing death or serious injury to others, I think we should require the same sort of training and proficiency with regards to guns.

We Can’t Do Much Worse than the Gun-Control vs. Gun-Rights Compromise that We Have Now 

I think what we have now is the worst of all possible scenarios. Anybody can get a gun, but law-abiding citizens are severely limited in where and how they can possess or carry a gun. Any paranoid schizophrenic or rapist can go to a gun show and buy a gun without undergoing any sort of background check whatsoever. And as the Aurora killer showed, you can amass an arsenal of assault rifles and pistols, hundred-round ammo drums, SWAT-team-grade tear gas, and body armor, and you will never trigger any alarm bells in a law-enforcement database.

What this means is that there’s really very little standing in the way of the next madman mass-murderer. Another Aurora or Newtown is, tragically, inevitable.

But even though any madman or criminal can get a gun, no ordinary citizen, except those willing to break the law, can carry a gun in all the gun-free zones out there (e.g., Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, New York City, etc.).

So the crazies and the criminals can get guns, and will not be dissuaded by gun laws from carrying them into an elementary school; however, a schoolteacher—who may very well be a National Guardsman or Reservist with significant training in firearms and firearm safety—cannot carry a gun at her workplace. So when a madman shows up with an AR-15 and starts mowing down children and teachers, hopefully the teacher will be able to barricade the door to her classroom, because she sure won’t be able to defend herself or her students.

Our gun laws are upside down. Fewer people should be able to own guns, but those who are able to own guns should be able to carry them anywhere except the most sensitive government buildings. This would likely have the incidental effect of reducing the number of guns left unsecured in homes and cars, resulting in fewer guns being stolen. This would also help ensure that the next Aurora or Newtown madman cannot get his hands on a gun, but that if he does, he will likely be confronted wherever he goes on his rampage. The NRA may utter a lot of nonsense, but one thing they are quite right about is that the only thing that stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.

Gun-Control Measures Involving Specific Types of Firearms 

Regarding types of weapons, I think that limits are certainly reasonable here. I’ve heard decent arguments against assault-weapons bans, but I think the better position is to limit these weapons to police and military. If you need to fire 100 rounds in under a minute to get the job done, there’s a pretty good chance that you aren’t acting in self-defense.

On the other hand, civilian gun ownership is a safeguard against tyranny. Like it or not, this seems to be the overarching motivation of the Second Amendment’s authors. And as our experiences in Iraq and Vietnam have shown, it’s not so far-fetched to think that an armed populace could prevent a military takeover, or at least make it so costly for the occupying army that it ultimately withdraws.

Even though I think our First Amendment freedoms are of greater importance in defending against tyranny, we should not discount the Second Amendment protections in this area. The Viet Cong and Iraqi Insurgents demonstrated that a rag-tag group of guerillas, armed only with assault rifles and homemade weapons, can put up a pretty good fight against a modern army equipped with fancy technology. So while I am personally in favor of restrictions on assault rifles, I know there are very strong arguments that can be made against that position.

Reform the Patchwork Quilt of Concealed-Carry-Permit Reciprocity 

I also think that Congress should enact a reciprocity law, setting forth some minimal standards for issuing a concealed-carry permit, and mandating that for any state that enforces these standards, its permits must be recognized by every other state. This could easily be accomplished under Congress’s Commerce-Clause power (think about the right of over-the-road truckers to keep and bear arms).

As it is now, gun owners who live near a state border (e.g., the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border in Philadelphia) can find themselves facing felony prosecution for inadvertently carrying their gun across state lines. Again, why should anyone’s rights under the FEDERAL Bill of Rights depend upon which state they are in? Why should Constitutional protections apply in your home state, but not ten miles away in a bordering state?

But for a nationwide reciprocity law to work, there would need to be some minimum standards for states to issue carry permits. That would effectively increase gun control in some states, which should make gun-control advocates somewhat happy.

Anyway, that’s what I think, but as the saying goes, reasonable minds differ. Check out additional gun control arguments on this blog, such as whether there should be nationwide concealed carry permits or whether assault weapons should be banned, and visit this blog's Facebook page at And feel free to let me know your objections, as well as any better pro gun control or anti gun control arguments that could be made. 

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