It was a long week in Atlanta, so I headed to a dirty unkempt bar to start “taking a bit of the edge off.” Now, I’m getting ready to have my first of many drinks when my periphery catches a scene so confusing, it makes me think I should just drive home and lay off the bourbon for a while. Playing on the TV is an overview of a bill recently passed by Georgia’s legislature that will take effect starting in July.
The law, labeled by liberals as the “Guns Everywhere Law” and by conservatives as the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” allows licensed gun owners to take their weapons into bars and churches. It also even lets people pack heat inside government buildings, schools, and some areas of airports.
I have to admit that I panicked a little bit: how was no one else finding the scene of a fellow dipsomaniac packing a Smith & Wesson at a bar– AT A BAR – strange?!
After signing the bill into law, Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal (R), stated that, “Our state has some of the best protections for gun owners in the United States. And today we strengthen those rights protected by our nation’s most revered founding document.” The NRA called it, “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent history.”
But there have been a plethora of critics of the bill, such as the chief of police in one county in Georgia who argued that, “Although changes in the state’s gun law were meant to strike a balance between the rights of gun owners… unintended consequences may follow that don’t make anybody safe.”
Part of the law prohibits police from detaining someone for the purpose of checking for a permit to carry a concealed weapon. And if they do detain them to ask for their permit, the police department could be sued. So, if the police must tread so lightly while trying to determine who isn’t supposed to be carrying a gun, how are they supposed to curb gun violence and keep people safe?
After all of the mass shootings in America, such as the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre and the mass murder at the Washington Naval Shipyard, one would think that our governments would do the reasonable thing and limit access to weapons at both federal and local levels: not pass extreme gun laws that make it easier for people to get and flaunt weapons.
But within 12 months of the Newtown massacre, almost every state enacted at least one new gun law. About 1,500 state gun bills were introduced; 178 passed at least one chamber of a state legislature in 2013 and 109 became law. Out of those 109 laws, 70 loosened restrictions
Legislatures in states such as New York, Colorado, Connecticut, and Maryland have enacted sweeping reforms that have been the biggest victories for gun control advocates to date. But other states have done just the opposite.
For example: Arkansas passed a bill that mirrors Georgia’s new law. In Idaho, concealed gun permits are no longer public record. Virginia’s House of Delegates voted to repeal a 17-year old ban on buying more than one handgun a month. In Oklahoma, people who seek certain renewals of gun permits won’t be fingerprinted anymore and West Virginia will recognize conceal permits from other states.
Gun enthusiasts and libertarians who laud these measures typically claim that gun violence is highest in states that have stricter gun laws and argue that more guns will create a safer environment (i.e. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun”).
But many groups, including the Harvard Injury Control Research Center (HICRC), have proven this theory false.
Their findings indicate that where there are more guns, there is more homicide (surprise), regardless of whether you’re looking at different states or countries. Their research also found no association between gun prevalence and a safer environment. But there is strong evidence that shows firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control laws.
It is mostly liberals who want stricter gun control legislation, the most notable goal of which is to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. However, the problem is that assault rifles aren’t used in the majority of mass shootings.
Guns have killed about 24,580 people since Newton, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and there were at least 67 mass shootings since 1982 (the FBI’s definition of mass murder is the slaying of four or more people). But out of the 143 guns used by the killers, only 28 were rifles.
If we want to stop gun violence, the 2nd Amendment has to be reworked and we must pass bills that restrict access to all types of weapons. The rest of the civilized world has figured this out already – but Americans are always late to the party when it comes to doing smart and sensible things.
The big problem is that the 2nd amendment won’t be reworked. The majority of Americans – even liberals – don’t want that to happen. Gun control has never been politically popular and shootings don’t even sustainably affect views on gun control.
These laws that are supposed to foster a safe environment for the good of the public aren’t safe at all, and as long as Americans keep ignoring the detrimental consequences the loosening of gun laws creates, nothing will ever change. I’ll be ranting and swirling my bourbon in the meantime.