Montana Viewpoint

The right to bear arms


The controversy surrounding guns is in the news again. It seems to happen at least once a year and almost always after a shooting involving multiple victims. And, as usual, the so-called assault rifles are the focus of the anti-gun activists. It’s odd to me that one weapon can command so much attention. I think it’s caused by confusion. It’s my belief that many in the anti-gun crowd simply don’t know anything about firearms and are not interested in learning. In many of these people’s minds, guns are bad and unnecessary, end of discussion. Unfortunately for them, it’s not that simple.

I wonder if things would change if these same people understood more about firearms and how they’re used. For example, many people believe that the “AR” in the AR-15 stands for assault rifle. That belief is understandable and convenient for gun opponents, but it’s also a myth. The AR in AR-15 simply stands for ArmaLite Rifle, the original designer/manufacturer of what has become widely known as the AR platform. The name has nothing to do with the weapon’s intended use. I often wonder if the entire conversation would be different if the original manufacturers name had begun with a “D.” Would the anti-gun activists then call it a “Defense Rifle?” I doubt it, but what would the headlines look like if they did?

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That brings up a second point. The term “assault,” in this context, is a verb because it describes an action. Virtually any weapon (or for that matter, nearly any object) can be used in an assault. Conversely, that same weapon or object might also be used for defense. Kind of confusing, so let’s see if I can simplify that explanation. I have an old single shot .22 rifle. If I use it in an attack, it then becomes an assault rifle. If I use that same gun to defend myself from an attack, it morphs into a defense rifle. The weapon is an inanimate object. Simply stated, if used at all, a firearm can be for either defense or assault. I was once at a crime scene where two people were murdered with a hatchet. Definitely not the hatchet’s intended use, but that didn’t matter to the victims. It depends solely on the person using the object, not the object itself.

Also, the anti-gun crowd is always clamoring for more laws. I see that as a foolish argument. We have all the laws we need. Just look at Illinois and California as examples. Both of these states have very restrictive gun laws. What have these laws done to curb gun violence? The answer is nothing. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at the crime stats. We don’t need more gun laws. We just need to enforce the ones we have. I understand the need for background checks and support that. I think everyone reading this knows a person who shouldn’t have a gun. However, I think that people who qualify and want a gun should be able to buy a gun and carry it if they choose.

That last statement brings up the topic regarding regulations to legally carry a firearm. I absolutely believe that a person who chooses to carry a gun should be qualified and trained to use it. The decision to carry a gun is not one that should be made lightly. In fact, it should be a very difficult decision. To anyone reading this who thinks they want to carry a gun, please, give that decision serious consideration. Simply having a gun and sticking it on your belt doesn’t make you qualified to use it. In fact, a gun in the hands of an untrained person makes you a dangerous liability. Seek the appropriate training and weigh your decision heavily.

Those opposed to firearms need to understand too that guns aren’t going away. Seeking to criminalize firearms will only end up making criminals out of, arguably, the most law-abiding people in the United States (I’ll be one of them). That strikes me as incredibly foolish.

Absent from the conversation, in my view, is focus on mental health and (as silly as this might sound to some) the impact of video games. Think about that. We’ve always had guns in this country, but we haven’t always had video games. We now have video games AND mass shootings. I don’t see that as a coincidence. A friend of mine did an After Action Report on the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. The video game Doom was determined to have been a factor in the shooting. I see that as significant and an under reported and often ignored topic.

Finally, gun rights advocates hang their hats on the Second Amendment. I get that argument, absolutely agree, and see that as fundamental to the discussion. However, I’d take it to a second level. The Second Amendment, in my view, didn’t grant the right to carry a weapon for self-defense. It simply codified that right. I see the right to defend myself, and others, as God given… not a privilege granted by the government. I also believe that the anti-gun faction needs to be very careful here. Millions of people in this country feel as I do. It would be wise for them to pay attention to that fact.

Blaine Blackstone is a retired Los Angeles Police Sergeant who enjoys the simpler life in Thompson Falls.


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