Thursday, December 20, 2012

The NRA, the 1st Amendment, and the 2nd Amendment

I'm not one of those people who doesn't acknowledge that the 2nd Amendment exists. It does, we live with it. The right to bear arms isn't a free-for-all, though.

I can't get anti-aircraft weapons. That's good. I can't get a bazooka. I can't get a tank. These are all reasonable restrictions.

The chatter right now is that the NRA is poised to blame video games and the entertainment industry for the violent culture they've created that's contributed to mass shootings.

This is ridiculous.

Just because the 20 year old man who killed innocent people played video games does not mean that video games are at fault. I can tell you right now that an Xbox controller makes a terrible weapon.

The 1st Amendment comes absolute first for a reason: it is the most important one to a successful democracy. The video game industry self polices itself quite fine, actually. I have a full beard and am obviously too old to be asked for ID before I buy a Mature rated video game but guess what? I get carded. In fact, I get carded more for purchasing a video game than I do for buying alcohol. Why is that? It's because the video game industry polices retailers and educates retailers about the rating system so that little kids can't easily buy a shoot 'em up.

Why can't the NRA look itself in the mirror and agree that similar restrictions should be applied to guns? Responsible gun ownership implies hoops to jump through. A video game is not a weapon. It is an artistic expression sold for pleasure. It's intent is to entertain. A gun's intent is to kill or destroy.

I've met many responsible gun owners. When I was in the Midwest, I went to a shooting range that was closed. The gentleman who manned the store told us that the first rule of a gun is, "Do not point it at something in which you do not intend to kill or destroy." That tells you right there the implied uses of a gun.

For the NRA to presumably come out swinging against the 1st Amendment as if it is an integral piece of the puzzle that causes mass shootings is a joke. Almost every person I know plays video games, reads violent pulp stories and novels, watches action movies with great enjoyment. None of these people are violent murderers.

The truth is that when guns are easily accessible to anyone, bad things happen. A video game has never been a weapon of mass murder. A gun has time and time again.

I do not advocate banning firearms outright but there are some common sense restrictions that, if you are a responsible gun owner, should be no skin off your back.

A waiting period. An extensive background check. Mandatory education about safety for guns. Banning the sale of automatic rifles. Limiting the number of bullets in a clip. These are all reasonable and still preserves the right to bear arms.

For all the hoo-ra-ra that comes out of the NRA, they are opposed to almost all of these and do little to advocate for firearms education. Instead of looking themselves in the mirror, it appears they are readying to blame video games and entertainment for the shooting. This is irresponsible.

America needs to look at its mental health policies and it needs to look at its gun policies and make some real changes but blaming freedom of speech and expression for murder? That's a bridge too far. If you're a responsible person, you would recognize that guns make murder a hell of a lot easier. Not only 'bad people' go out and commit crimes. Regular people snap and go crazy, too. It's time to stop scapegoating and start soul searching.

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