J. KARL MILLER: A reasonable, common sense approach to gun safety?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Inarguably, the most disingenuous campaign now in progress is the one being waged against the Second Amendment and responsible gun owners. Billed by the president as a "reasonable, common sense approach to gun safety," it is anything but. Instead, it is a purely political movement catering to emotion, ignorance and extending irresponsibly the anguish of the most recent victims.

As an example, in January, Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced "the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, a bill to stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices." This fails the common sense test inasmuch as the identical ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004 and did not prevent the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Chief among the problems in the writing and marketing of this "assault weapons" ban is the inability of its supporters to identify just what constitutes the offending firearm. Those wishing to outlaw so-called "assault rifles" remind one of the old tale from the Indian sub-continent of the six blind men identifying an elephant by feel. Consequently, every "scary looking" rifle is identified as a military style assault weapon.

Contrary to the ranting of many in the anti-gun crowd, weapons that fire fully automatic or in bursts have been banned for decades, and none of the rifles used in either the Virginia Tech, Columbine or Newtown shootings were weapons used by the military. Accordingly, the "feel good" re-enacting of a law that has never worked in the past nor will be enforceable in the future merely punishes responsible gun owners.

Secondly, the demonizing of the National Rifle Association as an organization that apologizes for murder and describing the NRA president as a "blood drenched boss" and of wishing to "preserve mass murder by firearms" are not only outright lies but also far from the most intelligent approach. The NRA was established in 1871 as an organization to support marksmanship training and has evolved into the premier promoter of gun ownership, marksmanship, hunting, gun safety and self defense.

The NRA's considerable influence in Second Amendment rights, in firearms training and safety, and in advocacy for lengthy prison sentences for anyone in possession of a gun or using a gun while committing a crime, could have been put to good use by the administration in seeking solutions. The adage, "more flies can be captured with honey than with vinegar" is apropos.

Nevertheless, seemingly always needing a bogey man to advance its agenda, the administration and the anti-gun crowd have continued to attack both the NRA and Republicans as the villains and the Second Amendment as somehow outdated. I won't dignify many of the absurdities by mentioning them; however, a couple of them stand out as incredibly stupid.

The notion that the Constitution was written when muskets were the service weapons of the era and that the subsequent firepower enhancements negates the intent of the Second Amendment is one. And, the oft-stated claim that the right to bear arms is related to hunting rifles and shotguns is equally silly. I have studied the Constitution forward and backward for years and have yet to see the word "hunting" mentioned in Second Amendment or anywhere in the text.

Next, we have the push for universal background checks and the wildly unsubstantiated claims that 90 percent of NRA members, along with 90 percent of voters, support them.

If the passing of new laws was the answer, the problem would be nonexistent. However, it stands to reason that laws will be observed by the law abiding but universally ignored by the lawless. Accordingly, requiring these universal background checks in the sale/purchase of firearms will in no way inhibit the criminal — instead, it will be a nuisance, an added expense and an impediment to passing guns to the heirs of gun owners.

The last lapse of common sense in the campaign for gun safety was the President's naming of Vice President Biden as his point man. Mr. Biden has a world of experience and presumably, a multitude of talents — but, common sense has never appeared to be one of them.

Sadly, no enactment or re-enactment of gun laws will stop senseless murders such as those occurring at Columbine, Virginia Tech or Newtown. President Obama can demagogue the issue and employ histrionics til the cows come home, but there are already sufficient laws on the books to criminalize such activity. A "zero defects" policy will not halt crime.

Nevertheless, there are actions that can be taken to reduce the incidence of gun violence/crimes. For example, any felon found with a weapon or anyone in possession of a concealed weapon without a license to carry should be prosecuted without a plea bargain and incarcerated. Likewise, anyone armed or using a weapon while in commission of a crime should receive mandatory sentencing to the penitentiary.

This should also be enforced when anyone is found guilty of purchasing or otherwise providing a weapon to a person not permitted to be armed. When actions have consequences, those activities have a habit of declining numbers.

It is a given that a number of citizens are not comfortable with the existence of guns — that is their right. However, the Second Amendment rights of millions of law abiding gun owners must not be abridged to satisfy unnecessary and unenforceable legislation.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at

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