It’s time to let reason have a shot

OPINION: Gun laws made by the wrong people are putting us at risk.

By Solomon Smith, Contributor to the Star

The heart of the problem with gun legislation in America lies in poorly thought-out laws created by people who do not understand how firearms work, or what goes into using them.   Civilians seem to think if you can drive a car, you can race in NASCAR, or possessing a gun and going to the range for a few hours is going to make you as proficient as a Navy SEAL.

I like firearms. I have spent nine years of my life living with, and loving the gun. I was an Infantryman in the California National Guard, with combat deployments to Iraq and Kuwait and years of eating, breathing, and living with firearms of all types. I have enjoyed their use for sport, and endured them as tools of my profession. I have experienced both ends of the rifle as a combat veteran, in civilian and military life, and believe they are useful tools with the proper training and respect.

Right now, a new Texas state law designed to “expand Texans’ Second Amendment rights,” according to the office of Governor Greg Abbot’s website, will allow some licensed individuals to carry concealed firearms on college campuses.   This will be enacted on Aug. 1, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the University of Texas at Austin “Tower Shooting,” the first recorded mass shooting on a college campus, in which Charles Whitman killed 14 people and injured 32 others. And this, my friends, is how we deal with gun control in America: Crazy unlimited freedoms for everyone. This type of thinking is neither reasonable, nor effective.

Protesters at UT are going to respond the absurdity by carrying large dildos to class, hoping to spur college administrators to regulate the new “campus carry” law. According to their Facebook page, “You would receive a citation for taking a dildo to class before you would get in trouble for taking a gun to class. Heaven forbid the penis.”

There is a caveat to every right we possess. The First Amendment does not allow you to say anything you want whenever you want (think libel, hate speech, and shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater) and the Second Amendment is no different. We limit, define, and explain the Bill of Rights through legal discourse, study, and yes, well-informed regulation.

The sophomoric ultra-macho idea that we are all going to be able to stop gun violence not through regulation, but by sprinkling guns into the general population, or simply saying, “’Hey guys! Everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can’t get us all!’,” as stated by GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson on Fox and Friends, is typical of someone who does not understand how to use a firearm.

It takes professional soldiers years of practice to be able to use a firearm in an urban setting, with both combatants and innocent bystanders in the same room. It is more than just shooting, but a combination of knowing and seeing what to shoot at, as well as being able to calmly asses a situation. As it stands today, many trained officers fail at this and I am not optimistic about untrained civilians doing any better.

This is where people get confused, so remember: I like firearms. I do not like the irresponsible laws we have about how we use and control guns. This piece of Texas law epitomizes the ultra-violent machismo that those like Ben Carson espouse ad nauseum.

It’s time to get real about gun regulations developed with reason, not fear. Laws that are strict about vetting a person getting a weapon, like thorough background checks and longer waiting periods. Systems that track firearms at least as well as we track our cars, and a standard of training that keeps scared citizens from shooting themselves or their loved ones.

Maybe we can never eradicate mass shootings, but at least we can make it more difficult for them to happen.

Your thoughts?