I don’t believe just anybody should be allowed to own a gun, but I believe I should be allowed to own a gun. Then again, I’ve never been arrested. I’m schooled in firearm safety, and nothing in my background would indicate I’m psychotic, no matter what the droogs down at my local may say.

I find myself caught in the middle of the Great American Gun Debate, disappointing some of my more liberal comrades when I suggest it’s impossible to eliminate our country’s guns and gun culture, and disappointing my more conservative brothers and sisters when I admit I’m in favor of stronger gun sales laws and that I don’t believe anybody is coming to take our guns away.

Of great annoyance to me are those who suggest somebody is trying to take our guns away thereby unduly inflating the price of ammunition. You see, I’m an avowed target shooting enthusiast with a confessed .357 Colt Python fetish.

I’m not concerned about home defense and I have no interest in loafing around town strapped. The idea of me trying to stand up to our government’s $621 billion per year military budget with my pistol is silly and ridiculous. I just like firing guns.

Too many others seem determined to use guns as the weapons they are admittedly designed to be. And too many of those people should not or are not allowed to own them. So how are they getting them?

The largest number of illegal gun purchases go through shady federally licensed dealers. Pawn shops, while not all corrupt, are not exactly known for their dedication to the letter of the law. This could be combated to some degree by mandating background checks for employees of licensed dealerships and that all gun sales at such dealerships be video recorded. That would require U.S. Congressional action, so nobody hold your breath.

The second largest number of illegal gun purchases occurs through those who make a business of dealing in guns but pose as private sellers, thus avoiding federal licensed-dealer requirements.

Those are the people President Obama aims to bring under regulation with his recently announced executive actions, which are not unprecedented and not unconstitutional. The President is directing the ATF to consider these casual dealers to be in the business of gun sales that they obviously are, and get licensed or face prosecution. I do not consider this unreasonable, and any characterization of it as, “Obama is coming to take all our guns,” is fatuous nonsense.

There are other practical solutions to combat illegal firearm sales, such as laws requiring the reporting of lost and stolen guns to law enforcement and limits on the number of guns purchased at one time.

Straw purchases, where a decoy person is used to purchase a firearm for the actual buyer, play a role in nearly half of all ATF gun trafficking investigations. Dealers have an obligation to ensure their guns are not being straw purchased, and we have an obligation to make sure dealers are accountable because most of these guns end up in the hands of convicted felons and drug gangs, the biggest perpetrators of firearms violence in the United States after those we call suicide victims.

We also need more uniform gun laws across the country to combat interstate firearm trafficking. But again, don’t hold your breath for any of this to happen because our national conversation on this issue is simplistic and stupid, taking on the banal, moronic forms that continually disfigure our politics and thus our self-governance.

Everything is treated as an all or nothing proposition, and arguments of nuance are accepted or rejected from caricatured preconceptions. And that’s part of the problem with our culture. We are too quick to shoot and then aim, not entirely sure what we are firing at, or why.

No matter what the President proposes some people are determined to see him as some sort of Stalinist Islamic Kenyan, hellbent on taking their guns and destroying our freedom. I don’t see how a measured study of the facts could produce that absurd conclusion. President Obama is not taking all our guns away or destroying our freedom, and his executive actions are not even going to prevent the majority of gun violence.

They won’t even stop the next psychotic rampage that will shatter our fellow citizens’ lives and break their loved one’s hearts. But to make more headway, we need collective community support for reasonable restrictions on who is allowed to have firearms. We need uncorrupted political courage and honesty in a way rarely seen in American lawmaking.

On a more macro level, we need to manifest a culture and a civilization that alleviates the desperation in our fellow citizens’ lives that brings forward the drug addiction, alienation, paranoia and division that drives so much of firearm violence.

Until we invest in ourselves in such a way, and legislate common sense standards to keep guns out of the hands of the people who must not have them, we can only expect more of the sad same, where nobody is surprised to read the news of the latest unconscionable tragedy.

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.


  • Joe Potosky

    Step one.

    If charged with using a firearm unlawfully….

    Held without bail for 90 days, No reduced bail, Subject to an automatic dangerousness hearing, No plea bargains, No reduced sentences, No early release from prison, and minimum state sentencing laws for crimes committed with a firearm.

    No need for step two.

  • D.C. DeWitt

    I have no problem with any of that.

  • youngju

    Does not the fool understand you cannot legislate human behavior and gun control laws never stopped a criminal from obtaining a firearm. He is nothing but a political shill, void of facts and full nonsense,

  • clambake

    But what would Hunter S Thompson think? Liked his guns, for sure.

  • fsilber

    There will always be _some_ other way the criminals will be able to get guns, acceptance of any of these measures will accomplish nothing but to lead to the call for yet more measures. Therefore, we should allow none, unless we’re given something in return (e.g. an end to “gun-free” zones, mandatory interstate recognition of carry permits, elimination of “exceptions for police officers”).

    Taking them _all_ away” is hardly the only policy to be avoided and resisted. Having seen how localities such as Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., and states such as New Jersey and California already have had gun laws that are very oppressive, I see no reason to believe we are safe from the feds were anti-gun congressmen able to get enough votes. It’s just not Obama we have to fear, but also a potential future anti-gun President fifty years from now.

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “practical solutions to combat illegal firearm sales”

    Currently, there are only 2 ways to legally sell a gun in the US to a private citizen. One is a private sale between individuals (typically like between family and friends) or by a gun dealer licensed with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) from the federal BATF. Only individuals with an FFL can run a background check through the government NICS database of prohibited persons. Private citizens cannot. Note that a person can purchase a firearm online, but the physical transfer of the firearm still must go through an FFL at the seller or an FFL local to the buyer. So if you want to improve the process, you should encourage the federal government to do 2 things:

    1) Allow any small gun dealer to get an FFL without having a storefront. Currently, thanks to the Clinton administration’s effort to reduce the supply of guns, you can’t get an FFL if you want to sell guns only at gun shows (Google BATFE form 5310 FFL application and look at question 18a). As a result someone that wants to sell guns but can’t afford the inventory costs, zoning challenges and overhead of a storefront has to sell illegally or discretely at the edge of the law as a “private individual” and hence can’t run a background check. Rather than throwing these “kitchen table” sellers out of the system like Clinton did hoping they would go away, they should allow them to get an FFL and subject them to BATF rules, audits and oversight like they were before the Clinton administration let political anti-gun ideology get in the way.

    2) Give anyone free, public, anonymous online access to the NICS database. I don’t understand why a federal database of people prohibited from owning firearms can’t be available in the public domain like federal databases for s– offenders. Unlike the s– offender database, the NICS system is really a go/no go process and no useful information has to be displayed to facilitate phishing expeditions for identity theft other than what was already known by the user making the query. It’s certainly no more revealing than the FAA’s pilot and mechanic license query system, which provides more detailed information on presumably law-abiding citizens. Once this system is implemented, you then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain documented proof that says you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. This would effectively close the so-called private sale loophole and still preserve the anonymity of the parties involved the same way the current background check system does now. If a private sale firearm shows up at a crime scene, the BATF follows their current procedure of using the serial number of the firearm to contact the manufacturer and ultimately the last FFL that sold the firearm to a private citizen to obtain that citizen’s name and address from the ATF form 4473 the FFL is required to keep on file. That citizen is then contacted and produces the piece of paper from the NICS background check that identifies the second private citizen who is then contacted, and so forth.

    The real benefit of this proposal is how it can help identify the illusive killer with questionable behavior patterns or mental health issues that is causing so many problems. As it stands now there is no easy, fast, non-bureaucratic method for someone to determine if a suspicious person (client, neighbor, employee, student, etc) is a potential threat to society. If someone thinks an individual could be a threat, a query to a public NICS database would at least tell him or her in a few seconds if the individual could obtain a firearm. Then, armed with that information the appropriate authorities could be notified and they could decide if it was erroneous information or whether to investigate further. As it stands now, if you tell authorities you know a suspicious person they will probably ignore you, but if you tell them you know such a person and by the way according to the NICS database he can buy a firearm, they will probably be more inclined to investigate rather than risk embarrassment later if the worst happens. The same would be true if you see a suspicious acquaintance with a firearm when the NICS query says he’s prohibited from having one. It would also help provide piece of mind and a method for victims of violent crimes to ensure their assailants either on parole or still at large have not been excluded from the database because of some bureaucratic foul-up.
    Other specific public safety issues where it would be useful are:

    ? allow potential victims to vet known stalkers or acquaintances under a restraining order
    ? allow gun clubs to vet potential members
    ? allow shooting ranges to vet suspicious customers
    ? help prevent straw purchases by allowing FFL’s to vet all individuals involved with the purchase of a firearm as a gift
    ? allow mental health workers to vet troubled individuals like the Aurora Colorado theater killer
    ? allow resource officers and school officials to vet suspicious students like the Arapahoe High School killer in Colorado
    ? allow the family of the mentally troubled Lafayette, LA killer to verify he couldn’t purchase a firearm
    ? allow police officers to vet anyone they contact – (note the routine background checks performed by police often do not include information about firearms because they don’t directly access the NICS database)

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “Of great annoyance to me are those who suggest somebody is trying to take our guns away”

    In 1976 a gentleman by the name of Nelson Shields said the following “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.” Nelson Shields was one of the founders of Handgun Control Inc which is better known under their current “re-branded” name as The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In 1987 another gentleman by the name of Josh Sugarmann said regarding so called assault weapons “The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” In 1988 in response to an NRA comment about criminals always being able to get handguns he also said “The NRA is Right: But We Still Need to Ban Handguns”. On 11/4/99 he said in a NYT interview “A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls — such as expanding background checks at gun shows and stopping the import of high-capacity magazines — and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act introduced by Senator Robert Torricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, and Representative Patrick Kennedy, Democrat of Rhode Island. Their measure would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns. Real gun control will take courage. In the long run, half-measures and compromises only sacrifice lives.” Josh Sugarmann is currently the head and founder of the Violence policy Center and was one of the founders of The Coalition to Ban Handguns which is better known under their current “re-branded” name as The Campaign to Stop Gun Violence. While the names and tactics of these organizations may have changed, the goals and a lot of the personnel remain the same.

    Also, more recently, we have Senator Diane Feinstein (google youtube k3DKuN2ey80)

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “The largest number of illegal gun purchases go through shady federally licensed dealers”

    Do you have an unbiased source for this claim? According to a 2004 DOJ report (link deleted to allow posting) that interviewed criminals serving prison sentences to determine where they got their firearms, 37.4% said they got their guns from private sales or transfers from “family and friends” which didn’t require a background check. This begs the question – what are the scruples of the family and friends of a criminal? I don’t know what new law you could pass to close a loophole that would force likely witting family members or criminal cohorts to run background checks on other criminals when all the parties involved will probably ignore any relevant laws. Note, in the same study, another 40.0% said they obtained their guns illegally (which obviously didn’t require a background check) while only 0.8% said they got their guns from gun shows.

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “pose as private sellers, thus avoiding federal licensed-dealer requirements”

    They have no choice and the irony is the Democrats created this problem. When anti-gun zealot Josh Sugarman whined to the Clinton administration that there were more licensed gun dealers in the US than gas stations, the Clinton administration implemented regulations that said you can’t get a license to sell guns (FFL) privately or at gun shows unless you are willing to go to the expense, zoning challenges and overhead of establishing and maintaining a storefront. Look at (Google) questions 18 and 18a on ATF form 5310 FFL Application.

  • jarhead1982



    Any person convicted of committing a violent crime w a weapon or committing suicide w a weapon , their family members are automatically responsible for any restitution incarceration costs medical expenses and court fees.

    No appeal, no parole, no plea bargains, nada…

    Force the absentee parents that ignore their parental responsibilities and force them to start bearing the cost they have burdened society with

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “Obama is coming to take all our guns”

    Not all at once because he can’t as long as we live in a free society with an estimated 300 million guns and 70 million gun owners. Obama is a progressive and the progressive philosophy is more subtle and incremental than immediate confiscation. You can see examples of the philosophy in laws that have been implemented by like minded individuals at the state level where they don’t confiscate firearms or magazines, they just pass laws that say you can’t keep, sell, transfer, or shoot them. The Colorado magazine ban is a good example where the “owner” can keep them but not share or transfer them to anyone he is living with like his/her children or a spouse. Another example is the CA SKS Sporter ban in 2000. Buffalo, NY initiated a program to confiscate firearms from families of deceased individuals who had a firearms permit. CT required owners of certain types of “assault weapons” to register them then later passed a law banning them which required the now known owners to sell the now banned firearms to an FFL, turn them into the police or take them out of state.

    Note that after Sandy Hook on January 16, 2013, Obama announced a plan for reducing gun violence in four parts, one of which was banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The plan included 23 executive orders, signed immediately by the president, and 12 proposals for Congress,including reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004, and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

    So in a disingenuous sense – you’re correct – the police didn’t show up at your door to take your guns or magazines away – at least not yet – they just make it onerous, legally hazardous, and nearly impossible to own them which is the way the anti-gun folks implement their incremental strategy that will allow them to claim “nobody is taking your guns”.

  • Gordon

    So, you think someone who ignores a legal “no guns allowed” sign at your local cafe should be subjected to this kind of thing??? Or one who travels from one city to another and inadvertently violates a “law” that only exists there? Or anyone who carries a gun within 1000 yard of a school? What an idiotic idea.

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “President Obama is not taking all our guns away or destroying our freedom, and his executive actions…”

    You have no way of knowing this because un-elected, unaccountable bureaucrats write the regulations we all have to live by – not him – and the focus of the regulations that have been proposed at the federal and state level is not about “sales” – it’s about wanting to pass laws to monitor and control loans, transfers or physical access of firearms, ammunition, or “high capacity” magazines to distant relatives, friends, domestic partners, roommates or other acquaintances you have known for years.

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “common sense standards”

    In 1934, 1938, 1968, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1994 I suspect similar arguments were made for “common sense standards” when more restrictive federal gun laws were passed. Since all of the regulations derived from these laws are apparently not enough, maybe you can understand the reluctance of gun owners to entertain the idea of quietly accepting the any more. The problem is the real agenda of the people leading the charge for more gun control is to ban all guns except for the government and governments (unlike individuals) have the track record for killing people that don’t agree with them. This is really just about using relatively infrequent, isolated incidents of gun crimes to whip lawmakers into an emotional frenzy to goad them into quickly advancing the agenda of gun control irrespective of any facts in more incremental “progressive” steps in order to set a new baseline and move the goal posts to the point where an unscrupulous government would have the option to do what ever they please.

  • jsmith5893

    Re: “The idea of me trying to stand up to our government’s $621 billion per year military budget with my pistol is silly and ridiculous”

    The idea is not to “stand up” to a tyrannical government, it’s to deter them from becoming tyrannical in the first place. I don’t think we currently have a tyrannically inclined government but there is no guarantee we won’t have one in the future if the environment evolves to permit it. In order for such a government to have an environment to take hold in this country, they first must get rid of civilian gun ownership to keep the transition quiet and tidy in order to maintain the support of the general population that is fed by a 24 hour-a-day news cycle – and for this reason I see the civilian ownership of firearms like an AK or AR as a warning sign – as long as I can own one or buy one, the risk to the “free state” is minimal. Once these or other firearms are restricted or taken away, we are in a different ball game and the only way a non-totalitarian regime has to take them away is incrementally, which is what has been happening in the US since 1934.

  • Bill Funk

    A charge is far from a conviction.
    I understand where you’re coming from, but the idea that being charged is the same as being guilty is so far from the way we do things that, frankly, I’m surprised you put that out in public.

  • Bill Funk

    That’s satire, isn’t it?

  • JimFromHouston

    jsmith….OUTSTANDING responses.

  • TexTopCat

    “allowed to own a gun” – you have a really big disconnect in that why would it ever be reasonable for getting permission for a basic human right?

  • Red Rover

    Since so many of the people that go on shooting rampages are willing to die (and often do so) in the act, what in the world is the harshness of the justice system going to do?

  • Red Rover

    Conservatives who call liberals whiny should listen to themselves when the subject of gun control comes up. Wah.

  • Barry Hirsh

    “I don’t believe just anybody should be allowed to own a gun, but I believe I should be allowed to own a gun.”

    Which is precisely why the Framers included the Second Amendment prohibition against infringement in our Constitution – because of elitists like D.C. DeWitt.

  • Barry Hirsh

    It ain’t whinin’ if you can back it up.

  • Barry Hirsh

    “Potosky”, huh? Are you genetically indisposed to understand the constitutional requirements of due process?

  • Barry Hirsh

    Of course not. Your opening statement exposes your abject dismissal of constitutional protections of fundamental rights.

  • Barry Hirsh

    Of course. It is meant to offset the absurd positions expounded upon by the author.

  • Spitfiremk1

    I think you pushed someone’s button with this one, D.C.

  • Jeff Rau

    As already mentioned charged doesn’t mean guilty. But I see to a certain extend where you are coming from. Plea bargaining is used way too often simply because prosecutors are often more concerned with their conviction ratios than seeking justice for bad people.
    I would go more along the lines of limiting the percentage of violent felonies that can be plea bargained. I don’t care if the person uses a gun, knife, club, or whatever.
    We have too many people with long criminal histories on the streets. This needs to stop.

  • jarhead1982

    Perfectly legal and constitutional as well …

  • Jeff Rau

    But shooting rampages are a (thankfully) small percentage of violent crime. Or for that matter a small percentage of murders. And perhaps we could reduce them by eliminating victim disarmament zones. At least give the people a fighting chance.

  • EagleF15

    Typical liberal hypocrisy. “Guns for me, but not for thee. I’m worthy, but you’re not.” Guess what, you HAVE NO “conservative friends.”

    “The largest number of illegal gun purchases go through shady federally licensed dealers.” Says who? Where does this bullshit assertion come from? Where’s the data that supports that? DOJ studies show criminals get their guns the old fashioned way: they steal them. I think most illegal guns are smuggled in canoes across the Canadian border. See how easy it is to cite bullshit statistics?

    Wow, that straw-purchasing thing sounds pretty bad. It should be illegal. Oh, wait…it is! Maybe we should make it extra-extra illegal. That will solve it.

    Typical faux-gunowner liberal crap.

  • ramrodd

    The hard-left Marxists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States..

    Second Amendment foes lying about gun control – The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. Firearms are our constitutionally mandated safeguard against tyranny by a powerful federal government.
    Only dictators, tyrants, despots, totalitarians, and those who want to control and ultimately to enslave you support gun control.

    No matter what any president, senator, congressman, or hard-left mainstream media prostitutes tell you concerning the statist utopian fantasy of safety and security through further gun control: They are lying. If their lips are moving, they are lying about gun control. These despots truly hate America..

    These tyrants hate freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and private property. But the reality is that our citizens’ ownership of firearms serves as a concrete deterrent against despotism. They are demanding to hold the absolute power of life and death over you and your family. Ask the six million Jewws, and the other five million murdered martyrs who perished in the Nazzi death camps, how being
    disarmed by a powerful tyranny ended any chances of fighting back. Ask the murdered martyrs of the Warsaw Ghetto about gun control.

    Their single agenda is to control you after you are disarmed. When the people who want to control you hold the absolute power of life and death over your family, you have been enslaved. The hard-left Marxist and Islamists who infect our federal government plus the MSM media prostitutes who protect them will gleefully lie, falsify, fabricate, slander, libel, deceive, delude, bribe, and treasonably betray the free citizens of the United States into becoming an unarmed population. Unarmed populations have been treated as slaves and chattel since the dawn of history.

    Will we stand our ground, maintaining our constitutionally guaranteed Second Amendment rights, fighting those who would enslave us?

    American Thinker

  • Red Rover

    Sadly American political discourse is mostly too polarized to get to the “back it up” phase.

  • Red Rover

    The problem with hoping that an armed good Samaritan is going to save the day is that folks in the vicinity who have a gun as well are afraid to draw because the police might mistake them for the shooter(s).

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