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The Conservative Case for Gun Control in America

Guns don’t kill people, people Kill people. 

Okay, I'll play along. Blame the man, not the gun. So we should implement strict laws to keep people like that from getting weapons they can use to commit mass murder (like we keep high explosives out of the hands of terrorists). But that sounds like gun control still, so what's the best way forward? We have a problem. Mass-murder is becoming frighteningly frequent, but it's not the gun's fault. 

As a thought experiment, let's focus on the people. Let's restrict the access to all weaponry for people shown to be at high risk of violence, mental, or emotional instability. Perhaps we should legislate a sweeping, nationwide system that thoroughly examines people to try and prevent weapons from falling into the hands of criminals and the insane. So far, it's a system focused on criminals, not guns. 

While we're at it, perhaps we should also cap the kinds of arsenals people acquire. If nothing else, it should probably be considered as an indicator of mental stability, should it not? Some people do it for fun target shooting on the weekends, but some don't. So again, let's keep an eye on the people arming themselves to the teeth in order to do our best to prevent crime. 

But a strategy like is called gun control. It actually winds up being an incredibly intrusive form of gun control, a far cry from the current status quo, so we're back to where we started — we’ve got a problem. What we're doing now isn't working.

The current regulatory regime surrounding firearms relies on the criminal justice system for deterrence. Our police and FBI work to investigate crimes after they've occurred, but little can be done to prevent a massacre in the first place. Right now, the government doesn't enforce your right to live free from harm, it just punishes the bad guy after the fact. This is a critical failing of our government, and one we need to fix. 

This issue isn't about our rights, it isn't about our history, and it isn't about a way of life. Our hunting (which I really enjoy), shooting (ditto), and self-defense are literally secondary concerns here. We need to talk about the critical failure of the government to prevent violent crime. This monster killed kids. There can be no justice for them after the fact. A crime this heinous needs to be prevented outright. 

Whenever I discuss or argue about limited government, I try and get back to Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. The Commonwealth that Hobbes described is about as bare bones a government as any modern person can justify, so it's usually a good place to start the conversation. To give an unsatisfactory summation: the primary role of the Commonwealth (the sovereign government we all give some of our freedom to) is to end the state of war that is man's natural state. Governments exist to create peace. They prevent our individual freedoms from infringing on one another, and preserve our right to live free from harm. 

Our governments state and federal, despite all of their resources and power, are abjectly failing to do this. What we're trying right now isn't working. We have exceptionally high gun ownership rates in this country. We have stellar law enforcement, a powerful and talented FBI, and the most powerful military in the world: combined expenditures of hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the name of keeping our citizens safe. And. They. Fail. 

I don't believe we should ban guns. But the current situation is untenable. We simply cannot forge ahead without a reasonable legal framework to try and prevent criminals and killers from acquiring weapons. Will that prevent some innocent, good-hearted individuals with crazy-eyes from getting the guns they love? I'm sure it will. The legislation will be controversial, difficult to define, and will likely be only marginally effective, but it is a desperate, critical need.

The Second Amendment establishes our right as citizens to bear arms. But the very first sentence of the Constitution places the burden on the Federal Government to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty" for the citizens of these United States. 

That sentence is the core of a document that has been amended many times since its original drafting to ensure that the government can effectively deliver on that first promise. Laws and policies that stand in the way of our government effectively securing that promise of tranquility, defense, welfare, and liberty for its citizens betray the government's core purpose. 

What we're doing isn't working. Something must change.

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