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Robert Blanchard
Robert Blanchard
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Lax Gun Laws – Help or Hurt our Gun Mania?

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Being from the South, I tend to agree with the NRA. I think gun ownership is a personal constitutional right. It is also a right founded on the balance of power between a people and their government, and it is not just about hunting and fishing. That being said, it seems many of my fellow citizens have a gun obsession and love to amass firearms for no obvious purpose. Again, I guess I am fine with that, until I note that some of that obsession is ginned up by the gun manufacturers in order to increase gun sales. One means of increasing this obsession is the continued use of scare tactics related to incidents of criminal conduct. In fact, crime rates have been going down, not up. Another tactic is to suggest that politicians are trying to take away our guns. There is some truth to that, but they have not generally been successful. In fact gun lobbyists have been very effective in passing legislation that is increasingly lax on gun control, for example:

Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont allow concealed carry without any permit. Vermont, however, stands out from the pack because it allows people as young as 16 to conceal carry without parental permission, as well as buy handguns.

17 states, including Oklahoma and Florida, bar employers from preventing their employees from bringing guns to work and keeping them locked in their vehicles, even if those vehicles are on the property of the employer. Indiana and North Dakota allow employees to sue their employers for damages if asked about gun possession. The North Dakota statue specifically bars employers from asking if employees’ vehicles parked on company property have weapons in them. Georgia bars employers from making employment conditional on not bringing guns to work.

34 states allow people to use deadly force when they feel threatened in public.

Open carry is largely unregulated. Thirty-five states allow open carry of handguns without a permit, while only three (plus the District of Columbia) ban it outright. Forty-seven states plus the District allow open carry of long guns (that is, rifles or shotguns) in public, while only three ban it.

Federal law mandates that licensed gun dealers only sell long guns to individuals 18 and older, and handguns to individuals 21 and older. But not all legal gun sellers are federally licensed. For instance, many gun show participants sell guns legally without a federal license. That means that many under 18 and 21 are capable of buying guns legally. In 2010, Kansas passed a law allowing the concealed carry of guns in K-12 schools, in violation of the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act, which criminalizing the carrying of firearms in specified school zones. That act was ruled unconstitutional in U.S. v. Lopez as exceeding the federal government’s powers under the Commerce Clause, and a revised statute was passed that limits the ban to guns “involved in interstate commerce,” so it is possible that the Kansas statute does not run afoul of federal law in all cases. This past week, Michigan followed suit, with state legislators passing a law allowing concealed carry in schools, bars, daycare centers and churches. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has not signed the bill into law, and its ultimate passage is now in doubt due to the Newtown incident.

Maybe if my fellow Southerners realize that pro-gun measures like these will always be well-financed by the gun manufacturers and that politicians will always end up on their side, we could all calm down and stop buying so many guns.