The perspective of a gun owner



 I don’t own guns and do not know much about them.  I received a mail from my fellow startup investor John Gargasz who is someone I rate and respect, which I thought I might share with you to re-center this discussion a bit.  Here we go:

Fred,

The horror of yesterday has us all revisiting what could be done. I’m an active hunter and gun owner who believes in the right to bear arms. As a New Hampshire yankee, I also have some of that militia sensibility ingrained in me. That said, I am also intentionally not a member of the NRA who I view as overly extreme in their stance.

As with most things, the devil is in the details. The pictures of weapons at the end of your previous post are menacing but technically they are very similar to many deer hunting rifles which have an very different image and use. So, changes to legislation must be carefully crafted to ensure we make it harder for bad things to happen while not impacting well intentioned, good citizens.

So, some of my thoughts. These are off the cuff – I haven’t done all the research.

- make it harder to buy guns. increase the waiting period, make the background search deeper (maybe we need to tie into mental health/medical records?), make the rules apply across all venues for purchasing a gun including sites such as craigslist, gun fairs, etc.
– look at tightening the assault rifle (number of rounds in clip/rate of fire/size – etc) requirements

At the end of the day, we live in a free society which permits a wide range of beliefs and behaviors which also exposes us to risks. We have to look at the clues these shooters provide us before the horrible event occurs. Details will unfold in the days to come and I’ll bet there was evidence that this guy was not right but nobody did anything. Heightened awareness to strange behavior and speaking up – don’t let it pass – could ultimately be our most powerful defense against these horrific acts of violence.

What a senseless loss.

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  • http://twitter.com/mscorelle mike scorelle

    While the 65 people that have died this year from mass shootings are horrible and senseless and something should be done to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable, there were 32000 other people killed by guns in the US by apparently sane people.

    It’s really not tighter laws that will help. It’s not having guns that will work.

    • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

      I agree but you have to take a long term view and work within the confines of what is feasible. The US laws have moved towards more and more freely available weapons that are designed to kill many humans in a short amount of time. In other words, the extreme wing of the NRA is winning. We need to draw a sensible set of policies that can be embraced by people who own / use / need guns if we want meaningful change.

      • garydpdx

        Salut, Fred! Maybe it is time that the NRA is pressed to define what is responsible gun ownership. Outside of those bounds, e.g., possession by felons, can be subject to regulation or prohibition.

        Some will argue that the meaning of ‘well-regulated militia’ does not mean a formal national guard but regular folks having weapons available if the Iranian Navy suddenly shows up and Iranian Guards land off the Carolina coast D-Day style. (And we’re not even touching some of the more paranoid rationale!) But if they’re not using the weapon in the commission of a criminal act, then so be it.

        A first step in responsibility means liability … if that can be established in the law, and background checks apply even to private sales (and clearance and transfer of ownership takes the seller off the hook), it can help to stanch the flow of guns to (e.g.) gangs in Chicago. If the private sellers on Chicago Craigslist understand that noncompliance could come back to them as an accessory to murder charge, there will be fewer guns in the wrong hands without touching the hotter issues in this debate.

  • http://twitter.com/eliasmoubayed Elias Moubayed

    Fred. Do you remember the shoe bomber? He tried and failed to blow up a plane by hiding a bomb in his shoes. The result is that we now dutifully take our shoes off before going through security at the airport. It’s a pity that none of that same logic will get applied to this debate. I’m sure your friend John is right that something will come up that will point to the shooter being ‘not right’ but it might also come out that the safety net that would catch such things probably lapsed because he wasn’t in work or some other random reason. Truly senseless.

  • http://nickgrossman.is/ Nick Grossman

    For more on the perspective of gun owners (in general), I found this article from a few years ago really eye opening:

    harpers.org/archive/2010/08/happiness-is-a-worn-gun

    It’s long but worth a read. As someone who is just naturally opposed to gun ownership and use, this kind of blew my mind — the extent to which gun culture really is *a culture*.

    Here is a more recent article by the same guy (http://harpers.org/blog/2012/07/the-price-of-gun-control/), which applies the “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” argument more directly, and also gets into the political challenges around gun control. Including the fact that there are already 200mm guns in circulation (!) in the US. Hard to really conceive of that.

    It does make sense to me that the the NRA’s positions are out of line with many gun owners. That it’s possible to push the NRA way out to the right and capture the sentiment of many gun owners who are also in favor of more sensible rules around gun safety.

    I think part of the challenge will be making sure that whatever response comes out of all of this doesn’t feel like knee-jerk “liberal gun control” talk, but manages somehow to transcend the traditional entrenched lines.

  • http://iamtimparker.com/ Tim Parker

    I’m from the UK, so this is a distance perspective. But my main confusion is.. okay if you must hunt, you use a shotgun? Right? Not some high powered semi automatic machine gun. How and why are the crazy guns legal which can wipe our a who class of kids in second. Whole thing is messed up.

  • Tom

    Fred, you’re right that we enjoy a number of rights in this country, but we also limit a number of these rights. Rights around speech and assembly are both limited for the public good.
    In the end it comes down to this:
    In the hands of a professional a handgun or a semi-automatic rifle is a tool for taking human life.
    In the hands of a private citizen a handgun or semi-automatic rifle is a toy.
    Hunting and sport shooting are both hobbies. I don’t villify anyone who enjoys either, but the sporting equipment necessary for both of these hobbies are a danger to the community.
    It’s time to grow up.