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I Am a Gun Owner

We have a gun problem in this country that has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. I am a gun owner, but I am all for better regulation of firearms in this country.

I am a gun owner. 

I have a Massachusetts Class A Concealed Carry License. I own three semi-automatic guns: two 22-caliber rifles and a 22 caliber target pistol.

Why do I own guns?  I have always been interested in knowing how to handle a firearm.  My son has a strong interest in firearms as well.  I decided that the best way for him to know how to safely handle firearms was to learn take the firearms safety course and practice with them.  Actually, even before we applied for permits (my son has a Class B Firearms Identification card a.k.a FID), he knew a lot about firearms already and when he was a counselor in training at Scout Camp two years ago, he assisted in teaching at the rifle range.

My son and I manage to find time to go to the range at a local sporting club about once a month.

I don’t think I am unusual here.  Several of the fathers in my son’s Scout Troop also have Class A Licenses and take their sons shooting.

I do not have my guns for home defense.  It is against Massachusetts law to have a loaded firearm in the house unless it is under the direct control of the licensed gun owner so unless I am going to walk around my house with my target pistol holstered to my hip 24/7, it’s not going to do me much good.  The only way I would carry a loaded gun outside of the firing range would be in the event of the zombie apocalypse or in the unlikely event of a complete breakdown of civil order.

I have read that even trained police officers, wakened from a deep sleep, had lousy accuracy trying to fire a gun in an emergency situation.  If trained police officers are not likely to shoot straight at a night prowler, what chance do I have?

I also consider that studies have shown that in most cases, if you have a gun you are more likely to have it used against you than against an assailant. For example:

“In a first-of-its-kind study, epidemiologists at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine found that, on average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.”

The idea of arming teachers and school administrators as a deterrent against crazed gunmen is ludicrous because unless these people are put through rigorous training and refresher courses like SWAT police officers, putting a gun in the hands of a school teacher is going to do more harm than good. I have fired 9mm handguns in the past. It takes a lot of practice to shoot those accurately at a gun range.  In a crowded hall full of panicky kids against an assailant wearing body armor when you are struggling with fight-or-flight response?  You have got to be kidding me.

I also do not see anything wrong with regulating the ownership and use of firearms.  The Second Amendment of the Constitution says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.  It says nothing about regulating how those arms are borne.

We regulate driving.  No one thinks twice about taking driver’s education classes, wearing seatbelts, getting their cars inspected, or renewing driver’s licenses.  Certain types of cars are not permitted on the roads, such as Indy Racers or alcohol-fueled Funny Car drag racers.

Likewise, I see no reason for anyone to own a semi-automatic rifle capable of firing high-powered ammunition.  The Bushmaster rifle used by the Newtown shooter was, for all intents and purposes, a military grade weapon.  Its .223 caliber ammunition is just about the same as the 5.56 mm NATO standard used in the M-16 and M-4 combat rifles.

Wikipedia describes .223 ammo like this: “When loaded with a bullet that expands, tumbles, or fragments in tissue, this cartridge is capable of delivering devastating terminal performance.”  The article on 5.56mm NATO rounds has this statement: “It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge. When the bullet impacts at high velocity and yaws in tissue, fragmentation creates a rapid transfer of energy which can result in dramatic wounding effects.”

This ammunition is also used in bolt-action hunting rifles but when combined with a 30-round clip and a rapid firing weapon, the combination is nothing less than a machine designed for military combat, period, end of story. No one I know uses these kinds of rifles for deer or varmint hunting.

To me, this is the same as comparing an Indy Car to a Honda Accord or even a Chevy Camaro. Overkill.

Can my small caliber rimfire rifles and pistol kill people?  Absolutely.  Are these practical weapons for killing people in job lots? No.

To get back to my original point, I see no reason why firearms sales and use cannot be regulated. I have no problem getting my firearms license renewed on a more frequent basis than the 6-year interval required by Massachusetts law.  I see no problem with requiring background checks of anyone buying a firearm from any place and at any time.  I see no problem making high capacity clips illegal.  I see no problem limiting the types of firearms available that can use high-powered ammunition.  None of these restrictions would prohibit people from hunting or engaging in shooting sports.

The issues that lead to the Newtown massacre were no doubt, complex.  The shooter was severely mentally ill, was trained in how to use a very deadly weapon and had access to said weapon.  We will never know the entire story here, but if Adam Lanza had gotten psychiatric help, if he did not know how to use the rifle, if his mother did not have the rifle and the high capacity magazines, this particular event would not have happened. Could Lanza have found another way to cause suicidal mayhem? Sure, but it would have been a lot harder.

We have a gun problem in this country that has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.  Among first-world nations, we have the highest homicide rate by firearms, by up to one to three orders of magnitude (see illustration) greater than other first world nations.  The Newtown tragedy aside, states with stricter regulations on firearms have a lower death rate from firearms.  Crime may not decrease, but deaths from shootings decreases.

We have had many mass shootings, more than any other country in the world but these are still low probability events when you compare them to other things that can happen to the average person during their lifetime.  But even one of these awful tragedies is one too many and the number of them can be decreased as far as I am concerned.

Having armed guards or police in every school in America as the NRA suggests, arming teachers or buying your kid a Kevlar backpack is just dealing with the symptoms. To deal with the problem start with firearms regulation, better firearms and criminal information data sharing among federal agencies and state and local police departments, and better funding of and community access to help for mentally unstable people.

Enough is enough.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stephen Faris December 26, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Andy, Its all well and good to improve gun regulation but I think we need better security especially at the schools. In Westborough, we have a police officer who goes between the schools and serves as a deterent to nut cases. This security should be tightened in view of Newtown. Steve
Ryan Seavey December 26, 2012 at 07:14 AM
The assault weapon ban ended in 2004, so I'm not really sure why you'd cite anything before that? not to mention your assault weapon ban did NOTHING to stop shootings between 1994 and 2004... Oh wait, it did make it harder for police depts. to order weapons...
Ryan Seavey December 26, 2012 at 07:15 AM
also mass shooting have NOT increased, so please don't put out false information, thanks
Ryan Seavey December 26, 2012 at 07:18 AM
I think it's worth noting that the number one weapon used in violent crimes are BASEBALL BATS, knives, hammers, drunk driving...guns kill a lot less than all of those... and a lot less frequently.
Ryan Seavey December 26, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Punishing millions for the actions of 1 is the backwards mindset that the anti-gun sheeple tend to get fed into thinking
Andy Koenigsberg December 26, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Mr. Seavey - Can a baseball bat, knife or a hammer be used to kill a dozen people in under a minute?
Andy Koenigsberg December 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Mr. Seavey - I got my evidence about the number of mass shootings directly off a list of documented mass shootings since 1982, so I am not putting out false information. If I cannot find references for any statements I make, I don't make them. How is regulating the use of firearms punishing people? The Supreme Court, in its decision to allow residents of Washington DC to have handguns for home protection, also said that the 2nd Amendment not a right to have any kind of weapon to be used any way an owner wants and that the sale of firearms may be regulated. As I said in my posting, I am a gun owner and I see no problem regulating the ownership of firearms. I stand by that opinion.
Andy Koenigsberg December 26, 2012 at 04:48 PM
AEO81 - You can spout Wayne LaPierre's NRA line all you want (and it has not escaped anyone's notice that you do not have the wherewithal to use your own name in your posts) and call me "childish" or whatever makes you feel better, but I stand by my blog posting and my opinion on this issue. Nothing I have said would trample your second amendment rights. I never said you cannot own a handgun, rifle or any other legal firearm. Firearms should be regulated like any other product for sale in this country and the people who sell them should be subject to the same standards. The majority of NRA members actually agree with this stance. However, feel free to keep on ranting to your heart's content. It's not as if I did not expect this sort of response from some readers.
Andy Koenigsberg December 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Oh, by the way Mr. Seavey - your statement here is incorrect . . . according to the FBI (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl08.xls). In 2010, guns were used to commit 8,775 murders. Blunt objects (including bats) were used in 540 homicides and knives were used in 1,704. Just so you know. Talk about putting out false information.
Linda Worthy December 26, 2012 at 07:09 PM
New York Journal News has published an interactive map -- of the names and addresses of registered gun owners in Westchester and Rockland Counties. Putnam County is still developing their list and will provide it to the paper. The Journal obtained the information using a Freedom of Information request. They published a similar list in 2006 and hardly a complaint was heard. This time registered gun owners are screaming that their privacy was violated and refusing to identify themselves when they call the paper to complain. If I decide to register a car, buy certain cold medications, own property or answer questions asked by the U.S. Census Bureau, I acknowledge that that information will be public (even if it takes 70 years in the case of the Census Bureau). Are gun owners special? http://tinyurl.com/cu3o84z
AEO81 December 26, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Firearms and the sale of firearms are regulated as a gun owner you should know that...... how about we look a little closer into your stats you keep talking about 2011 Total murders 12,664 total firearms used 8583, total handguns: 6220 rifles 323, shotguns 356 and other guns/not stated 1684 knives or cutting 1694, blunt objects 496 and personal weapons hands,feet 726 soo i could say more people are killed with knives blunt object,hands and feet then assault rifles sooo shouldn't we be more concerned about pistols then sooo called assault rifles but like most things this is just people banging the drums for whatever cause they are barking about sooo they can feel good about themselves or have that feeling of a superior smug attitude that is all too common in this state and i aint ranting im giving my opinion nor do i need to prove anything to you about who i am you obivouly dont know much about AR15/M16 and a 223 is glorified 22 its not that powerful compared to alot of other rounds and the reason the military uses a 556 is its a standard cheap mass produced NATO ROUND
AEO81 December 26, 2012 at 07:41 PM
ohhh and those stats dont state if the weapons were bought legally or illegally or how they were aquired
Andy Koenigsberg December 26, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Actual bullet diameters are exactly the same (0.224"). A 223 can be fired from a weapon chambered for 556 round (and vice versa although it is not recommended). Both rounds can have bullets in the same grain range (55 for the 223 and 62 for the 556) with equivalent muzzle velocities and energy. It is incorrect to say that a center fire 223 is a "glorified" 22LR rim fire round, which has a maximum bullet grain weight of about 40 grains and energy level about a 10th that of 223 or 556 ammo. 22LR rounds have no stopping power whatsoever. 223 rounds were used in Newtown.
Mike Long December 26, 2012 at 10:48 PM
According to an FBI Report the majority of violent crimes (87.5%) are not committed using guns. Of the 12.5% of the violent crimes where guns were used, the vast majority of the guns were obtained illegally. Adding to the 20,000+ gun laws that currently exist will not have any real effect on violent crime. It is the person who commits the violent crime that must be dealt with. The other side of this equation are the number of instances where violent crimes are stopped by armed citizens. These acts of bravery are seldom reported by the press. If we are going to talk about crimes perpetrated by criminals using firearms we need to also talk about the crimes stopped by honest citizens using firearms as a tool for good We should be talking about the responsibility that the shooter bears for his actions in this sad story. It is the shooter who pulled the trigger. It is the shooter who went into the school with premeditated murder on his mind. It is the shooter who intended to end the life of these very young children. It is the shooter who should be the focus of repudiation.
Andy Koenigsberg December 27, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I also said in my posting that: "Could Lanza have found another way to cause suicidal mayhem? Sure, but it would have been a lot harder." Instead, he had a weapon with ammunition and capacity that made his "job" very easy. I also said that studies have shown that an armed person is more likely to get shot in an assault than an unarmed person. I also pointed out that states with stricter gun control laws have lower rates of deaths from firearms.
Ron Goodenow December 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Good morning Mike. I hope you and your family had a good Christmas. There are all kinds of things we can and should be talking about, though it is hard for a lot of people to focus on repudiating a guy who is already dead -- and assuredly my anger does include him. I am curious to know from you, an active GOP political figure, what to make of Scott Brown's call for a ban on assault weapons, and the polls which show a significant majority of NRA members opposed to the position taken by that lobby. Are they all misguided, caught in hysteria, etc.? I personally thought the presentation by LaPierre was outrageous, as have many leading Republican voices such as Joe Scarborough, David Frum and the head GOP pollster Luntz. I would be happy to have you tell us what the FBI study is and how we can get it (you know I like to read :-) ). I do believe we need far more clarity about enforcement...and more enforcement of existing gun laws. If you would care to accompany me to Florida next week I would be happy to take you to a weekend gun sale at a huge flea market where weapons can be purchased off the backs of trucks, no questions asked. So many police have been laid off thanks to Rick Scott's budgeting there is almost no enforcement capability. Oh, I do appreciate the fact that you are among those willing to use their real name in this discussion.
AEO81 December 27, 2012 at 06:51 PM
states with stricter gun laws does not equate lower rates of deaths from firearms..... go look at the FBI stats again.......... this time don't cherry pick the info you are using to support your points, also most studies will point no correlation between enacting gun laws and gun violence, this is a far more complex issue that goes way beyond further gun restrictions suggesting a 10 round mag is safer then a 30 rd mag is asinine or the stopping power of 223 .....issues like enforcement of current laws,family,culture,faith,values,economic standing and mental health/treatment those are the factors involved in violence and the understanding that like nature somethings are out of our control and will just happen ........ And the assault weapon ban did not ban the sale of AR15's it merely made it so you couldn't get a bayonet lug or a collapsible stock... merely cosmetics things a feel good law that did little i got my AR15 in this great state during the assault weapon ban, brand new from bushmaster legally and I've never committed a crime with it either and yes most gun owners in the country want sensible laws that make sense and are enforced not more laws that will not be enforced and only punish lawful citizens
Andy Koenigsberg December 27, 2012 at 07:38 PM
First thing, stop trying to put words in my mouth. Second, please provide some back up for anything you are saying, otherwise, it just sounds like a bunch of nonsense blather. You state that "most studies will point no correlation between enacting gun laws and gun violence". What studies are those and what academic institutes published them? Second - I never said that a 10 round magazine is "safer" than a 30 round magazine. Third - Congressional restrictions and underfunding of law enforcement has made it harder to enforce current laws. I agree with you that most gun owners in the country want sensible laws that make sense. I am one of those gun owners. To me, it makes sense to ban rapid firing weapons that can take large capacity magazines and high power ammo. You have made your point that you do not agree with my position, but I stand by my point of view.
AEO81 December 27, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Most of your points are based on your own bias, you name the study of one school( Actually you dont even do that you just name a school that had done a fist of it kind study) , and the FBI uniform crime report and just picked out the stats to support your own veiw point everything else youve stated is your own opinion not facts
Andy Koenigsberg December 27, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Well, that's your opinion of me, which I am OK with even if I don't agree with it. But still, you provide nothing to back up anything you have said. I want to pose a couple of hypotheticals to you. 1. You are on a battlefield and the bad guys are coming up the hill at you. Which would you rather have - a 10 round clip in your rifle or a 30 round clip? Me, I'd rather have a 30 round clip because I can probably kill or injure more bad guys before I have to reload. 2. You are in a crowd when a guy with a semi-automatic weapon opens up (doesn't matter if it's a rifle or a handgun). You decide that if you are going to go down anyway, you might as well attempt to take down the attacker when he reloads if you are not shot in the meantime. Would you rather the guy had a 10 round clip in his weapon or a 30 round clip? By the way, this scenario is not hypothetical and the attacker was taken down before he could reload. Of the seven mass shootings this year, in only two of these did the shooter have a semi-auto rifle with a high capacity clip. Dead and injured in these two incidents, 98. The other five shooters used standard hand guns with 10 or 15 round clips and the total 40 dead and injured numbered 40. I am not making this up. The info comes straight from news reports. I stand by what I wrote.
Ron Goodenow December 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Here is content from Ezra Klein’s recent comprehensive report in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/ ) that takes up one of the bones of contention here. “Last year, economist Richard Florida dove deep into the correlations between gun deaths and other kinds of social indicators. Some of what he found was, perhaps, unexpected: Higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness were not correlated with more deaths from gun violence. But one thing he found was, perhaps, perfectly predictable: States with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths. The disclaimer here is that correlation is not causation.” http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/# I cannot seem to find the generalization provided by OE081 supported by the FBI uniform crime reports, which do show a horrific relationship between guns and homicides. I suspect that gun laws are akin to drug ones: a myriad of state and federal ones that need to be looked at in terms of desired outcomes, cost and effectiveness. OE081, you would be much more effective if you wrote carefully, let us know who you are, and laid out where you get your information. As it is you just come across as angry and not as rational as you and your argument could be.
AEO81 December 27, 2012 at 11:49 PM
these states supposedly have the strictest gun laws California,New Jersey,Massachusetts,Connecticut,Hawaii,New York,Maryland,Illinois,Rhode Island and Michigan these have the weakest gun laws South Dakota,Arizona,Mississippi,Vermont,Louisiana,Montana, Wyoming, Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20 None of these stats show if the weapon was legally or illegally acquired nor population sizes, but please show me the correlation between strict gun laws and reduced gun violence
Ron Goodenow December 28, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Briefly. 'supposedly' can be a slippery and tricky word and 'strictest' is another. And are you showing general crime or homicide? I have the study you mention, and maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see that it addresses or analyzes itself the main point of a relationship between violent crime and specific state laws in any meaningful way. I think you are the one who challenged any assertion Andy may have made on that topic. Anyhow, have you looked at the study I cited? Is it wrong? Again, I think it is important to be very specific in terms of what studies conclude, not just show some top level possible relationships. In any case, even if the point about states can be generally proven (without getting too far into what their laws actually say, how they are enforced, demographics, etc), I am not sure what it really means in terms of the current debate and the value or lack thereof of federal legislation -- maybe we could be better off with federal laws rather than thousands of state ones. Do you think strict gun laws actually lead to more crime? Using your logic we would end crime by ending all laws....(I know some might like that but it will never happen) And right now we are talking primarily about more effective background checks and limits on ammo or, in a 'worst case' scenario; Senator Brown's call to outlaw assault weapons. But good to discuss this. What we want is less weaponry in the wrong hands and in places where we educate little kids.
Doug Melanson December 28, 2012 at 02:00 AM
While I am not totally in agreement with either Ron or some others I have come to resect thier arguments as they are thought out well. Presented without emotion overtaking thier argument (for the most part) I was guilty of it right after the Newtown shooting and have since softened my stance. I think school security has to be looked at from top to bottom and they should use every ounce of reasonable technology to keep the kids safe, including more cameras, buzzers, bullet resistant entry glass (for new school. too expensive to retrofit) and STAFF doors as much as possible. But after I got over my initial emotional response I have rethought my armed guards in schools. I think we need MORE police checking on schools throuhout the day! I have come to this thought because of how rare school shooting are. I also (this has't changed) am still for ALL assault weapons being removed from the street (no one needs one) I have fired them and they are so much fun but each time i go to the shooting range and use thiers. I know a couple of things. the 2nd Ammendment s NOT going away. I am not in fear of it happening in anyway. I am for keeping kids, adults and anything in between safer by getting assault weapons and high capacity clips off the street! I hope we can all come together REALISTICALLY and not out of fear or emotions and do what is right. I see valid arguments on both sides but we need to proect a stop the trend of violence. Thanks. I apolgize for past emotional entries.
Rich A December 28, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Both of the following reactions are knee-jerk in response to the tragedy at Newtown: "We need to get all of these guns under control!" "We need more security and more guns to protect our kids!" Knee-jerk, emotional reactions are understandable. My son is in the 1st grade, and I'm a teacher. That could have been my son's school or the school I teach at. I remain horrified by the idea of what happened in Newtown. But emotion and knee-jerk reactions won't solve the problem. Neither will addressing only the symptoms. The problem isn't guns, and while I can agree with closing some of the more egregious loopholes, I support 2nd Amendment rights. Neither is the problem a lack of security in our schools. If we put our children behind armored walls and guards with guns, they will grow up in fear and trust no one. As a teacher, I have ZERO interest in carrying a gun. Although this part of his blog post has been entirely ignored by some, Andy pointed out, quite rightly, that Newtown and other school shootings have a variety of causes. To me, it all really boils down to our values as a society. Sadly, we place money and profit ahead of people, and in doing so we are creating people who feel the only meaning their lives have is to kill themselves and take innocents with them. We call empathy weakness and wonder why people are callously killing our children.
Doug Melanson December 28, 2012 at 02:24 AM
We also have to have the response tactics by polics looked into to get officers on scene as fast as possible and to get them in the schools as quick as possile. I think this may have been changed after Columbine but not sure. Time=lives and without an armed guard we need to get better at reacting. I cannot help thinking there has to be a way we can put something in a someone in the schools hands to defend the students (but who, and what) Maybe every prnciple has to be trained in no lethal defense with a rubber bullet gun as part of their training, or the PE teacher? I don't kno just typing out loud. But some way so someone can TRY and have something do defend and maybe slow down an attacker until the police get there.
Ron Goodenow December 28, 2012 at 03:48 AM
I am pleased to see DGM coming around to being forthright about his concerns, which are complex, and understand where Rich A is coming from, and appreciate his openness about his feelings. The next step is for the most community involvement as possible. My hope was that this horrible event was a 'teachable moment' and I feel that it is becoming that very thing as our initial anger and weariness starts to give way to thinking about practical solutions. At the end of the day this all reflects the America we want to have and live in. We are at out best when we remember two things: we are a democratic country (often sloppy in the way we do things) that is a beacon to the world, and we are a pragmatic country with a great constitution that got us to that place. We will always make mistakes, but if we can respect others and think about how to best serve our children and communities we will prevail. And have more arguments! With all that good feeling I am signing off. I want to say that we all owe a great debt to Andy for laying so many things out in a very honest and personal way. I can assure everyone that on important issues of the day he will be there, and I will probably chime in a bit as well. Happy New Year to all.
Doug Melanson December 28, 2012 at 12:33 PM
You also Ron!
Andy Koenigsberg December 28, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Thanks to everybody (and I mean everybody) who commented on this posting. At this point, I will ask the editor to shut down comments as I think after four days, everyone has been able to make their point of view very clear.
Doug Melanson December 28, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Thanks Andy! Happy New Year!

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