Gun control and gun rights are a big issue right now. We can probably agree that guns are weapons and can be used violently. Sometimes the violence may be justified, and other times it’s certainly not. What, if anything, should we do about this “gun violence”?
People like myself think we should have very little gun control. Though I haven’t worked out the details of my personal philosophy yet, I know I don’t want to live in a country where the police have guns and the citizens don’t. None of our candidates are openly advocating for that type of country right now, but I (along with a whole lot of other Libertarian and Conservative types) think that increasing gun control and making it more difficult for people to legally obtain guns is a step in the wrong direction.
On the other side of the arena are the pro-gun control folks. They believe gun violence is different from knife violence or stick violence, and to be a bit fair, guns usually are more deadly than other weapons. By restricting access to lethal weapons, gun control folks think that we’ll have a safer nation.
Writing this article has forced me to step back from the issue a bit and try to examine both sides. Without a dash of objectivity, this article would only be one long sarcasm-filled rant . . . and, well, it kind of is. I hope you find something useful here despite my comments from the peanut gallery. If you don’t want to scroll all the way to the end, here’s a cheat sheet:
Gun Rights Final Score:
Hillary and Jill: Bad
Trump and Gary: Good
So! What do our favorite politicians think about gun control?
What does Hillary say?
“We’ve got to do something. It’s a very difficult political issue. But we are smart enough, compassionate enough to balance legitimate Second Amendment rights concerns with preventive measures and control measures, so whatever motivated this murderer … we will not see more needless, senseless deaths.” -Hillary
Overall, Hillary sounds like she’s all for more gun control. She focuses most on controlling the guns that would lead to “needless, senseless deaths,” presumably by increasing background checks for gun buyers. This should make it more difficult for violent criminals to obtain guns legally . . . and we all know that criminals’ first priority is to obey the law.
“90 people a day die from gun violence in our country. That’s 33,000 people a year.” – Hillary (source)
According to one source, this number is correct, but misleading. Only a third of these gun deaths are homicides. The great majority of gun violence in the US is committed by gunmen on themselves, in the form of suicide.
“Parents, teachers, and schools should have the right to keep guns out of classrooms, just like Donald Trump does at many of his hotels.” – Hillary
Again, who’s going to enforce this gun-free zone against violent criminals? Maybe hanging a “gun-free zone” sign on the school door will do it.
Finally, Hillary seems to be against open-carry permits, because . . . they scare people.
“What about the young mom with her two kids who’s in a supermarket, and some guy gets to come in with a — you know — an AK-47 over his back because he’s got a new permit that permits him to walk around and threaten and intimidate and scare the heck out of that young mother and her children? I don’t get it.” -Hillary (source)
Despite the concerns of some people (like me), Hillary is not advocating for a gun-free America. Should we worry that increasing gun control is a slippery slope toward complete gun restriction? Maybe not. Maybe we should take Hillary at her word.
What Does Trump Say?
“Well, I’m a big Second Amendment person. As an example, for the horrible thing that just took place in Oregon had somebody in that room had a gun, the result would have been better.” – Trump (source)
Overall, Trump seems to be in favor of less gun control than Hillary. He’s implied that gun-free zones are a bad idea:
“The gun-free zones are target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill. They look for gun-free zones.” -Trump
And overall, he likes to point to mental health as the basic problem behind mass murders committed via guns. (How’s he going to solve mental health problems? Well . . . perhaps arm teachers to provide a balancing mechanism to prevent massive school shootings. Though a school full or distracted, armed teachers and unsupervised kids could be a problem.)
Even though Trump has painted himself as something of a gun rights supporter, he still says that assault weapons should be banned.
“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons . . .” -Trump
Both Trump and Hillary agreed during the first debate that people on watch lists and no-fly lists should not have access to guns. At another time, Trump accused Hillary of wanting to abolish the Second Amendment, and further said,
“I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm, right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? She doesn’t want guns. Take their — let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away.” -Trump (source)
Hillary denied Trump’s claim and said it was false (she was technically on-target there). In any event, Trump seems a bit more gun positive and a bit more crazy than Hillary.
What does Gary Johnson say?
“I don’t believe the laws regarding guns are effective. We’re allowed to bear arms. It’s part of a free society.” -Gary (source)
Gary, overall, is against restricting gun access. He says that even though someone is on a no fly list, that shouldn’t be used to undermine their right to buy a gun. He is also in favor of allowing concealed carry.
However, Gary’s views are sometimes a bit suspicious—he’s not as strong a Libertarian as he might seem. For instance, this quote implies that he’s willing to compromise on Libertarian issues in order to get into the White House.
“We should be open to a discussion on keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. I don’t know how that manifests itself, but I’m looking to get elected President of the United States. I just want to let people know I have an open mind about how we might, how government might, interject itself in a lot of the problems we have.” -Gary (source)
Even though the methods of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill are a bit shady, Gary’s still much more freedom-positive than Hillary and Jill Stein when it comes to gun control, and barely more Libertarian than Trump.
“I’m in the camp that believes very simply, that if you outlaw guns, outlaws will have guns.” – Gary
What does Jill Stein Say?
“We certainly need an assault weapons ban, but we need more than that. There are some 260 people every day who are injured or killed by gun violence, so it’s very important that we ban assault weapons, for starters, but there are other steps that need to be taken quickly. . . . So, we need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. We need background checks, so that the mentally ill are not possessing and using guns. And we need to end the gun show loopholes, as well, because there’s far too much violence from guns, which is not needed.” -Jill (source)
Jill Stein is pretty clear about where she stands on guns: more restrictions, less privacy, and ban assault weapons, just for starters. When it comes to the issue of gun rights, she sounds as bad as Hillary. In fact she sounds a bit worse, because she speaks with a bit more clarity and a little less like a politician.
“It is more dangerous to the occupants of a home to have a gun than not. It’s more likely that you’ll be injured by your own gun than that you’ll be defended against some intruder with that gun.” -Jill
“It is outrageous that politicians have refused to implement even small common sense steps such as comprehensive background checks for gun purchases due to fear of the NRA. How many more innocent people must be massacred before our elected officials take action to protect us?” -Jill (source)
Jill Stein implies that the government should protect us by heavily regulating guns . . . or at least, taking Hillary’s “common sense” steps.
What You Need To Know
Both Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein:
Ban assault weapons, increase background checks, implement “common sense” gun restrictions, and generally make it more difficult for law-abiding people to obtain guns.
Generally sounds hands-off when it comes to gun control, but he does support restrictions based on watch lists and no fly lists. He thinks we should do something about the mentally ill.
Not surprisingly, Gary is the most Libertarian of the bunch, but only by a hair. He is against gun bans in general (who isn’t?) but indicates that he would be willing to regulate guns or use other methods to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining them (similar to Trump).