Gun owners are our own worst enemies. While this is a blanket statement that may not apply to everyone, the overwhelming majority of firearm owners ruin it for all of us. This isn’t a new concept, and honestly has been an issue for years, while we are only feeling the repercussions of some actions now. While at first glance this article may seem as though it is pointing fingers and assigning blame, I hope that some of you that read it will choose to use it as a wake-up call instead.
The issue at hand is the willingness to let our constitutionally protected right to bear arms be trodden upon. There is a strong history of compromises, willingness to choose a path of least resistance, and placation to have any rights left at all. Instead, what that does is show those who would strip us of our rights that they can constantly move the goal line and we will go along with it.
To understand where we are, we have to look at how we got there. I’ve already written about different gun control measures that have been put in place, but there is another angle we need to explore. What did the population of the time do about the laws changing? What measures were taken to ensure that nothing else would change going forward? Luckily, we can examine one of the most impactful gun control measures enacted and gauge reactions to it without digging too deeply into the annuls of history.
In 1986, the Firearm Owner Protection Act did much to change existing legislation, while at the same time reducing the rights of law-abiding citizens. While it was originally supposed to undo many changes that the Gun Control Act of 1968 brought about, the FOPA additionally eliminated the ability to manufacture, import, or sell new full-auto firearms after the date of enactment. This turned existing full autos into a hot commodity, that today can demand a price in the tens of thousands or higher (depending on the make and condition of the gun). An entire section of firearms was now restricted to military and law enforcement only, although it was shown at the time, that of the 175,000 licensed by the ATF, there was no evidence showing that they had ever been used in a crime.1
One of the most significant factors in getting the FOPA passed, was the endorsement from the NRA. Once seen as a juggernaut that fought for gun rights, the NRA took a decidedly middle-of-the-road approach here that many view as the beginning of the end. Their intent was clear, give up something to secure a broader section of gun rights. Sadly, their intentions merely paved the way for further gun control measures to be passed less than ten years later, restricting and eliminating some of the very things the NRA fought for.
At the time of the FOPA’s passing, many gun owners still saw it as a win. The ATF’s powers were reduced slightly, ammunition sales would largely go untracked and ammo could be shipped via the US Postal Service, and guns could be transported around the country with federal protection. Why then, is this a glaring example of why gun owners are responsible for gun control being passed? That’s simple: people only care if the results or consequences will directly impact them.
Even before the 1986 ban, most gun owners did not have full autos in their possession. Yes, it was more common than it is today (due largely in part to the restriction on their manufacture), but it still wasn’t as commonplace as a hunting rifle, a shotgun, or a handgun. Why would the average duck hunter give a second thought to signing off on the ban of “machine guns” when he just needed a shotgun? What good did shooting full auto do against deer and other wildlife? This apathy towards restrictions that don’t impact an individual is still the biggest threat to our way of life that exists today.
Look at the Assault Weapons Ban by the Clinton administration for further proof of this. You had an entire generation of gun owners saying things like, “Why do you need an AR-15?”, “As long as my hunting rifle is good, why should I care?”, and similar. We are quite literally letting them do as they like with our rights because the result doesn’t appear to impact us at first glance. Very few people seem to be able to look beyond the immediate and see the long game being played, or the lasting consequences that have been handed down to us by the older generations (and that we in turn our handing down to our children). If we are going to put a stop to the trampling of the Second Amendment, we have to take ownership of the problem, make it our responsibility to fight for change, and stop letting the lawmakers that are supposed to be working for us, tell us what we need.
Stop putting the burden on others and take action for yourself. Let me preface most of this paragraph by saying that I get that time is precious to most of us; I work long hours and have a family, but at the end of the day, expecting someone else to stand up for you is just lazy. Too often, legislation is brought up for consideration, or the ATF puts up new changes that are open for comment, and gun owners do nothing. Any time one of these items is considered, it is up to all of us to be flooding our representatives with letters, phone calls, and emails, expressing our distaste, telling them that no gun control is acceptable, and exhausting all legal means of making our voices heard. How long does it take to type an email, 5-10 minutes? Play one less game on your phone, turn the TV off during a commercial break, or find another way to squeeze it into your routine so that the weight of your inaction doesn’t fall on the rest of us. Also keep in mind that the internet is flooded by people spouting off about lines in the sand, taking a stand, and much more, yet these same people cannot be bothered to write comments or emails when it matters.
- Kruschke, Earl R. (1995). Gun Control: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 0-87436-695-X. OCLC 260209689.