I was on my porch watering the flowers when my neighbor called out to me. He wanted to know what I thought was going to happen in light of the recent mass murders in Connecticut. I told him that while I really didn't know, I thought that the national mood on gun laws in this country had changed and that Congress or the President might take some action to ban or restrict at least some types of weapons and/or multiple round storage devices.
Matt looked down at the ground and shook his head ruefully.
"I just hope that the government doesn't try to confiscate our guns, " he said. Now Matt is a good guy. He is also a smart guy. A resident at the medical school down the road. The last time I was in his house I didn't notice a poster of Wayne LaPierre in his kitchen. And so I viewed this as an opportunity to teach. I cut the water off and parked myself on the hood of my car.
"Well, let's think about this Matt," I said. "Even if 'the government' (I made air-quotes with my fingers around those two words) were so inclined who do you think would confiscate everybody's guns?"
"I dunno," he said. "The ATF?"
"Not possible. They don't have enough people. Same thing with the FBI. For that matter, the Little Rock police can barely keep up with property offenses in this neighborhood. They couldn't possibly 'confiscate' everybody's weapons. This is not possible."
Matt is a quiet thoughtful type. I could tell he was rolling this around in his head.
"Do you know what the state of the law is on this issue?"
"No," he said.
"The United States Supreme Court has ruled that while the government cannot ban outright the sale of guns, they expressly did not rule on the extent to which they may be regulated. Hell, the Second Amendment itself refers to a 'well-regulated militia' which strongly implies, at least to me, that the Founding Fathers recognized the need some sort of regulation on this issue. Hell, hunters have limits on how many ducks they can shoot in a day. There's a government regulation on use of a gun. Right?"
Matt allowed as how I had given him food for thought and went back inside his house.
At least Matt wasn't talking crazy unlike the fools that my friend Dennis was forced to endure at a recent Christmas party. Now Dennis is no Commie pinko fag. He is former Special Forces and police officer. He is a boxer and legally carries a concealed weapon. He has a healthy respect for weapons that his background has given him. He is also about the last guy on Earth you would want to mess with.
"I was at this party the other night, " Dennis said. "And these guys-intelligent well-to-do folks mind you-were talking about how they needed to have assault weapons. So I asked the guy that was doing the most talking what in the world he needed an assault weapon for."
"What did he say?" I asked him.
"He said he needed it to defend his property. I told him that he didn't need an AR-15 to defend his property. That he needed to dial 911. Besides, you can't just go and shoot somebody just because he's on your property. Guess what he said then?"
"I bet I can guess but go ahead."
"He said people needed assault weapons to defend themselves against the government or in case of an invasion."
"Ah, the Red Dawn scenario. My friend's kid went to see it. He said he felt like he had to deprogram him afterwards."
"I told him that owning assault weapons wouldn't help. 'You're outnumbered and you don't have tactical skills. You're just a guy with a toy.' is what I told him and let it go at that."
The point of these two stories is to demonstrate the extent to which the NRA has intoxicated otherwise sensible people with both paranoia about gun regulation and the notion that the Second Amendment to the Constitution is sacrosanct. Even in light of the recent massacre in Newtown.
The weapon used in the Newtown tragedy is designed to kill or maim other humans quickly and efficiently. Nobody other than law enforcement and the military. I get hunting. I get personal safety.
I don't get a felt need for exotic weaponry to defend one's self from scenarios that are exceedingly unlikely. This is crazy.
Besides, like big Dennis says, the kind of person that feels a need for an AR-15 is outnumbered anyway. He may be outnumbered by his neighbors.