Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lets talk about Guns

This issue tackles both Conservative and Liberal approaches to gun control. I decided to do this comic because I believe the gun control debate in America is too simplistic and emotionally charged for anything productive to be done on this issue.

I am more liberal on the issue of guns. I support increased background checks, closing loopholes in the existing law, and I lean towards banning high capacity magazines. I can also find some common ground with conservatives that improving our mental health system is a solution we should look at to solve gun violence. I do think, however, that the mentally ill must not be further stigmatized and that we should be mindful that it is hard to construct a profile of these people.

On the conservative side, the thing I take perhaps the most issue with is the idea that merely arming the populace will stop all gun violence. There was an armed school resource officer at Columbine. There was an armed guard at Pulse. Civilians stopping criminals from committing gun violence have a mixed record.

Soldiers are not just made by placing a gun into an 18 year old kid's hand. They must go through basic training. The accuracy of cops diminishes in a fire fight.  It doesn't seem that most of these armed civilians have a training on guns.

On the flip side, I do have some concerns about the proposals of liberals violating the civil liberties of US citizens. The idea that we will deny the right of those on the terrorist watch list to get guns is troubling to me.

There is no oversight or transparency on these lists. There are no checks and balances. There should be a way to challenge one's status on the list. I think there should be some sort of court that oversees such requests.

Liberals have pointed out that the process can be made more transparent and they are correct. If that is the case, however, these lists need to be improved before a vote is held and liberals are not doing that. They are trying to pass legislation using these terrorist lists as they currently exist.

To me, this is the worst legacy of the War on Terror. We are depriving people of freedom. To do so is necessary at times, and our constitution acknowledges this, which is why we have the concept of Due Process. Due Process has not been applied in any meaningful manner for any of the measures in the War on Terror. Sure, the government must take steps to stop terrorists. It must conduct surveillance on them, detain them, and yes, take steps to remove their access to weapons.

The trouble is that we must have safeguards to prevent law abiding citizens from having their civil liberties wrongfully taken. We know that governments are prone to abusing their authority. That is the very founding premise of our Republic. Besides that, or government has a terrible track record of dealing with dissent in a manner that is consistent with our founding principles.

Bringing it back to the idea of criticizing both liberals and conservatives, I think that this debate is so simple that it contributes to the fact that we overlook issues of civil liberties. The debate is framed in such a black and white manner that it is impossible to consider whether one side or the other's plan is fair and just. Whether or not one side or the other's plan has proper safeguards for law abiding citizens.

It should not be about right or wrong. There are fair ways to implement liberal values and conservative values. The are also unfair ways to implement both. Each side should focus on compromise and whether or not the other side is living up to Democratic ideals rather than trying to demonize liberalism or conservatism as inherently right or wrong.

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