Child's Play, The Citizen, October
2017 Gun Safety
Gregory K. Moffatt, Ph.D.
The tragedy in Las Vegas some weeks ago stunned the
nation. The sheer number of victims
wounded and killed dwarfs any shooting anywhere in the world in history. I’m hesitant to say much about the “superlative”
because I don’t want to give any press to the perpetrator, but the facts are
what they are. We can’t believe anyone
could be so calculating and cold.
As always, this type of event sparked debate about guns almost
immediately. On one side, gun control
advocates were arguing that this event demonstrates how we must, as a culture,
begin to limit access to weapons and ammunition. I’ve heard politicians describe firearms in a
way that makes it clear to me they know absolutely nothing about guns.
Anti-gun individuals argue that more people are killed by
their own guns than by criminals. That
is true, but most of them are suicides.
Limiting guns would change that.
On the other side, gun proponents note that none of the laws
on the books and none of the proposed laws would have stopped this
shooter. Like commentator John Stossel
said once in regard to some other shooting – “As far as I know, murder is
already illegal.” But I’ve heard gun
advocates argue that gun control is unconstitutional. That isn’t true. You can’t own a Howitzer, atomic weapon,
fully automatic weapon, or a host of other guns.
Pro-gun individuals argue that we can’t measure the number
of crimes that are stopped because people have guns. That is true, but it is a straw-man
argument. Because we can’t measure it,
it can’t be used as a defense for gun ownership.
The debate is painful to both sides. The passion of those wishing to limit guns is
not always reflective of a disdain for guns of any kind. Such accusations make for an easy response
for their opponents, but isn’t based in fact.
This passion is more often rooted in the senselessness of such events
and a drive to try to stop it from happening again.
The other side of the debate argues for the Constitutional
right to “keep and bear” arms. Again,
the easy argument from their opponents is that gun-rights advocates want
machine guns and unlimited access to weapons.
That isn’t true of most gun owners either. Most gun owners already have limited weapons
and limited ammunition and even where automatic weapons are available, most gun
owners don’t even try to get licenses to buy and keep such weapons.
Therefore, hours of debate lobbing accusations back and
forth from varied media outlets leaves us nowhere other than more angry at one another.
As it is, guns are legal in Georgia. There are no limits on the number of firearms
you can own and no license is needed to purchase a firearm or ammunition. One must be 21 years of age, must not be a
convicted felon, and must not have a history of mental illness. Otherwise, with either a concealed carry
permit or a legal ID, and a background check, almost anyone can buy a
The law in Georgia allows almost anyone to conceal carry. Along with the requirements to buy a firearm,
one must also be fingerprinted at the Sheriff’s office and apply for the
license through probate court and pay the fees.
Sadly, Georgia has no requirement that any concealed carry
applicant demonstrate any knowledge or proficiency with firearms nor is any safety
training required. That seems goofy to
For years I’ve heard people argue for “common sense” gun
control. That sounds great, but the problem
is this. Whose definition of “common
sense” should we use?
If you are still reading at this point, you almost certainly
have some feelings on one side or the other and maybe you are even mad at what
I’ve said. That makes my point.
Perhaps we can agree to the following ideas. We can’t do anything about Colorado,
California, or Nevada, but we can look at our state requirements and at least
demand proficiency with a firearm before issuing concealed carry permits.
Gun owners (especially with children) should follow best
safety practices with their ammunition and firearms. Don’t leave firearms loaded, keep them locked
up, do not store ammunition in the same place at the firearm.
Finally, if your child is invited to another child’s home, parents
should always inquire of home owner as to the presence of weapons and how they
are secured and stored.
Maybe this can at least get us started and maybe Georgia can
take the lead in setting an example for how to manage the Constitution as well
as sensible safety measures.
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