Gun Control in the Democratic Debate

The clip above is from the first Democratic presidential campaign debate last week. Gun control is one of the most divisive issues in the country; people are either for lots of it or against any of it. There seems to be very little in between.

The Constitution of the United States guarantees “the people” the right to bear arms, but it provides no guidance about what kinds of regulation might be permissible or proper.

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

United States (2011-03-24). United States Bill of Rights (Kindle Location 8). . Kindle Edition.

Arms Are for Militias

It’s clear the Second Amendment (above) refers to militias, which no longer exist in the United States in the same form or for the same purposes as they did when the Constitution was written. They have been  replaced by a standing Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, National Guards, and other military institutions, some of which the framers of the Constitution could never have imagined.

Nevertheless, the writers wrote, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be abridged.” The Supreme Court has ruled this right is still protected, even though the stated need for it no longer applies.

Reasonable Gun Control Is not Forbidden

While “the people” are guaranteed the right to bear arms, this does not necessarily mean we have to let criminals or mentally ill people have guns. As Hilary said, “We are losing 90 people a day to gun violence” in this country. We have every right and responsibility, through our representatives, to try to prevent this.

We have the right to require background checks on people before selling them weapons, as we sometimes — but not always — do. There is a glaring loophole in this policy: background checks are only required if you want to buy a gun from a licensed dealer. You can go to a “gun show” nearly every weekend in any moderately large city and buy guns with no questions asked.

Bernie sounds good on gun control.

Bernie says this loophole must be closed. I agree.

He says felons and mentally ill people should not be allowed to own guns. I agree.

He says that if a dealer sells a gun legally and the buyer uses it to commit a crime, the dealer is not liable. However, if the dealer has intentionally or carelessly sold the gun illegally, then  the dealer is also responsible for the crime committed by the buyer. I agree completely!

One of the ways some dealers sell guns illegally is the so called “straw man” sale. This is when somebody buys a gun for somebody else, who might not pass a background check. It’s always illegal for the buyer to do it, and it’s illegal for the seller if he or she knows it’s happening. That is, a dealer cannot knowingly sell a gun to one person for somebody else.

For a variety of reasons, this is seldom enforced, though it happens a lot. Bernie says it must be enforced, and I agree.

Hilary says Bernie is soft on gun control, but he sounds pretty good to me. His opinions on this issue just make sense. They provide reasonable control without making gun ownership difficult or illegal for responsible citizens.

Bernie is unique in this election cycle. Nobody else is even in the ballpark. They have no clue about the things that matter to most of us.

As one hard-working but very poor young man said recently at a Sanders rally, “I want to see change. And I believe Bernie Sanders is the one to do it.” I agree. Bernie is the ONLY candidate with any grasp of our problems and a plan to fix them.

Can he succeed? I don’t know, but nobody else is even talking much about the real issues facing the country. Issues many of us face every day. Issues like creeping poverty. Like life-long, crushing debt for college graduates. Like crumbling overpasses and bridges on the highways we travel. Like reasonable, practical gun control. Like staying out of war, except as an absolute last resort. Like making enough money to live on if you work full-time at one job. Bernie Sanders is the ONLY candidate in either party to propose any rational solutions to these problems.

I was never a particular fan of Sanders until this campaign, but Bernie Sanders sounds better every time he opens his mouth.


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