I just had an enlightening chat over lunch in Cleveland with two gentlemen, Ed and Tim, who are deeply concerned about gun control, including banning assault weapons. I’ve advocated banning such weapons in my book and blogs, which I explained to Ed and Tim.
They told me they owned AR-15s and used them for sport and would definitely not ban them. They said they agreed that such guns should not be sold to the public as rapid-fire devices, but assured me that wasn’t the case with the AR-15.
So Tim and Ed have a clear gun control policy, and it is not simply to let anyone have whatever they want with no checks. They are for strict checks and keeping people on government terror and, possibly, severe mental-health watch lists from buying guns. But they impressed upon me the importance of having a quick, legal and straightforward means of contesting one’s inclusion on such lists before a federal judge.
We also spoke about how getting anxiety pills for say, learning you have a disease, should not ban you from owning guns for life or make it inordinately hard to buy guns. This was shorthand for the fact that restrictions and rules that seem reasonable today can be abused by the bureaucrats tomorrow and that we need to protect the public from the bureaucrats.
Another issue they raised is the need to have the current laws enforced, so that those with criminal records aren’t not just denied the ability to buy guns, but are also put away for trying to do so. I fully agree with that. Finally, we talked about my proposal to deputize large numbers of extremely well vetted citizens to carry munitions to defend themselves and others, including police, against the kinds of massacres that are occurring far too often in the U.S. Ed and Tim favored letting such deputies carry lethal weapons. I argued for non-lethal weapons, such as guns with rubber bullets or stun guns.
I came away from this discussion feeling that Ed and Tim could join other reasonable people on both sides and formulate a new set of gun laws that everyone in the country could accept. This is why I’m confident that as President, I can bring together the Eds and Tims and also the anti-gun groups to reach agreement.
The first thing we need to accept is that if some of us feel extremely strongly about an issue and they aren’t otherwise mad, then their concerns need to be taken very seriously. In other words, we need to talk and listen to each other and stop treating those who disagree as the enemy even before we hear them out.
I’m personally not stuck in cement on my gun control position. It’s the one area that I feel most at sea because a) I’m not a gun owner, b) haven’t shot a gun since I was a kid, and c) see both sides making very strong and reasonable arguments. As I explained to Tim in a follow-up phone call, we can’t formulate gun control in our country without taking into account the starting point. If this were Denmark, the starting point would be very different in terms of how many guns are already in the hands of those with criminal backgrounds or criminal intent.
PS, Ed and Tim signed up to be electors. If you live in Ohio and are a registered voter in Ohio and are willing to serve as an elector, please email Dan Smith at email@example.com with your legal name and address. We need to sign up 20 electors by this Thursday! Or call or email your friends and acquaintances in Ohio and ask them to sign on with an email to Dan. Ohio’s write-in registration deadline turns out to be a lot sooner than we understood.