Atheists are a small minority in the U.S.  Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions.  There are probably divergent views.

I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes.  It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.

As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion.  I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes.  Gun control and universal health care.

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It's hard for me to believe that we have a right as citzens to own every gun that ever came along, and....

Michael, the most bizarre guy on SCOTUS (who but Scalia?) wrote the Heller ruling and in it said we do not have a right to own every gun that ever came along. SCOTUS rulings are not easy reading but you'll find it if you google "scotus heller".

Michael, The man who shot Representative Gabrielle Gifford bought his gun just a few weeks before he shot her, and he passed a background check when he bought his weapon.  The recent shootings in San Bernardino were accomplished with weapons that had been given to the assailants by a friend, who had recently bought them, and had passed a background check. 

I also grew up with guns, though high powered guns are banned here from public sale, but there is still a black market for such weapons, but if you can afford them, you wouldn't need to be a criminal. 

Though the most powerful gun I've been hunting with was a ex WW1 .303 Lee Enfield bolt action which I borrowed for weekend hunting as an army cadet, with the pretence that I was doing drill training, surely the warrant officer could smell that the gun had been recently fired, a mate supplied the ammo.  Though some of the .22 ammo we had were hollow points, I didn't use them, because they lose range, I preferred accuracy and range.

We had a few .22 rifles and a 12 gauge shotgun, one of the .22s was a semi-automatic, but I never found any use for the automatic setting.

Though we had a prowler checking our windows and doors one night and I sat waiting for him with the semi-automatic, as he tried and open the back door as the knob was being wobbled and it appeared that he was trying to force it. I knew who it was as he was trying to date my sister and he was a firearm nutjob, who would sit down the street pretending he was shooting people.  This behaviour freaked my sister out, so I warned him that if he didn't stop harassing my sister, I was going to bash him to a pulp.

I think that if he had made it through out doorway, as he was a very nasty individual and likely had a gun, he'd be dead, because I never missed a target in those days, no matter how fast he tried to move, I would shoot rats running along the rails of the hen house, and not waste a bullet, which is why I never had a use for the automatic setting.

I was 18 at the time and enjoyed hunting vermin, but I stopped enjoying it when the others I went night shooting with (spotlighting) killed a goanna and shot a farmer's bull.  I would only shoot rabbits and foxes, not native nor domestic animals, they sickened me so I stopped shooting and associating with them.

I really don't think gun laws and ownership has anything whatsoever to do with atheism.

I had a dislike for vermin, because they don't belong in Australia and are ruining the environment for our native animals, and that includes cats and wild dogs.

I will shoot feral cats on sight, they are the biggest danger to native animals in the bush, as they are efficient hunters of native lizards, birds and small mammals.

Daniel this isn't my reply to your constitutional argument, but was one of the letters published that anticipated that line of thought.

A nation's sad, brutal obsession with guns, Jan. 9

After watching U.S. President Barack Obama’s emotional and poignant speech announcing new executive actions to strengthen weak U.S. gun laws, a couple of thoughts came to mind.

First, Obama mentioned the well known fact that there are more than 30,000 gun deaths a year in the United States. Given this horrid statistic, I’ve often wondered why the National Rifle Association isn’t considered a terrorist organization. After all, their advocacy for firearms and their attempts to weaken gun laws have certainly helped fuel the relentless inferno of gun violence in the U.S.

Secondly, why can’t the Second Amendment be changed? The right to bear arms was placed in the U.S.constitution when the fledgling nation was threatened by the British Empire. But it’s 2016, not 1787.

As we know in Canada, constitutions aren’t written in stone. Many countries alter their constitutions to adapt to an ever-changing world. But the U.S. seems to abhor the idea of change, whether it’s refusing to move to the metric system, clinging to paper money, or treating a constitution written in the wake of a revolution nearly 250 years ago as if it was handed down direct from God, carved in granite and never to be altered, on pain of eternal damnation.

It’s well past time for a constitutional change. Gun violence is an epidemic in America, and only a major rethink can stop the carnage.

Andrew van Velzen, Toronto

Russell, your exaggerations above disqualify your thoughts for serious consideration. I won't answer all of them; you know what they are.

1. The National Rifle Association is not considered a terrorist organization because it uses lawful means to defend their position. Some of its views have in the recent past been criticized by fact checker organizations.

2. "...have certainly helped fuel the relentless inferno...."

Where did you get that definition for the word "fuel"?

3. The Second Amendment can be amended, but neither Congress nor the state legislatures have begun the process for doing so.

4. [The US is] refusing to move to the metric system, ....

Untrue. Twenty years ago I was tutoring high school kids who were failing in the regular math courses and their text books taught both systems.

Quit your exaggerating, Russell.

Also, most of our new machinery, and autos, are built with metric sized bolts and nuts. We're getting there.

Tom:

I added another voice to this discussion from a selection of the letters published in the paper. I indicated that it wasn't me speaking and included the name. With one letter I did say I liked the arguments so you can criticize me and my acceptance of the points, with this one you are referring to I said that "this isn't my reply to your constitutional argument". You can't say to me these are my exaggerations. I never said them, someone else did. You can't say I uncritically passed on this letter so I agree with everything that was said.  I can pass on a letter and not say if I like it or not and it does not mean I agree with everything that is said.  Most of the voices in this thread are American and most of the voices accept the "right to bear arms". I wanted to include some Canadian voices. When I totally agree with those voices, I will let you know. I do not feel hostile to anyone with this discussion - just frustrated. It is always nice to inject a bit of humor - so I will answer your jest that Americans are arming themselves to invade Canada. It will never happen because then Americans on holiday in other countries can't pretend to be Canadians.  (nobody ever said I was a good comedian)

Russell, you can pass along anything, not saying whether you agree or disagree with it.

You can count on me to no longer read what you post.

I grew up with a houseful of guns, and I know full well the difference between an automatic and a semi-automatic weapon.  People--even hunters and other gun owners--sometimes refer to guns as automatic when they are actually semi-automatic, for example, to differentiate between a pump action shotgun and a semi-auto.  The confusion of terms has very little to do with the debate, and if a state legislature or Congress writes a legal definition for an assault weapon, then that's what it is for legal purposes.  My 700cc motorcycle is "high performance" because the insurance companies say it is, even though it's a turtle compared to my 1000cc bike and bike enthusiasts would never consider it "high performance."  So the generic use of "automatic" for a semi-auto is not an indication that gun control activists know nothing about guns.  Some of us know plenty.

The Second Amendment states that guns are necessary because a free state needs a "well regulated militia."   A militia in the 18th century was not a bunch of rednecks playing soldier on the weekends in preparation for a race war or for fighting off the government agents who come to collect long overdue grazing fees.  Militias were arms of the government, formed to defend communities against attacks, chiefly by native Americans.  In Massachusetts, they were called "trained bands," and in some colonies men of property were required to be members.  (Guns were expensive, so no matter what we see in the movies, not everyone had one, even in the Wild West.)  These trained bands were under the control of the communities' leaders.  Military technology has left the volunteer force far behind, and the US militia has been the National Guard since the 1930s, so there is no national security need for the citizenry to carry weapons.

Since my Dad was a hardcore gun nut who hunted everything that moved, practiced target shooting obsessively (I spent many days "pulling targets" for him), loaded his own ammo to get exactly the right weight of powder in each cartridge, competed on the New York State National Guard rifle team, and taught hunter safety classes required by the state, there's no pro-gun argument you can make that I didn't hear from my Dad fifty years ago.

So here is what I suggest.

Background checks for everyone.  I know some people will get around this, but nobody, and I do mean nobody, believes that everybody will obey every law.  Every law gets broken, but we don't get rid of good laws because some folks break them.

No ceramic guns.   They can't do anything a steel gun can't do except slip through metal detectors.  They have no advantage for the individual, but could pose a threat to society.

No 3-D printer guns.  Ditto.

Ballistics tests at the factory stored in a national database.  This would help police track down perpetrators of gun crimes.

Ban on hollow point bullets, cop-killers, etc.  Jacketed rounds only.

Guns with safety chips.  Wear it on your wrist so you can activate it--literally--in your sleep or leave it deactivated if an intruder gets your gun or if the gun is stolen.

Mental health evaluations.  I know most gun owners are safe, law-abiding citizens; if they care so damn much about safety and the law, they should no problem being evaluated for gun ownership.  I have to have a medical exam to continue flying so I don't have a heart attack and crash into the 4th of July parade.  Why shouldn't you have some sort of psych exam before walking among us armed to the teeth?

Liability insurance.  My car serves a purpose other than killing, but it can also kill, maim, and cause property damage.  The law in every state says I have to have liability insurance in case I do cause death, injury, or damage, just as I have liability insurance in case my dog bites someone or the mailman slips on my steps.  These laws do not infringe upon car or home ownership, so why shouldn't you have insurance on your guns?

There's not one person in ten thousand who will respond appropriately when the gunfight starts.  Read about the clusterfuck that resulted in the death of Pat Tillman.  Well trained members of the finest military in the world shot the shit out of each other.  Tillman took three beautifully placed rounds in the forehead from a SAW gun.  Good shooting, terrible judgment.  Trained soldiers, police, and FBI agents make mistakes when the bullets start flying, and sometimes their bullets fly first.

I think there should be a reasonable compromise between the individual's rights and public safety.  Personally, I would like to have a helicopter gunship, a couple of rocket launchers, and three or four .50 cal machine guns.  Plus a doomsday machine.  When the guvmint comes after my backyard pot plants, the revenooers will be under fire all the way, and when they win it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

Finally....a comment  I can agree with...Thank you  Craig for  writing  such an eloquent  essay.......Especially  from someone  who  actually  knows  a lot  about guns and and  realizes  that  guns  are  dangerous weapons  that need  more  regulation not less.....I respect you so much.......

I agree with your assessment, Freethinker. 

Craig, as usual, you make a lot of sense. I am afraid of guns, and I do not deny it. I do not own one and will not because I don't want to have a gun near me or others to have guns who live with me. I can live with your recommendations. Your rationale for registration, background checks, mental health exams, and insurance acknowledges the concerns I have and provides reasonable safeguards. I realize that gun lovers may not agree with this, however, if I can compromise this far, there should be some give on the arms-owners part.  I realize illegal guns continue to exist; that is beyond my control and probably beyond the government's ability to control. 

I would like to have a drone to two and hone in on some nasty characters in town. 

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