1. How does the County’s ban affect both a person’s First Amendment right of free expression and assemblance and his Second Amendment right of bearing arms? Not to mention, the nature of our system of free enterprise?
Michael Anklin: Being able to purchase illegal weapons — which has happened at or as a result of the gun show — has nothing to do with free expression and assemblance. As far as the Second Amendment goes, people still have the right to buy and bear arms. Yet a measure has been taken against being able to do so illegally on county property. If taking measures against illegal gun sales is against our system of free enterprise then so is the war against illegal drugs.
Why would a law-abiding citizen mind background checks, waiting periods and having to buy a gun in a store instead of a gun show? By these measures the law (he after all respects) is up held. He will still be able to get his gun eventually.
Michelle Thornton: One cannot punish someone for a crime he or she has yet to commit. Just because they buy or own a gun does not mean they are criminals, and they should not be treated as such. Punish those who are criminals and who break the law, not the ones who are trying to abide by it. Our government, in many different aspects (i.e., the judicial system, the police), is not proactive it is reactive. We live in a world that is very corrupted and I feel that the idea of a proactive government that controls all actions before they occur is not only too idealistic for this day and age but also goes against everything our country and our Constitution stands for.
2. Do the County’s elected officials have a responsibility to protect its constituents from harm by not offering criminals the opportunity to purchase weapons on county property?
MT: The County and its elected officials do have a responsibility to protect its constituents from things of an illegal nature and from criminals. Buying guns is not illegal, nor is owning them. And again just because you own one does not make you a criminal. “Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year — or about 6,850 times a day” according to Northwestern University’s Fall 1995 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Citizens successfully shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals than the police do every year at a ratio of 1,527 to 606. Who is protecting whom, and how is this ban helping our elected officials protect its constituents? It appears to be more beneficial to them to allow the sales and allow their citizens to protect themselves better than the police appear to be protecting them.
MA: They absolutely do, the same as the have to make sure illegal drugs are not sold in schools, or the same as they have to fight any other crime for that matter.
3. Supervisor Mike Antonovich says that such bans penalize the 99.9 percent of people who do not break the law, and that only one-tenth of 1 percent actually commit crimes with the guns purchased at these shows.
MA: This is the usual response and is getting kind of tiresome. The Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, and Buford Furrow, who opened fire in a Jewish school in Granada Hills were among this one-tenth of 1 percent. If this percentage goes on a killing spree, many of the 99.9 percent of law-abiding people will get hurt.
MT: I personally agree with Supervisor Mike Antonovich. I feel the ban is targeting the wrong area. The ban will not stop those who want guns (and those the city officials do not want to have guns) from getting them. If a criminal wants a gun he or she will get one by any and all means necessary.
4. Does Great Western have the right to free trade and commerce, and is the county being unfair in allowing such a short notice on implementing the ban?
MT: They do have the right to free trade and commerce and it is unfair of the city to shut them down on such short notice. Beside the issue of gun control, that is just bad business and possibly a breach of contract. They could have made the ban effective for the following year, which would allow Great Western time to find a new location and new business.
MA: Great Western still has the right to free trade and commerce. The gun shows can still be held. Its participants can still advertise their guns and sell them later in their stores. Free trade and commerce at the Fairplex have been limited because crimes were committed. As for the short notice, crime fighting measures sometimes just need to be implemented as fast as possible to prevent future crimes.
5. Does categorizing gun shows as a place for criminals to buy weapons do away with the theory that those who want guns will find a way to get them, while law-abiding citizens are the ones who are penalized?
MA: No. Criminals and law-abiding citizens will still be able to get guns. In the case of the Fairplex ban, there will just be one less place where they can get them, and in the case of the criminals that is a good thing.
MT: A Justice Department survey of felons showed that 93 percent of handgun predators had obtained their most recent guns “off-the-record.” This just goes to show that the ones who should not have guns do not buy them at gun shows anyway, so this ban is penalizing those who are law-abiding citizens.
6. The ban doesn’t prohibit people from buying guns. It only prohibits the sale of guns at gun shows on county property. What is wrong with that?
MT: If the ban is to be applied effectively then it would be necessary to apply it nationwide, as with the war on drugs, which bans the sales of illegal drugs nationwide. I am not for this but feel that it would be the only way to effectively and fairly ban gun sales.
MA: There is nothing wrong with that. If it did indeed prohibit all gun sales, it would violate the Second Amendment. Limiting the availability of guns is a crime fighting measure.
7. What do the recent mass shootings (1999) really say about the ease in which people can purchase guns? The weapons used in the Columbine (Colorado) and Jewish Center shootings were purchased with no waiting period at gun shows.
MA: My point exactly. It is too easy for minors and criminals to purchase guns.
MT: The criminals did not purchase the guns that were used in the recent mass shootings at Columbine themselves. A female friend purchased them, so what that tells me is that that female friend, who purchased the guns at a gun show, must have gone through the proper procedures and is responsible for allowing the guns to be placed in the hands of unstable individuals. We don’t need gun control, we need criminal control. We need more parental involvement. These boys had bombs and material for bombs in their possession too. They were going to kill those people with any weapon.
MA: I agree. We do need criminal control; we do need more parental involvement. Banning gun sales on county property is not going to solve the problem; it is just a first step in the right direction. If we take out the gun of the equation “person-gun-dead person,” the latter person is less likely to die.
MT: My response to that scenario is take away the gun. The death of that second person could result from numerous possibilities and weapons. Person-hands – dead person. Person-knife – dead person. Person-stick – dead person. Person-car – dead person. Person-bomb – dead people.
Michelle Thornton, a senior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Michael Anklin, a junior journalism and history major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.