Sunday, January 9, 2011

Guns Don't Kill People. . .

     . . . people kill people.

     But you can't shoot someone without a gun. And it's a lot harder to kill someone if you don't have a gun.
     I don't know how gun control is an issue that's of interest particularly to 50 and 60 years olds, any more than it is for any other age group. Except, maybe, possibly, we can take a mature and considered look at the issue.

     A Utah politician on TV today cited studies showing that in places where more people have guns, there are actually fewer murders. The idea, I suppose, is that if a criminal fears that a store owner (like this one in So. Carolina, brought to us by Mature Landscaping) is hiding a pistol behind the counter, the criminal is less likely to rob the store. This may actually be true, I don't know. But the point is, it doesn't matter. It has no bearing on the issue of gun control. No one is arguing that Americans should be stripped of their guns (are they?). Even relatively liberal people like Howard Dean and John Kerry defend the right of citizens to bear arms.

     Some say gun control should be left up to state or local authorities. New York has a gun control law. Plenty of other places do too. But, for one thing, it's too easy to purchase a gun in one location and carry it to another location where it might be illegal -- but where there's no way the local law can possibly be enforced. Also, when people start shooting federally elected officials, like Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, it only seems logical that federal laws should apply in the matter.

     So what could possibly be wrong with treating guns like another dangerous but useful tool -- the automobile. No one complains that people are denied the right to own an automobile. Almost every American has one, or uses one. Lots of people have two or three.

     But there are laws regulating the use and ownership of an automobile. You have to get a minimal amount of training, then pass a test and get a license, before you can drive. You register your car, so authorities can keep track of all these automobiles, in case a crime is committed or someone is hurt. And you're also required to have auto insurance, so when someone does get hurt by this dangerous machine, they can get reimbursed for their medical bills and maybe receive some sort of payment as recompense for their pain and suffering.

     And nobody pickets Congress saying  If cars are outlawed, only outlaws will have cars!

     So what's wrong with the federal government requiring people to get some training, pass a test, and then get a license before they're allowed to shoot a gun? (Or the states could set these requirements under federal guidelines.) A gun is just as dangerous as a car, perhaps more so. And so it only seems logical that shooters, just like drivers, should be able to demonstrate that they're competent to use one. (Kids in some areas could take Shooter's Ed in school -- why not?) Since it's a dangerous as well as a useful tool -- again, just like a car -- people should have to prove that they're responsible enough to own one. And for that the gun would have to be registered, and insured, just like a car, to ensure a level of sanity to the situation.

     Sure, it would cost gun owners a bit of money -- but a lot less than it costs to keep a car. Hunters could still hunt. Store owners could still keep a gun to defend themselves from violent criminals. Hobbyists could still collect their rifles and guns.

     I just don't see why this wouldn't work. A lot of people like their guns. They find them useful. That's fine. Nobody's trying to take away the guns. But guns are dangerous. They are scary. At least as scary as a car.

1 comment: said...

The editorian in the Washington Post today 1/10/2011 writes a good response on this topic. (A16) Basically, the editor is saying words don't kill people, guns kill people. I think this is true. Both sides revert to gun hyperbole and metaphor. (Various Post articles have examples from both sieds of the aisle.)

If the laws already on the books were followed, i.e. (gun/owner checks), then criminals and lunatics would not have access to least from legal sources. Also, the Post suggests restricting the sale of certain kinds of weapons (assault) only needed by law enforcement or the military. I think we could all live with that.