Sunday, October 20, 2019

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 people in their 60s and 70s -- any more than it is for any other age group -- except, maybe, possibly, because of our experience and wisdom we can take a more mature and considered look at the issue.

     Occasionally a politician or conservative think tank will cite 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 is hiding a pistol behind the counter, the criminal is less likely to rob the store. This may actually be true; the issue has been argued both ways.

     A friend of mine, who's a typical moderate liberal suburbanite, carries a handgun in his car. Why? Because he once was held up at gunpoint by the side of the road. He was in fear for his life and felt completely helpless, and he vowed never to be put into that position again.

     He feels safer with a gun in the car. Is he actually any safer? That's debatable.

     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 Beto O'Rourke who said, "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15s," doesn't say he wants to take away all guns. Kamela Harris owns a gun; Elizabeth Warren says her brother owns a gun; both Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have explicitly defended 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 U. S. Representatives Gabrielle Giffords and Steve Scalise, 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 if 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. And my friend can keep his gun in his glove compartment.

     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.

21 comments:

tahoegirl.blog said...

I completely agree. It's insane anyone needs to own an automatic rifle. Plus, every single mass shooting was a white guy from this country. What does that say?

ApacheDug said...

Tom, this is a very good argument--the guns & autos comparison is an excellent point. I don't own a gun, but I know the laws in my state (Pa) and it's crazy-easy to own firearms here. I watched 'Bowling for Columbine' last night on MSNBC, sure is disheartening to see how little things have changed in 17 years.

PS. I'm not quite 60 yet (I turn 58 in 2 weeks) but I very much enjoy your blog.

Diane Dahli said...

Thanks for this, Tom. It's a good thing to start this conversation on your blog. I'm Canadian, and I hope I can say this without seeming smug, but gun ownership doesn't concern me (yet), and I'm hoping the issue stays silent here—forever. I've watched the events involving guns in your country, and have formed an opinion, but I don't think I have a right to express it. I wish you the very best with this issue, Tom.

Olga said...

This is another one of the too many polarizing issues today but your thoughts are reasoned and reasonable. I do not like guns and I do not want them around. My husband collected guns and loved to shoot semi-automatic rifles at empty coffee cans. When he died all the guns went to an auction house and I made the gun room into a sewing room. Hear that roll of thunder?

Arkansas Patti said...

Your argument makes perfect sense. To drive, we must study a handbook, sometimes take a course in high school and then pass a test. Our licenses are registered. They can be revoked is used recklessly. How could that be at all threatening to the gun lobby?

Rian said...

Tom, I don't want people's guns to be taken away, but I DO WANT better gun regulation. Do I think people need to own AR 15'S? NO!

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Good for you for being vocal about this! Is it still vocal when you "write" about it? Anyway, my husband is a former Marine and he says he has witnessed some of the horror that guns can do--especially in the hands of untrained or unstable people. Like you said about cars, we have to have training before we are able to drive, AND if we are mentally or physically unable to handle them, they take our license away. It's time to admit that the reason that so many people insist on having a gun is because they are extremely susceptible to the marketing of FEAR by the NRA. Gun manufacturers are making billions of dollars based upon that fear and unless we curb that, it is unlikely that things will change no matter how logical the argument against them is. Still, we have to try. ~Kathy

Jono said...

Of course this makes good sense. Why are our political leaders so slow to catch on? I suppose they are always so busy campaigning they don't have much time to legislate.

Janette said...

I agree with a license to both own and carry a gun. I know many gun owners. Most agree with red flag laws (a few have taken guns from suicidal children and destroyed them). Most are ranchers and use them. Everyone I know has gone through more then a few background checks. Their children, at an early age, are taught to clean, fire and safety. I have heard of non background check gun shows- but don't know where they are. Most will no longer sell a gun to someone without a conceal carry permit (the sort of license and training you write about.) the only non ranching person is the son of a Holocaust survivor....
I would be remiss to say, though, the first comment is quite wrong. The mass shootings on tv are white, but gun violence in poor communities are out of control. Seven people were killed last weekend in a city near both of us. The shooter and shot were black- so deemed unimportant. We "hear" about gun violence in Chicago, but mostly it is ignored by white politics. Same with opioids. It is not lost on me that the screaming for stop (and treatment) is far louder when it involves the white and middle class- while "we" jailed poor blacks on crack....
Before Beto goes door to door on Texas ranches to take away legally purchased and used weapons, he should first go to downtown Chicago and take away the illegal ones.
I know how to shoot, but do not own a gun. Could harm a living thing with one---just my take.

Anonymous said...

You are a brave man, Tom!Thank you for the opportunity to ponder on this controversial issue.You have a really good point.
Every time I hear that beginning statement, I feel the urge to correct it : people with guns kill people.Your solutions are so logical and easy to implement, but the reality is that our legislators don't have the political guts to do it. Either personally or through their own party, they are kept hostage by NRA and gun manufacturers' interests. If they are kept hostage, we (as a nation) are being held hostage to interests that have nothing to do with our own well being.
As a trained army and elite shooter, I can tell you that war guns are not supposed to be floating in our communities since there is no war going on our territory. The citizens pay taxes to fund police forces, national guard and army to ensure their protection. Isn't this the reason we have all these forces in place? It seems to me that we're sabotaging our own peace in our communities by allowing really dangerous weapons in the hands of wrong people. Who in the world want their kindergartner children doing lock down drills in their schools? Who would want their high school kids to do active shooter drills 4 times a year? Why we all, parents, grandparents would want to live with the fear that we may not see our loved ones because someone out of the blue decides to go out there and end their lives?

Although I understand people's fear that they can be attacked randomly by any crazy person and carrying the gun gives them the peace of mind, if we look at the mass shootings we can easily learn that no one is willing to risk their life and try to shoot the shooter even if they have a gun in their possession at the moment. Everybody waits for the police and special units to arrive and rescue them. Meanwhile, they try to hide or to run, depending on the situation.So having a gun doesn't necessary means that one is more protected.

But I agree that we need to respect the constitutional rights and give people who are responsible and mentally fit permission to own guns, either for their protection, entertainment or both. However, there must be rules in place and accountability. I, like many, I also have the right to live my life in peace in my neighborhood. I, like many, have the right to watch my grand kids grow healthy, in a world where there is no gun violence. Human brain development is being gravely affected by exposure to violence, so we must reduce it to the minimum possible. And with all my regrets for gun manufacturers'losses, we all need to make a collective effort and stop the madness that goes on. After all, what has been the purpose of the Constitution? Hasn't been for the protection of each of us?

Wisewebwoman said...

And the real issues of course are the record number of kids killed every year not to mention the school shootings and on. No other country has this kind of track record so something is massively wrong. And right to bear arms was in the absence of a militia, right?

Anyway so many of us outside the USA are baffled that something hasn't been done a long time ago but then again, NRA are far too powerful.

XO
WWW

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

I am so on this page and have been advocating for the same thing for years now. Not only study and take a test to get a license but then have to get insurance for it. And if your insurance lapses then you lose your license, etc. If it works for cars, which can also be dangerous weapons, then it can work for guns. And let's get the AR's off the street. You don't see anyone driving around in a tank for a reason, the same thing should be true for AR's.

Laurie Stone said...

Tom, All true and couldn't agree more. Its these weapons of war that drive me crazy. There's no reason for anyone to own an AK-47. We're the town next to Sandy Hook and if that incident didn't loosen the gun lobby's stranglehold on our government, I fear nothing will.

Tom said...

Janette, Good to know that ranchers are doing training, background checks and all the other things responsible gun owners should do. Maybe there is hope after all! But Anon, I agree, the real problem in inner city. I just heard about a double murder in Philly There was an argument. Guy goes to car and grabs gun. Comes back and starts shooting. A gun was there, and was used before tings could cool off.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you but want to point out that you can have multiple DUI's, no auto insurance, a revoked license, and still be able to purchase a vehicle and drive it. That may be one reason people don't complain about being denied the right to own a vehicle, because they really aren't. Similar to the problem of people who purchase guns legally from a private seller who placed an add in the local paper for example. Your statement should probably be corrected to read: sure, it would cost the LEGAL gun owners a bit of money. It already does. No idea what the answer is...

Kay said...

I am so with you on this issue. I just don't understand WHY this hasn't happened already. Ah yes... NRA.

oldwahoo said...

A couple of more or less random comments:

1) I don't own a gun and probably never will.

2) Many anti-gun activists actually do want to take away everyone's guns.

3) Only about 400 of the 40,000 or so people who died from gunshot wounds last year were killed by rifles, yet most of the talk is about "assault weapons" due to their role in mass shootings. Handguns are much more deadly.

4) My preferred solution would be the abolition, prohibition of manufacture, and forced repurchase of all semi-automatic weapons, handguns and rifles alike.

5) Everybody worries about mass shooters but the most statistically common kind of gun deaths are suicides, accidents and teenagers shooting each other with pistols.

David @iretiredyoung said...

Hi Tom, I normally wouldn't comment on gun control issues in the US - did it once before and the resulting abuse made me wish I hadn't - but I'm reckoning most of the people reading your posts are above that kind of thing.

On the car vs gun comparison, I get the idea, but it didn't work for me. The purpose of a car is to move a person or item from one place to another (I can't think of another reason for it being). On the other hand, the purpose of a gun is to shoot something, to injure or kill it, whether that be in an attacking or defensive mode doesn't change that. Even the optimistic view of it being used to dissuade is still based on "don't do it otherwise I'll kill or injure you with my gun". The purposes of car and gun seems so wildly different to me to not be a workable comparison.

As a Brit (and I know a lot of other nationalities who share my views), we see the news of US shootings as something unbelievable. Reports of shooting with 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 people killed or injured, and the response is to pray??? It's difficult to grasp from the other side of the pond.
As you say, people make their arguments. One argument I've heard from an American responding to a Brit is that the UK has a far higher knife issue. That may be true (I don't know for sure, but I'll take it at face value), but I never heard about someone going into a supermarket, school or entertainment venue with a knife and killing or injuring 10, 20, 30 or more people.

I wish the US good fortune in figuring out a solution, but watching the news, the politicians and the lobbyists, I'm sad to say that I don't hold out much hope.

Morgan said...

I think this thought process is less... directed than your usual. The mass shooters do not have issues with the types of problems that a course in 'gun competence' would affect. For instance, we know that by definition they are able to maintain their weapons for use, secure their weapons for transport, etc. We know this because they are actively doing so. We also know that they understand how to use the safety, aiming procedures, how to handle recoil, etc, again, because they are actively doing so.

The gangland shootings, the mass shooters, the crazy man at the bar with a gun, none of these tragedies would be affected or altered by such a course even if they had legally registered the gun and the course had been taken. Of course, for those who are not likely to be legally registering, the requirement is irrelevant. These types of courses can only be aimed at the one segment of the firearm toting public that it could potentially effect: Those who would legally register (those with money for the courses, no criminal background issues, choosing to comply) and whose behavior might be impacted on specific issues (gun storage, gun safety for children, etc)... exactly the demographic likely to already pay for such a course.

As noted above, the auto comparison is not apt in a number of ways. You do not need a license to own a car, cars are very much a daily use item in our lives, etc. I do not particulary object to safety courses for guns being required, its just not an answer to any of these particular questions.

Snowbrush said...

I got my first "real" gun when I was eight. I've had guns all my life, and used to be an NRA member who had a concealed carry permit. Right now, I have a number of guns, but if the government wanted to confiscate them,  I would say fine because guns in this country kill too many people for no good reason. As for studies that purport to show that more guns make us safer, how do they explain the fact that our country is far less safe than countries where few people own guns. Your friend who carries a gun in his car needs to know that if he gun is stolen and is then used to kill someone, he can be sued for not adequately keeping it out of the hands of criminals.

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