Now that there have been a few weeks since the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, perhaps it’s a good time to talk about the real victims in all of this: lawful gun owners.
What’s that? You think it’s preposterous to look at something like what happened at Sandy Hook, an event that cost twenty small children their lives, and then call gun owners victims in any sense? You say it’s obscene to think of gun owners as a protected class of citizens but small children aren’t? You say that putting the wanton desires of gun enthusiasts to own the most devastating firepower they can get their hands on over the needs of society in general is disgusting and we should all be embarrassed for ourselves.?
I agree. Completely.
However, just because you and I might agree, that doesn’t stop me from regularly seeing it time and again. We can’t have a discussion in this country about guns without being reminded that we can’t punish gun owners by daring to even discuss new laws that might actually have a positive impact on gun violence in this country. The NRA has ingrained in some gun owners the mentality that regulation and restriction are the same as prohibition. They point to things like alcohol prohibition, and the fact that cars kill more people than guns every year as evidence of no need to regulation at all. Those arguments are straw men if there ever were men made of straw, and I’ve debunked them mostly already, but we’re still left with this “don’t punish good gun owners” bullshit.
The all or nothing approach, no guns or every gun under the sun, is exactly what has completely poisoned the dialogue about firearms in this country. Sensible adults routinely come together and decide to set boundaries on other adults. They’re called laws, and they can run a whole range of effects from completely forbidding an activity – think murder – or just heavily regulated it for the sake of safety without completely barring the activity, like driving a car. Gun control may be a tainted term because of the two extremes of the issue holding it for hostage.
But it’s time to stop pandering to the extremes on both sides. For starters, the Supreme Court has said time and again that the Federal government cannot under any circumstances come to your house and take your guns away. So any time someone warns you that it’s the next stop or a step that’s to come, you can laugh as hard as you can in their face. Unless of course that is you’re a paranoid person to begin with, but in that case I’d really prefer you not handle a firearm anyway. The fact remains though that Feds have no legal grounds in which to break into your house and take your guns, and frankly if some evil asshole takes the oath of office, orders our armed forces to march into our homes and take our guns, and then holds the country hostage to a tyrannical new era in America, all the firepower cached by all the nuts wouldn’t make a lick of difference, and that’s just assuming that the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard are all full of robots, trained killing machines without sentient thought.
Next, the Supreme Court has also made it clear that the U.S. government can in fact place restrictions on the types of guns a citizen can own. This may seem like a direct infringement on our Second Amendment right to own guns, and it very probably is. But then again we repealed the prohibition of alcohol in this country over seventy years ago and you still can’t make and sell moonshine. In a lot states full-proof grain alcohol, like Everclear (if they even make that wretched Demon-Piss anymore), are illegal. So even though we gave Americans the right to buy and consume alcohol, we still put rules and restrictions as the kind of booze you can drink.
Then there’s the car argument. While I’ve decided that anyone who brings up cars, knives, yo-yos, boats, hand grenades and bombs as a way of demonstrating another way in which people can kill is just abdicating any credibility in the argument, let’s for the sake of argument, use the car analogy. My California’s driver’s license gives me the right to operate a consumer class, passenger vehicle. It doesn’t give me the right to fly a commercial airliner or drive a tank. Why? Because it wouldn’t be safe for me to do either of those things, and it only makes sense for those who have a need via their job requirements and years of serious training to be able to operate those kinds of vehicles.
The point is to be reasonable, not absolute. Absolutism leaves no ground for discussion, or common sense. There is not a single earthly reason why someone not in an active combat zone needs to have magazines that hold thirty to a hundred rounds. And yes, gun lovers, I know that there are handguns that have the ability to shoot fifteen rounds and speed load. Whoopty-fucking-do. I’m also no longer going to entertain the “you don’t know the specs so therefore we have no need for gun control” argument. You want to know all I need to know about guns? It’s very simple.
1. Guns kill.
2. Guns kill quickly and efficiently.
3. Some guns kill so quickly and so efficiently that their only use should be in a field of combat.
4. Those types of guns are routinely used in these mass shootings.
5. Therefore we should do everything we can to keep as many of our places of congregation slaughter-resistant as possible.
I know we’ll never be able to completely ban all firearms in this country, at least not until Darwin’s law has had a few more generations to work its magic perhaps. But that doesn’t mean we have to victimize gun owners or make them all seem like innocents in this fight to find solutions to our gun problem. And we do have a gun problem in this country. If mass shootings aren’t enough to show that to be the case,consider the fact that we have the highest per-capital murder by firearm rate in the world. We can argue about the causes all we want, but shouldn’t it be a point of pride to get to where we don’t lead the world in either of those statistics?
Law abiding gun owners are not the victims in the gun control debate. Law abiding, rational citizens should understand the responsibility to society at large and recognize the need for regulation. Sensible gun owners can understand that restrictions are not prohibitions, and that plenty of protection can be acquired from a shotgun, without the need for a rapid-fire weapon. If you don’t get enough forewarning before being attacked, it wouldn’t make a difference if you had a dirty bomb under your bed.
Those who will suffer the most when it comes to gun restrictions are the gun manufacturers. And that is why the NRA deigns to give a shit at all. The statistics I’d most like to see is among lawful gun owners, how many actually own an assault rifle. I have a feeling that most see no need, and therefore don’t even bother with them. So we find ourselves mired in a culture war over a very small minority of people who feel that they are above polite society’s requirement of prudence and wisdom over rhetoric and “I want”ism. Of course, all of the work is moot until rational gun owners start speaking louder than the NRA, we may be stuck in neutral.
Here’s hoping that group wakes up soon, it would be nice to hear from them.