Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech there has been a renewed interest in the debate over gun control. Of course this fervor over gun control will last about another week and then the public will move on and worry something else. Perhaps another celebrity will pass under odd circumstances. Those seem to be quite the attention grabbers.

But that aside what about gun control? What of this “hot button” issue? It does seem to stir up rather vigorous debate. Of course by vigorous debate I mean people yelling at each other and solving nothing. It does spark some rather passionate responses. But I think most of that can be attributed to the fact that gun control, like abortion, really seems to stir up the extremes of the issue. You don’t hear a lot out of the moderates on gun control. You only seem to hear from the NRA that thinks Americans need .50 caliber machine guns and assault weapons or you hear from the ban guns and let’s all go share our feeling over a latte crowd.

So what’s a sane person to do? Let me try and explain where I stand on the issue, which is an odd mixture or pragmatism, realism and maybe dash of resignation.

Let’s be honest for a moment. But just a moment I don’t want to seem pushy. Americans are armed to the teeth and that isn’t going to change. This is an armed madhouse we live in and the inmates are running the asylum. So unless we send in, rather ironically, armed guards into every house and have them forcibly remove all the guns we aren’t going to disarm. So we need to be a bit smarter about guns. Plus I realize that there are legitimate non-criminal reasons for owning a firearm.

If you want to hunt I say go for it. But the weapons that are actually good for hunting are stuff like shotguns and rifles. The shotguns aren’t off the sawed off variety. The rifles aren’t of the semi-automatic kind. So if someone wants to own a 30/30 bolt-action rifle for hunting I’m ok with that. If they want an Uzi for the same purpose I have issues.

If some wants to target shoot I’m ok with that. Though I would suggest that archery is a more ancient and more difficult discipline and might also be worthy of your time. But if you want to stand around shooting clay pigeons and paper targets fine. So be it. But again you don’t need Uzis and such for this purpose.

If you feel the need to protect your home and family with a firearm, I’m sort of ok with that. Though I have doubts about how effective a burglar deterrent a gun really is. I recognize that some people, for whatever reason derive piece of mind from having a weapon at the ready. If you do I think there needs to some restrictions. Licensing would be a nice touch. Somehow having a well-educated gun owner makes me sleep better. Having someone brandishing a weapon that learned all their firearm skills from Clint Eastwood movies makes me uneasy. So some licensing and gun education would be nice. Also you don’t need some high capacity firearm to protect your invaluable collection of Don Ho records. Chances are you will never discharge the weapon. Much less put 15 rounds into a guy. So a six shots tops seems logical to me.

As you can tell from my tone I’m not a fan of guns. I wish we had never invented the stupid things. The Chinese when they invented gunpowder used it for fireworks. Then those goofy blue-eyed Europeans got a hold of it and the rest is blood soaked history. Some days I wish I were born a rattlesnake. It would be an improvement. At least I understand why rattlesnakes kill.

I know we’re not going to disarm. The pro-gun folks are right in that if somebody wants somebody else dead bad enough they’ll find a way to kill them. Cain and Abel started a downward spiraling trend. But the problem guns have mad killing to easy to impersonal. It used to be if you wanted a guy dead you at least had to lay your mitts on the guy or look him in the eyes. Now with the modern technological curse that is the gun. You can drive by a guy’s house and kill him without even seeing his face. The weak can slaughter the strong and the coward can kill the brave. It seems horribly unnatural to me.

I know the NRA is fond of trumpeting every time someone stops a robbery or whatever with their personal firearm. They don’t seem to trumpet all the drive by shootings and armed robberies. They’re not so quick to point out all the accidental gun deaths. They’re none too proud of all the people that think this life totally sucks and put in a gun in their mouth to end their pain. Selective observation gets us nowhere. We need to understand that guns while unfortunately necessary are powerful and horrible machines.

I know this debate is really about human nature and not guns. Anything that gives people power needs to be addressed with some skepticism be it guns, government or religion. As much as I want to be hopeful for the human race it‘s hard. We keep finding new ways to destroy and control our fellow human beings. Ultimately this gun debate will rage on until people decide to not live in fear and to treat each other more considerately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is in memory of my 5th grade classmate, Susan, who in 1964 was accidentally shot and killed by her mother. Her mom had loaded a gun during the night after she thought she heard a prowler. When she was cleaning the gun in the morning, it accidentally discharged and killed her daughter.

Also I want to remember a member of my church Duane, another 5th grader, who in 1976 was shot to death by his brother who was cleaning a hunting rifle.


10:51 AM  

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