Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Controlling Guns

Forget for the moment that we are not all superheroes and bang bang is not the solution to all problems, and if you think your nutty neighbor is hot-tempered now, just imagine him or her with a gun. Let's pretend that a Newsweek contributor has not suggested that the children who were killed might have survived had they rushed the gunman instead of hiding. Forget that some have recommended that teachers and school administration all over American should be required to carry firearms. Forget all that. Let's deal with this one crazy premise: that we all need assault weapons just in case we don't like something our duly elected government officials say, do or think. Don't like that new law or that new traffic light? Time to go shoot the mayor. This is what some people think the Second Amendment is about. I contend that it is not.

As it happens, we do not live in a tiny cluster of colonies, ruled by an insane despot, unable to govern ourselves, taxed but not represented, surrounded by territories occupied by hostile persons, with His Majesty's troops barging in and demanded bed and board with no notice and shooting anyone who resists. If you do not happen to be a madman with a God complex living on a lawbreaking compound with your dozens of child brides, our government forces are not likely to attack your home. Gun control does not now involve, nor has it ever involved since we became a nation, anyone, from anywhere, for any reason, confiscating legally obtained weapons from licensed weapon-owners. We did used to have a ban on assault weapons owned by civilians; Dubya let it expire. Congress has since declined to renew it. In light of our covering the whole continent (and then some) and being well protected from most outside invaders (do you think assault weapons would have stopped planes from crashing into the Twin Towers?  Do you think assault weapons will prevent or cure an outbreak of anthrax or combat sarin?) and even, so far, proving ourselves capable of defeating the forces of voter suppression, no civilian needs assault weapons, and fact that the only ones who think they need them are the very tin-foil hat crowd who should not be allowed anywhere near a weapon of any kind (including forks, knitting needles and their own shoelaces), a renewal of that ban is right, proper and urgent. But that's not what we mean by gun control either.

What we mean by gun control is:

1. People who have illegally shot other people should not have access to guns or ammunition and should not be licensed to own or handle guns.

2. People who are emotionally unstable and deemed to be likely to harm others should not have access to guns or ammunition and should not be licensed to own or handle guns.  We need better mental health services as well but that is a separate, albeit related, issue, which we won't address here, although we may mention it again in a bit.

3. Children should not be licensed to own or handle guns.  Maybe there could be an exception if you are Daniel Boone and you need your kid to help you hunt b'ar.  If s/he can't drive (for which you need to pass a test, and for which you need a license which is not automatically renewed, and for which you need to take classes and be retested if you make a bad booboo, and for which if you use a car irresponsibly you get your license confiscated), s/he can't shoot.

4.  Licensed adults who do not store or handle guns responsibly (away from the grasp of children, for example) may have them confiscated, and may be fined; if someone is harmed as a result of such adults' irresponsibility, prison time makes sense.  If the person who is harmed is a child, prison time should be mandatory and severe.

5.  Prospective gun buyers must submit to a background check (you guys who don't want this do want welfare recipients to pee in a jar; nobody ever killed a classroom full of children with a welfare check.  You can wait a week or two while a responsible gun seller checks to see if you're loony tunes!)   The details of that check should be stringent.  If you are in a huge hurry to have a gun and can't wait, one has to wonder which bank you were planning to rob, and recommend that you change your plan.  This is that "in a bit" moment when we mention mental health services again:  there should be some kind of coordinated system by which people too unstable to handle guns can be found with ease and not slip through the cracks.

6.  Loopholes to #5, such as gun shows, must be closed.  If this means no more gun shows, so be it.   Do we know what should be done about internet gun sales?  Nope.  Something has to be done but we are not knowledgable enough on that score to say exactly what, beyond banning internet gun sales.  If there's another way, we're all ears.

7.  Most gun control advocates have not expressed this but it should be canonized: people who say we should not have gun control because "babies" are being "murdered" by abortion need to be smacked upside the head, preferably with a stinky old dead fish.  You're against terminating a pregnancy that involves an embryo with no functional nerve endings but your solution to dead once-living breathing talking karate-learning craft-enjoying stuffed-animal-hugging sibling-protecting mommy's-lap-sitting abc-learning children is to bring GUNS INTO SCHOOLS?  Where did we put that fish?

Nobody wants to take your guns away (unless you're one of the insane or irresponsible people mentioned above, or unless you're a child).  Nobody wants to deny you your Second Amendment rights, which by the way, referred to muskets, not automatic or semiautomatic weapons, or magazines that turn ordinary guns into equivalents thereof, and which guaranteed your right to take those muskets and join with your musket-bearing countrymen to ward off an attack by actual tyrants (you know -- rulers who are taking away your right to vote, or enslaving your children, or telling you what to do in your own bedrooms or whom to marry or what to do with your bodies), not just people who don't have the same socioeconomic theories you've been brainwashed into thinking you hold.  We want you not to be shot in a movie theatre.  We want your child not to be shot in a school.  We want reasonable gun safety laws and we want the tin foil hats to be unfolded and wrapped around a dead stinky fish.

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