Sunday, January 13, 2013

A hunting we will go

by ARM (Anti-Republican Movement)
While the national conversation on gun violence is long overdue, the language involved has become deeply problematic. Too many people are talking about too many different things. Too many people with nothing intelligent to say are being heard while sane voices are drowned out.

As a writer of murder mysteries, who knows a thing or two about gun violence, I would like to offer a few observations.

Any hint of "gun control" smacks some as an effort by the government to confiscate all guns (and among the lunatic fringe, to institute a one-world government dictatorship and grind Americans under the Socialist heel. Or whatever). To others, "gun control" means trampling their 2nd Amendment Rights, which they interpret broadly to include owning any and all sort of weaponry whatsoever with absolutely no restrictions and completely without regard to public safety. According to their thinking, they also have the right to own nuclear weapons and SKUD missiles.

The 2nd Amendment itself is not very well understood, and you won't find much talk about a "well-regulated militia," the original intent of the amendment. But everyone "knows" they have a right to "keep are bear arms" (or "keep and bare arms"as the case may be).

And, despite all the heated rhetoric coming from every side, very little is said concerning the way that the NRA's policies are dictated mostly by gun manufacturers who want to make a profit and don't seem to care what the cost might be to human life. The notion that the NRA speaks for the average gun owner is becoming increasingly hard to credit, given the huge piles of money that gun-makers dump on the organization. 

While gun lovers speak often about their rights, they say little about the responsibilities that come with those rights. 

A few common themes have emerged from the conversation. 

Firstly, Americans don't seem to have a problem with responsible gun ownership. Most Americans, it seems, are perfectly happy if their neighbors want to go hunting. 

When the subject of gun violence comes up, it's not about Uncle Bob going deer hunting, or cousin Susie bagging a few ducks. It's about whether or not private citizens need to be walking around with assault weapons. This is an important point. Too many conversations about gun violence degenerate into nonsense because the ill-informed aren't making this distinction. They see any attempt to restrict gun rights as infringing on their right to own a shotgun, which is not at all what's it about. 

Some will admit this, but they fight any effort to control guns because of the fabled slippery slope: Today they're taking away our machine guns, tomorrow they will be coming for our shotguns. Rubbish, of course, but the flames of this paranoid delusion are endlessly fanned. 

While there are some advocates who would be quite happy to outlaw all guns, they do not speak for the majority, not even among the most ardent liberals. 

Mostly, the conversation is about assault weapons, and instituting a ban on such. When explained properly, most folks, even gun lovers, will agree that average private citizen of the United States does not need to be walking around with a machine gun to hunt deer. It's a no-brainer. But trying to have a decent conversation on this point is too often derailed by crazies who simply don't know what they're talking about. 

Myself, liberal that I am, I support the gun rights of hunters. I grew up among people who hunted. The hunters I know are responsible individuals who are very careful about their guns, and very mindful of their responsibility to keep them out of the hands of the wrong people. I don't know a single one of these folks who are losing sleep over the prospect of not being able to buy a machine gun. In fact, none of these folks have ever wanted to buy a machine gun and have no use for one.

While I support gun rights, I also support my right not to have my child shot at his grade school. I support public safety measures. I will willingly give up my right to an assault weapon if that means a decrease in the number of horrific shootings that occur in this country way too often. 

Again, no brainer. But you'd never know that from the way some folks carry on. 

Some advice: If you're convinced that the government is going to confiscate all weapons and institute a UN-led one world dictatorship, and if you're convinced that your ownership of assault weapons is the only thing that stands between you and this pending tragedy, you need to see a psychiatrist and have your paranoid delusions checked, and perhaps medicated.

If you're of the ludicrous opinion it's pointless to enact gun restrictions because criminals will still get guns anyway, you seem to be suggesting any law is pointless because someone somewhere will break it. If you honestly believe that a lawless society is best for you, move to Somalia. The rest of us understand that the law is the basis for a civilized society.

Can America get a handle on gun violence? Of course. Those who throw their hands up in despair seem to be forgetting that when we set our minds on something, we get it done. We don't have to accept the status quo, and we certainly don't have to allow the NRA to set gun policy for this country. We can easily get assault weapons off the market. 

I'll close with this:

“In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary - nothing at all." - Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly

1 comment:

  1. Nick, while I do believe in banning or restricting - though I believe that horse left the barn long ago - long guns to the class of firearms suitable for "sport", I think the real wider problem is with handguns. Guns are everywhere in the millions. I don't see a workable solution at this point.