Opinion

Is there a silver bullet for gun control? A gun can’t keep you safe

My grandfather, father, father-in-law, some uncles, a few childhood friends, and an ex-boyfriend or two have all been part of a well-regulated militia at some point in their lives.

These men and women served in the armed forces. They were part of what I believe the Second Amendment was talking about.

In addition, my father had a second job as a security guard for Pinkerton, so I grew up with a gun in the house. It wasn’t locked away, but we knew not to touch it. It wasn’t a toy, it was a weapon of destruction and possibly death. Because he used it for work, it was registered. When I moved away, it was the last time I ever lived with a gun in my home. And yet I’ve never felt unsafe.

Truth be told, statistics have shown having a gun in the house isn’t the panacea the National Rifle Association pretends it is. Pew Research, quoted by safewise.com, says that 65 percent of men and 71 percent of women gun owners believe having a gun makes them safer. But science has a different statistic. 

The Annals of Internal Medicine published in 2014 that even if the gun is properly stored, having it doubles your risk of becoming a victim of homicide and triples the risk of suicide.

Again, make note — that’s even if it’s properly stored.

A few years ago I went to visit a friend in California. He had a messy house, but that wasn’t his only problem. After we returned from a house party, we discovered his house had been broken into. He told the responding police officers he wasn’t sure at the time what had been stolen (we’re talking Hoarders-level messy folks), but then said, oh yeah, he also had a gun around here somewhere.

I remember wondering what we would have done had we returned earlier, maybe to surprise the burglars, who may or may not have discovered his “protection.” Maybe he would tell them he had one, and ask them to him help find it. The absurdity of having a gun for protection that you can’t find wasn’t lost on me — although apparently it was on him.

I have no qualms about stating my objection to the free-wheeling, loose interpretation of the Second Amendment that allows the sale of weapons of mass destruction to children who aren’t old enough to work without a permit, qualify for a learner’s permit, or even vote.

It’s infuriating how politicians, forever dependent on money from the NRA, obfuscate their positions on regulating these insidious homicide machines by talking about hunting. The NRA doesn’t care about hunting. And it doesn’t care about your protection. It cares about making money for gun manufacturers and their shareholders. Let’s see a show of hands, how many hunters out there are taking an assault weapon into the forest? 

We’re enamored of guns in the unhealthiest of ways. Those of us who grew up watching westerns (my father used to call them shoot ’em ups) knew the difference between real and pretend. The Wild West was a long time ago — six shooters weren’t capable of firing hundreds of rounds in seconds. 

Now we watch dozens of cop shows (and I acknowledge being a huge fan of them). But the police officers, detectives, and even FBI agents on television don’t seem to be psychologically affected by their ability to mow down people (even bad guys are still human beings) week after week. We rarely, if ever, see them talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist about the gravity of taking another human’s life. They tell each other, “it was a good shoot,” and move on.

One would assume, after a lifetime diet of shoot ’em ups with no consequences or remorse, that mowing down fellow human beings is about as mentally devastating as shooting virtual people in a video game.

Why is “gun control” such a dirty phrase? We rail against anyone and everyone involved if an unlicensed or chemically-altered driver runs down a family in a crosswalk or takes out several motorcyclists, or runs through a house, destroying it and maybe an occupant or two. Because there are laws that say you have to be licensed, and insured, and sober to drive a car. And there are consequences if you don’t follow the rules.

Are you still taking your shoes off at the airport, having your bags (and sometimes your body) searched, throwing away your water before you pass through the metal detectors?

Why are we not screaming about that? That one guy who tried to light his shoes on fire made life difficult for everyone else. 

But we can think of the flimsiest excuses for not requiring people to license their guns, make sure they have liability insurance, insist they take a gun safety course (that used to be what the NRA was all about before the greed and corruption took over). We’ve decided that when a 2-year-old can pull a gun out of mom’s purse and shoot her, or himself, that’s collateral damage we can live with. Or when a mentally ill young man, whose mother thought getting him interested in weapons was a good way to bond, murders his mom and then slaughters 20 kindergarteners and first-graders (they were just babies, for heaven’s sake) along with their teachers, well, we have a mental health issue in this country. Oh, and we’re not going to do anything about that either. Thoughts and prayers ought to cover it.

And don’t forget the places that have open carry laws. Where were all those “good guys with a gun” who didn’t suddenly appear in El Paso, Texas, a few weeks ago? And there was a good guy with a gun, a police officer in fact, who didn’t run toward the shooter in Parkland, Fla. 

Collateral damage. That’s what we’ve decided to become every time we bow our heads after another mass shooting. The fact that it is easier for a teenager to get a gun than a work permit, or driver’s license, or even buy a pack of cigarettes isn’t just unconscionable. Or myopic. It’s just stupid.

The Second Amendment referenced British forces coming in and taking away the arms of the colonists fighting for their independence. The colonists wanted to form a well-regulated militia to fight for their country. I can’t imagine the Founding Fathers thinking far enough in the future to believe this amendment is about the ability to buy a killing machine to destroy your family, neighbors, community, schoolmates and strangers who may or may not look like you. 

Ban assault weapons already. If you’re not in a war, what do you need it for? License your gun, keep it locked and away from children. Take a gun safety course and respect the enormity of the weapon that can end a life in a second. 

Gun control isn’t about your right to own a weapon. It’s about everyone else’s right to go to work, the mall, school, church, or just out for a walk, and not be the victim of the next lawless individual with a gun and a grudge. 

 

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