I have friends or loved ones on every side of the gun debate that is raging in our country right now. Mrs. Geek is convinced that no one in a civilized society (outside the military) should need a gun with a fire rate of 15 rounds per minute (such as the AR-15.) My Ph.D. dissertation adviser and his sons apparently think every American should be issued a gun along with a birth certificate and if you can’t defend yourself against bad people, that’s your problem. A high school friend (and Second Iraq War veteran) vigorously defends the right to keep firearms in the home, even after she and her ex-spouse both had to be removed from the home they shared at the time in handcuffs because they’d pulled out hand guns on each other during a domestic dispute. Myself, my ideas about guns sit closer to those of my wife than the others, so there are some things about the pro-gun side of the debate that do not make sense to me.
Buying guns should not be like buying groceries. It’s not “criminal persecution of the innocent” to not be able to say “honey, I’ll go down to the store to get some milk, some bread, and that new automatic pistol you like.” It’s not a baseball bat or a kitchen knife. These things have other legitimate uses, wholly unrelated to their ability to cause harm to another human being. A gun is made to shoot at objects, animals, or people. Period. Is it so unreasonable to ask that (at minimum) we have the same sorts of mechanisms in place to handle guns as we do to handle cars (e.g. every gun is registered, gun training must meet a regulated minimum, and the ability to own a gun is denied people who are mentally ill)?
Guns can’t heal people. People heal people. The one that gets me most is that there apparently is this notion out there that learning to handle a gun will make you a better person and a better citizen. The mother of the Newton, CT shooter used guns to bond with her son, who she seemed to feel had behavioral issues. Chris Kyle, an ex-Navy Seal and sniper, was apparently killed this week by a fellow veteran he was counseling… in part, by taking a trip to a shooting range together. I understand that shared interests are important and that making someone part of a group can help their self esteem and bring them out of their shell. Don’t people understand that it’s not good sense to put a gun in the hands of some others?
Someone I know had a FB post up this week that said “Talk to me if you want to learn to use a gun. I will help you buy a gun. I will help you learn to use a gun. I will help you obtain parts and ammo. Help promote gun use in the next generation.” All I want to say is: “really?!?”. Putting a gun in someone’s hand is not like learning to fish in order to feed themselves. Are you going to get to know this person? Are you going to make sure this person learns good gun safety skills? Are you going to be there when this person is feeling depressed or angry at his/her spouse? Are you going to make sure this person isn’t carrying a gun when drunk? I also want to ask: “how will you feel if you help put a gun in someone’s hand and they use it to commit a crime?”
Responsible gun ownership currently seems to exist as a circle of trust. Trust us, the gun owners say. We’ll monitor sales, training, and membership, they say. We should really be unregulated, they say. The government shouldn’t even collect detailed public health information about gun violence because guns are safe, they say. It is our right, they say.
That sort of attitude only seems to invite trouble for all of us, I say.