Let's Talk About Guns

At work, I usually stretch my legs sometime after lunch by taking a walk around campus. Yesterday, one of my co-worker buddies and I talked about guns. Later in the evening, my wife (who doesn’t talk much politics) also brought up the topic of guns. So…Let’s talk about guns. Here’s where I stand on guns…

Personally, I do not own one, but I understand why others might own one or more guns. When I am with someone who carries a gun, I neither feel nervous nor safer. I understand why a person might want a gun for safety reasons, either as a deterrent while walking down the street in a questionable area of town or living in a high crime area to protect your home. I get it. It’s a “don’t mess with me, or I’ll mess with you” kind of thing.

I understand people may own guns to go hunting. I am not against hunting for animal population control or for food. I do not hunt, and I think guns are unsporting. Bows are a little more sporting, but I’d rather see a hunter try to take down a creature and kill it with their bare hands. Animal vs. Animal. But, anyway… 

I understand that some people like to collect guns and enjoy assembling or modifying their gun collection with the same thrill I get putting together a great Lego set. 

I understand it is harder to control gun ownership with the invention of 3D printing. I don’t know how well a 3D printed gun would operate. How do you stop a person from printing parts for a gun, a bomb, or anything? The only way I can conceive is if the 3D printer sends the blueprint to the Department of Home Crafting (that’s not a thing, is it?). How do you stop someone from crafting their own spud-launcher or their own set of lawn darts? Or creating any other kind of homemade weaponry? If someone needs a weapon, there are plenty of supplies within reach.

Unless you enjoy the thrill of shooting one at a gun range or owning it as a collectable, I do not understand why any citizen would own a semi-automatic weapon. Exactly how many people do you think are trying to break into your house? What kind of rabid deer herd are you hunting? Have you been binge-watching The Walking Dead?

As my friend pointed out, when “the right to keep and bear arms” was written, there was no such thing as an automatic weapon. There were no rapid fire weapons of any type. Those were times when you kept your powder dry and loaded your musket with buckshot. These are different times and weaponry has evolved. The military has evolved. Where is the “right to bear arms” line in the range from BB gun to nuclear bomb?

If you think you need to own a semi- or fully-automative weapon to protect your home from the government taking over your home, stop and think about that a moment. If the government wanted to take your home, they could. First, they could claim Eminent Domain to claim your private property for public use and compensate you for it. If things got more aggressive, do you think owning any amount of guns could hold back the US military? You might go down fighting, but you would ultimately be taken down.

I have not done the research, but from my own memory of public, mass shootings, it seems that most mass shootings end with the shooter either taking their own life, or law enforcement taking their life. I cannot recall a scenario in which the shooter surrendered peacefully. It may have happened, but those times are rare. As cruel as it is to say so, if someone is planning a mass shooting, couldn’t they just cut to the end and leave out the middle part that involved innocent people?

As one person who does not own a gun, and is not against gun ownership, here is what I would suggest to lawmakers…

(1) Allow people to own automatic weapons in controlled environments. Have their automatic weapons or modifications stored at a licensed place like a gun range where there is supervision and safety measures in place. Sure, there is a slight inconvenience of having to go to a range, but they still get the thrill of shooting or constructing an automatic weapon.

(2) I don’t know if this is in place or not, but doesn’t the government have watch lists? After the bombing in Oklahoma and the Boston Marathon, they have a watch on fertilizer and pressure cookers. If someone who has never owned a gun suddenly buys multiple guns or someone who already owns guns suddenly buys a ton of ammo, have that person talk to a representative about why they suddenly need to own that much firepower. Have them make a statement and go through a little evaluation. I see nothing wrong with background checks before ownership. This may or may not prevent mass shootings, but it couldn’t hurt to try to understand their intentions.

(3) If the GOP wants tax cuts, why not tie it in with a bit of health care? Once a year, allow every American free health care check ups and if they complete both checkups, they are entitled to a tax cut. Each year, every American is entitled to the following: one physical and one mental health check. As I understand it, law firms require their attorneys to complete so much pro bono work each year. Why not offer the same for doctors? Whether they work for a hospital or as a solo practitioner, give them a bit of a tax break for doing some pro bono work for the public health. Why do I bring this up in a discussion about guns? If the physical exam determined that Ms Johnson can’t see without glasses, the DMV could be notified that she needs corrective lenses prior to issuing Ms. Johnson her license. Similarly, if Mr Jones is diagnosed with severe depression or erratic behavior, that might be something to watch for when Mr Jones decides to purchase a gun. 

See? I’m not saying anything about taking away anyone’s guns. I’m not forcing every home in America to have a gun. Nothing about video game violence. It touches lightly on a person’s state-of-mind when purchasing a gun.These are just a few peaceful suggestions that are a step forward to making our country a little safer. The first provides freedom in a controlled environment. The other two are talking to someone to try to understand, and if possible, prevent another tragedy from happening.

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