I've heard and read a lot of things about guns lately, particularly in the aftermath of Aurora. On one side are people talking about how on Earth assault weapons became relegalized. On the other are people who say that if there were citizens carrying legally in that theater, it would have been over a lot faster and with fewer people shot.
I may be a liberal who has never thought about owning a firearm, but I understand that not all those advocating carrying guns are jerks looking for their version of the OK Corral. They're making a point about public safety. My wife had a conversation with an old friend of hers about this, a friend who carries, and he talks about how much training he needed to go through before he could carry concealed legally. He also talked about how if he ever got into a situation where he had to pull out his weapon without firing it, he had to call the cops and wait for them, because otherwise he was brandishing a weapon illegally. A friend of mine on OS once told me he's headed off violence by pulling aside his jacket so a potential assailant - well, likely assailant in that case - would get that he was armed, and that when a crime is prevented along those lines, it doesn't end up in any statistical records. We have no idea how often this happens. It might happen a lot.
The overall issue is public safety, really on both sides of the argument. We know the arguments in favor of more regulation of and less access to firearms: that a gun you own is often turned against you in a crime, that kids (and some adults) are killed by firearms accidents in the home, that a lot of crimes of passion happen where a person is shot by someone he/she knows in part because the gun was handy (think Marvin Gaye, shot by his father). And no, we don't have evidence that if a gun isn't handy, the same people will kill with something else.
Aurora doesn't happen often. When it does, there are a lot of deaths at once and a whole lot of headlines, but the Auroras of the world don't really make a statistical difference. I'll put this another way:
Odds are that you would have been very safe if you'd been on an airplane on September 11, 2001. You wouldn't think so, but there were thousands and thousands of jets in the air and, out of those, four went down. That's Aurora, and the Auroras don't add up to the accidents and homicides that happen all the time.
There's a piece of information I don't have that would really help me get closer to a suggestion: I don't know how many people (or what percentage of that population) who carry legally have accidents with their firearms or use them in crimes, particularly crimes of passion.
If that percentage is really low, then maybe we ought to take a look at this issue from a different direction. The question becomes: Does serious training make a big difference, or enough of a difference?
If it does, then maybe we ought to concentrate more on regulating users than regulating firearms. Still regulate both, but shift the concentration. We issue driver's licenses. You can't legally drive on public property without one, as a matter of public safety. Firearms also are a matter of public safety.
I would expand the training requirements to more than just concealed. I'm less concerned with what kind of gun you own than with how safety-minded and trained a shooter you are. Say that you can't operate a firearm outside of a prescribed environment (like a range) if you aren't a licensed shooter. To all those who say: "I was trained about gun safety thoroughly and I trained my kids that way" I'd say "Fine. Let's make sure everyone is, so that people with firearms know what they're doing and respect them like you do."
That doesn't involve taking away guns any more than driver licensing involves taking away cars.
There are people who will answer that they don't think it's a good idea for the Federal Government or State governments to know who is licensed to shoot in case there ever is cause for a revolution. I'm afraid that ship has sailed. They already have all sorts of records on us, including drivers' licenses.
There are people who don't like more regulation on principle, saying we're living in a nanny state. Sorry, but if you want to carry, I want something raising the odds that allowing you to won't in the long run involve harm coming to me or my family, not necessarily by deliberate crime but by someone overzealous catching us in a crossfire.
There are advocates of gun control who would accuse me of being stark raving nuts for being willing to discuss this. However, if gun owners really are right about proper training, and insisting on training across the board reduces the number of in-home accidents and deliberate homicides with firearms to a greater extent than, say, a liberalized policy about carrying concealed increases the number of people shot by licensed owners, we come out ahead.
Coming out ahead is the best criterion here. I am not married to any given road or vehicle to take us to that destination.
- October 01
- Male, Jewish, in my fifties, married with kids (well, at this point I guess that should be "kid"). Thanks to Lezlie for avatar artwork - sort of a translation of my screen name. "Salaam" is peace in Arabic, hence the peace sign. (No, my name doesn't mean "hunk of meat" and yes, the pun is intentional.)
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