Thursday, June 16, 2016

Think differently about guns

I’m tired of the same old, same old.  I’m tired of second graders being killed in their classroom and dancing young people killed in clubs.  I’m tired of angry guys killing their partners. I’m sick to death of strutting fools intimidating people with guns in stores and on the street. And above all, I’m sick of ineffective discussion and political inaction.

It’s time to think differently.  Our right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment.  Fine.  I’ve lived with guns.  My father had a side arm; my husband had a handgun, my significant other has a couple of guns.  None of them walked around with them strapped on in plain view. None felt the need for an automatic or a semi-automatic gun. No one wants to eliminate the second amendment.  No one wants to go around collecting guns.

It is time to amend the second amendment for a new generation of Americans. We are no longer a few colonies without a strong national defense system.  In fact, we spend more than 50 percent of our national wealth on our military forces. We no longer have need of militias, well-trained or not.  If anything, our National Guard, Army Reserves, and the rest of our armed forces reserve corps take the place of citizen armies. That is not to say there is no place for an armed civilian.

The second amendment can still guarantee the right for citizens to own guns.  Not because we need to protect our towns from marauding invading foreign armies.  Not because we may need to rise up against our own government (that was never the intent and should not be now) but because we are a nation of farmers, sportsmen, mountain-dwellers, and urbanites, all of whom may want or need a gun for perfectly legal purposes.

No one wants your guns! 

What many of us do want is an amendment that reflects the reality of life in modern day America.  There are no militias.  We have weapons of mass destruction, not muskets.  We want to feel safe in our public places.  We want our children to be safe in their schools.  We want to dance and love and shop in peace. 

In the same way we want to keep alcohol away from children and cars away from drunk drivers, we want to make sure that gun purchases are fully vetted.  And gun ownership must come with responsibilities, such as insurance.  Gun owners should be licensed, insured, and subject to laws regarding the use of whatever weapon they choose to own.  And we should not be selling weapons that are made for warfare. No one has need of grenades, canons, rocket launchers or automatic weapons. 

Let there be due process but let there also be common sense.  If one has a violent history, or has criminal ties, severe mental illness, or has risen to the attention of national security, that person should be either entirely restricted from gun ownership, or be required to pass a higher level of competence to receive a license and insurance.  We take away the driving privileges of repeat offenders.  We should do the same with gun ownership.  It may be a right, but we can forfeit our rights with our behavior, as do those who lose their right to vote with felonies.

Our second amendment should continue to allow us the right to bear arms but temper that, not according to colonial militias, but according to real-time needs and modern sensibilities.  Specious arguments such as “It’s unenforceable because people will still get guns” are to be ignored.  We regulate all kinds of behavior that despite laws is still practiced.  We don’t make murder legal because we cannot stop all murders.  We don’t say shoplifting is fine because people will still shoplift.  No. We make common sense laws and enforce them.  We penalize those who break them.  We are Americans.  We can do this.