Thursday, January 15, 2009

When None of the Idiots Have Guns, only Guns will be Idiots

Why do we hold onto this mystique of a bygone era? The frontier days where a person needed a gun because there was no law enforcement have been gone for over 100 years. We fanaticize that we can protect ourselves and our families if we only have a gun. Of course we want the latest, most high powered automatic killing machine to defend what is rightfully ours. The problem is that there is a disconnect between this dream of self defense and the reality that guns are very dangerous weapons that carry a very serious consequence with their use.

My first point is that you don’t need an assault weapon to defend your house. The purpose of a fully automatic weapon is to kill a lot of people in a very short period of time. This isn’t homeland security, it is war. You need to be trained to go to war and you need to know the difference before you can buy an assault weapon (that’s my opinion, but apparently not the law).

My second point is that this vision of defending your family against an assailant doesn’t play out in public. The Trolley Square shooting was the perfect place for a gun toting citizen to open fire on a crazed maniac bent on killing innocent people but none was to be found. An off duty police officer (translated – trained to use a gun) was the first line of defense who prevented further carnage. The same is true of the many campus and school shootings. Where were all the defenders of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

I think there were there. I think when faced with the reality of shooting a person they couldn’t bring themselves to it. I’m not saying that is a bad thing, I just mean that this is an example of the disconnect between the dream and reality. We should leave the defense of human life to the professionals.

My third point is that without this reasonableness in our gun ownership laws we have amateurs caught in situations that have potentially dire consequences.

I read in the paper today (surprise) that a toilet in a restaurant in Salt Lake took one in the bowl because a legally licensed weapon dropped from the owner’s holster while he was pulling up his pants. The gun fired and the toilet was hit. Luckily there was no one else in the room at the time. Someone could have been killed because a person with a license and a concealed weapons permit was careless.

I also heard about a similar situation from a person who attended the Gun Show this past weekend. Everyone with a weapon has to check in before entering the main hall. My friend was in line to do this and about 10 people ahead of him, a gun discharged. The owner was pulling his gun out of its holster and it fired. The bullet hit the cement floor and ricocheted who knows where. This truly is a miracle no one was hit.

My point in all these points is that we need to bring the dream of gun ownership and reality of what guns do, closer to each other. We need to stop reinforcing the “Old West” illusion of self protection; we need to restrict those guns that are meant only for war to the professionals and we need to require more training and testing for those who have guns. We don’t let a 10 year old, who can buy a car, drive or a person who gets his or her private pilots license fly a 747.


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