We’ve talked about gun control before on this site, and it looks like Congress is moving forward with a few basic proposals for tightening background checks and possibly for banning certain kinds of assault rifles and ammunition clips. All of that is fine and good, but I honestly don’t think it will do much good. It doesn’t go nearly far enough.
So I thought I would take this time to describe what my ideal world would look like. And no, it isn’t a world without guns.
See, I’ve got no problem with hunting. True hunting takes an incredible amount of skill. Real hunters go out, fire as few shots as possible and use as small caliber ammunition as they can get away with. After all, any meat that’s been mangled by a bullet can’t be eaten. Real hunters firing weapons that take real skill to aim and fire–that’s not something I have any problem with. Moreover, a hunting rifle or a shotgun filled with bird shot aren’t weapons that are going to kill thousands of Americans every year. But hunters don’t need semi-automatic weapons or high-ammunition clips; a real hunter should only be firing a couple shots in an entire weekend of hunting. They don’t need concealed weapons, because the geese and deer don’t know the difference, and they don’t care about waiting periods because hunting season only comes a few weekends a year anyway. So let hunters have their hunting weapons.
I’ve also got no problems with any gun fired at a gun range. And short of WMDs, I really mean any weapon. I really think that there should be firing ranges where I should be able to go down, get in a tank, and fire off a few rounds. Fully automatic rifles? Sure, why not? Artillery? Absolutely! Grenades? Bring it. But if the only purpose of the weapon is to be fired at a gun range, then it should never leave the gun range. Ever. I don’t understand the argument “this gun should be legal for target practice, therefore it should be legal to buy and sell and walk around on the street with.” Have the gun ranges register with the ATF, make sure that they pass extremely thorough background, safety, and security checks, and let them buy whatever weapons they want to for on-site use only–along with severe criminal penalties for if any weapon ever leaves the premises for any reason. Then the gun ranges can sell memberships to anyone who wants to come and fire their guns. Then you don’t need to worry about criminal background checks for individual gun-owners–because the guns are only ever used for target practice.
And hey, I’ve even got no problem with home protection, as long as it’s well-studied–so that we know what weapons are successful at protecting the home and in what circumstances. But let’s study it. The NRA successfully pressured Congress to shut-off any government funds to any research institution that studies gun violence. That’s just dumb. Because I want to know: what weapons are most useful in protecting the home against intruders? Handguns? Shotguns? Rifles? Does the presence of a gun in the house make my home more or less safe? Does the answer to that question change if I have a proper gun-safe? If I have taken a gun-safety course? If I am a trained marksman? All of those are questions that need to be answered. Because in theory, I have no problem with guns in the home. But if we’re talking about putting weapons on the streets, I want data to know which weapons we’re allowing out there and in what circumstances those weapons are going to be most effective–and right now, that data doesn’t exist because the NRA doesn’t want it to exist.
If the purpose of a hammer is to put nails into wood, then the purpose of a gun is to put bullets into people. And as much as the NRA and others like otherwise, most people most of the time have no business ever putting bullets into other people, or even thinking about it. So if we’re going to allow some guns out there for other purposes (like hunting, target practice, and home protection), then we need to only allow those specific guns in those specific settings.
So that’s my ideal, my utopia. I recognize that getting there is hard–perhaps impossible. But personally, I think it’s worth trying. The 30,000 gun deaths every year in this country indicate that what we are doing right now certainly isn’t working.