Guns: Where Violence and Apathy Collide

It’s become routine. A gunman, or gunmen, commits mass murder on an unsuspecting populace, a bluster back and forth goes on for a couple of days and then, like an elderly person with Alzheimer’s, we all just forget what we were arguing about in the first place and move on with our lives. There’s plenty of reason for this. We live in a time when outrage is at a constant. People get just as worked up about murder as they do about what some old crow on the View said about nurses.

Rationale and reason have given way to hysteria and people constantly finding things offensive.

So when some selfish asshole decides if he’s going to kill himself then other people have to die too, it’s just what we should be outraged by today. Tomorrow there will be something else, and it all will be forgotten.

That doesn’t mean there is any shortage of blame to go around. The media gets blamed because people think they essentially make martyrs out of these gunmen. Politicians on either side just blame the other. This song and dance goes on for a while, but nothing gets accomplished because, as per usual, common sense is largely ignored.

Once politicians were okay with 20 kids under the age of five being gunned down in one of the most vicious and cowardly acts I’ve seen in my lifetime, we all knew nothing would ever get done. How can they sit idly by while these horrible crimes are being committed and do nothing? Well, it’s either because they are lazy, or they rely so heavily on gun lobbyists for funding that they actively trumpet guns as a way for problems to be solved.

The arguments these people come up with for looser, not stricter, gun laws is appalling. To wit:

“We should just give EVERYONE guns. That way if some guy starts shooting up a place, he can be taken care of quickly.”

If some kid on the playground was throwing rocks at other kids, would you just give rocks to all of them and say, “all right, take that bully down!” Or would you do the sensible thing and take the rocks away from the kid throwing them in the first place? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Anyone who thinks more guns will solve the problem of guns is an idiot. A good guy with a gun is absolutely just as dangerous as a bad guy with one.

“Ban guns all you like, people like this are still going to find a way to kill.”

Really? This is your argument? You think that just because someone can kill another person using a knife, bat or bomb that guns shouldn’t be taken away? Who are you, Mr. Body’s butler? Guess what, there are laws against speeding but people still find a way to do that, don’t they?

That right there is the main problem I have. Some guy tries to blow up a plane by smuggling a bomb in his shoes, and now we all have to take our shoes off when going through security. How many gun deaths have to happen before something is done?

“You’re taking away my constitutional rights!”

Look, I’m all for the Constitution, but times have changed. Back then you’d have to be an expert to get off three shots in under a minute with a musket. Now, automatic weapons and assault rifles are available with ease. The Second Amendment, nor anything else written in that document, doesn’t just give you the power to do whatever you want. Freedom puts a great deal of responsibility on a person. The rest of the Constitution has changed with the times, this should too. A couple of examples:

Here’s what Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution originally said: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” That last part there, written by racists with a few good ideas, was changed by the 13th Amendment, which was enacted not long after Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation.

Then there’s the First Amendment, the freedom of speech which everyone holds so dear. This also applies to freedom of the press, freedom to gather peacefully, and freedom of religion. Of course, people want that freedom of speech not to apply to things they find offensive (like when a few students at Yale want one of the brightest minds of our generation fired purely because of what his wife said about Halloween costumes). The press can’t have freedom when they’re covering something we don’t like, that whole thing about gathering peacefully gets thrown to the wayside all the time, and people don’t like religions that aren’t theirs being practiced freely (like when a bunch of ignorant racists protest the building of a mosque because they think that the Muslim religion is an “evil cult.” Anyone who actually thinks this should also never be allowed to have a gun.) Sorry for the long run-on there, but the point I’m trying to make is, these freedoms apply to everyone at all times, not purely when it’s convenient to you.

There is still the stake of responsibility. You can’t shout, “Fire!” in a crowded room and hide behind free speech when the person who was nearly trampled to death sues you. And that’s where I circle back to the Second Amendment. Yes, everyone was given the right to bear arms by the founders of this country, but Hancock and Franklin didn’t intend for responsibility to be taken away.

When you want to drive a car, what do you have to do? Well first, you have to be of a certain age. Depending on the state, you most likely have to take some sort of drivers ed. course. Then, you have to take a written test, usually 25-35 questions in length. (I even had to take this test just recently when I got my California driver’s license, as I had moved from a different state.) Then, a DMV employee tests your eyesight. After that, the actual driving test. Ah, but to even get to that point, you have to drive a certain amount of hours, with your parent or other experienced driver, while you have a learner’s permit (in Kansas, I believe it was 50 hours.) Now that you have a license, you have to be insured. It is against the law to drive without insurance, which protects you in case of an accident. Oh, now you’d like to own a car? Well, here’s a certificate of title and lien, registration, license plate and tags, most of which has to be renewed every year, and claimed on your personal property taxes.

Think about this. If we have to go through all that just to own and operate a vehicle, it stands to reason a person should have to go through the same thing if they wish to own and operate a deadly weapon, right?

And that’s what we need. To own a gun, you should have to answer two main questions: 1. Have you ever been arrested for, or convicted of, a violent crime? 2. Do you have a history of, or take any medication for, a mental illness? If you answer yes to either of those, you should not be allowed to own a gun. Ever. But hey, if you answer no to both, then you’re on your way. But first, a few things:

You should have to be a certain age. I think 14 to operate, 18 to own is good. You should have to complete a training course that teaches operation techniques and safety instructions. This course should be at least 4 hours long. At the same time, you should have to spend a certain amount of hours at the practice range; 25 hours should suffice. Completion of the course and the hours are both required if you wish to own a gun and get your concealed carry license. Then, you should have to take a written test signifying that you’ve actually retained all this knowledge, and an eyesight test. You should have to take a test with a certified instructor who can determine that you know how to safely operate the gun.

One side note, this should have to be done with every type of gun out there. Want to buy a shotgun or hunting rifle? Class and training for that. A handgun or pistol? Class and training for that. I’m going to be honest, I wish that civilians weren’t allowed to purchase automatic or semi-automatic weapons. I think those should be left to active-duty military, but I realize that’s unlikely to happen. Anyway, class and training for those as well.

There should be a limit on the amount of magazines or bullets you’re allowed to purchase at one time. If you wish to purchase more ammunition, you should have to prove that you’re out of what you purchased previously. There should be a limit on the amount of guns you’re allowed to own as well, unless of course they are antique or collector’s items. But again, I know that’s unlikely to happen.

Once you purchase a gun, you should have to register it. I realize you already have to do that, but I’m going to take it one step further and suggest that you have to have tags for it as well. These could be placed on the butt of the gun, so it can be easily seen, just as we place our car tags on the license plate. Speaking of being easily seen, the gun should have to be placed in a holster on your waist. I know that sort of defeats the purpose of “concealed” carry, but just as headlights on your car help others see you at night, others should know if you’re carrying. The gun(s) you own should be claimed on your personal property taxes, and the tags to be renewed every year. Your license should have to be renewed every five years, and a written test to be taken at each renewal.

I really don’t think this is asking too much. This is just common sense. No one wants to take away rights, but we have a responsibility to our fellow human beings to be as safe as possible. I know that nutjobs might still be able to gain access to guns with the intention of harming others, but that does not mean we shouldn’t try to make it as difficult as possible for them to do so.

The number of deaths caused by guns in Chicago alone doubles the number of soldier deaths in Afghanistan in the entire duration of the war. From 2003 through 2011, 77 percent of the murderers had prior arrests. Seventy-seven percent. Not allowing those with an arrest record to purchase a gun would take care of much of that problem in a heartbeat. I know a lot of the guns were not purchased through legal channels, but that’s where my system of registration and tags comes into place. This would make the guns easy to track and, much like if you were to sell your car privately, the title and registration would have to be transferred from seller to buyer.

I do live in the realm of reality and I know that something like this will unfortunately never happen. Extremists who believe it’s their right to walk around with high-powered rifles in a Chili’s unfortunately hold way too much sway over Congress. Those “activists” use fear to get what they want. So do terrorists. And we cannot continue to let that hypocrisy stand.

I realize that nothing I’m typing here is actually going to get anything done. I’m basically preaching to the choir here in California, and anyone in Texas who reads this will probably think of me as a nancy-boy quaker. But nothing I’m suggesting is an effort to take guns away from those who understand the responsibility.

All I’m saying is that, if we’re willing to sacrifice our privacy and personal space with NSA spying and TSA pat-downs because of one terrorist attack, then 25,000+ gun-related homicides from 2010-2012 alone should cause us to be willing to sacrifice just a little bit of our ego. We should be willing to do whatever it takes to protect us from harming each other, and ourselves.

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