Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Guns Don't Have an Agenda

Ok, this is getting way over the top.  We have a gun violence problem in the United States, that cannot be argued. But in the frustration fostered by the presence of a dangerous, ridiculous and irrational Constitutional Guarantee, the solution that a lot of people want to embrace is to demonize guns.

Guns don't kill people.  People kill people. This is a gun-rights slogan that has seen a lot of mileage on both sides, but in the most absolute sense, it's true.  Guns are steel and plastic and wood - how they are produced, distributed and controlled is a human problem.  We can't make the guns themselves the actors in this crime.  You can't say "nobody needs XX firearm".  The more important question is what is required to be allowed to own XX firearm? The argument is over legislation and regulations.

The parallel is tax law.  We are outraged that American companies pay nothing in taxes.  But the problem isn't with the companies.  They are following the laws as written and enacted. The problem is the tax code itself, which legalizes and specifically allows these behaviors.  Similarly, the gun laws in the United States are insane.  But it's hard to fault any company that follows those laws, produces a product for which there is demand, and sells that product for a profit.

Let's back up a little bit and think about guns qua guns.

I have owned, shot, tinkered with, played with and otherwise enriched my life with guns for something on the order of fifty years.  Let me say it clearly: Guns. Are. Cool.

Here's the thing.  I'm a "Gearhead".  I've built HAM radios, reflector telescopes, and my fascination with computers and networks is well known.  And guns are gear.  They are SERIOUS gear.  I've long been identified with the 4" .357 Magnum revolver, but I've had my share of 9mms and .45s, and I've long been enamored of great big booms, like a 14" TC Contender in .35 Rem (that's a great big pistol that fires a GREAT BIG rifle cartridge - you can search all these things on the wacky pedia).  I have a Browning BAR in .300 Winchester Magnum - the most satisfying big boom on the planet. I have a Ruger .454 Casull revolver (hint - Ouch!!) and I'm starting to look at .338 Lapua for thousand meter shots.

So. Am I a "gun nut"?  Do these guns represent a problem?  Do I "need" these things that are part of a hobby I deeply enjoy?  The point here is the weapons just are. The laws are stupid, dangerous and deadly. I'd be delighted to live with a much more constrained legal firearms ownership regime.  We're living with a daily and nightly slaughter.  These mass shootings and school shootings and white supremacist terrorist attacks really are only the tip of the iceberg. Every night there are hundreds of handgun killings, non-fatal shootings and suicides. Families are shattered.  Young men disappear into prisons forever. People are damaged, physically and mentally forever.

Guns are neutral, like cars and mines and earthquakes.  The problem is the availability of those guns, the fact that there is no liability for all that damage, there is no transparency and no accountability.  But come on.  These are THINGS.  Deeply interesting things that lots of people have found fascinating for hundreds of years.  Demonizing the device isn't the answer. The answer is less than obvious, due to the toxic 2nd Amendment, but it's going to come by way of the market.  We've got to make gun ownership much more expensive - Hey, you have the right to keep and bear arms, but you don't have some kind of right to be able to afford them - and we've got to make sure that gun ownership requires liability insurance.  If your gun hurts or kills somebody, either because you pulled the trigger or because you didn't secure it, you are going to be responsible for the costs that incurs, from first responders to medical bills to legal processes.  So the more guns you have, the more policies you're going to need, and yeah, if rich guys end up being the only people who can afford guns, I'd be WAY OK with that.

1 comment:

  1. "and we've got to make sure that gun ownership requires liability insurance"

    Like a car. Registration, license, insurance. For the exact same reasons.