Here’s my considered opinion for whatever worth you ascribe to it:
If people must be required to undergo training, licensing, and insurance purchasing to own and operate a vehicle because of the potential for causing injury or death to other people through misuse, then so too must people be required to go through similar measures for owning, carrying, and using guns of any kind. This means universal background checks including state-to-state, keeping files on record, mandatory rigorous training courses, licenses with regular renewals, and liability insurance, before being allowed to own and carry.
Gun fanatics forget, deliberately or not, that the first four words of the 2nd Amendment are “A well regulated militia”. Not everyone was trusted with firearms, and the specific types of firearms to be used for military or peacekeeping purposes were regulated at local and state levels. Even before and during the revolutionary war, and in the years immediately following, people were forbidden from carrying their hunting guns openly out of season for fear of causing public panic—they had their share of drunks and crazies, too—and the militias and constabulary had regulations for keeping, maintaining, and using their firearms as well. This was to ensure both the public safety and the well organized and trained public defense of the community.
Years ago I was walking home from work late at night, same as I usually did. It was rainy and cloudy and I was carrying my umbrella, which was long, black, and had a wooden handle. I walked past a bar and received some funny looks from the people gathered outside, but thought nothing of them as I went on my way. A little further up the street I heard a noise behind me and turned around to see two cops standing behind the open doors of their parked squad car, their shotguns trained on me, ordering me to “drop the gun or we’ll shoot ya!” Figuring they must have mistaken my umbrella for a rifle, I immediately dropped it, told them I was unarmed, and explained the situation to them. After inspecting that my umbrella was what I said it was, they went on their way, explaining that some people down the street reported seeing a man carrying a rifle. They must have, in their drunken state, imagined my umbrella was a gun. I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d actually been carrying a rifle around late at night in “exercise” of my 2nd Amendment rights. I’ve had guns leveled at me before and I am telling you right now I never want them pointed at me again for any reason.
More recently, there have been public panics incited by gun fanatics openly carrying their assault rifles around trying to “educate” the public. What they ended up doing was scaring a lot of people for no good reason. With all the mass shootings that have become commonplace, almost on a daily basis, carrying guns openly serves no other purpose than to intimidate people through the threat of violence. It’s as though open-carriers are daring anyone to start something so they can play out their fantasies of being ‘Dirty Harry’ or ‘Matt Dillon’. It’s a childish indulgence with the potential for injury and death of innocent people. There is no legitimate reason for it.
We as a nation need to grow up and learn how to curb our violent tendencies. There is nothing wrong with regulating gun ownership and use so as to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the violently insane, and to ensure that those law-abiding citizens who conceal-carry are adequately trained. That is only common sense. It’s about being smart about how we exercise our 2nd Amendment rights. It’s about protecting our communities in a manner that preserves civil rights and liberties.
For the last couple of weeks since I wrote my letter to Congress, I’ve been trying to foster dialogue with the people of the Internet and the people of my city (hello, Colorado Springs!).
This has not been easy.
A lot of the replies that I’ve received via my blog or Twitter account have been painful. Painful is a strange word to use, but that is what comes up when I transcend the flash of anger that appears when I first hear certain things: pain.
When people ask me, “What do you think about the armed citizen that stopped the shooter in your shooting?” As if I didn’t realize she was a part of my story.
When people assert that people are the problems, not guns. As if it were not bullets that killed my sisters.
When people say that laws don’t dissuade criminals. As if they don’t set…
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