It’s easy. All I have to do is say, “So, how do you feel about guns?”
Immediately, everyone will scurry over to their corner of the argument. The anti-gun crowd will say we need more restrictions or to outright ban them.
The pro gun crowd will remind you that Nazi Germany did their best to take guns away from private citizens.
The anti-gun folks will say that our current gun laws don’t work.
The pro gun folks respond by saying that the laws on the books just aren’t being enforced.
The anti-gun people say that there’s a mental illness factor and that people with such conditions shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns.
The pro gun people say if you prevent them from getting weapons, you’re infringing on their God-given right to have a firearm. And that just possibly might cut into their rights.
There’s talk of doing something. Chests are thumped. Fingers are pointed. Accusations are made. Holier than thou’s are anointed.
And then, it goes quiet. We mourn. We try to move on. We’re thankful that it wasn’t one of our loved ones wasn’t killed or injured. For a good day or two.
Then, a few days later, it happens again.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein gets the credit for that one, even though there’s no proof he ever said it. But, no matter.
I have friends that are on both sides of the argument. Here’s my stand.
I was raised a Ronald Reagan Republican, campaigned for Richard Nixon and remember going back to visit cousins in South Dakota where kids could earn some money in the summer by shooting gophers. You’d see them poke their heads up, fire and miss, and they’d continue looking until you got a second shot. For every tail, you’d get a nickel.
Kids on the farm grew up with guns. For generations, guns were a part of the world that you really didn’t give much thought to. When we were kids, we played “war.” I remember a note going home from the schools, suggesting to parents that kids probably shouldn’t be watching that “Combat” show on TV. All that violence.
Then, the next day, we’d be out with our pop rifles that you cocked and made a shooting sound as you played war. It was the next step after the GI Joe doll thing, which I never really got into.
Even in my younger years, I remember having one of those Roy Rogers trick hats, that you took off, squeeze the brim and a Derringer pistol would spring up and fire a cap.
Guns were there, a part of life, but I never, ever imagined gunning people down in real life. Wasn’t even on the radar.
Over the years, I’ve seen guns do their damage. JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King, and so many others. A lot of neighborhood kids that played War got a chance to live it during Viet Nam. Fortunately, the one year I was eligible for the draft, my number was up in the 200’s and things were winding down.
Yes, it’s a different world and I don’t know how many of these blogs before I’ve used to tell the story of when my position on guns changed. But it happened when a classmate of my son came home from school one day. The 7th grader got off the same bus Ty was on, he walked home, took a rifle out of his parents’ unlocked gun cabinet and did the unthinkable.
That was when I cleared things out. I owned two rifles and I took them both down to the Bothell police station for meltdown or whatever they wanted to do with them. Just didn’t want them around.
For those who feel they need to have their guns, prove you deserve the opportunity and lock them up, or be completely responsible for anything done with them. We’ve just experienced our second school shooting in a week by people who wanted to punish innocent people and enjoy a little bit of instant fame. The nut job that did last week’s shooting in Seattle had visited Columbine, like it was a shrine of how to do that kind of thing.
It’s time to risk infringing on the gun-owning rights of the mentally disturbed people who stand behind the second amendment to say they have the right to shoot a bunch of innocent people and then kill themselves.
I’m pretty tired of it.
There, I’ve said my piece. Others will chime in. Chests will be thumped, fingers will be pointed, and accusations will be made.
Then it will go quiet again. Until the next time.
At the current rate, sometime before the weekend.
The side of the equation that the media ignores is the lives saved every day with guns. They are rarely as visible as a bleeding body because in the great majority of cases a gun is not fired. And they are often not counted or reported to the police or show up in FBI statistics. Nevertheless they are real. The problem is quantifying how many there are in a year.
There is a Prof at the Harvard School of Medicine named David Hemenway. He is very clearly on the anti side and his school has been funded with millions of dollars by Michael Bloomberg. But even this Prof admits that self defensive uses could be upwards of 80,000 a year.
On the other extreme a Dr. Gary Kleck did a study in the 1990s that arrived at 2.5 million a year and possibly 400,000 lives saved. However we have to admit that at the time of his study crime and homicides peaked in the U.S. They are now approaching historic lows not seen since the 1960s. Some eleven or so other major studies came up with numbers somewhere in between.
I don’t think it is at all unreasonable to believe that hundreds of thousands of times a year people defend against criminals and predators and in some of those cases a life is saved (even harder to calculate since it didn’t happen because of a gun). If you stop an aggressor you don’t always know if he just wanted to rob you, rape you, or kill you (or all of the above). So any number will at best be a guess.
But two things are clear: a lot of lives are saved and in the vast majority of cases no shot is fired.
So when you are meditating on the evil of guns and the evil done with them, try to remember all the good done with them that you will probably never know of, unless you are one of them. Been there, done that.