Jeanette Strong: Any place, any time, anyone for owning guns?
“I believe that anyone should be able to buy any weapon they want, any place, any time.” Composite gun-rights advocate.
After the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting on Feb. 14 Parkland students started a nation-wide movement calling for reasonable laws against gun violence. The “Gun in every hand” folks think the students are wrong to be working for this cause. They have been up in arms (pun intended) against what they see as an encroachment on their right to own whatever weapons they want, in whatever quantity they choose.
If I could talk to these people, I’d ask if they know what the second and third words of the Second Amendment are. Think about that for a moment; I’ll tell you later.
The “Gun in every hand” folks see every law regarding gun ownership, no matter how reasonable, as some kind of assault on their Second Amendment rights. So reread the opening quote (which wasn’t actually said by anyone) and then answer: Do you agree with this statement?
If not, if you don’t think that just anybody, regardless of age, mental condition, criminal history, etc., should be able to buy any weapon they want, what restrictions would you place on buyers? Most people would say, “Well obviously, little children, terrorists, and other dangerous people shouldn’t be able to buy a gun, and background checks would help prevent these people from purchasing weapons. There are also weapons no civilian should have.”
The moment someone says that, they’re saying they’re in favor of some kind of regulations on purchasers and weapons. After that, it’s just a question of determining which regulations are acceptable.
My personal opinion is that no one should be allowed to buy a gun until they have shown they know how to load, unload, clean, store, and actually shoot the gun. I don’t think those requirements are unreasonable. Walking into a gun store and buying a gun and a box of bullets won’t make you or anyone else safer if you don’t know what you are doing.
When I was in 8th grade, I lived in a small mountain town where people had guns and hunted. I had a classmate named Rita. When Rita was five, her father was cleaning his long gun. The gun went off and shot Rita in the spine. She became paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair.
Rita’s father was not a “bad guy with a gun.” He didn’t intend to shoot his daughter. But somehow, she got shot and suffered the consequences for the rest of her life.
I keep hearing “law-abiding” and “responsible gun owners” as justification for not requiring any kind of standards to buy, keep or use a gun. Several studies have shown that “85 percent of gun-owning parents did not practice safe gun storage and 72 percent believed their young children could differentiate a toy gun from a real gun.” (Rutgers.edu, 5/15/18) Should people that ignorant be allowed to have guns?
Last November, a local columnist wrote about how terrible liberals are for wanting common-sense gun laws. This same columnist then wrote that he made sure his children were “proficient with firearms.” Why would he put that restriction on his children? I’m sure they are all law-abiding. According to the NRA, that appears to be the only condition needed. Requiring that people know how to use the guns they buy seems to be off-limits.
On April 14, pro-gun rallies were held across the U.S. One requirement for attendees was to bring their guns unloaded. If guns don’t kill people, why couldn’t participants bring loaded guns? Could it be that the organizers knew that sometimes bad things happen?
The “Gun in every hand” proponents try to say the gun violence problem is mental heath, or violent video games and movies, or lack of respect for life. America doesn’t have a monopoly on any of these problems. Every country has mentally ill people and video games and movies. But they don’t have the constant stream of shootings we experience on a regular basis. This is a uniquely American problem. Why?
Pastor Thomas Dixon of Charleston, S.C. said, “Guns don’t kill people. People who have no business with guns kill people.” For those who couldn’t remember, the second and third words of the Second Amendment are “well regulated.” Not everybody who wants a gun should be able to get whatever they want, any time, anywhere. Life is too precious to treat that way. Anyone who values life should be able to see that.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.