No, I’m not coming for your gun. I could not care less how you spend your disposable income, and if guns and ammo are your “thing” so be it. However, I am tired of the civic conversation about firearm safety being driven by the arch-fanatics whose attachment to their weaponry verges on the pathological.
I am also tiring very quickly of those who argue that we need to “crack down on crime,” and then reverse course and proclaim that it is too great a burden to require gun sellers to prevent “straw man” purchases of firearms – wherein the real beneficiaries are the very criminals we’re supposed to “crack down” upon. [SGL.org] Read your copy of the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd amendment one more time – it says we may “keep and bear arms”. It doesn’t say we can purchase as many as we want at one time. There are common sense limits we can place on the quantity of such purchases; and, it’s agreed that “straw man” purchases can be regulated. Even our conservative Supreme Court agrees on this point. [WSJ]
The ATF and the National Shooting Sports Foundation have coordinated the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” program which seeks to get the message out that “… buying a gun for someone who is prohibited is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.” In Nevada that would be those who are fugitives, felons, adjudged mental ill, undocumented persons, unsupervised juveniles, and those under court order not to possess firearms because of incidents of domestic violence, who are prohibited from procuring firearms.
And, how do we know if a person falls into one of the prohibited categories? We require background checks. In a better world we would require background checks for gun dealers no matter the setting, and this would include private and gun show sales. I am not receptive to arguments that requiring a background check for all sellers is an infringement – on anything. A truly responsible person would take every opportunity to insure that he or she is not involved in trafficking a gun to any person on the proscribed list.
We’ve not done a particularly good job of collecting figures on unintentional firearm deaths among children. We do know that in 2009 we lost 114 youngsters under the age of 20 in firearm related fatalities. And, we know that 66 of those deaths were in the 15-19 age range. [AAP] There’s also the matter of teen suicide:
“In 2009, suicide was the third leading cause of death for American youth 15 to 19 years of age. Firearms remained the most common method used for suicide in this age group, accounting for 736 deaths (3.4 per 100 000). Of all common methods used for attempting suicide, firearms are the most lethal, with approximately a 90% mortality rate.” [AAP]
If we can’t completely prevent these instances of homicide and suicide then we can at least make access to firearms by children more difficult. Consider the implications of the following numbers:
21.7% of American gun owners with children at home under the age of 18 stored a loaded gun. 31.5% stored a gun unlocked, and 8.3% had at least one gun unlocked and loaded. Among those with children at home between the ages of 13-17 some 41.7% kept a gun unlocked, compared to those with children under 12, who kept a gun unlocked at a rate of 28.8%. [AAP]
It’s startling to think that almost 30% of youngsters under the age of 12 who live in a home with a gun could have access to that unlocked unsecured weapon. That’s the origin of those incredibly sad headlines. It’s also disturbing to note that the older the children the less likely the parents are to lock up the guns – even though suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents, and that those disturbed kids who use a firearm are “successful” 90% of the time.
Moving the Conversation
Responsible sales, reasonable background checks, and safe storage are not impossible goals, and there are ways to promote a more responsible society.
(1) Tell the hysterics to put a sock in it. No one is coming after your gun. There is no “slippery slope” from gun show background checks to “confiscation.” That the state may require safe storage of firearms doesn’t mean The Black Helicopters are going to swoop down and grab your Ruger. Further, that the state doesn’t want someone selling guns to those adjudged seriously mentally ill who may be a danger to themselves (most often) and others upon occasion, doesn’t mean the End of the World As We Know It. These hysterics get the press coverage because they are deemed “news-worthy,” i.e. they are dramatic, virulent, and very loud. They’re not very rational, responsible, or right.
(2) Tell elected representatives that if they are wedded to money from the hysterics for their campaign coffers they aren’t your kind of candidate. When senatorial candidate Sludgepump proudly announces his endorsement from one of the hysteric organizations, do let him know he’s lost the vote he was trying to get with the advertising money he’s collected. When legislative candidate Loonybird says she’s 100% pro-gun, do tell her she’s 100% off your list of favorable candidates. A quick telephone call, e-mail, or note will do nicely.
(3) Tell those organizations which seek to promote responsible gun ownership and use that you support them. Better still, send them what reasonable donation you can afford to help them get their information and messages publicized.
(4) Stand up for yourself, and your children. If the neighbor happens to be an ammosexual with unlocked firearms on the premises then he’ll be annoyed you asked if there are unsecured guns, but your child will be safer – and that’s one of the hardest parts of parenting. If the neighbor is a responsible gun owner, one who doesn’t keep loaded and unsecured weapons about, then you should both be proud of your responsible parenting.
It’s good to have a Gun Violence Awareness Day … but then among responsible civic minded people every day should be one in which we remember that our safety and the safety of our children is a matter which should be based on sound information (not hysterical ranting) and civil discourse (not irrational fantasies).