The paid professionals of the NRA and certain of their supporters in Congress or rather those Congress people supported by the money of the NRA (and others) say that we should be silent after gun tragedies. If we were silent after such carnage, we would never have this necessary conversation. There are too many murders and massacres. Now is the time to have a conversation and more.I have read many articles and responses since this tragedy. Some argue as to what the Second Amendment really says. The arguments become as complicated as Talmudic argumentation and open to as many interpretations. To simplify, it boils down to the placement of a comma. And though arguing the meaning of the Second Amendment might be an enjoyable academic exercise it is pointless. The Second Amendment is not why guns are so prevalent in our country. The reason guns are so embedded in our national psyche is deeper and more emotional. There are historical and cultural reasons for our love affair with the gun. Our history is defined by the gun. Our cultural mythos is punctuated by the gun. From Davy Crockett to Sergeant York, from Jeremiah Johnson to Wyatt Earp, we have glorified the gun and the man who could use one. So let us put away the argument as to whether we should outlaw the gun altogether. It ain’t gonna happen… yet.
Having said that, there is a rational argument for limiting the type of gun that can be owned by civilians. That argument is: We already limit what we can own. Automatic weapons require a special license and explosive rounds are already outlawed. Therefore, to limit the number of rounds per magazine and outlaw assault weapons (or copies thereof) for civilian use are not unreasonable. We do not need assault weapons for self-defense and there are better target guns and hunting rifles. No one can seriously argue that the Second Amendment, which was written when the best shooters around could only fire 2 or maybe 3 rounds in a minute, was meant to include today’s assault weapons. Today, the average fully automatic assault rifle fires between 300 and 600 rounds per minute. – Semi-automatic weapons send a round downrange as fast as one can pull the trigger. So our starting point is to limit what we can own. By the way, if you think that this limitation is unique and unfair, try to buy a large amount of whatever sinus medication that unscrupulous people use to make methamphetamines. Or purchase a car that doesn’t meet safety standards.
That leaves the discussion of the procedures and limitations of gun ownership. And the only argument that makes sense in this time when nothing seems to make sense is to speak of what many call gun regulations.
When I wanted to get my driver’s license, I had to take a course in how to drive a car and how to be safe in that car. Then I took two tests, one written and one driving. When I passed them both I received my license which has to be renewed every few years. Every car that I have ever owned was registered and I had to purchase insurance just in case I had an accident. In addition cars must have certain safety devices such as seat belts and we have to use them. On top of that, there are laws as to where I can drive, how fast I can go and on and on. I do not begrudge the process, it makes sense to me. It is reasonable; it is a rational way to handle the dangers of vehicles.
Why not have a similar set of rules and procedures for owning a gun. In order to obtain a license to own a gun one would have to take courses that would teach us to shoot accurately and safely. In addition, the course would seek to imbue in us with the responsibility of owning a gun. Then there would be a background check and tests on gun use and safety. If these are passed, a license is issued. The license would have to be renewed at regular intervals. In addition, if one wanted to purchase a gun, there would be a registration process. Each gun would be registered and when sold, it would have to be recorded. As with cars there would be rules as to how, where and when one could carry a weapon (pretty much as it is now). These rules are nothing new either. After all the gunfight at the O.K. corral was, on the surface, an attempt to arrest men breaking the ‘no carry law’ of the city of Tombstone.