Here’s what I don’t understand about gun control: Americans, those most “can-do” of people, so far are just throwing up their hands and saying, “Well, that won’t work” to every suggestion offered. And when I say Americans, I suppose I mean politicians, except that (in theory at least), they work for we the people, and so far we don’t seem to be holding them accountable.
In Colorado, in fact, the politicians most recently held accountable were those who voted for a handful of mild reforms. Some, including the man who represented Gunnison in the state house, were recalled a few years back for voting in favor of things like background checks. Now the polls seem to show that upwards of 90 percent of Americans favor background checks.
But the best I heard from Greg Abbott, governor of Texas presiding over yet another random mass shooting that so far doesn’t come with much of an explanation, was that we need to do “something,” as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s right to bear arms. Which amounts to lip service and nothing else.
I get that we love love love our guns, and I believe I saw a headline in passing yesterday that said an armed civilian stopped a shooter at a Walmart in Washington, which always provides ammunition to the argument that we should all go about with a six-shooter strapped to our hip like everyone did in the West as Hollywood tells us. If it worked for Gary Cooper it ought to work for all of us, right? (Even though none of us will ever look as cool as Mr. Cooper.)
We also love love love our cars, but we don’t assume that everyone should have a right to get behind the wheel of one. We, as a society, think there ought to be training and testing that results in a license — a license that needs to be renewed at regular intervals — before someone can legally drive a car. (And more advanced licenses with more training and testing for bigger vehicles.) When accidents happen, as they do, there are not only calls for but action toward safety policies. Entire intersections have been reconfigured at great expense when they prove to be repeatedly troublesome.
I once saw an interview with a man who had come up with some device that would only allow the registered owner of a gun to be able to use it (some sort of thumbprint recognition, if I remember correctly). But he got shot down by the National Rifle Association, which these days strikes me as a cancer on American society.
I know the NRA got its start as a sportsmen’s society, but it has veered so far off that track that I wonder why people are still members. Particularly when it has come out that the president, Wayne LaPierre, has a taste for very expensive suits and a grandiose lifestyle that included an attempt to purchase a very expensive home in Texas to keep himself safe from people who might want to shoot him. (That feels like it ought to be ironic but it mostly comes across as pathetic.)
With infighting exposing corruption rife among board members and executives at the NRA, if I were a member, I’d be casting about for a new organization to send my money to. Unless you don’t care what they do with your money as long as guns, all guns, are held out to be sacrosanct.
This year in Colorado, the Democrat-led legislature and the Democrat governor passed a “red flag” law, which allows officials to take guns away from people deemed mentally unstable. The immediate reaction was for a large number of county sheriffs to declare their counties “sanctuaries” from this law.
This happened once before, with the aforementioned gun laws that brought about the recalls. I also question people duly sworn to uphold the laws picking and choosing which ones they’ll enforce and which they won’t; it’s not a sheriff’s job to make laws. Or ignore them.
I also don’t understand the sheriffs, who are among that first line of defense and most likely to find themselves in harm’s way (well, except for people going about their daily activities). If it were me, I’d just as soon not have to face crazy people with guns, especially if we already know there’s a problem.
They’re still untangling everything about this most recent Texas shooter, but they do already know that he was fired from a job last year and reacted so badly that police had to be called. Then he was fired again either the day of or the day before his rampage — seven dead, but let’s not forget the 22 wounded, some of whom will probably have to deal with the physical fallout for the rest of their lives.
So it would seem like he would be a candidate for the talking point that we need to keep guns away from those with mental issues, but that doesn’t get us anywhere in practice either.
For a can-do country, we’re all talk and no action on this serious public health hazard. This is what it’s come to: my new bike route so far is taking me behind the local Walmart. The other day, when it was hot, I rode past a man wearing a jacket and carrying a backpack. And instead of wondering why someone was wearing a jacket on such a hot day, which would once upon a time have been the extent of my wonderment, I wondered why he was wearing a jacket and what was in his backpack.
I don’t like living like this; do you?
It seems like there are any number of things that we could try — they may not all work, but perhaps we should try before automatically assuming they won’t — in a concerted effort to curb gun violence in this country. Why not a licensing program? We’re not telling anyone they can’t have a gun; we’re saying you can have one if you undergo the training and pass the test.
Will that stop every bad guy with a gun? Of course not. Drunk people get behind the wheels of cars every single day. But we must think the laws help, or we wouldn’t insist on keeping them around. Sometimes the laws keep bad drivers off the roads. Even if it saved a few lives, that ought to be worth trying, right?
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