14 December 2012

A quick word about gun control

I normally don't add my two cents to the noise surrounding breaking news about tragedies, but I'm making an exception in this case.

Between today's school shooting in Connecticut, last week's mall shooting in Oregon, the cinema shooting earlier this year, and any others I've lost track of, it's evident that mass murders involving guns are becoming frighteningly common in this country.

Left-wingers have been quick to call for more gun control, and right-wingers have been quick to defend gun ownership rights (and censorship advocates are already blaming it on violent video games, but that's another story). This happens every time there's a mass shooting, and every time the discussion breaks down into two groups shouting at each other from opposite sides of the aisle and ends up going nowhere. Repeat a few years months weeks days later when another mass shooting occurs.

This needs to change. We need to stop arguing and start investigating. Let's look at what factors contributed to the tragedy, and then let's look at what we can do to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

When we talk about our 2nd Amendment rights, let's keep in mind that when the document was written, the deadliest weapon you could physically carry was a flintlock musket. It took a full minute to load, aim, and fire, and if that didn't take down your enemy before he closed in you'd better hope you had a sharp bayonet to stab him with.

Today we have handguns that can hold a dozen or so rounds that are automatically chambered after each shot. We have rapid-fire rifles that can fire several shots in less than a second. We have bullets that aren't just an oblong ball of lead, but rather aerodynamic projectiles that can be specially shaped to pierce steel or shred soft tissue.

I'm all for responsible citizens being able to own small arms for self-defense, hunting, and recreational target shooting. I'm for it in the same way that I'm for responsible citizens being able to own motorized vehicles to get from place to place without having to walk or depend on public transit. Guns and cars alike may be bought for a legitimate purpose but easily hurt people through negligence or malice. We don't let people operate cars without first ensuring that they know how to do so safely. Can liberals and conservatives come to an agreement on how to do the same with guns?

Just a thought.

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Creative Commons License