Let’s demand sensible gun control nowPosted: December 18, 2012
I don’t often write about explicitly political topics because the focus of my journal is the nexus of politics and popular culture — especially music and film. And truthfully, what I’ve been writing lately is pretty heavy on the pop culture side. But recent events inspire me to write about my position on gun control and see what happens.
If I were Queen of the USA or of the world, I would banish all guns to the bottom of the sea. We don’t need to be able to kill each other with guns. I know I could do a lot of damage with a good kitchen knife or even by stabbing someone in the throat with a sharp pencil. But a knife or a pencil can’t kill dozens of people in a few minutes.
Ideally, I would ban all guns for civilians. But I come from a family of hunters and – it may be sentimentality – but I’d let them keep hunting birds and animals, small and large. The highlight of my father’s life was his annual hunting trip to Canada or North Dakota with his hunting buddies. He brought back birds and large animals; the latter were butchered and packaged and delivered to the commercial freezer in our basement. We ate deer liver, venison steak, venison pot roast – and moose stew.
(The year of the moose preceded the freezer. My mother canned the moose stew in those big glass Mason jars, which sat on the shelves in the basement storage room we called the fruit cellar. Really. Canned moose stew. I would look at those jars of brown stuff and hope they never were opened. That may be why my parents bought the freezer, now that I think of it.)
It may be nostalgia, but I’ll let the hunters keep their rifles and shotguns. Those firearms generally shoot one or two bullets at a time.
Second, although I would like to see all handguns banned, that’s an unrealistic goal. Along with Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), I’ll settle for change at the fringes of the gun argument. This is the legislation I believe must be passed soon.
1. Universal background checks. All gun purchases must be preceded by a complete criminal background check. This will close the so-called gun show loophole and also cover any private sales of firearms.
2. Abolition of assault or military weapons – this means all automatic and semi-automatic weapons. There is absolutely no need for this kind of firearm for private citizens.
3. Abolition of high-capacity ammunition magazines that carry more than 10 shells.
4. Changes in state laws to eliminate concealed carry of handguns in places like schools, theaters, churches and on public transportation.
I would like to see all concealed carry laws, which soon will exist in all 50 states, abolished as well. (In Illinois, the last state to hold out against concealed carry, a new law must soon be passed since the Seventh Circuit decided last week that Illinois’ prohibition of concealed carry is unconstitutional.) As long as the Supreme Court says the Second Amendment is constitutional, we are probably stuck with concealed carry.
Many legal writers think the SCOTUS Heller decision [DC v Heller, 2008] was wrong. But it will take a strong case to challenge it again. Will some of my lawyer friends please comment on this?
We also should banish all currently owned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Unfortunately this change is also unrealistic. The new law will have to be passed prospectively, meaning existing assault weapons will still be available. And once this legislation is introduced and debated in Congress, sales of new assault weapons and ammunition will certainly skyrocket.
I’ll end this exhortation with the most chilling comments I’ve read about the evil of guns. They were written by Garry Wills, in his article “Our Moloch,” posted 12/15/12 on the New York Review of Books site. http://tiny.cc/mwrjpw
Wills says: “The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned.” He then quotes Leviticus and then John Milton’s Paradise Lost on sacrificing children to the god Moloch.
First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)
Many tragedies can cause parents’ tears. Let us at least put an end to these mass murders and pass sensible firearm regulations now.