Thinking about and talking about gun control hurts my brain. How can we control something so deeply rooted in the very soul of our country and society? From the very inception and establishment of our country we have had the right to keep and bear arms. Was that the right thing or smart thing to do at the time? Probably. Over the past 230 plus years the fact that Americans were heavily armed may have discouraged hostile invasions of our country. Is an invasion of US soil by hostiles still a threat? Probably not and probably not just because for every 100 people in the US there are 90 guns. There are over 3 million people in the US. That means there are over 2.7 million guns and no one knows where they all are or who owns them. The number of guns in the US is growing every year and at an exponential rate, especially in the last ten years. Of the 8 million guns manufactured in the world last year, 4.5 million were sold in the US. So when I say that the subject of gun control makes my brain hurt, I mean this; are we trying to control the sell of guns or are we trying to control who owns the guns, or are we talking about full disclosure of where every gun is in the US and controlling those guns or are we talking about only controlling certain guns, or are we talking about all these things?
Let’s face the facts; guns are very dangerous and deadly, especially if they are in the hands of the wrong people. My father was a law enforcement officer for the City of Bend Oregon. Growing up in our home my two brothers and I were exposed to guns, both hunting rifles and handguns, on a daily basis. I knew that if I was with my dad, anytime, anywhere, he was carrying a gun or had quick access to one of his many guns. My dad was a very responsible gun owner and taught his sons to respect guns. In his twenty-nine years on the police force he never once had to fire his gun while on duty, but he won many marksmanship awards. By the time I was sixteen I could shoot a gun as well or better than most of the police in the department. I once scored 555 out of 600 on the police-shooting course. My dad taught us how to shoot, but what I remember most about his lessons was how much time he spent on gun safety. Even to this day I handle and treat every gun as if it were loaded, even if I know it is not. My dad once told me that most people are killed by an empty gun. How many times when you hear someone accidentally shot someone else, you hear the shooter say, “I thought the gun was empty”. Nearly every time.
So back to my statement, “guns are very dangerous and deadly, especially if they are in the hands of the wrong people”. The same thing could also be said about a lot of things, cars, planes, heavy equipment, medicine, scalpels… And how do we control who operates or handles those items? We require training, a certain level of competence, insurance and a license. Do we all have the right to own and drive a car? Yes, as long as we are of a certain age, have been trained and obtain a license. That would be called “car control”. Is our car control system perfect? No it is not. We still have people who drive without a license, without insurance and drive while impaired, but imagine what our society would be like if there were no “car control”. I think that responsible, honest, law biding and clear thinking people agree that we need to control those who operate cars.
With that said, do we need to control guns? I think it is clear that controlling guns, given how many there are in the US, would be nearly impossible, if not impossible, to control. It is really true that guns do not kill people. People kill people. We need to stop trying to take away our right to keep and bear arms. We should celebrate that right, but we need to stop trying to control guns and start “controlling” (determining competence, training, insuring and licensing) the people who own guns. Our forefathers probably should have said that we have “the right to keep and bear arms as long as we are found competent to do so”, but they didn’t. Maybe they thought about it, but then they thought, “Nah, that’s just common sense”. Let’s keep in mind that they wrote the Constitution in 1791 and things have changed some since then.
Let’s stop calling it gun control and let’s start calling it “Gun Owner Control” or better yet, let’s take the word control out of it and call it “Gun Licensing”. I believe this would be at least a reasonable place to start.