[The following was posted to a friend with whom I have been discussing gun issues for years. He recently sent me some informative material from NRA and this is my response. I’d like to hear from others reading this blog, especially those who oppose gun control.)
Thanks for sending this. I’ve read a few items on it and it is the sort of substantial documentation that helps me judge an issue.
I think I’ve been clear that I do not oppose gun ownership by private citizens. What I oppose is the lack of regulation that protects the public interest.
I’ll give you a small example. When I was in Santa Fe there was an incident involving a man firing an AR-15 at our synagogue. His story was that he did not know what the building was and that he as returning fire from people who had been chasing him (he was no choir boy) who had ambushed him from the darkened parking lot (the synagogue invested in parking lot lights after this). His bullets tore through every wall of the synagogue to the arroyo behind it. First of all I do not believe that private citizens should possess that kind of fire power. I’ve read that the AR-15 is fun to use for target shooting, but this was being used against human beings). I do believe that anyone who owns a firearm ought to be required to carry liability insurance for damage and harm to persons or property caused by use of said firearm. I also believe that anyone possessing such a firearm should have formal training in its use and be able to pass a written test on relevant laws and to show the ability to use the weapon properly. This wold be in addition to prohibiting a variety of categories of people from owning or using such weapons including those with violent crime records, mentally ill persons, minors, and persons who might reasonably be suspected of abuse of these firearms (political extremists – and, yes, I know this is a dodgy category). I think I am being reasonable and I’ll bet the vast majority of gun owners, even NRA members, would agree with much of this.
I’d like to know how a reasonable person could disagree with anything in the last paragraph. I’d like to know how anyone could justify putting battlefield weapons into private hands and how they can justify the sale of large-capacity magazines, armor-piercing shells (teflon, but I’ll bet there are others), fingerprint-proof guns, dum-dums, and guns without trigger-locks. Most of all I do not understand the passio of gun advocates. I’m passionate about a lot of issues, especially human rights and peace, so I do understand political passion. I do not understand the passion about guns. It strikes me that people who stockpile weapons live in fear. This was true of Nancy Lanza who believed that our economy would collapse and therefore she needed to be seriously armed. That is the root of the Newtown outrage. Add to that adolescent power fantasies and radical politics. Even in Dodge City people had to check their firearms before going into a bar. The reality is that most victims of homicides knew their killers. To me it looks strange and frightening that so many people deny reality and believe that more guns equals more security rather than the opposite, which I believe is the reality.
Please explain it to me or maybe you know someone who can. I’m quite willing to listen.