Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sense and Nonsense

The Senate finally approved an exemption for gun manufacturers that frees them from liability when someone misuses their product.  Makes a lot of sense and it’s long overdue.


The nonsense is that we still have no practical control over guns in this country.


Scenario:  260 residents of Smalltown, U.S.A convene their annual Town Meeting.  There's a great turnout, all of them there because they each and every one of them honor and believe in the democratic process and it’s stood Smalltown in good stead since the Revolutionary War.


This year the docket includes a vote on gun control within the township.  Among the citizenry are the normal percentage of hunters, skeet and target-shooters and folks who keep a pistol in the bedside table.  Charlie Walker goes to Maine every fall to hunt moose, but that's just Charlie and so far he's not actually shot one.


It’s not about banning guns, it's about control and the control is only necessary because a gun shop opened on the south edge of town that sells some very strange stuff and has attracted customers from across the state. There's a machine-gun range a mile and a half out of town. People are nervous. Smalltown's always been sort of a small-town place. The debate centers around whether or not to allow Saturday-night specials, StreetSweeper shotguns, assault weapons, large-magazine automatic pistols and armor-piercing ammunition within the township. There are four people in Smalltown who purport to have an interest in the ‘recreational aspects’ of such weaponry. 70% of the residents (182) vote against allowing the above. Four vote to allow it within the township.  74 just want to get home and get their feet up.  The Chairman gavels for quiet after the vote and allows the weapons.


Excuse me?  Four overrule 182?  That’s democracy at work?


Smalltown, as you’ve already guessed is a microcosm of America, its 260 souls representing the 260 million of the country.  The four represent the 4 million members of the National Rifle Association.  The 182 million who statistically represent those praying for some kind of intelligent de-weaponizing of the streets continue, through the intimidation of their representatives, to be beaten into submission by the NRA lobby.


Smalltown doesn’t understand what’s going on and because they are overwhelmingly law-abiding and are unlikely to be among the percentage of victims, useful controls continue to elude our them.  As usually happens when good law is simply not available, bad law tries to take up the slack and that’s what happened with the proposed legislation to make manufacturers responsible for crimes committed with their products.  It didn’t pass and (my view) shouldn’t have passed.


But I’ve been mugged; taken from behind and had a gun shoved up against my neck by street toughs high on drugs.  Listened to the click of the hammer being cocked.  Armlocked across the neck, my wind entirely shut off, I listened while they debated whether to shoot me as my pockets were ripped out and my wristwatch stripped.  Thrown half-conscious to the pavement, I survived.  It wasn’t pleasant.  Had I been armed, it wouldn’t have served any purpose.


I believe we have a citizen’s right to own firearms.  I don’t think I have a right to the kind of weaponry Smalltown debated at their Town Meeting.  Because the NRA is so intransigent on what should be common-sense issues, they enhance their growing reputation as wild-eyed gun nuts and that encourages a continuing stream of bad legislation.


At this rate, one day we will have our bad law.
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There are lots more things that make me nuts, all of them on my personal web site.