Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What does gun control in America have to do with gambling? Every day that we allow psychos easy access to firearms and ammo, we're gambling with the lives of innocent people, that's what!

OK, so plenty of opportunists use the latest shooting outrage in the USA as an excuse to climb up on a soapbox, but what always amazes me is the number of times we're asked to swallow that twaddle that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

We have become a nation so brain-washed by the NRA's cynical misinterpretation of the spirit and intent of the hallowed Second Amendment that a majority of Americans actually believe that sensible controls on access to killing machines will do more harm than good.

It doesn't help that most politicians are even more cowardly about the gun control issue than they are about raising taxes on their uber-rich sponsors, or that the idea of government interference in any aspect of American life, even if it will prevent the slaughter of our children, is seen by many of us as the root of all evil.

Radio's right wing-nuts blow their hardest when guns are an issue, doing their damnedest (and they deserve to be damned!) to stir up fear and hatred, and win back votes for an ideology that was irrelevant to modern life long before Bush Jr. made America an international laughing stock.

Here's the truth about gun control:

  • No one who is sane and responsible and law-abiding will lose the guns they already own because of any new laws that have been or ever will be proposed in the USA.
  • The root of the gun problem is the ease with which deranged and unstable people with evil intent can buy or otherwise obtain guns and ammunition, and the willingness of greedy gun-makers and gun dealers to sell their wares to anyone as long as the price is right.
  • Anyone who now owns any gun should be required to register it with the local police, to provide the authorities with the names of everyone who has access to that gun, and to agree to keep the weapon out of the reach of anyone who is not officially listed and approved as a potential user of the registered firearm.
  • Private sales or transfers of ownership of controlled weapons will be banned unless the seller or prior owner of a gun has cleared the transfer by filling out the necessary paperwork and the intended new owner has been background-checked and approved.
  • Full background checks of new owners will be required before any sale of a firearm, and every gun will be readily traceable from the manufacturer or importer through the dealer to the purchaser.  Gun-makers or dealers who fail to follow this strict protocol will be heavily penalized and may have their license to make or sell firearms suspended or permanently revoked if they break the law.
  • No controlled weapons will be permitted to change hands at gun shows: purchasers will have to apply for registration ahead of possession and wait up to 90 days for delivery, and no money will be exchanged until the transaction has been officially sanctioned. 
  • All gun owners will be required to attest under penalty of perjury that they have a safe place to keep every weapon in their possession, and to agree to on-site inspections at the discretion of the relevant authority. 
  • The loss or theft of any firearm should be immediately reported to the gun control authority, with the law stipulating that the registered owner of any weapon used in the commission of a crime will be charged as an accessory to that crime, and if convicted will face punitive fines and a jail sentence, as well as potential civil liabilities.
  • Taxpayers will not bear any of the cost of enforcing new gun control laws: Every aspect will be funded by fees payable by gun owners for each step in the process, including applications for registration, transfers and inspections.

The NRA and other loony gun-nut organizations love to hide their irresponsible, murderous ideology behind the Constitution, claiming that it gives every citizen the right to not just own but carry a gun, regardless of any potential danger to others.

The Second Amendment says no such thing, despite the Supreme Court's cowardly willingness to pander to the paranoia of sociopaths.

The Second Amendment acknowledges the need for security and the maintenance of law and order in our society, and the "militia" it refers to could be defined as the U.S. Military on the federal level or local police ands the National Guard at state level.

That's not to say that law-abiding citizens should not be allowed to own guns, and even use them as hunters or in other sports.

Where we have to draw the line is on the safe side of firearms that are in effect weapons of mass destruction.

That means no assault weapons, no military guns of any kind, no exploding bullets, no multi-bullet clips -- and above all, no right to own or sell a gun without full accountability at all times.

Guns don't kill people?

Could the deranged shooter at Newtown or Aurora or any one of countless other American scenes of carnage have claimed as many victims with hunting rifles rather than weapons callously designed to blow away as many "targets" as possible as quickly as possible?  Of course not.

Would so many people be killed in robberies every day in the USA if guns were not almost as easy to buy on our streets as a loaf of bread or a carton of milk.  No.

Why don't I stick to gambling and mind my own business?  Because that's what Americans have been doing for generations: minding their own business and pretending that gun laws that protect criminals and the criminally insane are not a threat to the rest of us every hour of every day.

And gun control is not about government interference in citizens' lives or the loss of privacy or "inalienable rights."  It's about common sense, along with acceptance that the government is us and not some enemy entity intent on enslaving us.

Too many of us think of the government as "them" because we refuse to play any role in the election (and rejection!) of the politicians who represent us or the officials who work for us.

We can keep government in check if we pay attention, instead of shrugging off our responsibilities by whining that our one little vote in 120 or so million doesn't count.

We all matter individually, and we matter even more as a community with common interests and a shared obligation to look out for each other -- and our children.

Tighter gun controls won't prevent every future murder, and as always in America, as fast as new laws are enacted, people with murder on their minds will find ways to get around them.

But at least we will at last have stopped treating guns as if they were toys, or symbols of freedom and independence and proof of manliness.

They are none of those things.

They are intended to kill.

And if we can recognize that ugly truth and act together like a nation of grown-ups, we will be giving the children whose lives we save good reason to look up to us.

It can happen.

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