If I seem a bit... let's say "focused" on gun issues in America the last few days, it's because I feel guilty.
I feel guilty for not speaking up about the subject for many years, despite having been a strong proponent of gun control all of my adult life. I guess I'd succumbed to the idea that there was nothing practical that could be done about it - another success of the NRA.
I feel guilty because I've not always acted or advised others consistent with my core belief that we've got too damn many guns around. I've become way too casual about it, which in the end is really the biggest problem with the proliferation of guns in America - we're ALL way to casual about having killing machines lying around and in every handbag and every nightstand.
Mostly I feel guilty because it takes the killing of 20 little kids and their teachers in a Connecticut suburb to spur me to action, when hundreds of equally innocent, equally beautiful, equally deserving of a future little kids are killed every year in individual incidents, but because they happen one at a time, we don't react the same way. And when thousands upon thousands of equally deserving of a future teenagers and adults are killed every year in accidents, in murders, in suicides we seem to accept it, or at least ignore it (and isn't that the same thing)?
Fuck it. No more.
There is no one in America that needs an assault rifle for non-official use. And if you start arguing with me over the minutiae over whether an AR-15 is by definition an assault weapon or not, you might find yourself arguing with my fist. There is no one in America that needs 30+ round magazines or canisters for non-official use. Your 47 guns are not going to help you stand off a government you find oppressive - reference Ruby Ridge and Waco if you're not sure. It should not be harder to adopt a dog than it is to buy a gun. There should not be more regulations around automobiles than there are around firearms. We've made tobacco companies liable (at least to some extent) for the damage and death that their products cause - why can't we do the same thing with firearms?
30,000+ gun deaths in America every year, year in, year out. That is not acceptable.
Cars vs. Guns
A number of times when talking about gun violence and gun control, I get a response that "cars kill people but we don't try to outlaw cars".
So let's think about that for a minute because I'm HAPPY to have that conversation.
1) Cars must be registered AND car drivers must be licensed. We should extend that to guns and gun owners. You can't just give someone your car for their use on the road without transferring registration - should be the same with guns. Today something like 40% of gun sales take place without any background check - that should end.
2) Car owners must carry liability insurance in case their vehicle injures someone else - I think that's a GREAT idea for gun owners. I'm sure the insurance industry would be happy to look at this as a new form of revenue and then would be lobbying counter to the gun lobby since they'll want to do everything they can to ensure that they don't have to pay anything out.
3) Vehicular fatalities peaked in the late '70s at around 20 per 100,000 people per year. Over the last 30 years, that has been reduced by half, despite more miles traveled per person. This was accomplished via government regulation (despite massive lobbying by the auto industry) and consumer demand for safety. So yes, let's use that as an example and legislate better safety with it comes to firearms.
4) There are certain vehicles that are deemed too dangerous to operate on US streets - no reason we can't apply that same logic to assault weapons, large magazines and the like.
5) If I get drunk and get behind the wheel of my car and kill someone, I'll be charged with at least manslaughter and likely something harsher in the current climate. If I get drunk and go hunting and accidentally shoot a fellow hunter, it's much less clear what will happen - there have been some prosecutions but many others are written off as accidents and not prosecuted at all. How about we be a little more consistent and admit that shooting someone while mistaking them for a deer or a turkey is negligent regardless of any extenuating circumstances and that they should be prosecuted.
So, no, we don't try to outlaw cars but we do an awful lot to try to make owning and operating them safer and penalize those who use them irresponsibly. Why wouldn't we do the same for a class of devices whose sole function is to create damage?