My gut and my head are at odds when it comes to gun control. Instinct has been useless for making decisions on sensible limitations to the right to keep and bear arms. Here’s my profile: I own three guns, I like to shoot for recreation, and I’m from Utah (Go Jazz!). I don’t own an assault rifle, but a number (alright, a good number) of my friends do. Three of my friends have their concealed weapons permit and only take their Glocks off their belts when they’re in the shower or making love. One of them I trust with my life; the other I wouldn’t trust with a marshmallow gun. Yet most troubling is that while the third friend is the most gun-loving person I know, he might also be the least mentally stable.
My friend, let’s call him Steak, is a model citizen. He is the consummate gun-owning young man. He’s intelligent and thoughtful and owns multiple firearms, including assault rifles. Steak doesn’t feel that he and the majority of AR-15 owners should be penalized for the acts of a handful of lunatics who commit mass murder. Steak also cites that the majority of gun violence is committed with handguns and resents that gun control is only given attention when a drop of the everyday violence in the slums of Chicago and Detroit spills into suburbia. Although Steak tends to side with deregulation, he agrees that requiring universal background checks on all firearm transactions is a practical way of keeping guns away from goons.
My other friend, let’s call him Ham, isn’t as open-minded as Steak. Ham is against any infringement on gun rights. Mostly, he fears that regulations will only limit the ability of the good guys to protect themselves from the criminals who give no regards to regulations anyway. In addition to his noisy and half-baked rhetoric, Ham’s actions have shaken my confidence in him. An example: on at least one occasion, he unholstered his semi-automatic sidearm and fired repeatedly at a defenseless street sign—whilst drunk driving, mind you (I can’t tell you how many laws you broke, Ham).
More worrying than Ham is another friend of mine, let’s call him Club Sauce. I say “friend” in the loosest possible definition. Club Sauce speaks in a wild, nasally Texan accent and his obsessions include guns, Gundams, and Ted Nugent. School days with Club Sauce were punctuated by his animal tirades complete with full sound effects. Thankfully, he moved away before we experienced further complications brought on by puberty. Club Sauce has since become the perfect Tea Partier as his every Facebook status—ever—will demonstrate. He writes things like, “Keep Your Laws Off My Guns!” and “Gun control made the Holocaust possible.” He “likes” groups such as “Gun control kills” and “We will protect the Second Amendment.” But, what frightens me more than his silly, conspiratorial, shit-headedness is that Club Sauce is probably mentally unstable, yet he is still allowed access to the same killing machines as Steak.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no way of getting the guns out of the hands of people like Club Sauce without infringing on the rights of people like Steak. Requiring universal background checks and psychological exams for gun ownership, including a license and registration, are good places to start. I think the greater the killing power of a weapon (ammunition capacity multiplied by fire-rate) the stricter the regulations should be. I think it should be difficult to buy assault weapons—a real royal pain-in-the-ass—but I don’t think they should be banned. Who among you wants the job of confiscating the arsenal of Club Sauce? Ideally, we would consider the Second Amendment thinking it was only Steaks out there. But, the unpleasant fact is that you can’t have Steak without some Club Sauce.
Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/95413346@N00/8439371212 by Elvert Barnes