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Point of View: Do Something

Wed, 06/08/2022 - 15:38

Politicians have been told by the heartbroken parents of elementary school students mowed down by the wielder of a semiautomatic rifle in Uvalde, Tex., to “do something.”

Yes, do something, as countries like Britain, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, all chagrined by mass shootings at one time or another, have, through enacting gun safety laws that have greatly limited access to guns — military-style semiautomatic rifles, some shotguns, and handguns — which has thus resulted in significantly fewer gun-related deaths.

After the 2018 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., at which Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, as well as students from Los Angeles, Chicago, and D.C., spoke to a rapt crowd of one million for four hours, a young counterprotester in Boston was quoted as saying, “If you run over someone with a car, they don’t blame the car, but if someone is shot they immediately blame the guns.”

A car, the primary function of which is to get us from point A to point B, is most times not to blame if involved in a fatal accident, but it must be registered, its driver must pass a test in order to be licensed, the driver must be insured so that in case of an accident, indemnity by the insurer is assured. And if a driver is found to have flouted traffic rules and is deemed to be a danger to society, his or her license is suspended or revoked. Controls like these have been instituted with safety in mind. Why not the same thing for guns? 

A car’s purpose is benign, but it’s not all benignity when it comes to a gun, whose function, obviously, is to shoot — whether at bull’s-eye targets, sporting clays, at wildlife, when in season, or, as is so evident in this country, at innocent human beings. A shooter hopes to hit something — there’s inherent aggression in the act; the driver of a car generally does not want to hit anything nor does he or she want to be hit by anything. That’s the difference in a nutshell, and why the counterprotester’s comparison was invidious. Guns imply aggression; cars do not.

And yet, despite this significant difference, cars and their drivers are far more constrained for safety’s sake than guns and their owners.

Limit access to guns and you’ll reduce the number of gun-related deaths; that’s been shown to be true in the aforementioned countries that tightened gun control laws following massacres. In the interest of safety, we should buy back military-style semiautomatic weapons and melt them down, assure that before guns are sold their would-be buyers are thoroughly vetted, assure that gun purchasers undergo licensing tests, assure that guns are listed in a national registry, assure that gun-owners are insured, and hold the manufacturers of guns, which by nature imply aggression, accountable for their ads. If cars and their drivers are subject to the above-listed mandates, there is certainly no reason why guns and gun owners shouldn’t be as well.

One of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students said the other night on the news that she was “ashamed” that this country had done nothing after so many mass shootings insofar as gun safety was concerned.

We should be ashamed.

Do something.

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