With the ongoing debate over guns I have to ask this:
How do background checks and prohibitions on various weapons protect me when the bad guys don’t follow the law?
Now I am probably the kind of person who feels more comfortable with the police carrying the guns. But the problem is that police ninety nine percent of the time do not stop crime but instead respond to it after the fact. And that is not necessarily a criticism of the police. That is just the way it is.
I do feel that a higher police presence would help. I actually don’t see anything wrong with a cop on every corner. But police should not be just in cruisers but on the pavement too, pounding a beat. This would especially be helpful in urban areas. The police should not be just responding to crimes or issuing traffic citations but also be there to assist the public in various matters (and I know they do at times. Once many decades ago I ran out of gas on the freeway and went walking many miles to a service station. When I got there I spotted a Highway Patrol car and told the officer of my plight. He gave me a ride back. When I told him I had my wife and two daughters in the car, and it was nighttime, he looked horrified and said: “you can‘t leave them out there!” What could I have done? But I was thankful for his assistance and his concern.).
But cutting public safety budgets has been all the rage in our economic environment, and over-generous and highly unrealistic public employee pension plans and early retirement have not helped the situation. But you would think that public safety would be a priority.
Back to guns. I am in general a supporter of the Second Amendment, even if I have questions as to its exact meaning, what with the confusing wordage about a well-regulated militia. But from the rash of violent gun incidents we have had recently (actually I guess they are ongoing) and the plethora of instances of out-and-out idiocy of some gun owners — accidentally shooting them off at gun shows and a guy recently shot his friend to death by firing a gun at him (he thought it had blanks?) to scare the hiccups out of him — it is apparent that there needs to be some kind of control in the interests of public safety. And what about that nutcase the other day shooting the death a school bus driver and kidnapping a little kid? And the list of violence goes on.
But the gun culture seems ingrained in our society. I was driving on Interstate 15 recently toward Las Vegas and I saw a billboard inviting people to shoot assault rifles at some tourist spot there. And here is a vignette out of the gun-toting red neck world:
I’m in this truck stop using a restroom stall (sorry for this detail but it is part of the story here). I can’t help but hear from the stall next to me noise apparently coming out of a cell phone. Yakaty yak, yak, yak came the female voice and it went on for some time and the person on the other side of the partition said nary a word for the longest time, but he finally said, “uh, huh”. Then he asked the person where she was and explained that he needed her to go into the bedroom and find a receipt on the nightstand for the “nine millimeter”. I took that to mean something like a 9mm Glock pistol (or even a 9mm Walther, hey that’s my name, Walther that is) or something (actually I had originally planned to use this in a post on the disgusting habit of using the cell phone in the restroom that I have noticed in recent years).
While I am not so hot on the idea of every man and woman toting a gun, I have to consider that as long as the police cannot prevent armed thugs from roaming the streets and indiscriminatingly shooting at each other with innocents, including children sleeping in their beds, getting caught in the crossfire — well sometimes they actually purposely shoot into homes — then how can we prohibit citizens from protecting themselves, even if they are just as likely to get shot by their own guns?
I’m not sure there is any justification for a citizen to have a military style assault rifle, but we are all vulnerable to those bad guys who have them and who can protect us?
It is almost a problem that defies solution in a free society.
In an effort to deflect the talk away from gun control I think the NRA has suggested the problem is a culture of violence. In that I think they may be on to something. But what to do.