A PROGRESSIVE'S VIEW OF GUN CONTROL
About 20 years ago, I lived in a rather crime infested area of Denver just outside downtown. I was burglarized and had a transistorized television and radio stolen during broad daylight while I was away at work. In the immediate aftermath, I felt like many do after something like this happened, violated. The ‘Columbo’ looking investigator that came by to assess the crime scene told me to get elaborate alarms systems and consider obtaining a gun. I got the alarm system which never seemed to work when it needed to work. I was kept awake at night pondering how I was prepared to deal with a break in that would occur while I was in the house as I knew that the criminal element was casing out the place. I was angry and certainly came very close to obtaining a gun, a small gun, mind you, to incapacitate or kill if necessary as I was not going to ask the intruder whether his intention was to take my color TV or my life. If I caught anyone under such circumstances, ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ was my motto. I found out that a bunch of teenaged kids were involved. I ultimately came to the conclusion that for my peace of mind and security it was best that I move from the apartment there and buy a house in a relatively crime free suburb of Denver. I was able to dispense with the violent thoughts about what I would do if I could only get my hands on those kids. This obsession was subconsciously ruining my disposition and my life. So, Conservatives, I wanted you to know that I am not just another liberal here to take your gun. I clearly understand the need to possess firearms to protect you and your family on private property from intruders who are becoming more and more ruthless and callous by the day.
That aside, however, I have a few questions for the Conservatives and the Pro-gun lobby.
Looking at Arizona in particular, a state where one can carry a handgun on his or her person without a permit, how do you control sales of handguns to minors, felons, or medically certified nut cases? The incident in Tucson must alert many of us to the dangers of being able to obtain guns more easily than I can get my ‘Quarter Pounder’ burger. Conservatives say that registration and licensing is an imposition. I am for law abiding persons being able to obtain a firearm without a lot of fanfare, but without regulations in the form of permits and licenses, how do we screen out those that most of us agree should not have access? Let’s be realistic here, I am not Wyatt Earp and this is not Dodge City. One of the most heinous incidents of gun violence took place a couple of miles from my former residence, in Littleton, CO. Perhaps, you have heard of the Columbine High School Massacre in April, 1999? In this case a minor, a 17 year old, acquired a semiautomatic weapon and, of course, the rest is history.
The right to bear arms obviously includes access to a pistol with a magazine holding over thirty rounds of ammunition, as was the case with the shooter in Arizona. Are grenade launchers, tanks, missile launchers included? I don’t mean to mock, but where do we have limits as to the kinds of weapons accessible to general public under the explanation of self defense?
And then, there is this one incident in Houston suburb some three years ago. It was the case of this man who called 911 to report a burglary in progress at his neighbor’s home. He knew that the neighbors were away for a time. He, it was reported, was the grandfatherly type and wouldn’t hurt a fly. The 911 staff repeatedly advised him to stay in his home and not get involved and that the police would be along to deal with it. The man kept on saying that he could not allow these two men he identified to get away with what ever they were taking. He said that he had a shotgun and was prepared to go and stop them. It turned out that he did confront the two men and shot them both. The autopsies on both men revealed that they were shot in the back. Through some twisted application of a Texas law that allows assaults of this nature, this man was not held accountable for this act. Doesn’t the ‘Code of the West’ frown on shooting men in the back? Could the fact that these men were non-white allow this man to do this and not have his conscience seared quite as much? I could consider the law a splendid one, if he acted to protect the lives of his neighbors or his own life. I could understand lethal force if the men had broken into this man’s home. As it was though, this fellow was not in any danger and there was not anyone in either house whose lives were at risk by the activities of these burglars. He deliberately took action to kill when he was told by professionals not to, and he is not held accountable, how? How does the Conservative Pro-gun group respond to this?
While my Progressive instincts react to the idea of people carrying firearms as it emboldens many to be provocative or be imprudent when they otherwise would not be. Small minded people like to brandish firearms, fire them into the air in bravado or protest and use them to intimidate others. There are the macabre types that are looking for an excuse to try it out, actually pull the trigger and watch the rounds rip through flesh and devastate bone tissue. We all are in constant contact daily; would a confrontation with another result in hurt feelings, a bloody nose or a body bag? We need to take to heart what it was the President said about the need for civility in our discourse. It needs to start with us as individuals, respecting the rights of each other to hold and share alternate opinions without resorting to violence.
So, eventually, I got another portable TV to replace the one stolen for a price that was far less than having to deal with consequences of shooting some idiot teenager on my conscience for a lifetime. I think that it was a pretty good trade off.
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