I Have a Right to Hate Guns

I'm not sure that I do; it's not that simple; but I certainly have the right and plenty of reason. I shouldn't have to hide my position. I should be free to state it clearly, directly and simply and say:

• It's much too easy for people of bad will or unstable emotions to become armed and dangerous and we should take the strong action needed to stop it.
• It is the responsibility of gun owners to prove that their activities do not create a danger to the public and submit to whatever regulation is needed to enforce that.
• Unless one has an exceptional need, the risks of having guns far outweigh the benefits, making gun possession unwise for nearly everyone.
• Notwithstanding Antonin Scalia's bogus logic, the Second Amendment only establishes a collective right.

There is nothing in those statements that goes beyond the normal limits of polite discourse--no threats, nothing racist, no advocacy of the violent overthrow of the government; but the leaders of public opinion who understand in their hearts the truth of such statements have absorbed the drumbeat of demands from gun rights advocates and choke on the thought of uttering their real opinions. This is tragic because guns don't have rights--people have rights ". . . and among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Where is life for those killed by guns? Where is liberty for those constrained by their injuries from guns? Where is the pursuit of happiness for those who have lost the ones they love to guns?

I understand when some politicians place the highest priority on giving this tool to the people that they do value if their whole understanding of human existence is as a struggle against a fraction, perhaps the major fraction in their eyes, of the people who are beyond redemption and of no value. But those who believe that all "are endowed by their Creator" with the rights above must find the courage to say so. I am disheartened when the very people who are devoting their energy and influence to bring us to safety feel obligated to demonstrate that they really like and appreciate guns. I gasped in disbelief when I saw Gabby Giffords--one of the most courageous and admirable people of our time--go and place herself in front of cameras at a firing range. Office holders and candidates who appear not to know which end of a cartridge goes to the front of the gun set up photo-ops hunting with friends. And everyone is a supporter of the second amendment.

The extreme of this viewpoint comes when a person in the gun industry breaks the line and makes a suggestion, even a tiny indirect suggestion, that some regulation of firearms might be appropriate in a rational society. Recently we had a column from Dick Metcalf of Guns and Ammo making such a suggestion; he was fired. And, his boss was fired apparently at the demand of two gun manufacturers. Prior to Sandy Hook in September the editor of Recoil Magazine was fired for saying that a totally outrageous mini-assault weapon was properly limited to sales to law enforcement. A major sporting show with 1000 exhibiters which banned assault weapons collapsed under the onslaught of gun defenders in January. The new show for this year is sponsored by the NRA. This is not new in 2007 Jim Zumbo of Outdoor Life and The Outdoor Channel was fired for blogging against the use of military type [assault] rifles for hunting.

Many people put a great amount of energy into their hobbies, people with deep resentments about things they cannot change displace their hostility into the channel they can find, and companies with a financial interest pour resources into the advancement whatever they profit from. Three sources of energy make a trifecta, a hat trick, a perfect storm. The issue of what to do about guns is controlled by those filled with that energy.

We must wrest control from that group of people. There is hope because they are few in number. These are not typical gun owners. Typical gun owners are people who have had a few long guns for years and would like to do some hunting if they had the time or people who have bought a handgun for protection at the urging of someone else. We need to make these more numerous gun owners aware of the dangers that come from guns to all of us. We need to get them to weight the dangers against the specific need for guns. We need to get them to accept regulations, limitations and responsibilities that are required have a safe society.

If we cannot do this then it adds up to an impossible task for those trying to move to safety. The only allowed solutions are tiny changes which must create no inconvenience for the acquisition, possession or use of guns. We take baby steps after huge struggles and debates at intervals of decades and interspersed with almost as many back steps. The burden must be reversed; those who want to subject society to this danger must provide us with the way of doing it safely. There are such ways and it's the job of the gun advocates--not the gun safety advocates--to find them. If they continue to say that the only answer to the gun violence problem is more guns, as does the NRA, this suggestion should be rejected as ridiculous leaving as the remaining answer: "No Guns."