This piece is about guns so I’m forced to start with the obligatory disclaimer: I’m not against guns and I’m not interested in taking everybody’s guns away from them. Statistically, I believe the data indicate that MOST gun owners qualify as “responsible.” I know, statistics. I’m not fond of them, either. They’re so…malleable. So I won’t try throwing a bunch of stats at you to prove one point or the other. Let’s go with ‘anecdotal’ instead, since it’s so much more reliable. (Okay, the truth is, the actual numbers are less important than the general idea I’m trying to express so ‘anecdotal’ is good enough…) Just think about the number of people you know who own guns and have NOT killed anybody or been in any kind of gun incident. Lots, right? Most, in fact…
But because the subject is guns people’s knees started jerking. My Gun Rights Advocates (GRA’s) will be certain my first sentence was a feint. My Gun Control Advocates (GCA’s) will insist that every gun owner is a danger to himself and society. I say the truth lies somewhere in between. The NRA has championed the term “responsible gun owners” but they use it as a blanket term, as though “gun owner” naturally equates to “responsible.” The thing is – and yes, I’m repeating myself – most gun owners ARE “responsible.” The OTHER thing is, though, some are not.
Recently, here in the bay area, an eight year old took a loaded handgun to school in his backpack. I’m not prepared to consider an eight year old a responsible gun owner. (Taking the weapon to school surely makes the point, yes?) Okay, so the gun didn’t belong to the kid and an arrest has been made. The ACTUAL “responsible” gun owner will have his day in court. And that – right there – the “responsible” part…that’s the part I want to address.
In my mind, this gun owner is clearly irresponsible. I mean, come on; he left his loaded gun where an eight year old could get it. GRA’s have a tendency to dismiss such incidents as accidents or isolated events. I would bet money I don’t have (I wouldn’t really) that the guy who actually owns the gun STILL considers himself a “responsible gun owner.” That’s because people deceive themselves into believing they’re awesome all the time. (We’re really a very confused species…)
So, to me, it doesn’t make sense to allow people to designate themselves “responsible gun owners” any more than it does to denigrate actual responsible gun owners as the result of some anti-social behavior committed by the smaller number of irresponsible gun owners. Then I got this idea: what if we pass a law that sets a standard and violating that law self-identifies “irresponsible” gun owners. We take THEIR guns (because they DO endanger everybody, after all) and leave everyone else out of it. I toyed with some ideas about how to implement such a thing and then I realized I’d already been given the answer – by the NRA no less!
Have you ever heard of the Four Rules of Gun Safety? They’re really good. They work. Here, take a look:
1) All guns are always loaded and should be treated as such.
2) Never point a gun at something you aren’t willing to destroy.
3) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4) Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Strange as it seems, if everyone followed these rules there would never (okay, rarely) be accidental gun deaths. They’re good rules…
Perhaps you’ve noticed they don’t cover an eight year old getting hold of the gun. I did, too. But in fairness, IF the eight year old obeyed those rules (he didn’t) he couldn’t hurt anybody, either. So, today, I’d like to introduce ‘The Keep Your Gun Act’ – an effort to allow irresponsible gun owners to identify themselves…
Basically, it’s a two-part law. The first part elevates the Four Rules of Gun Safety to the Four LAWS of Gun Safety and prohibits law enforcement agencies from dismissing violations as “accidents.” There are no “accidents” with guns. If somebody’s gun “goes off”? They clearly violated Part 1, section 3 of the ‘Keep Your Gun Act.’ If the round goes through a wall and kills some kid sleeping in his bed? It’s NOT a “tragic accident.” It’s negligent homicide. The Keep Your Gun Act requires the “incident” to be charged appropriately…
Part 2 requires gun owners to keep their guns. If someone takes off with one (or some) of your guns – be it an eight year old boy who wants to show off for friends or some crackhead burgling your home for a quick influx of cash – you clearly didn’t have the weapon properly secured. You didn’t keep your gun.
Violations of ‘The Keep Your Gun Act’ result in – at minimum – a substantial fine for each violation and surrendering your weapons…because if you couldn’t even KEEP your gun, you’re clearly NOT a “responsible gun owner.” A legitimate defense would consist of proving you had secured the weapon in a reasonable and prudent way. “I stuck it in the nightstand drawer!” isn’t going to fly…
Now, I’d be okay giving people one chance. That is, a first violation would result in confiscation of weapons but a person could recover the right by participating in an approved gun safety course and proving their ability to secure the weapon. A second violation, though, and one loses their guns for good – that is, the good of the community.
So there you have it: ‘The Keep Your Gun Act.’ An effort to allow irresponsible gun owners to identify themselves. I’d like to hear thoughts on the topic but I would ask that people think about ‘The Keep Your Gun Act’ and not just throw out the standard tropes because I’ll tell you this: We’ve all heard them all and we can repeat them all by rote…
3 thoughts on “The Keep Your Gun Act…”
I actually like a lot of these ideas and believe it’s an excellent start. I believe more guns stolen in home robberies will go unreported; families re-staging gun accidental death situations….you point out the flaw in the program in your piece. Except for those situations where the irresponsible gun owner gets discovered, we must trust that gun owners will abide by the rules—some will, some won’t. Because, like you said, human kind has an annoying habit of declaring themselves awesome, despite any evidence to the contrary.
I like the idea but there are a lot of ideas floating around in the atmosphere that I like, some of them mine because I’m awesome, that are never going to get the chance they deserve. (That doesn’t mean I’m not awesome though.)
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