And this time, I don’t mean the Jonathan Swift type of modest proposal. I actually mean that I have an idea for gun control in the US. If you’re of the opinion that no one should have guns, or that everyone should be able to have any type of gun they want for whatever reason, then don’t bother reading this, because you’re just going to think that I’m an idiot, and there are already enough people with valid reasons to think I’m an idiot, so we don’t need any more.
Let me start by saying that what happened in Connecticut was terrible, and it’s just the latest in a string of terrible things, and there should be something we can do as a society to make terrible things stop happening. And I’ll also be brutally honest and tell you that I’ve wondered a lot since Friday what part, infinitesimal as it may be, that I play in continuing the problem. You see, I worry about my characters. It may not seem like it, but I do. I worry that when people read about Bubba shooting it out with a monster in a parking lot and spraying lead around like it’s candy at a Christmas parade, that I’m doing nothing more than glorifying guns and the “shoot ’em all, let God sort ’em out” philosophy. I’m fairly certain that my sales are small enough not to have any grand influence on society as a whole, but I am concerned that in some small way, I may be part of the problem.
And as such, it’s incumbent on me to be part of the solution as well. I jokingly said to someone on Friday that we have to do something. I said “I mean, I don’t want anyone to take away my guns, but we need to do something about these assholes shooting kids.” I meant it. I own two guns – a Ruger 10-22 .22 rifle, and a 12-guage shotgun. I don’t own a handgun, but probably will at some point. I enjoy shooting. I’m pretty good at it, and it’s a skill that I enjoy exercising. I don’t hunt, because I don’t like getting up early and don’t need to hunt to survive. Plus I don’t really like getting messy, and there’s a lot of mess involved in field-dressing things.
But my point is that I am a gun owner. Neither of my guns are registered, because in North Carolina you don’t have to register long guns. I’ve never taken a class in gun safety, because I don’t have to. I received no instruction when I bought either gun, because no one had to provide it to me. And I bought both guns completely legally, one in a gun shop in Georgia, and one at a gun show in Charlotte. And if I wanted to, I could go to Walmart today and buy as many rifles and shotguns as my credit cards and cash would allow.
I would like to see some of those things change. And here is my proposal to put in place some gun controls in the US – treat them like cars.
There are about 250 million cars in the United States. There are about 270 million guns. There are about 311 million people. Cars and guns are very similar in number – statistically, almost every person in the country owns one. Obviously, that’s not true, since studies show that most people that own one gun, own multiples. Like me. I guess it’s like tattoos. I mean, how many people do you know with one tattoo? I have four. Yes, if you ask nicely, I’ll show you all of them. The only one that’s inconvenient is the one on the back of my leg, and it’s on a calf, so it’s still pretty easy to whip out.
But back to my point. In the US, if you own a car, it’s registered. If you are operating a car, you pass a basic operating exam. And you renew the registration every year, and you renew the operator’s license every few years. And if you’re operating a car, you carry liability insurance against the chance that you do something foolish and injure someone.
Now, let’s replace the word “car” with the word “gun.” There’s nothing about car ownership in the Constitution, because there weren’t cars when the document was written. But I’ve never heard anyone say that they felt there were governmental barriers to car ownership. I don’t see how this proposal for gun control really infringes on people’s ability to own a gun. You can still buy a dozen guns if you like, you just have to pay to have each one registered. Not a ton of money, but a percentage of the value of the firearm. Maybe 5%. Maybe 1%. Whatever, that’s math.
There should be some way to grandfather in existing gun owners so they wouldn’t have to register each gun they already own, but they would have to have a license to operate the guns they already own. And we’d have to pass an operator’s test. What happens if you flunk the test? I dunno, maybe your guns are confiscated for 30 days, until you re-take the test and pass. There are a lot of things to still be worked out, but even I, as an owner of multiple guns, think it’s too easy to get a gun right now.
I’m not going to bother with assault weapons, because most of the worst shootings aren’t done with assault weapons, but restricting magazine size to ten rounds is fine with me. Because if you can’t bring down anything you’re shooting at with ten rounds, you’ve got either bigger issues with your aim, or you’ve brought the wrong weapon to the boar-hunt.
So that’s my modest proposal. I expect a lot of people will hate it, but if you hate it, take a second and really think about it – if you’re a law-abiding gun owner (and several of my close friends are), what’s the real issue here? I’m not saying you can’t own whatever you want, I’m just saying that once every certain time period, you have to prove you’re competent to own a gun.
And don’t give me this BS about criminals will break whatever gun laws are put in place. I know that. But the people who have recently gone batshit and shot up schools and malls and movie theatres were otherwise law-abiding citizens who might have been stopped by a few barriers to entry to gun ownership.
Yes, you have the right to keep and bear arms. But you do not have the right to endanger others. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are considered inalienable and self-evident, and the document those rights are called out in is older than the AMENDMENT that gun ownership is guaranteed in. I love the Bill of Rights, and I love my guns, but I’m willing to jump through a few governmental hoops if it keeps one person alive that would have been killed by a gun in the wrong hands.