If you really want to talk about the future of gun control, you have to go back to ... say ... 1974, when there was no such thing as a non-smoking section at La Maison and no one thought twice about swigging down a can of Stroh's while tooling around in their Monte Carlo. If you got caught with an open container, the cop might make you dump it out. You could also page through any indie newspaper and find a convenient ad for a compassionate clinic that would be happy to terminate your third trimester pregnancy, no questions asked.
Over the past thirtysomething years, people got sick of drunks careening into VW Beetles full of teens. They didn't appreciate that cloud of cigarette smoke arriving at their table along with their surf and turf. They decided drive-through abortion clinics weren't such a great idea. All the while, they more or less still respected an individual's right to consume alcohol and tobacco and terminate a pregnancy. Call it culture change.
Folks, the future of gun control relies on the exact same thing. If John Q. Public begins to perceive guns laws as lax and a threat to his safety, those laws will change slowly by way of more renewal procedures and waiting periods and licensing requirements. Then start adding more taxes and fees and penalties. Just like the right to an abortion, the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution, but that doesn't mean those rights cannot be controlled. If he so chooses, John Q. Public will chew away at gun rights the same way he chewed away at abortion rights and drove the cost of a pack of Marlboros from 50 cents to nearly six bucks. Now then, don't worry. Overreaching will be dealt with. Just ask Todd Akin, or look into the mass collective failure of all those Personhood Amendments. And the last time I checked, a pack of Winstons was still available for sale at every convenience store and gas station.
The brute force of public opinion, incidentally, swings both ways. Case in point: people are getting pretty fed up with those draconian marijuana laws. To that end, the maryjane train might be starting out slow, but she's definitely pulled out of the station in Colorado and Washington.
Make no mistake, Americans love their hunters and sportsmen, but just like responsible drinkers had to distance the cocktail from the car keys, the guy in the red plaid jacket and LL Bean boots might have to wait a few more days for his new Remington for all the clearances and forms to go through. He might have to pay a few more dollars for a box of ammunition.
Sorry about the inconvenience buddy, but we just need to make sure you're one of the good guys.
Speaking of good guys--or people who want to be good guys, there are things in play today that were nonexistent in the swingin' 70s, particularly when it comes to violence. If someone wants to drop a dime on what he perceives to be a threat--even if it's just on a silly facebook post--he gets taken pretty seriously. Don't like that link? Go talk to Joe Lipari.
You may think people are just too darn sensitive and jumpy, but with so many bar fights turning into shootouts and bloody gun rampages coming to fruition, public reporting of suspicious or threatening behavior is only going to increase.
How often do I see this online:
Maybe I'll shoot 'em with one of my fuckin' guns, heh heh heh.
That's just hilarious, jackass. There was nothing funny about Holmes' Batman rampage in that Colorado movie theater. Everyone in the world wishes they'd dropped a dime on that sick bastard and plenty of people are on the lookout for the next Joker, so stop talking about that gun like it's a toy. It's not. All you clowns out there talking about how you want to shoot all the liberals or shoot up the government or shoot up whatever shouldn't be surprised if you get a knock on the door. (For the curious out there, I've never dropped a dime, although the Department of Homeland Security encourages you to report any suspicious behavior you see. Feel free to do so anonymously.)
CODE ORANGE NEWS ALERT: If anyone should be worried about keeping guns out of the wrong hands, it's the law-abiding gun owners. The more mass shootings there are with legally purchased weapons, the more those legally purchased weapons start looking like a bad idea. Too bad the NRA has the gun-rights contingent so rabid that they don't realize their own denial of that fact imperils their access to guns more than anything else. Will the NRA's minions ever wake up and see that their savior no longer has their best interests at heart?
I hereby implore enlightened members of the readership to show me NRA-backed legislation that encumbers illegal gun ownership: An NRA-sponsored article that gives clerks tips on when not to sell a gun based on someone's behavior and guidelines on their own rights as gun sellers, or an NRA-backed study on how to make ballistic imprinting less expensive and more reliable. What are the consequences for selling a gun to felon at a gun show in Ohio? Is there a mandatory prison sentence? A seriously prohibitive fine? What is the NRA doing to help ensure existing laws are enforced?
Those are the sorts of issues a real "good guy with a gun" would be exploring: good faith efforts to keep guns out of the hands of "bad guys." Wait ... hold on one minute. Could it be the NRA doesn't mind the sale of guns to bad guys? So long as everything is ... you know ... legal?
An aside I cannot resist: Jeepers. Imagine if Adam Lanza had been named Sayyid al-Banna. Then maybe the Right would be clamoring for gun control like Ronald Reagan & Co. were back in 1967.
But Erin, you say, the NRA is a big powerful lobby. Not so fast. If Big Tobacco couldn't keep ashtrays on bar tops (and they had plenty of money as well as bought-and-paid-for legislators in their pockets), there's no reason to believe the NRA can keep that conceal carry permit in your wallet if John Q. Public gets too leery of it.
I see your face getting all red. Down, boy. No one's going to wrest that CCW permit from your clenched fist. Maybe the Man will just ask you renew it a little more often, take an eye exam and answer a few more questions, fill out a few more forms, pay a few more dollars. Good guy with a gun, remember?
Yes, you have a right to bear arms, but you do not have the right to shoot anybody you please. No, I do not automatically trust you. RIP Trayvon Martin.
As for my prediction, I don't think 20 dead first graders and the daily urban carnage are enough to turn the Titanic. It will probably take more than a few free-for-alls at sporting arenas and large public gatherings with hundreds of casualties. Self-proclaimed good guys will seize their make-my-day moment and shoot at the bad guys. Misfires will end tragically as the Goodwins in Portland and the Sweeneys in Boston blink in horror before their vivid 60-inch HDTV displays.
Then again, maybe not.
After all, if a few MADD mothers could transform three little letters into every goodtime Charlie's most dreaded nightmare (DUI), there's no telling what one million moms can do.
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