By Ed Gross
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Craig Whitney suggests that there’s a stalemate on gun control that can be solved only if “gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters stop screaming at each other and look for common ground on how to deal with gun violence.” This is one of those I’m-a-pundit-so-I’m-above-partisanship approaches I hate that are now so common in our newspapers. They sound right at first blush, but unfortunately, they’re often used to suggest that people who have the facts on their side need find a middle ground where they can agree with people who are reacting instinctively and emotionally in ways that often run counter to the facts.
Even if you stipulate, as I don’t, that the second amendment is meant to protect private gun ownership, the NRA’s leadership, and much of its membership, has gone so far overboard in that direction that they can’t even admit that it’s worth considering how to keep assault rifles with hundred-bullet clips out of the hands of people who have no possible use for them other than to commit mass murders.
Let’s see. How do we compromise with that?
Mr. Whitney goes on to say that, “Liberals should accept that the only realistic way to control gun violence is not by keeping guns out of the hands of as many Americans as possible, but by keeping guns out of the hands of people we all agree should not have them.” Again, sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, we often don’t know ahead of time who are those people we would all agree on. (Maybe we can get them to wear signs.)There are, however, some things we do know: like which kinds of guns and bullets are the most dangerous, like it’s dangerous for kids to have access to guns and like the fact that law enforcement needs guns used in crimes be quickly and easily connected to
Here’s what drives me crazy. Guns are not subjected to the same kinds of laws and restrictions that we use to keep us safe on the roads. As a society, we have long recognized how lethal cars can be. That’s why we keep them out of the hands of kids. We mandate driving lessons and licensing based on testing as well as registration. We also make it illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We penalize drivers for dangerous driving even if it doesn’t cause an accident and we suspend licenses for repeated violations.
Let’s start with an approach like that for guns. Then come talk to me about compromising.
Of course, I’m not holding my breath. I still can’t get over the fact that the NRA actually has opposed keeping guns out of the hands of the suspected terrorists on our no-fly list. That’s right. If your name’s on the list you can’t buy an airline ticket, but you can buy as many AK-47’s as you like.
If you get an email asking you to sign a petition for any kind of gun control at all, please sign it. I realize very well that as of now “we can’t keep guns out of as many hands as possible.” But there’s an awful lot we can do to prevent them from being used in suicides, killings and mass murders.