A gun in every Christmas stocking may not be the best idea




From Pultizer Prize winning political cartoonist and commentator David Horsey.

I was at a holiday party on Friday when the subject of gun control reared its head somewhere between the appetizer table and the wine bar.

The host — my friend Alan — is a Canadian who thinks the American attitude toward guns borders on the insane. While Canada, with tight limits on gun ownership, is relatively free of gun violence, the United States, awash in enough guns to arm every man, woman and child in the country, suffers repeated incidents of gun-related killings — most recently the horrific slaughter of 6- and 7-year-olds in Newtown, Conn.

Appalled by the situation, Alan said assault weapons, like the one used in the Newtown killings, should be banned. Overhearing this, our friend Miles turned from pouring a nice Syrah to protest. “Are you going to take away my two AR-15s?” Miles asked.

Miles has spent much of his life running a business in Alaska. He bought the two assault-style weapons for himself and his son. He is not a gun nut, a right wing wacko or a paranoid survivalist standing ready to defend himslef in the case of civilization’s fall. He just likes using the guns as a hobby.

The discussion politely turned back to wine, but, later, it made me think how, in a perfect world, reasonable men like Alan and Miles would be put in charge of coming up with a solution to gun violence. There is no simple answer. Banning certain weapons and large capacity ammo magazines may help. It would seem as if Americans should prefer emulating Canada, Britain and Australia, where guns are hard to get, rather than, say, Somalia, where guns are abundant and frequently used. But we do have the 2nd  Amendment and a long history of gun use in this country. We are different, and advocates of gun control need to be realistic about what is possible.

On the other side, fans of firearms need to shed their paranoia and engage in less-strident discussion. It may be that the “fun” of owning certain types of guns is not worth the deadly cost to society. Gun enthusiasts need also to acknowledge that the National Rifle Assn.’s latest idea about putting an armed guard in every school is no panacea. There was an armed guard at Columbine High School in 1999 and he was unable to prevent the mayhem perpetrated by two heavily armed teenagers.

The remedies need to be comprehensive (and include, among other things, more taxpayer funding for mental health programs), but we will not get there if we merely shout at each other across a gaping divide. If we can approach the challenge with a common goal in mind and a realization that we are all in this together, something effective just might be achieved.

That’s why I nominate Alan and Miles to start the discussion — maybe over a good glass of wine.


About drugsandotherthings

I am a criminal. Because I have used cannabis and psychedelics extensively. I have tried many other drugs, but never cared for the uppers, downers, or dissociatives. I love craft beer, and absinthe, but don't care much for alcohols effects- which quite frankly, are boring and dangerous. Science is my religion. I am in my 40's, and have travelled extensively. And often forced myself outside of my confort zone. I am employed, a respected member of my communtiy, an animal lover, an environmentalist, a political junkie, and the realities I have experienced continue to push me further to the left of the political spectrum.
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12 Responses to A gun in every Christmas stocking may not be the best idea

  1. melfamy says:

    The guard at Columbine couldn’t stop Harris and Klebold, but maybe fewer died as a result of his actions; we will never know.
    I don’t like the idea of armed security on campuses, but if it will protect our kids, I will sign off on it. I also see a benefit in allowing teachers, who have been through gun training and a mental evaluation, to carry in the classroom. The Columbine killers knew about the security guard, but what if there are an unknown number of armed defenders? These suicidal monsters may not care, they may stage an attack anyway, but the uncertainty of the defenses would have to help at least limit the number killed.
    At the same time, we need to start making it harder to get assault weapons, they just are not necessary for home defense, unless you are living in boondocks somewhere.
    Did you read Joe’s post about the kid who was a potential killer? Very enlightening. Just ignore the title, that is just Joe being Joe.

    • Barneysday says:

      And I would ask, once the schools are armed, do we then arm the ticket takers at the movie theater? The clerks at mall stores? How about in the bars, and in the city halls, and, oh yes, the clerics in the churches?

      Armed teachers and school administrators, like armed security guards, or armed civilians in theaters are not the answer. They are not trained for the super rush of adrenaline in actually facing down an armed opponent-actually doing so is nothing like any training, as any military or police officer can attest.

      The answer remains making guns less readily available, less accessible.

      • melfamy says:

        I do agree with you, Barney. However, any drawdown in the flood of guns in this country will take time. I do not have visions of teachers acting like Rambo, but I see no other real alternative in the short run, except to run schools like prisons, and limit access to one or two points that can be sealed off with the flick of a switch
        And most of these shooters are not trained either, it is their first gunfight, too.
        No easy answers here, Barney. I am just throwing out my thoughts, which are not hard-wired.

      • Barneysday says:

        It’s not going to be easy, but the gunfight at the OK Corral in a kindergarten classroom is not the answer. Its not easy and it will take time, but if this kid in Newton did not have easy access to semiautomatic weapons, 20 kids in Newton would be having a wonderful Christmas morning today.

      • melfamy says:

        A gunfight beats an unchallenged slaughter any day. Other than that, we are pretty much aligned

      • Barneysday says:

        And just how many innocents get shot/killed by the “defender?” At a confrontation in NY City this year, with the Police against one armed man, the armed man was shot by the police, but so were 9 bystanders! And these by trained officers, not civilians who happened to be packing.

        Again, if the guns weren’t so readily available, the armed intruder would not have been there in the first place.

        We need to think beyond our first responses to the unintended consequences.

      • melfamy says:

        When George Harrison was stabbed by an intruder as lay sleeping in bed, his wife bashed the guy with a lamp. Gun-nuts said at the time that if Britain’s laws weren’t so strict, his wife could have shot the guy before he used the knife. But wiser heads pointed out that, had the laws been more lax, the intruder would have been armed with a gun, and shot Harrison before any lamp could prevent the attack.

        I get what you are saying, I do. I am talking about what do we do until the flood of guns on the street has been reduced.

        And New York cops are poorly trained, that sort of thing happens way too often.

      • Barneysday says:

        If a New York cop is considered poorly trained, what does that say for the training/experience/emotional objectivity and coolness level of an armed teacher or principal in a high stress situation?

      • melfamy says:

        One, it will be daytime, so less confusion as to whom to shoot, two, what if an innocent gets hit by friendly fire? It won’t be an aimed shot, so less chance of him/her dying, and if one innocent gets killed before the gunman is downed, the lives saved goes into the ‘win’ column.
        Do you really suggest that we do nothing to protect the kids? The goddamned guns are already out there, Barney, the next couple of psychos are already suiting up, and there are more copycats in the wings.
        You have the endgame right, but we are not there yet, gotta play the hand that was dealt, to mix metaphors a bit.

      • Barneysday says:

        Have the courage to get the guns, the 100 round magazines, the assault rifles off the streets, NOW! Gun buy back programs work, and even getting 100 pieces off the street will help. And by all means, don’t create the new laws with so many loopholes that you could drive a bus through them. It’s time for a healthy dose of tough love!

        Have a great holiday, this has been an enlightening discussion!

      • melfamy says:

        It truly has, I enjoyed the talk.

  2. Barneysday says:

    Miles may enjoy his assault rifles in Alaska, and is likely a level headed owner. But the fact remains there are a few things that I might enjoy, that I really can’t partake of. Speeding down the highway at 100 MPH might also be fun and enjoyable, but I can’t do it. We all have these wishes for things we might like to do, but reason and the common good don’t allow it. So should it be for assault weapons.

    Have a great holiday. always enjoy your posts

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