There are some things in life that should only be wielded by trained and qualified professionals, like planes, cranes, explosives – and guns.
These weapons have killed in wars around the world, enabled dictatorships to form and to be sustained, and have been used in mass shootings by disgruntled individuals in the USA. But America is still obsessed with guns.
There is no need, in any sensible person’s reckoning, to have a gun in your possession unless it is integral to your profession, or you have had the full and proper training to wield it safely and to choose a viable target.
But guns can be shot for sport! Sure they can be, but you could hire a gun at a shooting range and fire at targets for a defined length of time and then leave it behind on your way out. It does not need to be in your home. (I would also argue that standing in a field ripping up ten dollar bills, to the sound-track of Platoon, will give you just the same experience)
And hunting? Come on, this is 2013. The Western world has no need for amateur hunters to be trekking into the woods, spreading deer piss on their boots and sitting in a hide for hours on end before shooting another hunter in the head.
American gun enthusiasts also have this notion in their heads that they need guns to defend themselves – from what? A baseball bat, or a hammer are just as threatening, but less likely to be used in a mass killing at a school, or local mall.
As Roger Ebert, the noted film critic, said, every person in the audience of the Aurora Cinema had the right to bare arms, but none of them fired any shots in retaliation, nor did they even reach for their pistols… because they did not bring them to the damn cinema. The average American citizen sees no reason to possess a weapon whilst carrying out their daily lives.
In December, Twitter was alive with images of people receiving their brand new guns for Christmas, unwrapping them and then sighting down the barrel right beneath the tree. A lot of these were AR-15s, the weapon used just weeks before in the killing of twenty defenceless children and their teachers at Sandy Hook. Only in America will you see guns on Christmas Day. To the rest of us, this is just disturbing.
WOULD YOU LIKE SOME AMMO WITH THAT?
The buying of guns is far too easy in the USA and perceived as a normal type of purchase, like a toy. Being able to walk into a Walmart, or one of the many gun shops and then walking out with a brand new weapon and ammunition to go with it, or ordering it all online, is pure insanity.
Instead, I think buying a gun should require you to physically go into a building that is situated in a built up area where plenty of people around you will notice that you are going in to try and purchase a gun.
Inside, there will be a consistently long queue of at least sixty people waiting to go into a single door. Once you get inside, you will be greeted by an interviewer who will quiz you on the reasoning behind your purchase and evaluate you psychological state.
You will also have needed to bring your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, a recent gas bill, six months worth of bank statements, your latest tax return, and the fifteen page form you will have needed to fill out perfectly in advance – for no reason, you just needed to bring them.
It’s only through having enough hoops to jump through, and frustration-inducing red-tape, that the amount of gun owners can be reduced in the future.
I may have gone a bit far with the above, but the process to own a gun needs to be difficult and lengthy. You should come out at the other end understanding the seriousness of your purchase and the responsibilities laid upon you to treat that weapon with the level of respect it – an object with the ability to take a life – deserves.
WELCOME LEGISLATION FOR A CHANGE
Obama’s long over-due move to initiate the biggest overhaul of gun laws is a welcome one, but the NRA and the Republican party have already put down the President’s proposals. To them, the freedom to fire their guns into the ceiling of their meeting halls is more vital than removing guns from the hands of untrained and mentally unstable individuals with a grudge. (The NRA wants armed guards posted in schools, but this is just treating a symptom of a broken system. Anyway, you can shoot a guard.)
Their argument is that these new laws would only effect good gun owners. Fine! They have no need of these weapons, and the perception that it is perfectly reasonable to have a gun in the house needs to change.
My sister’s ex-boyfriend, a man that I had known well when I was younger, moved to America about ten years ago, married an American woman, and bought a gun. One day, whilst cleaning it in the living room with his wife and child present, he started to spin the pistol around his finger.
“Don’t you think that’s dangerous,” his wife asked.
“No, it’s fine. The guns not loaded,” he replied. Moments later he accidentally shot himself in the head, dying instantly. Guns are dangerous, whether you intentionally wish to use them with lethal force, or not.
Because the Republicans control the House of Representatives, a common-sensical debate of the proposals will not be able to happen. Instead, Obama, in his position as a lame duck in his second term, must use his strength in campaigning to the masses to convince his voters into action. It will come down to the power of the people to stand up and say to politicians of both parties: “shut up and do something right for a change.”
Gun control, or the prohibitive legislation and pricing of ammunition, is the right direction for America and for the rest of the world. It is about time that Americans realise that guns are no good for them.