By Jeff Lund
Wednesday I picked up my new Remington shotgun. I paid for it eleven days prior, and since the computer searched the vast nothingness that is my criminal record and found nothing, I was able to begin the latest chapter in my life as a responsible gun owner.
My parents wouldn’t even allow me to go hunting or get a gun unless I took a hunter safety course, which instilled in me the importance of understanding purpose. It is now my unwritten, assumed duty, to never treat any weapon as a toy and use it only in a lawful manner on bright orange discs, ducks, or upland game.
But it’s not so simple. I started thinking over the past week and a half about this waiting period. People believe that as long as guns, particularly handguns, are a part of a free society, there will always be violence as if before bullets, everyone got along. Following tragedies stemming from negligence or extreme malice there is usually a cry for someone to do something. That usually falls to the government and politicians with crisp suits and public relation talking points. We live in a free country, but thanks to our violence problem, our idiot problem, our gang problem and our law enforcement funding problem, we suffer.
The Centers for Disease Control reported 11,493 homicide deaths in 2009 and that number hardly covers the true impact. Then comes the debate.
The NRA likes to promote that the national murder rate is the lowest in almost half a century. News organizations and blogs like to cite a study by the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that found among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths.
The gun stats are tragic, there is absolutely no doubt, but is a more tightly gripped federal hand on a Constitutional right the answer? According to Forbes the United States sits behind Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Norway, Brunei, and the United Arab Emirates in per capita wealth. (Talk about oil and natural gas dependancy). If we compare ourselves to those countries in one statistical category, we should also look at the context and consider if the comparative alternative is better. Luxembourg is wealthy and has less violent crime, it also has a population of 517,000.
Should we be more like No. 3 Singapore where in 1994 a 19-year old American was caned as punishment. His crime? Vandalism. Can you imagine the protests if United States judges levied beatings for convicts? Recently a Qatari poet was sentenced to life in prison for criticizing his government. Probably not a lot of gun control issues in that wealthy country where freedom is sacrificed in favor of control. Those are two extreme examples, but aren’t the extreme examples what get advocates for change riled up in the first place?
Japan has almost eliminated gun-related homicides by outlawing everything except shotguns and air rifles. Maybe we should do that, forbid people to get their hands on guns, especially handguns and close down most of the 50,812 retail gun dealers (209,750 jobs) held by Americans in the firearm industry.
But this issue isn’t simple stats. It’s about the principle of freedom, and the risk-reward of making weapons available to citizens. It sounds cold and heartless to say something to the effect of needing to take the good with the bad but if we look to the government rather than to ourselves, we will continually have federal blankets that suffocate our freedoms. When we collectively favor government control over self-responsibility and self-management we lose.
A by-product of freedom, is freedom, and the results are some of the most awful, excruciatingly painful aspects of being an American. It takes a toll on all of us, especially those whom are directly impacted.
And yes, someone (individuals) must do something (be responsible) in order for liberty to survive.
You have my promise.
Columnist – Manteca Bulletin
website – www.jlundoutdoors.com