Warning: Guns may be hazardous to our health
March 23, 2013
"My only influence was through moral suasion," said the late C. Everett Koop, who raised the profile of the surgeon general by riveting America’s attention on the evils of smoking. He altered no laws and yet drastically changed the habits of our nation.
And therein lies the solution to our gun problem. No new laws need be enacted. The 2nd Amendment will not be threatened. A subtle shift is public opinion is all that is required.
Similar to the anti-smoking campaign we’ve so effectively waged, the American populace needs to wage a marketing campaign against gun ownership, and in particular unnecessary or selfish gun ownership. Fewer guns equals fewer deaths.
Bottom line: The right to bear arms, including high-power weapons, should not be taken away and efforts to that effect are counterproductive. In addition, hunters, antique collectors and those who are convinced they need weapons for protection should be allowed to own and carry guns as they do now. But, as for the rest of the gun-ownership arguments, I have trouble justifying the side effects of gun ownership. Warning: Gun ownership may cause death.
Bad reason to shoot guns #1 (actual ad in last month’s Park Record): "The Valentine’s Special: Sure love is thrilling, but wait until you experience the thrill of shooting one of our new, high tech machine guns."
Many folks, including myself, would get a thrill out of vaporizing a target on a Saturday date night, but is that thrill worth the cost to society? Selling guns as a Big Boy Toy is the single biggest mistake we make. The more hip it is to shoot, the more guns go into circulation, and the more people get a hold of guns who shouldn’t. It is clearly irresponsible to run ads showing how awesome it feels to spray 10 rounds per second from an assault rifle. Legal? Yes. Responsible? No. Got sense? Get a new hobby.
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Bad reason to own guns #2: If more people were armed, we could stop the bad guys. Scenario: Let’s imagine 25% of the people in the U.S. had their conceal carry permits and were packing. Do you honestly think gun violence would go down? OK, there is a good chance the "typical" mass shooting would end sooner. But within that armed 25% would be our normal ratio of folks with short tempers, those having a bad day, or with undiagnosed mental illness. An armed populace is not the answer. More guns in more people’s hands means more guns get fired. Gun ownership Don’t kid yourself, it doesn’t help.
Bad reason to own guns #3: It is our responsibility to be armed to defend ourselves against foreign invasion (or the Feds). Foreign invasion? Seriously, no chance, which leaves armed militias against the feds. Attacks from zombies are more likely than our liberal government taking up arms to limit our rights. The days of armed conflict with the authorities are long, long, long gone. Bottom line; Stockpiling weapons to prevent an event that has a near-zero probability of occurrence is irresponsible. Every gun purchased is another gun in circulation. Thinking of buying a gun MISTAKE.
Gun violence is a self-feeding epidemic. There are two ways to turn it off: new laws or moral suasion. Forget trying to change the laws too much baggage. Moral suasion is the answer.
Gun owners: If you feel the need to keep firearms, fine, not a problem. Please dedicate the appropriate time to their responsible use and storage. But for those of you who do not hunt or are not in harm’s way, do not be so brash as to think you are doing the rest of us a favor. It’s time for guns to be seen for what they are, dangerous diversions. If we have campaigns against smoking, driving drunk, obesity, and teenage pregnancy then surely we can afford to use a little moral suasion to get guns out of date night.
Silver Creek resident Dave Christensen is a longtime local.