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Gun Control

never touch a man there

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 05, 1997.

For some years I have contended that the most powerful, stupid, and hypocritical lobby group in the United States is the unofficial one of crappy parents. The number of laws passed to overcompensate for procreators - drunken or not - may now have reached Olympian heights in a bill just passed. This bill, which defies comment, requires all federal handguns to be childproof. Let me repeat: rather than penalizing federal officers from leaving their handguns where children could get and use them, the guns have to be childproof. If someone is irresponsible enough to leave a loaded handgun lying around, hey, its now officially the government’s fault if the child circumnavigates whatever protection is suggested by the term “childproof safety locks” when it applies to a gun. How such a device may affect the safety of federal officers is unknown.

The number of laws designed to remove responsibility from parents and to not only forgive their lapses, but to celebrate them in a form of victimhood, goes way back. This probably reached the nadir at the last turn of the century when drunks fell asleep in flop houses and their cigarettes started fires. Rather than dwell upon alcoholism or cigarettes, or unsafe buildings, the public summoned up their entire group intelligence and demanded that future tiny corpses smoldering in the debris of firetraps be encased in flame retardant pajamas. Yes, and years later, when the asbestos was revealed to be not only absolutely useless but dangerous, the pj's had to be both flame retardant and environmentally safe. The added expense to the product in order that fire departments get to remove broiled corpses in all natural fiber from inadvertent funeral pyres - hopefully inadvertent, of course - probably meant that many children never used pj’s at all in houses where heat was only gunned up for partying.

I am, by the by, a gun control advocate. I see no reason why all guns should not be traceable, why the illegal carrying of a gun is not a federal offense with mandatory prison time. The facts are that disturbing; despite the gun lobbies’ insistence that gun control takes guns away from law abiding citizens while doing nothing to offset their use by crooks. That is arguably true, the problem is on the term 'law-abiding citizen.' Until the inner city drug wars of the last decade, the vast majority of gun deaths were accidental or crimes of passion within the family and home. If there had been no gun about, it is a reasonable assumption that many of those deaths would not have occurred. Even here in Boulder, a gun hobbyist, a respected man and a good citizen, blew the head off his next door neighbor while he was cleaning a gun he thought was empty. His carelessness was as effective as a preplanned hit. It is incidents like this compelling concern for gun control.

There is the school of thought that homeowners need guns for protection against the lawless element. Certainly arguable except that most inexperienced paranoids with weapons are emotionally incapable of responding effectively in crisis and are as likely to blow off their neighbor’s head as that of a kid doing a burglary, and the statistics exist to suggest this. Certainly, if mere possession of a gun outside the home was a mandatory prison sentence, street gangs would be closed down rather quickly. This would even be true if it only applied to handguns, or automatic weapons. So, there are my qualifications for effete gun control advocate.

But I am still appalled at this stupid law requiring federal officers only to have child locks on their guns. People, if all that stands between a child and a fired handgun is a childproof lock, a crime, to my mind, has already occurred. If a federal officer’s gun fails because of this added baggage when that officer most needs it, a murder may have occurred. This is a prime example of a stupid, moronic law designed to soothe federal officers who are parents that the loaded gun they leave where their child can get it is okay now. What ever horror happens is, somehow, not their fault.

This worship and exculpation of the parent is the worst aspect of our law. Here, it touches upon gun control and the constitutional issues involved. Recently, it showed its face again when President Clinton nearly guaranteed a college degree to every child. Shifting blame and lowering standards are just two of the insidious results of our national attitude towards parents, a status often achieved unwillingly and by mistake by the production of a product that threatens world peace and world ecology. Go figure.