Monday, September 29, 2014

Freedom and Guns

In a comment on a Facebook post, a friend of a friend stated she was practicing freedom by taking her daughter to the gun range for some target shooting.  I asked her why she referred to target shooting as practicing freedom.  A lengthy discussion ensued about guns but I never really got a direct answer.  But I thought I knew and said I did.  I was asked to give an explanation of that and why I left the NRA.

She was being provocative. That's why she referred to target shooting as practicing freedom. And I took the bait, interested in her use of the word freedom. But admittedly also to call her on being provocative about the whole gun issue. Concepts of freedom and the gun issue are related.

The NRA today is radically different from the NRA I belonged to in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Back then it was all about safety, training and sensible regulation. Sometime in the '80s it was taken over by a group that took it in a very different direction with the result you find today. I want no association whatsoever with today's organization. The NRA's policies today enable gun proliferation and glorify gun ownership and the use of guns. Their support for and aggressive lobbying efforts for relaxed gun regulations at the state and federal level has only led to more guns and a more virulent gun culture.

I believe we need reasonable restrictions on gun access, and on the types of guns sold. I think if private individuals want to own military weapons they should get a special license the same as they do today for fully automatic firearms. There should be licensing of guns and strict regulations on who gets to own them. Any reasonable law biding gun owner should have no objection to this.

We need to change the dynamic and get some of the millions of weapons out there with no other purpose than to kill people out of circulation.

Sensible access restrictions, limits on the types of weapons available, and reductions in the number of combat/police style weapons can go a long way toward reducing the obscene incidence of homicide in our country.

But the moment one mentions anything like what I just outlined, the gun proliferation advocates jump up and start yelling about how we liberals want to take their freedoms away.

I want freedom as much as anyone. I want the freedom to be in a crowd and not worry about all the other people carrying firearms, or someone with an assault rifle opening fire. I want to be able to drive in traffic without worrying about a road rage shooting. I want to be able to knock on someone's door seeking help and not fear for my life from someone protecting their castle with a gun. And I want to be able to confront someone without the fear of being shot because they stood their ground. And finally, I want to stop fearing policemen due to their fear of being shot increasing my chances of being shot inadvertently.

The greatest freedom is community with our fellow humans without fear and with the knowledge we will help each other when needed. It's not arming ourselves and retreating to our fortified castles. That's a self induced prison.

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