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Charlie Vignola: Sensible about gun control

Posted: May 20, 2014 6:03 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2014 6:03 p.m.
 

Gun owners are passionate about their guns, and there’s nothing wrong with that – but wouldn’t it be refreshing if they were just as passionate about reducing all the needless deaths caused by gun violence every single year?

Unfortunately, the gun lobby only ever seems to have one perpetual solution to the problem: more guns.

Truth is, there are still lots of sensible things we should be doing – criminal background checks on gun owners and gun shop employees, limits on excessive ammo clips, mandating that gun-owners tell the police when their gun is stolen, closing the gun show loophole that allows even the mental ill to buy guns, etc.

The problem is any time these ideas are floated, the NRA shrieks about “attacks” on the second amendment to shut down the conversation. But if we can’t have adult debates about gun safety, then we can’t have gun safety.

One measure conservatives always fight against is the idea of requiring people to register their firearms, explaining as if we’re all idiots that “criminals don’t follow laws.” Why should law-abiding citizens have to register their guns if criminals won’t do it?

Well, the obvious answer is that’s an absurd argument. You could just as easily ask why we bother to have any laws at all since criminals will just ignore them.

I’ve never quite understood why conservatives are so paranoid about having to register their firearms with the proper authorities. Why do they want the fact that they’re armed to be such a big secret anyway?

It can’t be privacy, since gun owners seem to be universally very public and vocal about their right to carry guns – and please don’t tell me it’s to prepare against the coming of the New World Order.

We know more about people’s children than we do about their guns: they get social security numbers, and are tracked in census information and public school testing. Are we really suggesting that guns are more sacred than children in terms of privacy and secrecy from the government?

Speaking of children, it’s only been 17 months since the senseless slaughter of 20 students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012. Since then, there have been over 48,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. according to the Center for Disease Control – equivalent to 16 times the number of casualties we suffered on 9/11.

So the big question is: why aren’t Republicans just as outraged about this on-going horror show? 4 deaths in Benghazi is worth considering impeachment hearings... but 48,000 deaths of Americans on U.S. soil doesn’t merit a robust national discussion?

It often seems like conservatives are only concerned about American deaths when it’s foreigners doing the killing.

If it’s just other armed Americans killing Americans, well that’s just the price we pay for having the 2nd Amendment.

Some conservatives believe that the homicide rates in England and Australia are just as bad as America even though they’ve outlawed guns. Well, let’s look at the stats: According to Interpol, the homicide rate per 100,000 population in America is 5.6. The homicide rate per 100,000 in England is 1.6, and in Australia it’s 1.3.

That means you’re more than three times more likely to be murdered in America than in England, and four times more likely than in Australia. And that doesn’t even take into account suicides by gun: after Australia’s gun ban, firearm suicide rates dropped a whopping 65%.

I wonder what the number of gun deaths per year would have to be for people to get serious about gun control in America? It’s already around 30,000 per year – but what if it was twice that? Three times? 100,000 people a year killed by guns, would that do it?

Seriously, what’s the tipping point where even the NRA would have to take a breath and say, “Okay, yeah, maybe this has gotten out of hand?” Because that tipping point exists – we just don’t know what it is yet.

You see, the pendulum swings both ways. The NRA and the gun lobby have enjoyed a lot of influence for a long time, but nobody stays hot at the casino forever – and the ones who ignore that warning are the ones who walk away broke, wondering if maybe they should’ve quit while they were ahead rather than pressing their luck.

The recent Georgia “guns everywhere” law – allowing people to bring guns into schools, government buildings, churches and bars – would be an example of pressing their luck. It’s idiotic and reckless decisions like that that anger reasonable people and show how the NRA’s influence has gotten out of hand.

You want to keep gun ownership safe and legal? Then stop passing new laws expanding the number and presence of guns until you go too far and rouse the vast silent majority of non-gun owners – 68% of households – who finally get fed up and suddenly demand drastic measures that won’t make you happy.

And if you think that can’t happen, just talk to the people in Australia.

Charlie Vignola is a former college Republican turned liberal Democrat. He lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, works in the motion picture industry and loves his wife and kids.

 

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