Last night, watching the coverage of the shooting at Virginia Tech, my husband and I talked gun control. Virginia has some of the most lax gun laws in the U.S. Handguns were used in the shooting at the University. Indeed, it seems that handguns are the weapon of choice in killing other people. I caught an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer this weekend that said that shootings in Philadelphia are at new highs. Last year, over 400 people were killed in the city, and this year shootings are up 16% so far from last year. Most of those deaths are caused by people using handguns.
This is a tough topic for me, because I have some sympathy with the idea that the citizens should be able to rise up against the government when it becomes unjust and tyrannical. It's hard to do that without weapons. Although, as my Canadian husband, who finds Americans' love of guns bizarre, points out, no "well regulated militia" of average citizens can compete against the regular military. Those who might rise up against an unjust government would likely be put down by that military of that unjust government. But, still, I like the idea.
And, I grew up with guns, mostly rifles, which we used to shoot cans or prairie dogs (before they were an endangered species, ehem). My dad had an assortment of rifles and shotguns, which were part of life on the ranch. I handled those and was comfortable with them. And, I don't have a problem with regulated and managed hunting. Given that humans have killed off most of the predators, there's a certain amount of wildlife management necessary by hunting these days.
Handguns are another story, though. Their small size, easy handling, point and click interface (to use video game terms), make those guns seem fairly scary to me. They definetely seemed scary when I was a kid. My dad had a semi-automatic handgun that I found particularly scary. The recoil on that gun, and the ease of pulling and pulling and pulling the trigger to have it fire over and over again, gave it a feeling of lethality that I didn't feel with my .22.
Now, those who declare all guns (and the purchase and ownership of them) sacred in the Second Amendment and outside the purview of regulation I think have constructed an interpretation of that Amendment that far exceeds what the founders intended.
But, it seems to me the only way to get laws passed to better regulate guns is to amend the Constitution--to clarify the right. I don't think Americans should have the right to bear handguns that they can use to shoot other people. Vigilantism, retribution, hate, jealousy, drunken rage, you name it, are not good reasons to brandish guns and fire them at other people.
This is controversial, I know, but we need to have another deep conversation in this country about the manufacture, distribution, and acquisition of guns. Otherwise, the violence will continue. I don't see that as good for our society.