14 Dec 2012, 10:29pm
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Reforming U.S. Gun Laws Will Be The Work Of A Generation

The shooting in Connecticut happened early this morning, but late enough that I was already away from home with my internet turned off when the news hit. It was only after work was done and I was connecting to the cafe wifi that I found out what had happened.

It’s awful and unbearable. That goes without saying. It needs to stop, too. That also goes without saying.

Remember MADD? That was Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Before MADD formed, drunk driving was a thing a whole lot of people did, and there was a “Let them sleep it off in jail” attitude, assuming the cops liked you. I remember reading editorials from men who didn’t understand why everyone kept talking about drunk drivers as if they were bad people. Gosh, it’s just friends out to have a good time!

MADD changed all that. It took time. They argued with people who wanted the status quo. They spoke about lives lost. They talked about common sense.

Nowadays, drunk drivers are treated like people who put other people’s lives at risk. The culture changed. We need to do the same thing with guns.

A friend of mine suggested that the idea we could regulate (or even eliminate) guns in a nation with an estimated 300 million of them was an impossible task. It sure can seem that way, even to pundits writing about the success of buy-back programs in other countries, but if we don’t start now, we’ll never finish.

Maybe it’s the novelist in me, but the way to finish a long, difficult task is to begin immediately and work hard for an extended time.

A good place to start would be these facts about guns and mass shootings in the U.S.

A good thing to do would be to write to your representative and your senators. Write to your governors. There are many simple, sensible things the United States could do to reduce the endless string of gun deaths in this country: Every gun must be registered. Every gun must be insured. If a person is caught with an unregistered, unlicensed weapon, that should be a felony.

The first time it happens wouldn’t have to involve jail time, if there were no other laws broken. A fine and suspended sentence would be enough. And of course, felons in most states lose their right to vote during their sentence and in a few states for long after that. Maybe that would finally end the practice of denying former convicts of their voting rights.

It won’t be easy and it won’t be perfect. No system ever devised by humans can function perfectly. The real choice here is what flaws we’re willing to accept. Are we going to continue with mass murders all over the news and 30-some thousand gun-related deaths a year? Or are we finally, finally going to start changing things.

Added: Per a suggestion on the LiveJournal mirror for this blog, consider also supporting the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

 
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