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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Gun control is at the top of the political conversation right now. I would submit that the current discussion is really just political theater intended only to gain political advantage. This is true of both the pro-control and the pro-gun sides. It is my view that guns occupy a place so primal and visceral in the human consciousness that they will be with us as long as we survive as a viable species on this planet. Guns are talismanic. A talisman is an object that is imbued with mystical, magical qualities that afford the owner protection and security.
Gun control measures may help us feel better about our society, but they are for show only. I support universal background checks at the point of purchase and extension of the ban on private ownership of military weaponry to include assault-style firearms and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Anyway, that horse is already out of the barn. At present, there are nearly enough guns in private hands for every man, woman and child in this country to have one. The only way to get that wayward horse back into the barn is with a bucket of sweet feed. You control the consumable. This is our only hope in reducing gun violence. Control the consumable - bullets. Guns don't kill people; bullets do. Each year in this country, billions of bullets are manufactured and sold.
The firearms and ammunition manufacturers' trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, is headquartered in Newtown, Conn., near Sandy Hook Elementary School. I would advocate for bullet control, including licensing of ammunition dealers, mandatory background checks before purchase, registration during purchase, limits on the quantity of bullets per purchase and a database of ammunition sales nationwide. The government limits the quantity of Sudafed you can buy. Why not bullets?
And with the push to require photo IDs to exercise the right to vote, how about photo IDs to exercise the right to shoot? A more comprehensive solution would be to provide ammunition to the public only through law enforcement agencies. Buyers would have to physically enter the police facility to make their purchase. Much like we must physically travel to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a drivers license and register our car and obtain the license plates in order to exercise the privilege of driving on our public roads.
With ammunition available only at police stations, law enforcement officers would be able to screen prospective buyers in person. And to those who object to government's active involvement in commerce, here in Virginia, the state government is the sole legal retailer of hard liquor and licensor of vendors of lighter alcoholic beverages. Although an archaic holdover from the post-Prohibition era, some degree of screening and control of this product is exercised by the sales staff in each Alcoholic Beverage Control store.
Interestingly, the ABC system was referred to as a "liquor control plan" at the time. Not coincidentally, this operation provides revenue to the state coffers through mark-up profits and taxes. In these times of budgetary crises, the added source of revenue from ammo sales and taxes would certainly be welcome. Also, I feel there should be limits on the type of ammunition that is made available to the citizenry. Hollow-point and other bullets designed to cause massive damage upon entry into the human body have no place in a civil society. They should join cop-killer bullets on the list of banned ammunition. I doubt that hunters, target shooters, enthusiasts and other sportsmen would miss them.
And finally, it is my opinion that ammunition regulations would impose no limits on our Second Amendment right to bear arms. Citizens of every age and eligibility would still be able to buy and own any legal firearm they choose. What we are addressing here is the protection of citizens' right to pursue their and their families' life, liberty and happiness within the commons of a civil society.
At some point, the common good outweighs the individual's unfettered access to any and all potentially destructive possessions. Your rights end at my nose, that of my spouse and my children's.
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