I came into the house recently after a particularly cold morning and said out loud, “There ought to be a law against weather this cold.” About the same time, I heard the TV I’d left on, with the announcer talking about new gun laws.
That made me realize that it’s human nature, when there’s some situation we don’t like, to think about making a law against it. It’s like we don’t know where to turn, and our first thought is that our lawmakers can do something to cure the problem.
In some cases, laws do solve problems. During the Industrial Revolution, when machines had no safeguards and children were being used as workers, laws solved the problem. When meat packers weren’t taking the proper precautions of cleanliness to prevent disease, laws cured the problem.
After the tragedy at Sand Hook Elementary School, the first thought in many people’s minds were, “We have to have some laws to stop this.” However, we do have laws against killing, and it doesn’t stop criminals from killing, day after day, all across our country.
Unfortunately, people who are set on carrying out monstrous acts will find some way to do them. No laws will ever stop them. I have to agree with the pro-gun people on that.
However, I don’t buy the argument that we don’t need more stringent gun controls. And I don’t think just because something is regulated the government is going to take it away from us.
Many things in our lives are regulated. It’s part of living in a civilized society. My dogs have to wear rabies tags. Nobody has come to take them away yet. I have to pass a test and get a driver’s license to operate my car. I also have to register it and put tags on it. I even have to get a permit if I want to build a shed in my yard.
None of those things keep people from violating the law, but it makes it a lot easier to trace lawbreaking if it occurs.
Given the power and potential for harm that firearms have, I don’t see why any law-abiding gun owner has problems with registration laws. I think buying firearms should be a very involved process. I think people who want to buy guns should go through extreme background checks. I think people who want to carry firearms should have to pass a test showing they know how to use the guns.
I think people who want to own assault-type weapons should have to undergo more strenuous requirements than someone who owns a sporting gun. I don’t think individuals should be able to own fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers or hand grenades.
But, with all that said, no laws are going to stop what happened at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Colo., or Columbine. Just as all the driving regulations are not going to stop reckless drivers. But we still need the laws.
I feel the public shootings are more a social and psychological problem, and they’re not going to be stopped with laws.
Somehow, we’re going to have to create a society that doesn’t glorify guns and violence. It may never happen. In the meantime, laws may throw a few extra obstacles in the path of bad guys. But I suspect they mostly just make us feel better because we think we’re doing something to stop the problem.
Jones is a Carrollton resident and reporter for the Times-Georgian.