By JOE McQUIGGAN
In the wake of the most recent mass killings by deranged maniacs, the airwaves have been a buzz with talk of more gun control.
We already have more restrictions than are necessary. Here in New York to obtain a handgun we are required to attend a training course - which of course has a fee, get fingerprinted and photographed (another fee), send an application (along with its fee) to law enforcement who then investigate criminal history, interview neighbors and so on. Then to purchase a gun, any gun, we must go through a NICS check (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) before we can actually take possession of a firearm. Seems sufficient, doesn't it? All of this only affects me and people like me, law abiding, mostly sane, responsible citizens going through the "proper channels."
The criminals and nut jobs will simply buy a gun on the street. There are millions upon millions of firearms throughout the world and those who want them will get them. Heroin, weed, crack are all illegal and it is everywhere and available all the time. And murder is about as illegal as it gets, but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people willing to cross that line.
What kind of fool believes that a person with that mindset would bother with legal ways to obtain a gun? And people determined to kill people will find a way to get it done. A radio talk show host recently reminded me of when Timothy McVeigh shot up that federal building. Oh wait, he didn't use firearms. He used diesel fuel and fertilizer. My bad.
We need more guns in the hands of responsible citizens. About the only way that might have reduced the carnage at that fateful Batman premiere, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech ... would have been an armed citizen to end it in the best possible way, dead perpetrator. Unfortunately, places like high schools and college campuses are mostly gun-free zones, effectively making everyone there sitting ducks. When was the last time you heard of someone shooting up the local rod and gun club or a police station? Suppose there's a reason for that?
Some are now calling for a ban of the sale of "large amounts" of ammunition over the Internet. What is a large amount? Some 5,000 rounds? How about 1,000? Maybe 50?
In a couple of hours of family fun, you can easily go through a couple thousand rounds. Because of one nut case, thousands of responsible shooters should be denied? With that sort of reasoning the obvious answer to America's obesity problem would be to simply ban forks. Ridiculous, you say? Perhaps, but New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg's push to ban the sale of soda over 16 ounces sure comes close. Simple people looking for simple solutions to complex problems. Or is it just political grandstanding?
Whether I have one bullet or 5,000 bullets (and I almost always have a couple thousand on hand) I'm not shooting one innocent person. And fork or no fork, if I have a tasty plate full of something salty and greasy, it has had it! I might even wash it down with a 24-ounce Pepsi. Sorry mayor.
When it comes to gun violence, violence in general, this country's high murder rates, I believe we would be better off addressing what may be some of the causes. Not firearms, but society's moral decay, the trend to not cast judgment on anyone for anything (seems everything goes these days), the decline of the two-parent family, unemployment and underemployment are a few things that come to mind. And can a reasonable person dismiss the idea that desensitization to and glorification of death and violence due to television and video games could be a factor? Is the media's nonstop hype over these incidents helping to create "wanna-bes" who desire the fame?
I don't have the answers. All I know is that inanimate objects such as guns are not to blame. The willingness of the individual to use them and the circumstances that lead him or her to that point are.
Joe McQuiggan is a Bear Lake resident.