So I am in the process of updating my phone. See, I am still about four or five years behind the curve on this one, at a minimum.
I am not what you might call an early adopter. I still have one of the original RAZR flip phones, which, incidentally, I got about three or four years after it was cool.
But with the pending nuptials, The Girl and I are consolidating our phone lines—”bundling,” as the kids are calling it—to save a little extra scratch.
So, I figure the time has finally come to upgrade.
But here’s my worry: I don’t want to become one of those guys. You know, those guys that are constantly hunched over their phones, texting with the person sitting next to them, playing Pictionary (or whatever that app is called) or creating some goofy new cat-based, misspelled meme.
But I know I will be.
It’s human nature. When we get a new toy, we want to use it. We look for reasons to use it. We invent reasons. Literally, in the case of smart phones.
I was thinking about this in the wake of this spring’s gun violence in Seattle. In the grand scheme of things, and especially to a guy who grew up on the East Coast where the major cities have on average more than one shooting death a day, it’s still a very minor issue in Western Washington.
But frankly, one is too many.
The common denominator through all of the recent shootings was, well: Guns.
There was no other link. Some were random, some were gang related and the big stuff was due to mental illness.
We also had a shooting last week on the Plateau, though this one was an accident. There was also an accidental shooting in Pacific County last week where a 10-year-old shot his 9-year-old brother.
And that’s on top of the February shooting of a little girl when the gun another student brought to school accidentally went off in his backpack.
In each of those cases there was is single through line, a single common denominator without which these events probably don’t occur: Guns.
I won’t totally condemn guns or say that people shouldn’t have them. I’m from Upstate New York. The first day of hunting season was an unofficial holiday at my school.
And I will say it: I support the Second Amendment and even though I disagree somewhat with the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Constitution allows for a personal right to own a gun (as opposed to say, as the amendment actually says, in the context of a well-organized militia), I believe we should have the right to do so.
But the Second Amendment was written at a time when there was no standing army and states had to be able to call up a militia for protection.
In fact, the “necessary to a free state” included in the Amendment’s text meant an actual state, not the country. This was literally so Pennsylvania could protect itself from a possible incursion by New Jersey or vice versa, though calling up the militia to protect the whole country was also possible.
Which is why President Washington actually signed an executive order that required all men to buy a gun for just that reason (see, the government forcing people to purchase a product from a private company has a long, long history in this country dating back to the Father of our Country; but that’s a different column…).
I just think that we should make guns a little more difficlut for the average person to obtain. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be able to get them, just that we put a few more hoops in the way for a potential gun-owner —like myself, now that I have a place in Renton—to jump through.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask and I do not buy the argument that we can’t regulate guns because of an amendment in the Bill of Rights.
Considering we put restrictions on speech (can’t yell fire in a theater, can’t start a riot, etc…), and that’s in the First Amendment, it only seems logical that we are allowed to put restrictions on the Second.
And restrictions simply do not mean outlawing them. That is a logical fallacy; it’s just nonsense.
Can you still get a gun if we make you wait five days or take a class? Yes. So was a right to own a gun violated? No, you still have a gun. You just had to wait for it or take a class first. You don’t have a right to instant gratification.
Now, it should be said that there is no way to know if any additional regulations or waiting periods or what have you would have had any effect on the recent events in our state. In fact, I’d be willing to be that in most cases from the past few weeks (the gang violence, specifically), those guns were illegally obtained.
But I also think if we make guns more difficult to obtain, there might be fewer of them floating around. And I think people who obtain a gun want to shoot it in the same way I will want to play with my new smart phone.
I know my gun friends always get excited about a new weapon and can’t wait to shoot it and tell me all about it.
I get that. I totally do.
But the United States leads the world in per capita guns (by far) and is near the top on gun-related crime and violence. To think that’s somehow not correlated is a tremendous leap of logic I am not willing to make.
More guns just equals more gun violence. Because when there are fewer guns, it is less likely someone will use them. It all seems very simple to me.
We can disagree on that point. Gun owners are not bad people. And no one is coming to pry anything from your cold, dead hands, so calm down.
But it is my personal belief that while we should have the right to buy a gun, we also have the right—and the duty—to regulate the market.