I have to admit being a tad irritated at the gun folks who want to protect assault weapons.
It's the principal of the thing.
Their rights … the right to bear arms. … the right to stockpile an arsenal … shall not be infringed …
Whenever I think of it, I am reminded “arsenal” begins with “ARSE.”
I can't help it.
The arguments are always the same:
“Guns don't kill people … people kill people.”
“Laws only keep law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves.”
“Only a good guy with a gun can protect us from a bad guy with a gun.”
Blah blah blah blah blah.
That's mostly what it sounds like to me, a buzz of white noise under blaring headlines of massacres and suicide epidemics and predictable accidents.
I'm so tired of people who feel that the world is only tolerable if they have their guns …
Or their iphones …
Or their late-night cartoons ...
Won't pay taxes. Won't fund schools. Would rather live in a shack in the woods with an armory. Washing down their anger and artery-clogging fats with vats of soda out of spite.
The rest of society be damned because it's all about (the royal) you, the individual.
Talk about Nanny State all you want, I'd prefer it to the amateur Police State we're cultivating.
As much as I'd like to praise New York state for finally moving to decrease the mayhem we've created as a society by arming ourselves for end times, I can only shrug.
Assault weapons bans, mandated registration and mental health reporting requirements, are all admirable goals. It's a start, a much-needed start at that, but it's not enough.
I had believed the argument that our gun laws are strict. I had believed it was more difficult to get an assault weapon than it was to adopt a dog, or, for that matter, purchase a package of Sudafed. But it's not actually true. Not outside of New York City at any rate.
After the devastation at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I was shocked to learn New York state only requires the registration of handguns.
I had no idea any person with a clean record and no recorded history of mental illness could buy a long gun – including assault weapons – without a permit or registration of any kind.
When you buy a car, the state makes you have a license, carry insurance, have it inspected annually and register it every two years. Buy a Bushmaster and the state dusts its hands.
It made me angry. Judging by the speed at which legislators moved, it made others angry, too.
And then guns – specifically the one used in the killings at Sandy Hook -- started flying off guns store racks.
I got angrier.
Law-abiding citizens who own guns shouldn't be OK with that.
Law-abiding citizens with guns should want to know that people who own these deadly products are licensed and capable, and should their situations change -- should something in them snap -- their rights to own guns should be reviewed.
We talk a good game about mental illness and how we must do better for those who suffer. But we've always found it easier to put our money into reacting. Prisons are a sure thing. Prevention is trickier.
Toss a coin. Roll the dice. Might as well.
The reality is we have no way of predicting who among us will harm others -- those with diagnosed mental illnesses, or those who just have personality disturbances, and might rather die (and possibly take a schoolroom full of children with them) than admit they have a problem. But we can't just wash our hands of it and fortify our homes.
When The Journal News printed the names and addresses of legal handgun owners I was overwhelmed with clarity and a single question: Why hadn't anyone done this before? This might actually help protect some people. Fight fire with information, so to speak.
After all, wouldn't it be handy to know which parents store arsenals in their homes before sending our kids on play dates? Wouldn't it be helpful to know what your daughter's new boyfriend is packing?
I can assure you, it's not something that usually comes up in the polite, getting-to-know-you type chat.
Under the new law gun owners will be able to opt out of that directory. Register and redact. This from a state that releases names of teachers ranked by how their students score.
How exactly is the good doctor to know their spiraling patient has guns? I suppose that's the part about good faith.
Why open up mental health information and protect gun information?
Apparently privacy and speech – unlike gun ownership – are rights we expect to be restricted.
Or maybe it's simply that we'd rather protect guns.
After all … guns don't kill people, right?