I am a gun owner. There, I said it. I like my gun. I've had it ever since I was a young boy. I haven't used it in a while, but I wouldn't want to give it up even if the president knocked on my front door and told me to hand it over.
My rifle has a 50-round magazine, and I used it to teach my daughter and son how to shoot. I don't think there should be any government restrictions on the kind of gun that I have. In fact, I wouldn't have a problem if everyone beyond the age of 12 in the U.S. of A. had a gun like mine.
What kind of gun do I have? I have a Daisy 50-shot, pump-action BB gun. I've used it to put away many a tin can over the years, nicked a few trees and in a weak moment may have even stung a few denim-covered butts.
My brother-in-law is also a gun owner. I'm not talking about my blind brother-in-law who thankfully chooses to not exercise his Second Amendment rights. I am talking about my other brother-in-law -- the one who wears cowboy hats.
In all honesty, I would have to concede that there shouldn't be any restrictions on his gun either. He is a Revolutionary War re-enactor and has a muzzle-loader similar to what a well-regulated militia would have had around the time the Second Amendment was adopted. Unlike my gun, his can actually kill people. Unlike modern military rifles, his only holds one bullet at a time, and it takes a while to re-load and get off another shot.
On Dec. 14, 2012, 28 people died from gun violence in Newtown, Conn., including the perpetrator of the crime. The fact that 20 of the victims were young children gave renewed vigor to those advocating some controls on guns.
I am among those who believe there should be reasonable controls to restrict access to guns designed for no other purpose than to kill people. The controls proposed by the Obama administration in the wake of the Newtown massacre include universal background checks for all firearm sales, reinstatement and strengthening of the ban on assault weapons, limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and banning the possession of armor-piercing ammunition by anyone other than the police or military.
Despite the proposed limits on the size of magazines, I don't think these controls would cover a gun like mine. Nor would they affect guns typically used by hunters. None of the weapons covered by the proposed controls are used to kill animals, except those of the human variety. Unlike my brother-in-law's gun, the ones covered by the president's proposal could kill many people in very little time.
Gun advocates intent on resisting any controls seem to focus their arguments on the use of the covered weapons for self-defense or to resist a government takeover by a tyrant. These arguments are born of fear -- of the unwelcome intruder, or of a dictator who seizes control of the government -- something that hasn't happened since our nation was formed over 225 years ago.
It's hard to argue against fear. Those favoring some controls are left with arguing that the fear is irrational. They argue that a shotgun should be sufficient for self-defense, and that the government is not likely to be taken over by a tyrant. However reasonable these arguments may sound to the one making them, the person motivated by fear will not be convinced. Franklin Roosevelt was right when he said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Fear can paralyze us from taking any action to control potential gun violence.
Meanwhile, as Newtown fades into the distance in the rearview mirror, the likelihood of inaction increases and people continue to die from gun violence. According to Slate.com, more than 2,793 people have been killed by gun violence in the three months since Newtown. That's approaching the number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks. We took prompt action and started two wars to avenge those deaths. Why are we not motivated to act promptly to do something about the thousands that die each year from guns?
Perhaps gun control advocates are taking the wrong approach. Rather than restrict the possession of certain firearms, perhaps we should simply impose a tax on their sale. The proceeds could be used to fund our health care system. At the same time, we might consider requiring gun owners to obtain no-fault insurance against personal injury or property damage that might be caused by the guns they possess. The insurance market would determine the size of the premiums, but, logically, the more dangerous the gun, the higher the premium. Victims of gun violence or their survivors would at least receive some compensation for being shot at.
A gun like mine is not going to provide much protection for anyone using it for self-defense and wouldn't be of much use in resisting a government takeover. On the other hand, you can get off 50 shots pretty quickly, and I don't think it would cost much to insure. So, instead of buying an AR-15 or AK-47, consider getting a gun like mine.
Joseph M. Karas is a retired attorney for PPG Industries and lives in Carrick (firstname.lastname@example.org). His blog, Watching the Wheels, can be found at josephmkaras.blogspot.com.