Make no mistake, I am totally in favor of certain types of gun regulation:

1. High capacity magazines should be banned.
2. People should have to go through stringent background checks.
3. Accreditation courses should be more comprehensive than they are now.

However there are certain other regulation proposals that are not realistic or effective.

1. All handguns and almost all rifles and shotguns, whether intended for hunting or self defense, are semi-automatic weapons.  Tho only ones that aren’t are the ones where you have to insert a new bullet each time you fire, or pump it to get the next round.  Almost all .22s are semi-automatic.  It is not a realistic goal to try to restrict these guns in the U.S., or even Canada for that matter.  Making this a goal will dilute and possibly cripple the good that can be done in other issues, like the ones mentioned above.

2. “Assault-style weapons” is a slippery term.  If it refers to high powered weapons, then there is an argument for more restriction, although a weak one as most shootings, even the mass shootings, don’t involve these weapons.  If it refers to the cosmetic appearance of the rifle, then it is a straw man argument.  Two semi-automatic 22s (or higher caliber rifles may look very different.  One may be a straight hunting rifle with a classic design.  The other may be a military style with various cosmetic embellishments and perhaps even a pistol grip.  The truth of the matter s that from a performance perspective they are exactly the same.  To condemn one because of it’s cosmetic appearance is an emotional rather than a rational response.  It’s like saying (-and I know this is a weak analogy-) that people should be prevented from wearing camo, military style clothing because it promotes a certain idea.

Why would people like military style weapons?  It’s a form of entertainment, like having a flashy sports car that can go double the speed limit, but you never are able to do that.  in fact, the gun lobbyists have a point when they say that cars kill more people than guns do.  You can’t ban cars, but you could legislate mandatory governors on the engines to prevent them from excessively exceeding the speed limit.  My speedometer goes to 160, and yet there’s no place I know of that where I can drive that fast.  Nobody considers putting mandatory speed regulators on vehicles, but it’s supposed to be illegal to have a firearm that has a certain cosmetic appearance.   I know the analogy is weak, but I believe that it still has some validity, and as long as gun regulation people have an emotional rather than a rational outlook, they’re not going to be successful.

Another point that I think needs to be made is that these pro-gun militia types, even the ones who rant insanely about the need to protect themselves from an oppressive government, are almost never the ones that are involved in either criminal activities or mass shootings.  They have their war games on weekends, and probably have stockpiles of weapons, but the reality of the situation is that they are not responsible for gun violence.  If they feel to be unjustly singled out and restricted in what is for them an important part of their lives, they’re totally justified in feeling that way.  I think they’re a bit nutty.  I would never associate with them, other than perhaps to amuse myself.  But they don’t deserve to be condemned or misjudged, and they don’t deserve to have restrictions motivated by emotions placed on them.

There was a book released years ago called “The War Against Boys”, by Christina Hoff Sommers.  It made the case that the current climate in American culture and schools is to try to turn little boys into little girls, because “girl values” are what are deemed as being politically correct.  There are signs of this in Canada as well, but not to the same extreme.  Boys are discouraged from playing cops and robbers, cowboys and indians, and war games.  Their school experience has been sanitized to the point that well-meaning  primary teachers only read aloud storybooks that would appeal to girls, and as a very direct result boys have stopped reading and regard it as a girly pass time.  Think about what books boys have traditionally read in the past.  Many of them were war stories or ones that had violence, action and sex in them.  How many boys learned to read from comic books or from the Letters To The Editor in Playboy magazine, with a flashlight, under their covers, at night.

There is what I call a “misplaced Liberalism” that has emerged in our society.  We see it in the overdone political correctness that is often made fun of.  I think that we have to be careful that this does not become an obstacle to legitimate, rational gun regulation.  If we have an emotional reaction to gun control, wanting to restrict things, not because the restriction would be effective but because of our emotional judgement, then the end result will be the same as it’s been in the past.

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