The Idea of Gun Control

These aren't working The words of the petite grandmother I spoke with last week have come back to me several times over the weekend, and the words are still in my head today. Her point was that, had there been one or two armed citizens at Virginia Tech last Monday, the tragedy could have been minimized, and possibly avoided altogether. Had she been there, she said, her concealed-carry permit and the handgun it allows her to keep on her person would have been put to immediate use. Lives would have been saved.

I'm not sure how many in this country share her view, but I think the number is significant. It's the view of the NRA and similar organizations that represent gun owners, and the freedom they enjoy to keep and bear arms. I don't have a concealed-weapons permit, but for about $75 I could easily obtain one. I'm not a card-carrying member of the NRA, either, but I still have the marksmanship certificate they bestowed on me before I even entered high school. I've owned firearms since I was a teenager, and well before that if you count BB guns. I'm no more the cause of this country's gun-related tragedies than the heat-packing grandmother, or any of the countless law-abiding citizens who own guns legally procured and carefully tended. I consider myself fortunate that I've never been in the position of actually needing a firearm to defend myself or my loved ones, and I'm not a hunter, so my guns see little use. But the idea of not having a gun has never seriously occurred to me, in much the same way a winter hike in sneakers has never crossed my mind. Around here, both are deeply ingrained matters that don't require analysis, or even discussion.

Last week's events changed something, though. Maybe it's just that my daughter is so close to college age now, but I feel I've reached a tipping point of some sort, and the ambivalence that has allowed me to ignore the statistics over the years is no longer tenable. The statistics are damning, and it's obvious our laws—even though they've been recently tightened—are ineffective when it really matters. The idea of giving up my beloved guns is loathsome, but if doing so would prevent even one more school shooting it would be more than worthwhile. Maybe there's a better solution. If so, I sure hope someone comes out with it soon.


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