Monday, October 05, 2015

Gun control: the Rivera proposal

Of course I'm upset about the slaughter at [insert most recent event here], but I don't even bother to blog anymore about mass shootings because there's nothing new to say. After each incident everyone offers their "thoughts and prayers," gun control advocates and gun lovers scream at each other, and President Obama wishes he'd taken more action back in 2012 after the Sandy Hook slaughter. Anyone who's not numb to another pile of dead bodies feels angry and afraid of what might come next: gun advocates fear having their guns taken away while the rest of us worry that the next bullet will hit close to home.

I believe there's no reasoning on this topic. We won't get anywhere by pointing out how many more people die by gun violence than by terrorists, or the ridiculous number of guns in the U.S. compared to other developed nations, or the fact that guns have no purpose at all but to kill humans (unlike cars, knives, etc.), or that where more guns are owned by regular people, more people die violently. None of those arguments matter because guns are central to the American identity. Unlike any other nation, the United States -- in just a few hundred years -- was founded through self-loving, idealistic, self-righteous, manifest-destiny violence that worked very well. Full of hubris and entitlement, early Americans staked out land, slaughtered native people, battled England's armies and wrote a constitution to help guarantee that America would never have to answer to anyone else ever again. And unlike countries that took hundreds or thousands of years to form, we did it quickly. We thus impressed ourselves as independent, highly capable, have-gun-will-travel people who aren't afraid of anything, as long as we have our guns. Guns were part of our confidence and bravery from the very beginning. The technology of warfare was on our side and we have embraced such technology ever since. 

Because guns are part of the very core of American identity, to ask us to give up our guns is to ask us to be less American (although many of us would rather be alive than be American like that).

So we can stop arguing about this. For someone like me to point out that the U.S. is alone among its peers with its high rates of gun violence only evokes responses such as, "That's because we're Americans, not pansy-ass Frenchies or Swedes or those tea-sucking Brits." 

Sigh.

I tend to believe this view means guns will never be more regulated than they are now, but I'm starting to think it's possible for us to reach a limit to how much innocent bloodshed we can swallow. I mean it's just barely possible, but maybe when we reach that point, we will allow more gun regulation. So, if we get there, what would the plan be? I'm glad to present a proposal created by my cousin-once-removed Gregory Rivera of San Antonio, Texas. He has a ready answer for the question, "Well, what's your solution?"

Greg proposes that we set up legislation that allows a person to exchange any single gun manufactured after 1900 for two of their choice: a muzzle-loading, single-fire musket; a muzzle-loading, single-fire rifle; or a muzzle-loading pistol. For each bullet you turn in, you receive two muzzle-loadable steel balls. You could hunt and defend yourself with your weapons. You could own as many of these as you want.

Greg suggests a five-year period to swap out existing firearms, during which manufacturers would adjust their assembly lines to meet demand. After that, the law would require a 20-year sentence for anyone caught with any other kind of firearm. The exceptions would be military personnel who would only be issued modern firearms while on active duty, and law enforcement who would turn in their weapons at the end of each shift. Yes, some criminals would have the upper hand for a few years, but once guns, gun parts and bullets are impossible to find, modern arms will become useless to private citizens. 

What I like about Greg's proposal is that it honors the spirit of The Consitution, which addressed musket-type firearm technology. The creators of that document had no way of knowing how deadly household weaponry would become or how often citizens would use it against each other instead of to oppose a tyrannical, foreign enemy. I'm sure the founding fathers weren't envisioning a nation of neighbors armed against neighbors, and family members slaughtering each other during domestic disputes.

I think we can consider ourselves safe from Queen Elizabeth, so I think Greg's proposal makes a lot of sense. How about you?

Muskets: the Rivera proposal lets you stock up.

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