Nicely done, and it reflects the ambivalence that a lot of Americans feel about firearms. When you step away from the noise over signal in the current gun debate, it could be said to distill down to three overlapping but different problems — criminals, lunatics, and irresponsible owners that are a danger to themselves and everyone around them. Each of these would of necessity require somewhat different regulatory and law enforcement approaches.
We do have a “gun culture” here, born out of our colonial origins, and history of frontiersmanship, pioneering, injun’ fightin’, Wild West Cowboy Justice, and (mostly) winning wars through superior force of arms, and Manifest Destiny. This has been romanticized and promoted in our media, where contrary to most of the world, entertainment is restricted based on sexual content, as opposed to violence. However, in France, for instance, my father discovered a sexual comedy would be a PG equivalent, and a violent gangster film is considered adults-only. Here in America, we have a somewhat romantic notion that it is perfectly legitimate to solve problems by shooting them, even though that is not the legal reality.
Like many older folk, I have seen my attitudes change over the years. I own firearms, and look at them as tool, a sporting pastime, and as emergency contingency gear. I have learned also, that one’s attitude towards firearms for home defense will be directly informed by the average response time for law enforcement where you live. If you’re on an isolated ranch in a rural western county, it could take over an hour for the County Sheriff to respond to a 911 call, but perhaps under 10 min, in a large city with a large Police Force.
Also, it seems that our stresses out, pressurized, increasingly economically insecure and desperate society, even as gun violence overall appears to be dropping, does seem to be generating more and more unbalanced people who express their anger and disenfranchisement by shooting up shopping malls schools, workplaces, movie theaters, churches… The notion that “good guys with guns” are best suited to stop bad guys begs the question, are those Good Guys any good with their guns? Are they all fine marksmen and tactically calm. What we surely don’t need is more random lead in the air, even well-intended.
I’ve heard the argument that guns, being deadly, should have similar regulatory structures as cars and driving. Required instruction, written and practical examinations, operator licensing and liability insurance. It’s usually swiftly pointed out that bearing arms is a Constitutional right, and driving is not. Of course, automobiles were not even on the Founding Father’s radar. Ironically, more Americans are killed in auto accidents than by gunfire.
But a lot of the noise and rhetoric is exactly that. I am FAR more concerned about some hard head coming up my driveway in a civil emergency who DIDN’T stock away 40 lbs of rice in the cupboard than I am about black helicopters and the Feds coming to take my guns.
But I am also quite justifiably concerned about criminals, and patently incompetent, or clearly unsuitable people having access to deadly weapons. How this is managed that is respectful of the 2nd Amendment, and is also logistically manageable and fair, seems to be beyond our current political leadership to even address, much less resolve.