You must be free to shoot but safe to drink

guns-alcoholA few days ago I received a comment from a user on my Instagram after I posted a snap shot of my recent article about the massacre in Charleston.

@_silas_w57: “Thousands of people die becouse[sic] of alcohol and Americans do nothing. More than 400,000 people die from cigarettes every year but I don’t see you crying over change about that.”

You’re right, I don’t get worked up over tobacco or alcohol deaths, and we shouldn’t forget the damage they cause.

Personally I am absolutely against tobacco, as well as all non-pharmaceutical drugs and for the most part alcohol. Given the chance I would very quickly ban all of them. They offer so little yet cause too much harm.

However unlike deaths by firearms, these are self-inflicted.

The risk you know vs. the risk you don’t

There isn’t a great deal of consistent research on the true effects of passive smoking and very few, if any deaths are caused by it. Yes it can cause problems but these are often reversible. Unless someone exhales smoke directly into your mouth you’re unlikely to suffer too harshly.

While someone else drinking won’t cause me any harm, drink-driving undoubtedly kills. But very few have the intention of getting drunk to go out and kill someone else.

Without belittling the issue of drunk driving, anyone on the road must understand the risk involved either as a driver or as a passenger. Pedestrians too realize the possible fatal outcome of their walking by a main ride. While accidents are not common, they’re not rare either.

Smokers know the risk they face when lighting up. Drinkers know the risks they take when topping up. Drivers know the risk they endure when starting up.

If I walk down the street I don’t know who has a gun and who doesn’t. I’m not aware of the risk, nor should I have to ever assume there always will be one. I can see cars, I can see smokers and I can see drinkers, though hopefully none walking down the street.

When Dylann Roof walked into the church nobody knew what could happen.

Trigger rights

A firearm is a weapon. Whether it’s for defence or attack, its basic use is to harm.

Right-wing media outlets and politicians will rarely blame the shooter or laws involving guns. This is especially true when the shooter is a white male. He used drugs so they’re the cause, not his using the gun. Or it was the music. Or the movies. That damned Hollywood ruining our children’s minds.

And of course, it’s the same with drunk driving accidents. We don’t need to make cars or road laws safer. The driver was just having a bad day. It’s all good.

Rigid laws restrict the use and sale of tobacco, of alcohol, drugs and driving. You cannot smoke in many public places these days, and you haven’t been able to drink under the age of 21 in the US for decades. “Zero tolerance” doctrines to drug use cover many schools, colleges and work places so don’t even bother. And driving? Seat belts, speed limits, highway patrols, not to mention you have to endure hours of lessons before you can even get a license.

In the cases where gun laws do exist they’re inconsistent.

A recent article by a Claire McCarthy, M.D., pointed out another major difference between guns and all of the above. When it comes to smoking, drinking, drugs and driving, it is a matter of health and safety concern for the public. Legislation, therefore, is a must. In the interest of the public, you may not smoke in public spaces, drink under a certain age or often drive without a seat-belt.

When it comes to guns, and gun legislation, and gun control – see how little we discuss banning? – it’s a threat to personal freedom and my rights as an American are being threatened.

It’s about freedom when it’s a gun and safety when it’s a glass of wine.

To keep and bear Arms

“You can’t take away guns because the Founding Fathers decided we should have them.”

Fair point. It’s there for all to see in the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment, even. Second. That’s how important it is.

At which point does reason come in to discuss relevancy of era? Other articles since the Revolution have been amended. Right to vote, for example, and the whole slavery thing. Both of those were nixed by new amendments. It’s not that difficult to sort something out. But of course we would first have to open a dialogue about gun use and abuse. And this is where things get tricky.

Our leaders won’t allow us to discuss gun control in Congress. We cannot use solid, unambiguous terms. Why? Because the guns just want to be free. They’re necessary to our way of life because we’re still living in the eighteenth century.

As pointed out in the last article, the families of Sandy Hook victims couldn’t get a discussion going in the Senate to even think about placing stricter federal laws. And the reason? It’s too soon to discuss this. People are emotional. They’re not thinking clearly. We shouldn’t politicize such a tragedy because it dishonors the victims.

Actually what dishonors people is refusal to do anything about either guns or people. No one has realistically asked to ban them outright. It’s entirely impractical given there are more firearms than Americans.

The right to be a gun

Why do guns have rights over the church group in Charleston 2015? What about the children of Sandy Hook or the movie lovers of 2012? Virginia Tech students in 2007? Columbine in 1999?

Conservative thought believes the United States of America is under attack from feminists, Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and the gays. Guns however are fair game.

Why don’t we talk about tobacco and alcohol as much? Because Americans don’t massacre other Americans by drinking or smoking. And if somehow it did happen there would be immediate legal action to tighten the already fixed rules when it comes to those.

Something is being done about tobacco and alcohol. There’s an endless fight to ban drugs. And driving, well for that we hope for the best and try to keep everything as safe as we possibly can.

Guns though…

As the great Jon Stewart has often pointed out in these situations:

“Learning curves are for p*****s.”


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