Yer Guns at the Door
By Eddie Ruff
Gun control, as we know, is a hot-button issue every election
year. As Democrats, we need to formulate a strategy that works
both in middle America and the big cities. I propose a double-tiered
No one wants to stop farmers and ranchers from being able
to, say, shoot a rattlesnake out on the lone prairie. However,
no one wants carloads of gang members cruising around Compton
firing AK-47s at innocent bystanders, either. We need to find
a workable compromise, one that allows our rural denizens
to freely practice their 2nd Amendment rights, yet denies
urban dwellers the privilege of randomly deploying automatic
weapons with impunity.
The NRA screams loudly at the thought of ANY ban on ANY weapon
ANYwhere. But this seems shortsighted. Surely they don't think
armed-to-the-teeth urban criminals are part of the militia
mentioned in the Constitution? Conversely, impassioned pleas
to totally disarm the populace are falling on deaf ears of
most politicians. Republicans, especially, made strong arguments
against Democrats in the last election cycle - accusing the
"bleeding heart liberals" of trying to take guns away from
loyal, freedom-loving, red-blooded Americans. Don't we know
"God, guts, and guns" are what make this country great?
This strategy was very effective in middle America. Democrats
pointed out that there was no real concerted anti-gun plank
in the party platform; what these hard-working Americans REALLY
needed to look out for was the Republican plan to bust their
unions. But this counterattack failed for the most part. Half-hour
paid commercials, funded by the NRA, flooded the airwaves
in the weeks before the election, frightening the cowed populace
with visions of a shredded Constitution. There is not much
doubt that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of swing
voters rode the pro-NRA pendulum to the "right" as a result.
Kinder, gentler, SANER Americans know rampant gun possession
and use can be unhealthy for children, and adults. We look
to Europe and admire their lack of gunshot injuries and deaths.
"It's socialism - it's fascism!" shrill the conservatives,
"if we let 'them' take away our guns, nothing will stop Big
Government from taking over our lives!" Well, that's not a
very good argument when thousands and thousands of our friends
and neighbors all over the country are being shot and killed.
That leaves THEM with no life left to take over! Then again
- we do value our Constitution, and our founders obviously
thought guns were okay under some circumstances. Maybe we
just need to compromise. Under which circumstances are guns
appropriate and allowable? And which types of guns, and where?
I would say guns are completely appropriate and allowable
in rural areas. Rifles, shotguns, and yes, even handguns are
useful tools for farmers and ranchers. They use them to shoot
crop-threatening vermin, and livestock-threatening predators.
There are hardly any more effective weapons available for
this purpose. Also, rural dwellers often live in isolated
situations where guns may provide a sense of security. Admittedly,
home invasion robberies aren't exactly pervasive in the farmbelt,
but why deny these good people their rights to protect themselves
and their property? On the other hand, they really don't need
M-16s and bazookas to shoot coyotes and jackrabbits, so I
think we can put a prudent hedge around those sorts of weapons.
Now, in our urban areas, where shots are heard continuously,
our citizens cower in fright. This should not be. No one should
fear being carjacked at gunpoint while shopping downtown,
nor should we be afraid to allow our children to walk to a
city school. Guns don't belong in the hands of road ragers
stuck in traffic on an overcrowded freeway at rush hour. Guns
don't belong in lockers at P.S. 101. Guns don't belong in
dark alleys or central parks or popular nightclubs or... well,
you get the idea. Guns don't belong in cities.
So we need two different standards. Sensible standards for
our rural areas, where many types of rifles, shotguns, and
handguns can be possessed, and, if necessary, used, by anyone.
And sensible standards for our big cities, where there are
no crop-eating vermin or cattle-stalking coyotes. We don't
need guns when there are telephones every sixty feet and cops
two minutes away. Our cities need to be made gun-free zones
where people can live in peace and safety. Don't just call
them a disarmed populace, call it a safer society. We need
to face facts, guns are out of control in places like L.A.
and New York. It doesn't have to be this way.
In cowboy days, town marshals would tell gunslingers "check
yer guns" when coming into town. Bartenders would tell potential
patrons "check yer guns" at the door. There is no reason why
we can't tell people "check yer guns" at our city gates. When
people are traveling form "gun-OK" areas into "no-gun" areas,
just provide gunlockers so they can secure their firearms
until they're ready to leave. No concealed weapons permits.
No handguns in glove boxes. No shotguns and rifles in gunracks.
And certainly no automatic weapons under trenchcoats or sticking
out of car windows. This strategy will prevent thousands of
deaths annually. And it will make our cities safer. NRA-buffs
screamed bloody murder when they couldn't bring their guns
into the Olympics. The screamed some more when the committee
wouldn't provide the aforementioned types of lockers, which
have proven effective in other venues, so they could check
their weapons. Finally, they left their guns at home, and
filed neatly and obediently into the events. Guess what? No
one got shot. Go figure.
Want to own, and shoot a gun? Join a gun club (yes, we COULD
have those in big cities, as long as the guns remain at the
club after use). Move to Montana. Buy a ranch. Find some old
rusty cans, some critters, some thievin' varmints, and fire
away. But if you're coming into the big city, check yer guns
at the door.
Eddie has a B.A. in Political Science and is currently
attending law school in California.