You read that right. I oppose gun control — for the same reason I oppose birth control, which might also surprise you.
Fear not. Like most reasonable people, I am strongly in favor of effective gun regulation, just as I’m very much in favor of reproductive rights.
It’s the word “control” I oppose.
We can’t control birth any more than we can control death — or much of anything else in between for that matter. But we can greatly raise the odds of preventing unwanted pregnancies with contraception, which is a vastly more humane approach to reproductive rights than abortion and would greatly reduce the demand for that procedure. Prevention is the key.
But abortion opponents oppose contraception in equal measure, which makes it seem to be more about reproduction control — just as gun rights advocacy seems to be more about crime control. The excessive desire for control is the problem.
The other reason I’m opposed to gun “control” is that it sets off Second Amendment anxiety. People who need a gun handy clearly don’t feel safe. They don’t trust the police or their government to keep them safe. Modern society feels out of control. So their firearms make them feel secure, give them the illusion of “control.”
Inexplicably, they also seem to believe that anyone preaching gun “control” secretly wants to confiscate the estimated 300 million guns in circulation in this country. Since these suspicions aren’t susceptible to reasonable persuasion, we should us a different term.
We can’t “control” guns, but we can certainly regulate them. Gun rights advocates also hate the word “regulate,” but it’s more realistic than “control,” sensible regulation being a more pragmatic step toward protecting society from virtually unrestricted access to firearms.
No one, of course, wants inconsistent and ineffective regulation, which describes the patchwork, state-by-state system in place right now. All regulation, however, is imperfect because human beings, and therefore human organizations, are imperfect — as are “good guys with guns” who don’t shoot straight, for that matter.
Our Constitution is likewise imperfect, which the framers recognized when they established the goal, not of “forming a perfect union,” but “forming a more perfect union.” We should strive, they were saying, for never-ending improvement. Obviously, we have a long way to go.
The framers proved how imperfect they were when they added the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Even if you support its inclusion, you have to admit the amendment is the most poorly worded and confusing portion of the entire document. For the past two-plus centuries, gun supporters have been pretending that the words “A well-regulated militia” are irrelevant. They’ll try to convince you the word “regulated,” back then, really meant “supplied,” but I assume the word “supplied” existed in the late 18th century and that the founding fathers deliberately chose not to use it. We have to assume, therefore, since it was uppermost in the sentence, that “well-regulated” was also uppermost in their minds.
The first step to a more perfect regulation of guns, therefore, is replacing “gun control” with “gun regulation” because that’s our real goal (The next step is universal background checks). Regulating guns is a necessary good because, as the kids have been telling us lately, our right to live our lives is greater than allowing virtually anyone to own and carry a gun.
Words are important and our use of them should be as precise as possible. “Gun control” gives gun advocates a handy dodge. They need to understand that we’re willing to live with responsible gun ownership — as long as they are willing to live with responsible, effective and ever-more-perfect gun regulation.
We all have a right to feel safe, but it defeats the purpose if one side feels safe while the other side doesn’t. If gun owners were truly responsible, they would meet us halfway and become part of the solution: They get gun rights so they can feel safer. We get sensible regulation, and fewer people slaughtered in mass killings, so we can feel safer. Everybody feels safer. It’s a win-win. That’s fair, and a lot of gun owners will say so — privately but not publicly.
What we’re talking about is sensible, effective, ever-more-perfect regulation, until at last we bring the scourge of mass killings under …
Oops, I almost said it.
Let’s just say, until at last we reduce the number of unnecessary deaths from irresponsible gun use — and reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and therefore abortions, with responsible use of contraception.
That should be enough “control” for all of us.