One of the most disturbing stories I read in this past weekend’s papers was of a six-year-old first grader shooting his teacher in her classroom. It got worse when I juxtaposed two recent statements.
Just based on those facts alone the question that screams out to me is: How did a six-year-old get ahold of a loaded gun? I agree that the Second Amendment grants the right to own a gun. In fact, despite being a liberal, I defend that basic right. But with rights come responsibilities and that is the crux of the problem in this case. Unfortunately, this is neither an isolated nor unique case. While somewhat rare, it will repeat itself in the future sans action. What scares me is that we have not taken prudent action to date and I see no reason to believe that this will be the tipping point.
I have long advocated what I call a smart gun. That is a gun that “reads” the user’s fingerprints or other biometric information and is disabled for all but the authorized user(s). Let’s take a mythical family of three. Mom and Dad are authorized users but their six-year-old son is not. That way the couple could keep a loaded gun readily accessible in their home for personal protection without fear that their child would use it. Years ago, engineers told me this was very doable and since I have learned that the technology exists but the gun manufacturing lobby is preventing it from being instituted.
In recent years (including from my readers) the suggestion of gun owner liability insurance has been put forward. This would have two effects. First, but by far least important, it would guarantee that a harmed party (or their survivors) could sue and recover some money. More importantly the insurance companies would in part base their rates on how the gun was stored thereby encouraging responsible behavior.
While, by far, my safe gun suggestion is much more of a solution it is the one that is the least likely to be implemented. I’m sure the insurance lobby – and anyone who thinks money in politics is outside this discussion is a fool – would love a new stream of income and sales.
We require liability insurance for automobiles. (Gun lobby, don’t give me the right to own a car isn’t in the Constitution argument. Cars didn’t exist at the writing of the Constitution or it certainly would be in the Bill of Rights.)
We encourage – in some cases require – homeowners’ and renters’ liability insurance and it is difficult to envision most Americans living without an owned or rented abode.
Adults have to be held both civilly and criminally liable for actions committed with guns they do not handle responsibly. Until the laws and culture change to make that happen, we will have more and more shooting with guns purloined from supposed responsible gun owners.
America has a gun culture and that is not changing anytime soon. That doesn’t mean it also has to have a gun problem. We can simultaneously protect the Second Amendment and the American people; in fact, that is the whole idea of the Second Amendment.
A few weeks ago, Mike Pompeo, a 2024 Republican presidential wannabe, stated that without a doubt Randi Weingarten was the most dangerous person in America. Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers and issued the following statement in the wake of the shooting. “When will the shock of gunshots in schools be enough to inspire the action necessary to prevent guns in schools and the shattering of lives it causes?”
Juxtapose those two and you determine who the dangerous person is. Keep in mind although he may sound like one, Pompeo is not just some drunken fool at the local watering hole, he wants to be president of the United States. Weingarten just wants teaching elementary school not to be a hazardous occupation.
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