Thursday, March 7, 2013

Down Tobacco Road (Again)

I know, I know.  I too reacted in December to Wayne LaPierre's appalling nonsense with a dropped jaw.  But after several months of listening to such garbage from the likes of "dumb as a" hammer Louis Gohmert, I think we should all stop being shocked.  We've seen it all before; we know what it is:


For decades after the link between lung cancer and smoking was identified, we heard the same kind of idiotic illogic from "scientists," legislators, and the tobacco industry itself.  It was certainly an uphill battle, but we won.  We won the right not to have to inhale cancerous tobacco smoke in restaurants, in hotel rooms, at work.

And it was the same kind of argument we are hearing now, about taking away the freedom to carry a gun, the right to protect oneself from government gone awry (okay, that's a slightly different twist, but the bad government thing is the same).  That smokers would complain that they would not be able to enjoy that cigarette at the dinner table -- can you believe how long it took to take that one down?

So when I got an email from Senator Patrick Leahy asking for my opinion on gun control I was happy to send it to him:

 It took decades of fighting the tobacco lobby to win the right to be free of hazardous smoke in public places.

Whatever it takes, however long it takes, we need to fight the NRA until weapons are no longer legal in public places.

People who own cars must register them; gun owners must register their weapons. Training is required to be issued a drivers license; training should also be required for gun ownership.

There should be strict licensing and control of gun sellers and manufacturers, just as there is for alcohol.

Gun control is no more radical than regulation of other potentially damaging items.

There is nothing new or different, or potentially freedom-threatening in gun control.  When the first states required drivers' licenses, the citizenry was up in arms about the usual:  government control, government spying,  unfair taxation, you've heard it all.  Outcry over speed limit laws sounded much like gun owners whining over not being able to shoot in their back yards.  The government taking away our fun!  But even the self-proclaimed "good drivers" have to follow the speed limit laws.

Liquor licenses?  Outrageous.  Laws against driving while intoxicated?  No way.

But there's this:  If our government has the right to require us to fasten our seat belts in our very own cars, then I guess they also have the right to license, register, restrict and outlaw gun use.

And it doesn't matter how many decades it takes to get it done.  Like cancer and tobacco, the proof of the damage to others by people with guns is there.  And gun deaths don't kill slowly, and it doesn't take a scientist to prove that the bullet was the cause.

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