Paula Wesson, Lifestyles Editor
You have a gun in your bedroom or your purse for your protection. I understand your reasoning, but I don’t think you actually need it.
Imagine your son or daughter finding it. Perhaps she knows what it is. Then again, maybe she doesn’t. Either way, she’s holding it, and it accidentally discharges. If you’re lucky, the bullet hits that priceless vase of yours. If you’re unlucky, it hits that priceless face of hers.
This is not a rare situation. According to the National Safety Council, more than 1,000 children kill themselves with a gun each year. Admittedly, not all of these are accidents. Nonetheless, the number would be smaller without a gun in the house.
I grew up in a house that did not have a gun. My father kept a metal baseball bat on his side of the bed for protection. I remember him once saying that he had it because it’s harder for my brothers and I to kill ourselves with a bat than with a gun.
In the 19 years we have lived in that house, my father has never had to use the bat. Granted, we live in the suburbs. If you feel that a gun is necessary in your hometown, make sure that it has a safety lock. Teach your children the danger of weapons and keep it away from them as much as possible.
As I said earlier, though, not all gun deaths are accidents. Recently, in Rochester, N.Y., firefighters were shot when they arrived at a fire. Interestingly, the man had already been in prison for murder. So why did he have a gun? Maybe the government background checks need to be stronger. More likely, though, he possessed the gun illegally.
In Rochester, 22% of juveniles admitted to illegal gun possession despite the fact that New York State gun laws impose a mandatory prison sentence of 3.5 years for illegal gun possession. Illegal weapons possession is pretty common and not just in the state of New York. A missile launcher was brought to a government-run gun buyback in Seattle, Wash. At least four other weapons at that buyback were confirmed as stolen. To me, that means our government isn’t doing enough of its job: It isn’t doing enough to protect us.
President Obama does plan to improve gun control. For example, the production of armor-piercing ammunition is already illegal, but possession of such ammunition is not. Therefore, Obama’s plan includes to make possession of armor-piercing bullets illegal to the public. The plan also includes reinstating and rewording the ban on assault weapons. (Assault weapons were banned from 1994 to 2004, but semiautomatic continued to be produced because of a loophole in the law.)
In addition to these national changes, the state governments also need to help with gun control. Whitehouse.gov reports that 17 states have not made mental health records available for gun background checks. Not everyone who has a mental illness will use a gun to harm another person, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. The states could also do a better job of following through with their gun laws because not every illegal gun owner has been arrested.
If these stricter gun control laws are put in place, they will not prevent you from hunting. Furthermore, I remind you that we already have a well-regulated militia and a well-regulated police force, both of which are required to undergo more training than civilians. Your family will still be safe without that gun in your house.