Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Planes, Blades and Automatics

Another sticking argument in the gun debate is that deaths committed by cars, planes, drugs and crude weapons, just to name a few, don't prompt the same anger toward those items.

No, we don't call for bans on things that are not guns when they're used to kill people. 

But we do take some action.

When terrorists hijacked our jet airliners to kill thousands of people, we increased the security measures required to get on a plane. 

When someone wants to drive a car, they have to be of a certain age, take training courses, obtain a license, purchase insurance and obey traffic laws, as well as ensure their vehicle meets minimum safety standards. If they are reckless in operation of a vehicle, even if no one is hurt, they can have their license revoked.

When authorities discovered over-the-counter pseudoephedrine was a main ingredient in crystal meth, they enacted laws requiring accountability for each purchase.

Crude weapons such as bats, knives, nun-chucks and brass knuckles tend to be far less lethal and accurate than guns. However, their use in a violent context still means strict punishments. 

As for pipe bombs and IEDs, well, those seem to be universally considered as terrorist tools. Few people are falling over themselves to consider those constitutionally protected arms. Like with Sudafed, people buying mass quantities of bomb components generally reek of probable cause.

Are some of these measures excessive? Pointless? Counterproductive? Downright silly? Yes on all counts. But sometimes they're not. Either way, we've collectively decided in these situations that freedom comes with a degree of responsibility, and put it in action. It's an evolving process. But it's a process, at least. We didn't dismiss it offhand because there weren't these types of laws 200 years ago.

And none of this regulation has led anyone to believe that we can't fly, drive, ride, buy Mucinex or own items that could become weapons (or that just are weapons). And most sensible people will say that gun control hasn't made it impossible to own a gun.

If anything, the car/knife argument shows how ridiculous an exception guns are when we talk about safety and purpose.

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