A week ago, I walked into a lab run by our local hospital to get my blood drawn to test my thyroid level. As I entered the door, I noticed a sign on it, saying something to the effect of "You're not allowed to bring a gun in here unless you're an on-duty police officer." Not those words exactly, but that was the point.
And I thought, "Hmmmm..."
It wasn't a problem for me because I had neglected to pop my shotgun into my purse that day before I set out to run my errands. ;-) So since I didn't have a gun on me, I waltzed right through the door. But as I did, I pondered the effectiveness of such a sign and ultimately came to the conclusion that it was probably pretty much useless. After all, if a criminal approached the building with a gun and was intent on doing harm, would a sign on the door stop him? Would it make him think twice? Would it send him elsewhere to carry out his evil deed?
You'd have to be some kind of naive to answer "Yes."
So what is the purpose of that sign? I'm genuinely asking a question here because I honestly don't know.
Ever since the tragedy in Newtown, CT, gun control has jumped to the forefront of politics, the media, and the general consciousness of our nation. Although all of us agree that the killings at Sandy Hook were horrible and senseless, we are deeply divided on what to do about it and how to prevent future similar occurrences. I'm sure everyone reading this has their own opinion. I have one, too; but it's still fluid. And so I write...to reflect, to ponder, to process, to learn.
It seems like just about every day on Facebook, someone posts something about gun control; but many times what I read one day is directly contradicted by what I read the next. For example, I've seen reports that after Australia enforced strict gun control laws, crime dropped. Other reports say that crime there actually rose after that. Who is right?
As much as I'd like to check the stats and figure all of this out, I don't have time to do so. I've got other things to do--like teach one of my sons that "G" is "G" and not "J" as he calls it...and plan what we're having for dinner for the next week so our trip to the grocery store can be productive... and figure out when to fit mopping the kitchen floor into my schedule. An expert in the area of gun control? I can't become it. Reasonably well-versed about the pros and cons? Can't even manage that.
Obviously I don't have all of this figured out. In fact, the list of things that have the status of "all figured out" in my head is quite minuscule and gun control is not anywhere close to being on that list. But it's such a hot-button issue right now that I find myself trying to make some sense out of it all.
Various pundits have pointed out that hammers kill many more people a year than guns, as do cars; but are we ready to outlaw hammers and cars?
They remind us that Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer, fuel, and a truck; but those are still available.
They tell us that outlawing certain kinds of guns might be just as effective in keeping them from the hands of criminals as outlawing drugs has been (which is to say, NOT AT ALL).
Most alarming to me are the reports of how, in their various rises to power, the infamous dictators of the past century (Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Tze Tung, Idi Amin) began with gun control in their own countries before eventually murdering thousands (millions) of their own people.
Is it possible that disarming the law-abiding citizens does nothing to stop criminals from getting and using guns but does much to allow for a totalitarian government to rise to power with little resistance?
Please understand what I'm saying--and what I am NOT saying. I am not saying that Obama is a dictator and should be grouped with the men I mentioned above. I am not saying that America is one step away from such a regime. I am not saying that some sinister plot to take over our country exists in the minds of all who advocate gun control. As a matter of fact, I assume that nearly all who are pushing for gun control are doing it out of sincere hearts--because they are genuinely grieved at the events in Newtown, CT, Aurora, CO, and other scenes of mass shootings. With mourning spirits, they think, "We have got to do something."
I get that. I feel that. But still I question.
Is gun control the answer? Would it be effective at all?
10 Januarys ago, Jeff and I and our sweet seven-month-old baby Josiah moved to Israel; and we lived there for the next two and a half years. It didn't take us long to discover that, although we might get blown up in a bus due to a terrorist bomb, we would almost certainly not get mugged walking home in the dark down a back alley.
I'm sure there are a number of reasons for the low rate of crime there, but surely one of them is the fact that many, many Israelis are armed. With military service the norm for both young men and young women, virtually every citizen who grows up there knows quite well how to use a gun. It is not at all uncommon to walk into a grocery store and spot an Israeli with a submachine gun slung over his shoulder. In any public gathering, there are countless individuals who are armed, ready, and willing to get involved if the situation demands it. In fact, I remember seeing signs at one gathering that said, in essence, "If--God forbid--a terrorist act occurs, please don't use your guns. Let the police handle it."
In that country, more guns does NOT equal more crime. Would the equation turn out differently here in America? If so, why?
These reports don't seem to hit the big news media; but every so often, I hear of a situation that had the potential to turn into a mass shooting, but was stopped because of...you know what's coming...someone with a gun. A "good guy" (in the parlance of my sons) with a gun.
Like this shooting last month in San Antonio where the gunman was stopped by an off-duty female police officer who was carrying a gun and knew how to use it. Would we have heard more about that if the gunman had succeeded in killing half a dozen or more people?
This article, written by someone much better informed than I, speaks more about this point.
After reading back over this, I realize two things: my thoughts are rather disjointed, and I asked more than a dozen questions. But the bottom line is this: I'm afraid that if we think that the gun control measures being proposed and enacted will indeed stop a madman from carrying out another terrifying massacre, it's simply wishful thinking.