And French wine isn't going anywhere. Neither are American guns. Both, in my opinion, are here to stay.
Never mind that most Americans don't own guns now, and that the French consumption of wine is falling precipitously. Old French Bordeaux and American Westerns—we love their burgundies, they love our Clint Eastwood—have shaped the national story of each country. But statistics don't really matter at this point.
I entered the conversation about gun-control in January, 2013, when some of our state legislators in Arkansas tried to put guns on our campuses. I teach on one of those campuses, so I had opinions, and I did the best I could to articulate them to anyone who would listen on whatever platforms I felt comfortable doing it—from Twitter and Facebook and this blog to public forums with our politicians. I showed up, and I said what I thought needed to be said. I learned a lot, in fact, from people who held opposing opinions, and those opinions have played a role in shaping my own.
Along the way, I realized that I didn't have stances on several key issues, so I developed them, and wrote them up. Here, for example, you'll see how I read the Constitution. If you'd like to know more about my own experience with guns, you'll find that chronicled here. How to best understand the Dalai Lama's notion of self-defense? That's here. Why I'm against concealed carry on college campuses? Here. How do I define the term "rights," as in The Bill of Rights? More here. My take on open-carry is here, and my current feelings about debating these issues on the major social media platforms, particularly Twitter, you'll find here and here. There's more, of course, but that's a kind of family tree of my evolving opinions on these issues.
But it also occurred to me that I hadn't set down, specifically, what gun-control measures I would like to see enacted. Like now. At the very least, those who take issue with me before knowing my stance on gun-control ought to know my stance on gun-control before they take issue with me. If you see what I mean. It's a time-saver. As always, with such lists, I am not addressing legislative feasibility, practicality, or the how-to's of accomplishing this list. Because that's another list. Four things for now:
- Institute universal background checks on all gun and ammunition sales, with a more thorough screening that involves the inclusion of mental health data.
- Allow the Consumer Protection Safety Commission to regulate firearms for consumer health and safety.
- Prohibit open-carry.
- Standardize the licensing program for a concealed-carry permit and make it a rigorous and rigorously tested training program.
That's it for now. I'm currently learning more about the renewal of concealed-carry permits, assault weapons in general, clip capacity, the sales of large quantities of ammunition, and improper storage of weapons in the home, particularly where children are present. About those issues, I don't yet know what I think, but I also consider them to be important issues.
But I acknowledge the right to own legal weapons, and I recognize the right to self-defense within the home. I would encourage extensive training in firearm usage, and regular practice, for those who own firearms, and if there are children in the home, I would hope that they receive the same training, and that those firearms are properly stored.
Other philosophical issues regarding an armed society interest me even more, but this is not the time nor the place to get into them.
Agree with me or not, I have, at the very least, been honest about my current position on these issues. I realize that there are inconsistencies and difficulties in these points, but that doesn't invalidate them as working proposals. When I am shown such a proposal without inconsistency or difficulty, from any discussion on guns, I will know only that I have fallen asleep and am dreaming.
But for now, it's time that we all make a concerted effort to wake up and work out our opinions on the gun issue in America. After all, twenty children will be hospitalized today because of gun injuries.