Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Thoughts About the Gun Control Debate - And a Couple of Predictions

Culture, Firearms

There will be no assault-style weapon ban.

Yup.  You heard it here first.  I'm not suggesting that I am clairvoyant.  Not hardly.  All you have to do is think about the logic of it all and you will easily arrive at the same conclusion. 

First-off it's a non-starter for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.  And while the Senate is controlled by the Democrats there are a sufficient number of Democrats that know their seats might be compromised if they embrace a gun ban.  Therefore, the operative question for members of Congress and the President is this - How much of my precious (and limited) political capital am I willing to expend on a measure that is virtually certain to fail?

The answer would be not so much.  Especially with low-hanging fruit to be picked.  Immigration reform has a reasonable chance of garnering considerably more bipartisan support with an exceedingly small expenditure of political capital.  Furthermore, it's better to keep your (pardon the pun) powder dry for the gathering storm over the debt ceiling and the sequester.

Geez Gas.  You sure are cynical about this.  Why can't you be righteous and hopeful for a change? 

I take the matter very seriously.  I also happen to be realistic and read my tea leaves.  And as a law-abiding firearm owner allow me to share a story, some observations and another prediction.

Thoughts of bartending back in the 1970s resurrects some rather fond memories.  As a young man in college I had money in my pocket and drove a 1969 Volkswagen Westphalia Camper.  You know - the one with the distinctive pop-up white fiberglass top, icebox, sink, closets and comfy double bed in the back.  I accessorized my bus with a kick-ass Craig Dolby stereo.  Two speakers in front and two more in the ceiling in the back.  Life was pretty darned good.  It was also a wee bit lawless as it relates to the bar scene.  Back in those days the establishment where I was employed hosted a Friday 'happy hour' featuring two-for-one drinks.  It lasted more than an hour.  Mondays featured something promoted as Monday Madness.  Three-for-one drinks for several more hours.  And every evening at closing we might send a patron out the door at bar time with a plastic cup containing their unfinished cocktail - or one more for the road.  That's what is known as a roadie.  It was a lawless time by today's standards.

Some years passed and I became a respectable businessman with a wife and a new daughter.  I wore a suit and tie and worked in an office just a few doors down Mayfair Road.  Directly across the hall from my office suite was the office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In the passage of about a decade something changed.  As a society we began a glacial but persistent crawl towards intolerance of lawless drunk driving.  

And change it did.  For sure we haven't eliminated driving while intoxicated but there is much less of it today than there was more than three decades ago.  And you know what?  We didn't have to ban alcohol consumption.  We learned a long time ago that prohibition doesn't work.  We put a few extra teeth in our existing drunk driving laws and began an extensive education campaign about the dangers of driving while intoxicated.  For that reason there will be no ban on assault-style rifles.  Can you imagine MADD advocating something back then as crazy as a ban on only certain types of alcoholic drinks?  Foolish analogy?  Not so much.     

To single out a civilian version of a true assault rifle is a red herring.  An individual intent upon committing mass murder with a firearm will do so without regard to its cosmetic appearance or magazine capacity.

Do not infer that I am diminishing the loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I'm a father and a grandfather and I grieved over this heinous act.  Which leads me to my second prediction.

There will be universal background checks for the sale and transfer of firearms.  There may be some reasonable exceptions for immediate family members.  For instance - allowing me to gift a single-shot 20 gauge shotgun to my grandson some day without having to perform a background check on a twelve year-old.  (Yes, I got my first gun for Christmas the year I turned twelve.) 

The single most important thing we can do to prevent another Sandy Hook is to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.  Universal background checks are a good start.  And I don't believe that a responsible firearm owner will balk at this.  As a matter of fact - responsible firearm owners will never endanger anybody else.  Millions upon millions of us will live-out our lives and never commit mass murder. 

My message is this.  I am not your problem.  Make life difficult for responsible gun owners for the acts of the criminal and the deranged and you're going to get push-back.

I think all of our efforts are better spent on making our society less lawless - and safer - by educating everyone about proper firearm handling, keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and beginning a glacial but persistent crawl towards intolerance of lawless and dangerous handling of firearms.

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