Boomer Opinion: Guns … where to begin

As part of our new series, “Boomer Opinion,” BoomerCafé co-founder Greg Dobbs — a longtime op-ed columnist for The Denver Post— opines about the latest controversial topic on people’s minds: guns. (And if you agree with Greg’s commentary, feel free to put this headline link on your social media accounts and send it around.)

It’s madness. Total madness. No one has to spotlight the madness in the massacre in Las Vegas. But there’s also madness in the reactions of politicians who already were telling us last week, when the blood had hardly even dried, that when it comes to reasonable proposals to regulate rapid-fire rifles, there’s nothing to talk about.

Sure, some senior members of Congress and even, shocker of shockers, the NRA have conceded that maybe a ban on “bump stocks” — the devices that make assault rifles even deadlier — is prudent. Hallelujah. This means even longtime arms acolytes are asking, might fewer have died in Vegas if the killer could release, say, only two rounds per second instead of nine?

How could anyone argue that this is not worth considering?

But some still will, and that’s what even a modest modification of gun regulation will be up against. Like the hollow arguments we heard the day after Vegas: first, we shouldn’t politicize bloodbaths. Second, we can’t prevent bloodbaths. The same arguments we also heard the day after Orlando, the day after San Bernardino, the day after Aurora, the day after Virginia Tech, the day after Newtown.

Newsflash: no one’s contending that we can prevent bloodbaths. Evil is beyond regulation or legislation. What some do contend, though, is that we can reduce the breadth of the bloodbaths. And such easy access to the weapons that trigger them.

The poster boys for hollow thinking this time were the two United States senators from Louisiana. Bill Cassidy assured us, “There’s not going to be a single law which stops somebody determined to do something bad.” The flaw in that? True, nothing will stop everybody. But somebody? Yes, a single law could do that.

Cassidy’s colleague John Kennedy then rode shotgun: “It’s about ultimately getting rid of the 2nd Amendment.” That’s the “camel’s nose under the tent” argument. Open the door just a bit, you’ll never again get it shut. But at risk of offending the animal kingdom, the “camel’s nose” argument is hogwash. Open the door only as wide as need be. Close it when the need has been met. The need, right now, is to make it harder to kill almost 60 people. From a hotel room in Las Vegas or anywhere else.

We won’t win any arguments with statistics. Gun control advocates cite constituencies where strong laws have curtailed gun violence. California proves their point. But opponents cite communities where where despite strong laws, the violence only gets worse. Chicago, or Washington DC, prove theirs. In Colorado, where I live, gun control laws fall somewhere near the middle of the spectrum. So do our statistics for gun violence.

Greg Dobbs

So instead, ask this: if more guns, and more lethal guns, really made us safer, which is the fantasy forwarded by guns rights groups, we would be the safest nation on earth. We’re not. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we have almost a third of its mass murders. And semi-automatic assault rifles are the mass murderers’ weapons of choice.

Granted, the right to bear arms is settled law in our country. So be it. But it’s at loggerheads with another cherished right from our Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Which means, today, the right not to be mowed down by an armed maniac.

Of course the genie’s out of the bottle — the guns are out there, everywhere, and it’s too late to get them back. But how can anyone argue that keeping the deadliest devices out of the marketplace won’t mitigate the madness?

Gun owners plead, “Hey, I hunt,” or “My sport is target practice,” or “I have a right to protect my home.” Valid arguments for sure. But not against limits on some level. Hunting is fine, but you don’t need to do it with a tank, so we can’t own tanks. Target practice is fine, but you don’t need to lob a grenade at a target, so we can’t own grenades. And protecting your home is fine, but do you need an AR-15 with a bump stock to do it?

Enjoy Other Stories on BoomerCafé ...

7 Comments

  1. Thanks Greg, I appreciate the input. I’m a long time gun owner with several guns: most of which I use for hunting or pleasure shooting to pass this right onto my kids and grand kids. As a young kid, I worked in a small sporting goods store on West Colfax and I remember riding my bike (I was too young to drive ) down to the Sloans Lake Gun Club to shoot trap with borrowed then $10;000 Parker shotguns tied to my handlebars. All of the old guys were envious and were sure I stole them. I responded by out shooting them. I am saddened that such days are long past, but the world is what it is. I appreciate your input on the issue and I certainly wish I had a simple solution to an extremely difficult situation. Ken A

  2. Some excellent points and very well-written. At first I thought it might be fake news when I read the NRA was taking a position against “bump stocks,” something I and a whole lot of people had never heard of before last week. In any event, the stranglehold the NRA has on Congress members is unconscionable. How any of them can look themselves in the mirror or sleep at night is beyond me.

  3. Thanks, Greg, I agree with the other commentators here, this is a very well written piece that goes straight to the heart of the matter. Your key paragraph is a masterpiece: “Granted, the right to bear arms is settled law in our country. So be it. But it’s at loggerheads with another cherished right from our Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Which means, today, the right not to be mowed down by an armed maniac.”

    Indeed, it is a loggerheads and it is costing the country the loss of countless innocent lives, including children’s. Is that fair? Is it worth it for the “pleasure” of hunting and the “need” to defend your home? In Europe, gun ownership is closely regulated and the “defense of the home” is the government’s business, not the individual’s responsibility. Result? A much, much safer environment for everybody. But of course, not perfectly safe: we do have madmen who murder people en masse, terrorists with trucks they drive in crowds (not guns!) and that famous Norwegian nazi who killed young people at a political meeting a few years ago. If I recall right, he even managed to kill 89 people…

    So yes, there will always be terrible people out there who manage to kill, guns or no guns. But aside from the California and Chicago stats that you mention, and that I’ve heard many times, there is another set of statistics that is far more telling: what happened in Australia after a horrific killing that acted as a “wake-up call” for the whole nation: They passed stringent gun laws as a result, and today Australia’s level of killing is half of what it was before, in line with Europe’s…

    So why not try more stringent gun laws for a change and see if it works like in Australia?

  4. Excellent points all, Greg, as usual. I believe this started, at least in part, when children were not trained in firearm safety by their parents, as I was. Given the numbers of parents and children born, growing up and living their lives in cities, never getting out to the countryside and having an opportunity to experience target shooting or hunting, never receiving any firearm training other than what they saw on TV and movies, this was probably inevitable. And change won’t come from legislation, but from changing generations; we’ll have to grow out of it. IMHO.

  5. Greg,
    Thanks for a well written and timely piece on a serious issue confronting our nation. It is time for a reasonable discussion to be had so we can better protect the public. There will be no progress made however, if the extremes on both sides of the argument are not muzzled. To suggest a ban on all forearms only makes the other side more resistant to any regulations, and to suggest there can be no reasonable regulations is also a non starter. As you indicated, “Granted, the right to bear arms is settled law in our country.” We can argue about it, but owning a gun in America is a right guaranteed by the constitution, and is not a privilege. But no right is absolute, and reasonable regulations can and should be promulgated to protect the public. Thank you again.
    Thank you for raising this issue in a reasonable manner that should encourage honest discussion and debate.

  6. Thanks for this rational piece Greg–to me the key is “Newsflash: no one’s contending that we can prevent bloodbaths. Evil is beyond regulation or legislation. What some do contend, though, is that we can reduce the breadth of the bloodbaths. And such easy access to the weapons that trigger them.”

    Regarding the second amendment–one of my Canadian friends who is a lawyer pointed out that the U.S. is the only country that treats the Constitution like a bible–other countries do make amendments to their Constitution. There is no way our forefathers could have predicted the world as it is today.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *