Here’s a longer version of a comment I posted today to an article in the New York Times about Congress’ inability to think clearly on gun control:
A “red herring” is something that is used to deliberately mislead, or to distract from the primary issue under discussion, or, metaphorically speaking, to lure away from the scent those who are pursuing a goal.
Background checks are a red herring in the hunt for better control of the millions of weapons that degrade our supposedly-civilized society.
Background checks will identify only those people who have a criminal history or those with a documented history of mental illness (and we know that the vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent or dangerous).
Background checks will do nothing to protect us from the heartbreaking slaughter wreaked by those who committed the massacres in Newtown, Aurora, etc. (Isn’t appalling that it is possible for one to use “etc.” in this context? We have allowed so many mass murders that we can say “etc.”)
The real problem is that we have guns at all. Too many guns, of all varieties, but especially those designed for mass murders; that is, semi-automatic weapons and the large magazines designed for rapid fire of dozens of rounds, without re-loading.
As long as millions of killing machines are available, people will use them to kill. And those who desire to kill will gain access to the guns they want, and order all the ammo they want online, delivered right to your door. (You don’t even have to sign for it: http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/2013/01/loaded-special-delivery.html)
The only sane solution is to get rid of the guns.
- Repeal or amend the Second Amendment to prohibit ownership of firearms by private citizens, except for those used (and stored) at firing ranges, and for those with a demonstrated need for survival hunting (i.e., those who need to hunt to eat). Make illegal gun ownership a felony crime.
- Confiscate and destroy all firearms that do not meet these standards.
- For those who are allowed guns, require appropriate training, registration, licensure, etc.
- Require registration and insurance of all permitted firearms, as we do for vehicles.
- Hold gun owners liable for crimes and injuries caused by the weapons they own.
- Prohibit all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and the stupidly large ammo clips.
The problem is that we have too many guns, we constantly add more to our national cache, and we resist any restrictions on our deadly armature because of our stubborn, selfish national misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.
Discussions of gun makes and models, sizes of ammo clips, background checks, safes and locks, etc., are all red herrings.
As I've said before, we have enough red herrings here to open a canning factory.