It should be harder to get a gun than a kitten

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squirrel_opt

My name is Squirrel Montana. You can get an assault weapon with 1000 bullets with less work than it takes to get me.

Really, it should be.  Last week I adopted a kitten.  To do this, I filled out an application in which I included information on all the cats I have had for the last ten years and contact information for the veterinarians that treated them.  They interviewed me on how I raise my cats and called me twice with follow up questions.  The cat could only be given to me by the person who interviewed me and I had to sign a form -- any violation of which may result in legal action against me -- promising I will not declaw the cat, let her outside, use the wrong cat litter or send her to an inferior kitten school (ok, the last one was made up but still).  Oh, I also agreed to home visits by the shelter.

Now, if I wanted a gun, I would not have to go through all of that.  I could either buy them online or go to a gun show and walk about with as many guns as I want. Nearly 40 percent of gun sales require no background checks at all.  What is wrong with this picture?  To me, everything.

In the wake of the shooting in Connecticut, politicians seem to have more of a stomach for gun control that ever before (in my lifetime anyway).  Like 85 percent of America, I support closing the background check loopholes.  New polling data suggests most of the country doesn’t know you can get a gun without one.  I also support  bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines though the universal background check idea seems to be the most important change we can make.

The two arguments I have seen against these ideas seem to be that a, any regulation on guns is a fundamental violation of the Second Amendment and gun control won’t help because, in the words of Wayne LaPierre, the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  No, nice try but no.

Not all gun control is a violation of the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court has said that the Second Amendment does not mean anyone can have any kind of gun they want.  In his decision overturning the DC handgun ban, Justice Antonin Scalia -- hardly a liberal, wrote  “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.Miller's holding that the sorts [**647]of weapons protected are those "in common use at the time" finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

Now to the argument that we’d only be a safer nation if everyone had a gun.  It’s just not true.

Gun chart

Source: Wikepedia

The United States leads the industrialized world in two key areas as they pertain to gun control; the number of guns we own and the amount of gun violence.  We currently rank number one in terms of gun ownership per capita, check this.   (The chart to the side is courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Wayne LaPierre found a way to blame everything from mental health issues to violent movies and video games.  But while other countries have both of those, they lack the violence we have.  Our “peer” countries just don’t have the kinds of shootings we do.  In fact, if you want to find countries with more gun violence than us, you have to look to places like Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras and Mexico (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jul/23/facebook-posts/the-us-is-no-in-gun-violence-is-it/)  Oh, and AFTER blaming our violent nature on games and movies, the NRA released an app where anyone aged four and up can use coffins as target practice.  What’s up with that?  (Note: I do think we need a discussion about violence in movies, TV and video games but that’s a post for another day.)

Now, I am not someone who thinks any one law will prevent all gun violence any more than any one measure will solve an of our nation’s problems but it’s long past high time for us to at least make our system make sense.

Oh, and I have been able to find zero instances when anyone was murdered by or with a kitten.