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Kevin Siers, The Charlotte Observer, NC

The U.S. and Its Guns: Time for Rehab

Guns Should Be Treated Exactly Like Automobiles


Rights” are the central argument about gun ownership. Philosophical arguments aside, I believe we can have both the right to gun ownership, as well as the civic duty to live up to that massive responsibility. And let me preface this discussion with the fact that I am a gun owner. I had a lifetime membership in the NRA which I tore up because of the idiocy and clear “pimping” of the gun lobby vs. the sportsman’s organization it started out as.

I will also add that because of a stalker, from the age of 5, I knew where the shotgun was in my family’s home and how to chamber a round. Now that is “home protection.”

As a grown-up, with perspective on the fact that we are the only country in the world where mass shootings are incredibly lop-sided per capita, I ask: Why can’t we discuss sensible, sane, responsible gun rights without devolving into “They’re coming for your guns!” Why can’t the Centers for Disease Control even study the issue? Mental health is obviously a massive part of it because who the heck else would do such a thing! It’s all the more reason to have a better system of checks, balances, and qualifications for gun ownership.

The right to drive an automobile, motorcycle, Mack truck, or race car can be lost with a DUI. You continuously have to prove you are worthy. Guns should be treated exactly like automobiles.

• Training and License — They do this extensively in Japan, Switzerland, etc. — it works.

• Annual Registration — Just like your car.

• No License or Registration = No Ammo — Simple. Can’t be responsible enough to maintain either, you aren’t responsible enough to load that gun.

• Insurance — You want someone to finally square off on the NRA? Bring in this!

• Like a DUI, if you show you are not responsible, i.e., domestic violence, mental instability, restraining order, etc., you lose your license.

• Computer Tracking of Ammo Purchases — We can’t even buy Sudafed anymore over the counter, why don’t we treat ammo the same and computer track sales? Facebook can track that you like Alligator Shoes. Think we can’t flag large ammo purchases? The better question is, why not?

• Professional Grade Weapons — Only for professionals: You can’t drive a dragster 300mph down the freeway. Only someone, who progressively moves up those ranks, gets to drive them — at a racetrack. Want to go full-auto? Then join the “Militia” called the National Guard, or be a police officer in good standing, or be an honorably discharged Navy SEAL, i.e., a professional.

The Parkland, Florida, mass school shooting was a 19-year-old kid, known to be unstable, reported to the FBI, couldn’t even buy beer. Yet he was able to waltz in and buy a military grade weapon and ammo? He should have been told “no” at the counter, the same as if he’d he tried to buy beer underage.

I’m sure this editorial will receive plenty of blow-back about “Rights” and “Then only criminals will have guns” and the ultimate victim defeatist stance: “It just won’t work.” Really? Why not try? What if we had done this 20 years ago after Columbine as the Australians did?

If you are a reasonable, responsible, grown-up, why would you feel any issue about fulfilling the exact same responsibilities as driving your car? Why are you threatened? Hmmm … perhaps because you are exactly who the rest of us are worried about?

America, like a drug addict in the family, it’s time for some tough love. Americans have proven that we are not responsible enough to live unregulated. The NRA capitalizes upon that and feeds the paranoia. So it’s time for the grown-ups in the room to set some boundaries.

Enough was enough six years ago at Sandy Hook, and again and again and again and again leading up to last month at a freakin’ Waffle House. America — you are an Addict. It’s time for Rehab.

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