Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gun Control

It's 1983 and the Complete and Total Loser is watching a daytime talk show in the living room of the apartment he shares with Doug. There are women on the show being interviewed about the perils of drunk driving and what should be done about it. At the time, the offense was still a relatively minor one and intoxicated drivers were given minor penalties for causing major injuries, even deaths.
One of the women on the program had a 13-year-old daughter who had been killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. Her daughter's death had lead her to found a nonprofit organization in 1980 to stop drunk driving.
"They won't change anything," Doug said. "The alcohol companies have too much money and they'll just pay TV networks to not give them publicity.
The Loser wasn't so sure about this. There was something about the women on the show. They were angry, but not crazy angry, not nutty angry. And weren't they on TV right now?
The group the woman had founded was Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and if you've ever sweated bullets when driving home from a bar or party after having a drink more than you should have, it's because of that group, founded by Candy Lightner (her daughter's name was Cari).
The Loser is feeling the same way now about gun control. The arguments the gun nuts have been making for years about why Americans -- and it is just Americans -- should have unlimited access to assault rifles and handguns that are only good for killing people, often in great numbers, are starting to sound as stupid as those calling drunk driving fatalities "accidents." 
Americans are beginning to see gun violence as the public health issue it is. Are we really going to be more strict about regulating soft drink sizes than gun magazine capacity? 
Look at any positive change made in America -- civil rights, seat belts, tobacco regulation, pollution control -- and the one thing you'll see is that the change took many years longer than it should have thanks to people who profited financially from not changing it fighting like hell to keep bad things as they were
But changes do happen. 
Maybe one day there will be Americans who will look back on how many guns there were and how many people were killed by them each year (about 30,000, and the number may exceed those killed in automobile accidents by 2015) and shake their heads, wondering how their ancestors could have been so stupid.

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