We often hear there are 80 or 100 million gun owners in the United States. Some estimates say there are as many individual guns as there are people. Naturally, all these guns and all these gun owners do not fit into one single group. So, to simplify matters here's what I've come up with.
First we divide the group called "gun owners" into two smaller groups. Let's call them the "good guys" and the "bad guys." Immediately our first problem arises. How do we qualify them? A generally accepted rule of measurement is, since we all believe in the presumption of innocence, felony convictions. Anyone with a felony conviction who owns a gun is one of the "bad guys." Let's throw in those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and those who've been adjudicated mentally ill. I realize the definition of that last one needs some fine tuning, but for argument's sake, let's say those are the folks who make up the group called "bad guys."
Everybody else who owns a gun is in the other group. They're all "good guys." Do you see the problem already? They include all the folks with clean records who buy guns for criminals and gun traffickers. They're called straw purchasers. Some do an occasional deal to make a couple bucks on the side; others are professionals and in many states they can safely buy ten or twenty guns at a time with no questions asked. Until they're caught, they belong to the group called "good guys."
Also in that group are many criminals and gang members who've yet to experience their first arrest and conviction. As they do, they slide from the one group to the other, but at any given time the group called "good guys" contains many of them. That's the price we pay for that extremely important presumption of innocence.
The straw purchasers and criminals who somehow have maintained a clean record are what I call "hidden criminals." No one knows what percentage of the "good guys" is made up of "hidden criminals."
Additionally there are all the types I outlined in The Famous 10%, the bad drinkers, those who abuse prescription medication, the rageaholics, etc. All these and more belong to the "good guys."
The final type of gun owner who makes up the "good guy" group is the responsible one. He not only has a clean record but is intelligent enough and sober enough and safety conscious enough to pose no threat to anyone. He is the responsible one. Guns in the home are properly stored. He trains regularly. He keeps on top of the laws so as to be always in compliance. With him, safety comes first, always.
The problem is that he is in the minority. The group called "good guys" is too heavily populated with hidden criminals and 10%ers. The solution is simple, in a phrase, gun control laws.
The gun-rights crowd is wont to clamor that we have so many laws already on the books, adding to them won't help. That's nonsense. What we have on the books is a mish-mash of easily circumvented laws. What we need is a federally issued set of simple but comprehensive gun control laws. Straw purchasing could be eliminated, theft could be greatly diminished and many of the unfit characters, the "hidden criminals" could be identified and disarmed.
The most amazing thing is the responsible gun owners among the "good guys" fight tooth and nail against any additional regulations. Taking their marching orders from the NRA and the gun manufacturers, they refuse to budge on any of the most common-sense issues raised by the gun control folks.
I'm optimistic that eventually reason will prevail. As tragedy after tragedy is daily reported in the main stream, rather than becoming inured and desensitized, people will begin to see that gun availability to unfit people is something we can and must address.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.