Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to enshine handgun ownership is causing predictable reactions, neither of which is doing anything to make America safer.
Here’s a sensible idea that will:
Every one over the age of 18 gets to carry a loaded gun, holstered or concealed, any where they want, any time they want. That means every place people gather -- offices, airplanes, sporting events -- plenty will be packing.
But you get just one bullet. One bullet per person.
Use it or lose it and, in addition to any existing criminal charges, you need to go before a judge and explain what happened to your bullet before he or she decides whether or not you get another one.
Guns don’t kill people. People don’t kill people.
The bullets are the killers and the astronomical number of them invariably leads to deadly recklessness.
One Minnesota firm, Alliant Techsystems, boasts on its web site (www.atk.com) that it makes up to 600 million bullets each and every year all by itself.
The most hateful, paranoid person on the planet would be hard pressed to enumerate 600 million people in history who really deserve to be shot.
An attorney once told me there are three types of homicides: unnecessary, justifiable, and praiseworthy. If everyone was entitled to just one bullet, many of those serving hard time at tax-payer expense for unnecessary homicides would today be productive citizens.
The jails are full of otherwise good men and women who in moments of drunken or drug-fueled rage emptied guns at victims who didn’t deserve lethal ventilation.
But if a drunk or crack fiend had just one bullet, most of them would miss their targets and they’d be subject to the laws of the land.
Judge: “Why did you shoot your bullet at Mr. Smith?”
Mr. Wesson: “Well, it sounds silly, but I didn’t like the way he was looking at me.”
Judge: “Is that any reason to shoot a man?”
Mr. Wesson: “Nah, but I was really drunk.”
Judge: “Well, it’s a good thing you missed. I’d advise you to stay home with your kids instead of engaging in barroom staring contests. Understood?”
Mr. Wesson: “Yes, your honor.”
Anti-gun people are loath to admit it, but everyone’s manners become more refined in the presence of a loaded gun. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to quote Al Capone, who was known to say: “You can get more accomplished with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.”
The crossfire of pro- and anti-gun groups has become the rhetorical equivalent of trench warfare. The mindsets are so ingrained that any attempt to breach the deadlock with fresh thought is automatically shot down -- even by people who are organizationally opposed to shooting anything.
“Our theory is that even one bullet can kill someone,” said Nancy Hwa of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence.
True, but doesn’t it stand to reason that fewer people would be shot if everyone had just one bullet?
“Well, yes, but . . .” she began reciting familiar arguments before realizing she’d descended into what she called “wonk babble.”
“Sorry, but it’s hard to think about new ideas.”
Out of fairness, I had to call the National Rifle Association, the scary, dour people with the bumper stickers that are always alluding to their “cold, dead fingers,” and treasonously hinting that so-and-so is their president, when the person mentioned is someone the majority of Americans didn’t even vote for.
And I’m not talking about George W. Bush.
NRA spokeswoman Kelly Whitley’s reaction caught me off guard.
She burst out laughing. And she continued to laugh. It was such a joyful laugh that I felt a rush of affection for this unseen, distant stranger. It has me hoping nobody has to pry anything from her cold, dead fingers for many, many happy, productive decades.
I called back the next day and she was still laughing. She still hasn’t gotten back to me, but I imagine her sitting there still laughing maniacally as her superiors check their HMOs for psychiatric coverage.
One bullet per person might be a silly idea, but there just aren’t any new ideas coming from either side, certainly none that at least one person in the pro-gun lobby finds so ironically disarming.