Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Conversation with an Anti-Gunnie

Most of my co-workers are very anti-gun. Many of them were born and raised in Massachusetts and have sucked down recent anti-gunism philosophy with unquestioning gusto. The only one who surprises me is a woman who was born and raised in Texas, who lived on a ranch, and now hates guns. I have no explanation other than it must be in the water.

I had an interesting conversation with one of my co-workers today who learned I'm a gun owner and avid shooter. Since he's a new employee, he hadn't met a gunnie before (that’s me a rare bird). He asked me a few questions and then asked why I wouldn't support firearm licensing and registration.

He carted out all the usual arguments. He compared guns and cars, how police could track guns, how bad guys wouldn't be able to buy guns. You've heard them all before and they’re all bunk. I tried to explain why to him, but he continued to push the argument. He finally said something to the effect, "Well, I know you're reasonable, so if you designed a gun licensing and registration system what would it look like?"

I hadn't heard that one before, so I had to get back to him. Here's what I came up with. First, I'd never support any kind of registration—that's out of the question entirely. I explained that even if I trusted today's crop of politicians (which I don't), who knows how such records would be used in the future. Someday, someone will use them to confiscate once legally owned firearms.

He didn't have an answer for that one, so I moved to licensing. I told him the only firearm license I could support is a "universal" license. That is, everyone must get a license unless society thinks they are a danger to others based on objective criteria. (Note: I think felons should get gun rights back after they prove they can re-enter society and not resume criminal behavior. I suppose there are a few out-and-out violent bastards and mentally ill people who shouldn't have guns, but why they're not in prison or a hospital is a question for another time.) Since everyone must get a license, there would be no way for authorities to know who actually bought a gun assuming the NICS check was put out of business.

My co-worker sputtered for a minute and said, "Well that would mean I’d have to get a gun license, too." And I said "damn straight there, chief"—or words to that effect. Then he observed that it still wouldn’t mean people were "qualified" to own a gun. I observed back that if you really wanted to be certain you could have gun classes and shooting lessons for everyone, including him.

He revealed his true colors and said that my scheme would coerce everyone into being a gun nut and he couldn’t shoot one of those things even if he were forced to. Then, I said, "I don’t have the right to coerce you into getting a gun license and maybe even firing a gun. But, why do you think you have the right to coerce me into getting a license for a Constitutional and human right? Why should I go to great lengths, which I did to get a Massachusetts gun license, that potentially marks me as a ‘suspect’ citizen?" No answer.

Of course, even if I could implement a universal license I wouldn’t. The government shouldn't have that much power. But, I found it interesting to turn the tables on an anti-gunnie and maybe make him realize that ideas he supports are just as onerous to me as my idea was to him. Then again, I probably just wasted my time.

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