Dorothy van den Honert: The only solution to guns

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PITTSFIELD — The words, gun control, are an oxymoron. In case wisps of your high school English have vanished, an oxymoron is a couple of paired words that have opposite meanings, like jumbo shrimp or pretty ugly. Guns have one purpose, and one purpose only and that is to inflict the most dreadful pain possible onto somebody, sometimes to discourage thieves, sometimes to scare somebody into doing something he normally wouldn't think of doing. (Forget hunting. Nobody needs to hunt.) In the hands of some total nutcase, the result can be as vicious as taking revenge on some jealous lover or as mind-boggling as the mass shooting of children in an elementary school.

Surely every parent, and most normal people, were appalled at the idea of people losing their little kids. Anguish, sorrow, sympathy, collections of flowers, notes of condolence, appear everywhere. I feel as sorry as the next person every time I read about some other vicious act — until I came upon the recent story about the little seven year old girl who had half of her jaw blown off before another bullet mercifully dispatched her. At that point I got sick.

Now everybody is arguing over whether we should reduce gun ownership with background checks and equally worthless devices. Well-meaning people honestly believe that if only the mentally stable owned guns and people kept their weapons locked up where the kids couldn't get at them, that gun violence would somehow disappear. Or that training in handling guns would help. Or that if some sort of psychiatric measure were applied to prospective buyers the violence would go away. There is no way on earth to predict when certain kinds of brains will snap, and if you really believe that psychiatrists can save us from people who go beserk, I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

GET RID OF THEM

The only way to get rid of gun violence is to get rid of guns. End of story. But, you say, you simply can't get rid of all guns, and that is partly true. It is hard to get totally rid of virtually anything. But there are a lot of ways the mayhem can be reduced to the same level of a few countries that have successfully outlawed guns.

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We already know some of them. It would take a little time and a lot of money for the government to scoop up all the guns that infest this country, but it is possible. On the other hand, there is simply no way to equate the "satisfaction" gun owners get from their ownership with the agony of that child who went to heaven with a bleeding face and half a jaw.

Then why don't Americans retrieve the gun, put the resistant owner in the pokey for 10 years and live up to our claim to being a civilized nation that subscribes to the reverence for life that is the basis of all big religions?

Well, we do. We have brakes and signal lights and windshield wipers, we have tread on our tires and we have horns. We require a driver's license and adulthood, guns that must ride in the trunk, and sobriety. For Heaven's sake, what does it take?

The answer is easy. No guns. It would be expensive for the government to pay gun owners to return their guns, but perhaps it might be less less than paying for healthcare to repair wounds. Aside from the cost, there is one startling fact that knocked me for a loop. Apparently toddlers kill more people than terrorists do! Probably Daddy buys the gun but doesn't store it properly.

In any case, I would rather sit on the porch some summer evening sharing an ice cream cone with my next door neighbor's happy little kid than one who has just lost his Daddy.

Dorothy van den Honert is an occasional Eagle contributor.


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