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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 4, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 1
My non-LGBT column - It's time to get serious about gun violence
Section One
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My non-LGBT column - It's time to get serious about gun violence

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

Guns. We believe in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms - but, like the First Amendment, the right of free speech, we believe in limits. As for the freedom of speech, limitations need to be imposed for when people do something stupid or harmful, like yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater.

With that in mind, a similar limitation and several others - some of which were suggested to me in a conversation with my friend, Rob Metzger - should be placed on guns.

TREAT GUNS LIKE CARS
First, they need to be registered. All loopholes must be closed, especially in regard to gun shows. Then registration. To get a driver's license you must prove you know how to drive a car and pass a test. Why? Because cars can kill. So can guns. So, some sort of test must be part of any good registration.

And like cars, guns should be insured. Cars are insured because of the damage they can do to people and property. That damage is paid for by insurance companies. If we had insurance for each and every gun and created an insurance pool for victims of gun violence, and the cost of insurance was based on that amount, gun insurance might get a little expensive for someone with 20 guns. It's a horrible thing to think of, but imagine the amount of money the insurance companies would have to pay each of the families of the victims of the massacres at Sandy Hook, Columbine, or the Aurora, Colorado, movie-theater killings. Not enough? Think of the number of gun-related deaths and injuries in this nation each year.

And to bring it all together, how about hefty penalties for anyone not obeying these laws? Have an unregistered gun? No insurance? That's two to five years in jail - no exceptions, no excuses, no probation.

ARMED TEACHERS???
As for the idea of putting armed police officers in schools or arming teachers with guns - do you realize that one act would add hundreds of thousands of guns to our streets across the country? Those people would be taking their guns to and from work, and they might also bring them along when having a night on the town.

So the NRA wants to give hundreds of thousands of people new guns. What happens if just one of those teachers or officials in just one of those schools has a temper and gets into an argument with a student, or a student gets out of hand, or what if just one of those hundreds of thousands of people with shiny new guns has a bad night with his or her spouse, or doesn't take his or her meds ... you get the idea. It only takes one person to create another Sandy Hook, and suggesting that we arm hundreds of thousands of amateur gunslingers is the easiest way to get us another Sandy Hook.

THE FOUNDERS' INTENTION
There is no need to debate the Second Amendment. Just like the First Amendment, you can define it. But while we're on the subject, those wishing to quote it should understand exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they put that in the Constitution. Very simply, they were concerned that Great Britain might just try and take the colonies (us) back by force, and they wanted something in place to assure that any state government at that time would not side with Britain and take citizens' guns away, allowing the King's soldiers to just march right in. Remember states' rights? Well, there is no Britain out there threatening us today. Do you really think your gun will stop a drone from Russia or a missile from North Korea or Iran?

Well, I'm running out of space and we haven't even touched the issue of bullets, and those 30-plus round magazines. Yes, hunters, we know you need a semi-automatic and 50 bullets to kill Bambi. After all, it's a sport, right?

Mark Segal is publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

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