Let me be clear from the beginning: I am strongly in favor of increased gun control in this country, especially the outlawing of assault weapons and guns with high-capacity magazines. I am for such control because I believe it would save the lives of many innocent victims, such as those children shot to death last month in Connecticut.
Specifically, I am in favor of the bill that Sen. Dianne Feinstein is proposing to the 113th Congress. That bill is basically the same as the one that was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 and then expired in 2004.
Surely something needs to be done. For many years now the U.S. has averaged nearly 11,000 homicides per year by firearms. That is over 30 per day! That is more people shot to death every day of the year than were murdered on that terrible morning in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. Perhaps most of the daily homicides are not innocent children—but some of them are.
But I am not optimistic that meaningful gun control will soon be enacted. Both the power of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the opposition by owners of firearms are likely too strong for new gun-limiting legislation to be passed. I hope I am wrong.
There is one other cause of many tragic, and needless, deaths every day in this country, and that is the wrongful use (overuse) of alcoholic beverages. If there are those who think guns should be controlled in order to lessen the number of homicides, as I do, there are also those, such as I, who think that if alcohol was also banned there would not only be fewer murders but also far fewer people killed in traffic accidents.
Even though I haven’t heard them say so, I am sure that my friends who regularly drink alcohol, as some of my best friends do, would say that the problem is not alcohol but drinking irresponsibly. And that, no doubt, is true.
But that is exactly the same argument used by the NRA and others opposing gun control: the problem is not guns, they say, but the irresponsible use of guns. As you probably have heard, they often declare, If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. That might be true to a large extent.
Even though there are laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, DUI is quite common—and many people are killed each year as a result. Nationwide there are about 28 people a day who are killed in drunk-driving accidents.
Many years ago, long before there were so many deaths because of drunk driving, alcoholic beverages were outlawed in this country. But Prohibition was repealed 79 years ago last month, and there is virtually no chance of it being enacted again.
Reflecting on what happened with Prohibition and on how so many people drink in spite of all the problems caused by alcohol makes me pessimistic about any meaningful new gun control laws being passed by Congress.
Sadly, I’m afraid people in this country will just have to learn to live with, and many to be killed by, both guns and alcohol.