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Know the West

Bowling for westerners


Where did the paranoia come from among some hunters and "gun rights advocates" that their right to own guns is seriously threatened (HCN, 10/27/08)? The NRA and its sympathizers make gun ownership an issue of such centrality that they spend millions of dollars on a wild campaign to ensure that any attempt to enable a sane and sensible gun policy fails, even supporting ordinances in some communities requiring citizens to own a gun.

Any effort to take guns away from law-abiding citizens would, for a number of reasons, fail to succeed. But why would requiring gun registration, gun education and prohibition of assault rifles threaten legitimate gun owners? Such measures would make it harder for school shooters, would-be criminals and suicidal people to obtain guns, reduce the number of violent incidents with assault rifles, and enable police to track offenders more easily. Canada, England and other countries do better with these restrictions without impairment to the civil rights of their citizens, while many Third World countries with no regulations and an abundance of guns are characterized by violence. Why does the U.S. prefer to be more like the Third World than the "civilized" countries of the West?

So here's a request for gun owners and the NRA. Get out in front of the issue to develop a sensible gun policy in the U.S. Define the types of guns and explosives that should be restricted. Develop a required program of education for gun owners — and the requirements for obtaining a gun permit. Finally, define a program of gun registration and assist in the development of a gun-tracking system.

John Shellenberger
Bozeman, Montana