Should pacifists have to pay for gun control?

Well, yes. But so should gun fans – and I think they should be more responsible for picking up the tab, than anyone else. That said, we live in America, where we all pay taxes equally (unless you’re “too big to fail,” and then America basically pays you to be here, because capitalism).

This morning I read an article in the February 25th issue of Tompkins Weekly, by Sue Henninger, called “Gun Control Foes Speak Out.” It reads in part…

[Assemblywoman Barbara] Lifton said that the governor has $37 million dollars in the budget for the legislation, and that “all of us will pay a little bit to get it set up,” a statement that was met with audience observations about the irony of citizens having to finance a law they object to on principle.

The article doesn’t specify what they object to, exactly; it doesn’t describe the legislation or any particular problems with it. So I turned to Wikipedia. New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act of 2013 (SAFE) will:

  • ban high-capacity magazines, defined as 7 (formerly 10) bullets and up
  • ban internet sales of assault weapons
  • require background checks and reporting for ammunition, as well as for all gun sales except for sales within immediate family
  • establish a registry of assault weapons, including (?) handguns, with a way for folks with handguns to stay private; must renew every five years
  • require therapists to report folks making threats for investigation; law enforcement can seize firearms without a warrant if they have probable cause that the person may be mentally unstable or intends to use the weapons to commit a crime
  • require that stolen guns be reported within 24 hours
  • require the safe storage of guns away from any household member who’s been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, who has been involuntarily committed, or is currently under an order of protection
  • increase offenses for gun crimes including upgrading the offense for taking a gun onto school property, and the penalty for shooting first responders

Now, I didn’t read the whole bill – I just perused Wikipedia. But this makes sense to me. It feels logical and actually pretty tame. Folks can still have assault weapons, they just have to register them. They can still shoot six rounds in quick succession from the same deadly weapon. Just what are these folks objecting to, on principle? What are their principles, exactly?

I object to many things on principle (superhighways; auto company and bank bailouts; drone warfare and indeed warfare of any kind; nuclear armament; state-run “game farms” and hunting licensing; the militarization of our police forces; the racist so-called war on drugs; the fact that my government is still deciding if I should be allowed to make the same wage as a man, or be allowed to be married like a straight person, or be allowed to abort a pregnancy if I’m raped) but I help to pay for them, as a tax-paying citizen of this state and this country. Part of what I pay for is regulation, to help keep me safe. These regulations do a pretty crappy job (last I checked, our country was still swimming in pollutants from natural-resource-hogging industries that happen to have well-paid lobbyists hard at work in Washington), but I’m happy to know that folks will be a little safer thanks to child car seats and safety belts and emissions limits and so on, and I help to pay for that safety as a tax payer, whether I participate in the regulated industry in question or not. Because I’m a citizen, and a responsible member of my community.

And yet here we have folks who insist on owning machines specifically designed for killing and no other purpose, who seem to think they shouldn’t have to pay to help keep the public safe from said killing machines. I suppose they think pacifist folks like myself should foot the bill? You know what that sounds like? It reminds me of how so many white people think that people of color have to “solve” the problem of racism, when racism is a problem white people have. It reminds me of how much effort goes into telling women how to act and what to wear to avoid rape, instead of teaching men to respect other people’s bodies and to not touch others without their consent.

I don’t see why those of us who are oppressed by the actions of others should have to do all the work of protecting ourselves, when those who are doing the oppressing are the ones who need to change their actions. In the article, a 76-year-old resident of Trumansburg said “she lives alone but the only protection she needs is her dogs.” I commend her for showing up and voicing her opinion, and I love that she feels safe. However, she isn’t safe as long as folks like the gun fans quoted in this article are able to continue with their hobby in an unregulated way. As long as there are guns, we need guns to protect ourselves from the people with guns, a cycle that leads to everyone holding a gun. Would you rather live in a world where everyone has a gun, or where no one has a gun? Personally, I’d rather live in a gunless world. I’d rather live in a world where this little old lady can be truly safe with just a couple of dogs between her and whoever might choose to harm her. And the only way we’re going to get there is by changing our laws to help reign in this craziness. Americans don’t have a reputation for being violent cowboys for nothing – our rate of gun violence is insanely high, and is directly tied to the number of weapons we own. We can continue to let the cowboys run the show, or we can step back and look at the big picture and say, “not anymore!” and begin regulating the hell out of those guns. Not regulating guns hurts everyone. Regulating guns doesn’t hurt anybody.

If you object to gun regulation, why? I want to hear from you! I have a lot of family in the military, and friends and family who like guns. I may be vegan now but I used to be a meat lover, going fishing with my dad and eating deer killed by friends. My heart is open and I want to understand. Try to convince me – make your best argument!

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4 thoughts on “Should pacifists have to pay for gun control?

  1. I’m a partial gun control advocate. I am also a hunter, in a relationship with and living with, an ardent gun rights foe. I dislike the idea of assault rifles and handguns, but boyfriend bought one and keeps it in the house (ammo-less, as the bullets are in such high demand due to some serious hysteria). He also has his concealed carry, carries a .45, and has a novelty belt buckle with a tiny, functioning revolver in it that can be removed and fired. I have a shot gun, and a rifle, both for hunting. They are kept locked, separate from ammunition. For me, the difference here is that they (mine) are for a very specific purpose, I use them as safely as humanly possible, and I store them as safely as I am able. I do not brag about my guns. I also do my best to avoid practicing/participating in *isms and othering language/behavior.

    As far as I can tell from him and his ranting about gun control, it’s about Rights! and that’s about it. I’m also a staunch feminist, ally, and a liberal. Pointing out that those Rights! only seem to matter for him, a middle class, Christian white dude, and not for people like me with uteri who need birth control and abortions, or for LGBT* people who’d like to marry whomever they love, only serves to make him angrier. As far as I can tell, it’s about the privilege of having a deadly weapon to assuage feelings of fear, no matter how much actual danger it may put other people in. We are highly unlikely to be victims of a break in/armed robbery, being two young, able bodied white folks living in a fairly well-off city. I am all for background checks, etc, in regards to guns. Bans, however, seem to only inflame an already horribly divided country.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Amber! I agree that right now bans are probably a tough sell. We Americans do need to learn to work together, even if that means we have to move really slowly and carefully when we make changes. I totally understand that not everyone is a pacifist vegan (yet!) 🙂

      You have such a good point when you mention the importance of “Rights!” in this debate. I wonder how to get past that empathy gap, so that folks like your boyfriend will be able to see the value of everyone’s rights and not just those of their own demographic. Kudos to you for trying to communicate that to him – I hope he comes around to your point of view, eventually.

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