Though the Constitution guarantees us the "right to bear arms," is it wise to store these weapons at home? Given what happened in Newtown on Friday it seems to me that we should all be concerned about what our neighbors might be concealing in their nightstands.
From all accounts, Americans are mad for guns. According to the Congressional Research Service there were 310 million non-military firearms in the United States in 2009 at a time when the census estimated there were 307 million people in the country. That means there was practically one gun for every person in the country. The Huffington Post said "we are armed to the teeth," and among Americans who report having a gun in their home or on their property, 62 percent have more than one. With 88.8 firearms per 100 people, the U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world. Though we don't have a count of how many of those guns are sitting inside homes in Scarsdale, you can bet there are more that you'd like to think.
Would you let your child have a play date at a house where you knew guns were kept? If you knew that your neighbor had a gun, would you take them to task about shoving leaves on your property or argue over fallen branches? I contend that if we knew who had guns this information would become a factor in our daily interactions.
Consider this: If a known sex offender moves into your neighborhood your local police department must advise you that an offender is in your midst. But though a gun owner is required to have a license and police are able to access the list of registered gun owners, the public has no way to find out who's armed. To me it seems far more likely that someone in my family will be the victim of violence than prey to a sex offender. Why not make this database of gun owners publicly available so that we all know who's packing a pistol?
From what I have read, there's a possibility that Congress will soon consider laws to limit the sale of assault weapons. However, limiting the sale of just one kind of gun does nothing to address the millions of guns already in possession. From the numbers it seems like those will be with us for a lifetime. And how can we ever feel safe with the knowledge that one of these guns could be used against us or our loved ones?
If we can't limit possession, let's limit privacy and expose the names of those who own guns. If the information were publicly available, perhaps gun owners would feel pressure to turn in their guns or store them at the police station rather than under their beds.
If we know who is armed, we can maintain our distance from people who look like friends but could quickly become enemies.