THE BLOG
05/08/2013 12:28 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2013

Yes. Let's Point Fingers At Gun Owners

A five year old boy shot and killed his two year old sister in Kentucky with a rifle given to him by his grandmother. I suppose we should take some small comfort from the fact that the NRA did not suggest that in the future all two year olds should be armed. The whole town grieved, as it should, but shunned the symbolism and asserted "pointing fingers doesn't really accomplish anything." (N.Y. Times 5/6/13) But it does! The symbolism is there whether they want it or not. Let's look at all of the slogans that the NRA and gun advocates trot out and see how they apply here: "Gun regulation only hurts law-abiding citizens." "The only thing that will stop bad guys with guns is good guys with guns." "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

First, a regulation with a minimum age for a child to possess or use a gun would have prevented this tragedy. We restrict the right to drive or drink alcohol until persons are old enough to assume the responsibility. Why should the use of something that wounds or kills not be regulated in the same fashion as well? Next, not even the NRA can seriously contend that the five year old was a "bad guy", or that if someone else had been armed this tragedy would have been averted. The final slogan applies, assuming a five year old was contemplated under the description of "people". But let's not talk about regulation, since it is apparent that our elected representatives lack the moral fortitude to do the country's biding rather than that of the gun lobby. Let's talk about "pointing fingers".

I think it is a fair assumption that virtually every gun sale started off legally. A manufacturer probably sold the gun to a wholesaler or dealer, who, in turn, sold it to individuals. So how then do the "bad guys" or those with mental disorders acquire guns? Someone, a legal gun owner, sold it, left it where it could be stolen or where it could be found and used by someone who should not have had access to guns. There may be other avenues, but these seem to be the most obvious. If we do provenance with guns as we do with art, most guns used to kill or wound probably can be traced back to a legal purchase by a "law-abiding citizen" or a sale by an authorized dealer.

Although I do not agree, it may be true now that no legislation is going to make much difference in gun violence, although the arguments of possible insurrection, etc. are ludicrous. If regulation violates the Constitution and dooms the Republic, how about some finger pointing in its stead? I have the greatest sympathy for these parents who lost a child and the grandmother who purchased the rifle. I do not suggest that they be prosecuted for negligence. They have been punished enough. But if gun owners want to resist all regulation, they need to take some responsibility when they possess, or in this case give, a deadly weapon.

Giving a rifle to a five year old might be a quaint tradition, but with it comes a grave responsibility. That same responsibility should extend to every gun owner. I am certain that many, if not most, recognize that responsibility and take precautions, but gun owners have to stop looking at those who seek regulations as the enemy, when the enemy may be within. If parents left the keys in a car with an unsupervised five year old, who drove and killed someone, we wouldn't hesitate to blame the parents, particularly if it occurred tens of thousands of times each year. Why is it that those who leave guns around to be stolen, used by the mentally disturbed or fired by accident should get a pass?

We watch and guide our children at the playground, at the pool, crossing the street, playing with fire---that is the responsibility of parents. Giving a five year old a weapon may be "a way of life in which many see nothing unusual about introducing children to firearms while they are still in kindergarten." (N.Y. Times 5/6/13), but could there be anything requiring greater supervision? Accidents do happen with guns. Mentally disturbed persons do find and use guns on themselves and others. Criminals steal and buy guns. If gun owners do not want regulation, they should assume accountability for those wounded and killed by guns owned by "law abiding" citizens. Let's point fingers at those who fail to secure their guns; who sell them to persons clearly agitated or deranged; who leave them loaded and accessible; who give them to children and allow them to use them without proper supervision. Finally, let's point fingers at the gun lobby and the gun manufacturers who promote fear to encourage the purchase of even more weapons solely to enhance their own profits. Yes. Let's point fingers!

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