On January 25, Stephen King released his 25-page essay, “Guns” on Kindle. It is timely, reasonable, and entertaining. In the essay, King admits to being a gun owner himself and “a blue-state American” who was “raised a red one.” Besides the fact that I’m a Stephen King fan, his mixed viewpoint intrigued me.
King argues for three initiatives to curb gun violence:
- Universal background checks
- A ban on clips and magazines with more than 10 rounds
- A ban on assault weapons.
For success, King calls for gun advocates to support these measures. He argues that if the NRA, for example, pushes for these changes, gun owners will fall in line. At the same time, King believes that not all of these measures, particularly #3, will occur.
Although these measures make sense, I’m conflicted about guns. Background checks for gun ownership seem logical to me. Gun safety classes do, too, which King doesn’t mention.
Limiting the number of bullets a gun shoots at one time makes sense to me, too. However, changing a clip or magazine does not take much time. Would that be enough time for someone to intervene during a shooting?
As for banning all assault weapons, I’m not sure that would work either. Assault weapon ownership runs in the millions. At the same time, it doesn’t seem logical to me for anyone outside of the military to own an automatic weapon. As King says, “if you used a Bushmaster on a deer in anything but single-shot mode, you’d turn the poor thing into hair-covered meatloaf.”
I also believe that there are certain people who should not own guns: those who know little to nothing about them; those who have a history of mental illness; and anyone with a criminal background.
Yes, people get guns illegally. In fact, approximately 500,000 guns are stolen each year from private gun owners (not to mention other illegal ways of obtaining guns). Even if a gun isn’t stolen, it can still cause damage to the owner or the owner’s family. Some studies show gun owners are more likely to die from homicide, suicide, or accidental death compared to non-gun owners.
On the other hand, some studies show that “Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation.” This makes sense to me because when there are fewer guns in circulation, they are harder to get for everyone, including criminals.
In a perfect world, guns wouldn’t exist; however, we do not live in a perfect world, and we have a right to hunt and defend our property. But at the same time, all children have a right to safety, and I don’t believe they are safe when guns are around.
So, where do we start to solve the problem of children killing children? We must begin with reasonable communication, and this is at the heart of Stephen King’s essay as he calls for “a resumption of actual dialogue” where we actually listen to each other instead of “thinking about what [we’re] going to say next.” And this approach makes King’s essay worth our time and our 99 cents.
For further reading:
- “Gun Myths Fact Checked” by Dave Gilson, Mother Jones
- “Searching for Hard Data on Guns and Violence” by Matthew Herper, Forbes
- “Would Arming Teachers and Students Prevent a Tragedy?” by Colin Lecher, Popular Science
- “Researchers have Many Unanswered Questions on Guns” by Liz Szabo, USA Today