Saturday, October 07, 2006

Batman vs. Samuel Colt

In my recent post about guns, I only hinted at how I feel about guns in general. To be more explicit, I'll say that I'm torn between the opinions of Batman and Samuel Colt.

Batman does not like guns. One of his often-repeated mottos is "Guns making killing too easy". He has a point. There are accounts of gun deaths (especially domestic violence) where it seems the killer had an extremely bad temper, and was not normally a killer but the gun made killing so easy. Perhaps if the person had to stab or choke instead of shoot then the extra bit of proximity would have prevented the violence by giving the person time to think, or by being just too much intimacy within violence.

Samuel Colt liked guns, and about him rose the saying, "God created all men equal, and Samuel Colt helps them stay that way." This is also a valid point. The only way societies move beyond government by the weapon-holders (feudalism, dictatorships, the mob rigging the courts, etc.) is when judges and politicians are accountable to everyone equally, not only in votes but in practice.

Overall, then, a safe and democratic society needs guns but does not need (most) people to have guns within reach. With the goal of preventing domestic violence gun deaths, I could agree with more restrictive gun laws if they were sensible enough. (I'm enough of a libertarian to not mind things the way they are, either.)

For example, I have a fireplace in my home, and installing it required a quick and easy city inspection; city hall now knows my house has a certified fireplace. It seems sensible to require something similar for pistol ownership: before purchasing a pistol someone would need a paper showing he or she has a place to store it properly. (Rifles tend not to be involved in domestic violence in the ways pistols are.) That law might prevent some domestic violence gun deaths, but it still allows people their Second Ammendment rights (rifles are not restricted) and is of only small inconvenience (assuming the city's inspections continue to be quick and easy).

UPDATE: As is often the case, I've thought of a market-economy solution that would work better than the legal solution I proposed above. Home insurance companies could raise prices a small amount, but then offer an equivalent annual discount for homes with any safe or lockbox that could store a pistol safely. Most home owners should own a fire safe anyway.