Why Not Put Up A Stop Sign?

18 Feb

Regarding the notion that gun control laws won’t do any good because some (or only the law abiding) won’t obey those laws I would suggest the following:

I don’t think we enact laws expecting a particular degree or guarantee of compliance, rather after identifying an act or behavior to be prohibited or encouraged, we draft a law hoping that it will achieve a degree of compliance sufficient to achieve the intent of the legislative or administrative body. The law is thus a demonstration of our desire as a discrete society to declare what type and manner of order we wish to impose on the otherwise unfettered freedom of each citizen or visitor.

Take for example, a simple stop sign. Does a law place a stop sign at an intersection expecting that every car will stop? No, in fact, we can reliably predict that many will not stop. Should this predictable non-compliance have prevented us from enacting the law? Has this predictable non-compliance resulted in more deaths from traffic collisions? If we examine the root causes of running stop signs, will those underlying factors be a good reason not to have stop signs?

We enact most laws to improve our lives or make us safer. A law also ensures that there are both consequences for its violation and a chance for the violator to explain their act or failure to act and avoid these consequences by way of due process. When a needed law is not enacted, society is saying that you are free to engage in that particular behavior; to use my example, if an intersection does not have a stop sign, you may drive through without stopping. By failing to enact gun laws that make us safer our society is saying that we believe that our illusory need to protect ourselves with guns is more important than the lives that are constantly and tragically lost to gun violence of all types. While I understand the subjective and anecdotal nature of my personal experience, I also can’t ignore the fact that in over 3 decades of carrying a weapon every time I left the house I have never had to so much as remove it from its holster, at least off duty.

I’ve owned and been around guns my entire life and I carried and used guns in a professional capacity for much of my working career. I have always been fascinated by and enjoyed both collecting and shooting them. As a child and a young adult, I can also recall the seductive power they exuded. I’ve also nearly lost my life to a gun and experienced the emotional and intellectual turmoil of having to use a gun to take the life of another human being.

I also have many good friends and family members that responsibly hunt, own, use and carry guns and they are all wonderful people who I will always love and respect. But as much as I love and respect them, I am saddened by my conviction that their affinity for a physical thing or activity and their unwavering opposition to any reasonable regulation is more important then all of the lives that are being lost each day, each day we debate whether we should be erecting a stop sign.


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