There is strong opposition to a bill under consideration in the House that would restrict Massachusetts residents to buying only one gun a month. Filed by Governor Deval Patrick and supported by the law enforcement community, this modest effort is an attempt to limit the number of guns in circulation in light of recent shootings in Boston.
The opponents believe this would be a violation of the Second Amendment that, in their view, permits a citizen to have as many guns as he wants and can afford. Any effort to restrict gun ownership in our “shoot-em-up” society is viewed by many as a threat to personal freedom that endangers our democracy notwithstanding the bloody toll exacted each year in the streets of our cities.
Guns are almost as popular as pets. Why limit yourself to one when you can have a family of firearms? Guns, after all, are social; they need the companionship of other guns. It would verge on abuse or neglect not to have multiple guns to promote constructive interaction.
Like members of a family, guns complement one another. They have distinctive designs and application. You may wish to bring your small gun to intimate family gatherings where the risks are small; but a larger gun would be more appropriate at a sporting event.
The one unifying element that makes guns a family is each one’s capacity to send a projectile into somebody’s body. However, that does not mean that “one size fits all.”
Like a tie or cuff links, there should be a gun for every occasion. You would never wear the same tie day after day. A wide variety of guns available permits an owner to accessorize, depending upon the occasion and threat level. To go out night after night with the same gun would be considered gauche.
Like people, guns have personalities. There are the manly, muscular, in-your-face firearms and the petite, delicate, stylish weapons perhaps more suitable for the ladies.
Another thing guns provide is “hand.” Without one, you have no power or leverage; you’re just another unarmed person. When you’re carrying, you’re in charge, you have an edge. That other person may be richer, smarter and better looking but does not have the feeling of invincibility that your nine-millimeter provides, tucked comfortably in your belt.
Germany produces good cars. In France, it’s food. In Italy, it’s fashion. Here in America, it’s guns. We are the most “rootin-tootin,” “gun-toting,” “butt-kickin’ ” “make-my-day” country in the world.
Why would somebody want to spoil all that by limiting gun ownership? Under the proposed legislation, you could only buy twelve guns a year. What a travesty! Next, they’ll be telling us how many pairs of socks or bagels we can buy. It’s that slippery slope all over again.
In America, we value our freedom and our guns. The two are inextricably linked; if you reduce one, you limit the other. We act at our peril when we try to regulate ownership of firearms; or so the Second Amendment rangers claim.
I am probably at the other extreme. In my view, the only thing better than a lonely gun is no gun. As a Dorchester District Court judge, I saw too many instances of young people being shot. Guns are instruments of death. I believe that any attempt to limit and restrict their ownership will save lives.
Bulletin: Constitutional scholars recently discovered that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with firearms. It seems the founding fathers were notoriously bad spellers and the original intent was to preserve the right to “bare arms.” Yes! It was designed to allow people to go sleeveless.
James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.