Handguns Have Gotten out of Hand

Topeka Capital-Journal
Dec. 2, 1992

It would be great if everyone in the country decided the handgun homicides coast to coast last week, like the double slaying in Lawrence, were the last straw. There would be such a demand for gun control that Congress would get the message and do something about it.

Our representatives in Washington would be hammered so hard by constituents they would become more afraid of them than they are of the National Rifle Association now. They would do what they know to be the morally right thing, and they would pass laws making it very difficult to legally buy a handgun.

True, this would work a hardship on a lot of people, from schoolchildren to career criminals. The young thugs would have to settle grudges and impress peers with mere knives or baseball bats, or something like that. But there would be fewer of them killed.

Dedicated gun-carrying criminals might decide to get out of the business if they one day found themselves without a gun and no easy way to get one.

They wouldn’t go straight. They simply would opt for the safer life of mugging old or defenseless people, or grabbing purses, or maybe shoplifting. But the bottom line is that if the gun-toting breed of criminals didn’t have a gun, fewer people would get killed, and most of those saved would be innocent people.

Strict gun laws also might keep guns from many members of what some law enforcement officials say is the most dangerous element of society – the hot-headed punks who pack a gun and go looking for trouble.

And, like the bad guys in the old western movies, they find it. They managed to get into an argument with another motorist, or with somebody in a parking lot, or at a party, or, most likely, in a bar. They take no lip or sass or even a differing opinion, no matter how politely delivered.

They have that courage that comes not just from the bottom of a beer bottle, but also from knowing they have a gun in their pocket, or in the car outside. Cross them, even accidentally, and you’re going to see it, or at least hear it and it may well be the last thing you ever hear.

These gunnies we are told, don’t start the day, or the evening, with the idea of sticking their gun into someone’s face and robbing them. They are not after pizza delivery men, convenience stores are liquor stores. They don’t go from robbery to robbery, picking up enough to keep them in drugs.

They just sort of hang out, waiting for the chance to prove they’re tough enough to handle any man they meet. The old-timers said, “I can lick any man in the house.” Clint Eastwood put it this way; “Go ahead. Make my day.” These toughies say, “Try me,” and the only guarantee you get is that it won’t be a fair fight.

The National Rifle Association probably would tell us most of the victims would be alive if they too, had been packing a gun. a man has a right to defend himself, so it is imprudent to enter a bar without a gun.

The NRA preaches, and Congress agrees, that every man has a right not only to a handgun, but also to automatic weapons that are made solely to kill people. So, we always should have one handy in case we get into an altercation over a minor traffic accident or accidentally bump somebody in a saloon.

In the old days, in real life, as opposed to the movies, if you got into an argument, the worst that could happen was a fight. In Oklahoma, we called it going to Fist City or Knuckle Junction. Usually, they didn’t amount to much. It often was said of the participants, “they’re both afraid of each other, and they’re both glad of it.”

Most kids, and most men, young or whatever, got into those fights reluctantly, and hoped somebody would stop it before there was a bloody nose, because you feared it would be yours. When it was over, it was over.

It’s different now. A fight today, even in a school yard, may produce knives, lead pipes, ball bats and guns. What follows the original fight often is like the aftershock of an earthquake in that there is a real rumble. There are few handshakes after fights today, usually because some of the fighters are too severely wounded, or too dead, to shake.

In Lawrence, a man with a gun used it to kill two other men to make his point, whatever it was. Described by acquaintances as a nice guy, he may not fit any mold, but the questions remain; why did he have a gun, and why doesn’t the fact he used it outrage our politicians to the point they will face up to the NRA and do something about gun control?

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