In a new series on HeadCount's blog, Jeff Simonds — a professor, writer, and HeadCount Team Leader — tries to understand the world of politics, music, and pop culture. The opinions expressed are his own.
I am in favor of gun control. I think there are far too many guns in America, and I think the laws we have in place to control who can obtain a firearm are woefully insufficient. I will sign almost any petition to restrict the sale of guns or to reduce their number. I am, and will likely always be, a staunch advocate for gun control.
Having said that... I have a gun.
It's in my closet between a Swiffer Wet Jet and a box of old Christmas ornaments. It wasn't a gift or a family heirloom. I went to a store that sells guns, I gave them money for a gun, they gave me a gun, and I drove home with a gun.
WRITER'S NOTE: Before you look me up on Facebook to call me a hypocrite in all caps, let me quickly explain; my wife needed it for an art project. We've never intended for it to be used as an actual firearm. In fact, we have never bought bullets for it. If ever I were forced to defend myself against an intruder, I'd probably reach for the Swiffer Wet Jet before I reached for it. But, it is a completely unmodified, legally purchased, firearm capable of great harm. I am (technically) one of the 70,000,000 gun owners in the United States, and in my closet sits one of America's 270,000,000 guns.
And, you know what? The fact that I legally own a gun is one of the primary reasons I'm in favor of gun control. Many gun control advocates focus on the gun show loophole or the legality of assault weapons — but I'm focused on the fact that background checks to buy weapons can't possibly test for responsibility and maturity.
Here are three true facts about me: 1) I have, on several occasions, had cereal for all three meals in a day, 2) in 2012, I saw Smash Mouth live in concert, and 3) I (a childless 27 year old man) currently have a poster of "The Muppets" hanging in my living room. Those should not be the traits of a man with a gun! If we are trusting someone to own an instrument of death, that person needs to be mature, careful, and thoughtful — rarely am I any of those things.
If you have seen Smash Mouth live in this millennium, you should not have a gun. If you have run out of gas on the highway more than two times, you should not have a gun. If you own a BluRay of "Sex and the City 2," you should not have a gun. If you leave muffin wrappers in your hamper to be thrown out later, you should not have a gun. I should not have a gun.
We expect a lot out of our gun owners. We expect them to secure their weapons in safe places. We expect them to protect their weapons from the potentially volatile or untrustworthy people that may be in their lives. We expect them to exercise tremendous caution. So, maybe, the background checks need to do more than determine if someone is capable of violence. Maybe these background checks need to grow, and start looking at if an individual has earned the right to be trusted with something so devastating.
Groucho Marx said: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." That quote makes sense to me. If I can get a gun, then maybe we should rethink how we give away our guns.