Koons: America is a gun country


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America is a gun country, and that won’t change. America won sovereignty when ordinary citizens grabbed rifles and rose up against the greatest military of the time. America perfected its union by recognizing that slaves deserved equal rights and waged war to make it so. America is an entrepreneurial nation that traveled west in small groups to settle the frontier and used guns to protect their fellows, wives, and children. Europe has knights, but America has cowboys — our myths are about rugged go-getters who believe in fairness and justice and aren’t afraid to dust off the family gun to get it done.

America is also a nation of laws and reason. The Second Amendment has a purpose; it ensures society’s ability to protect our core ideals. Let’s not let our zeal for protecting that right risk the others or the safety of our most vulnerable. American ingenuity should be able to figure out how to ensure the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms while keeping children safe.

So, let’s boil through the muck and think about guns critically. 

Background checks should absolutely be universal. Why do we want criminals and terrorists to buy guns legally without hassle? If the law-abiding citizen must be checked, why shouldn’t the criminal? Such checks won’t stop criminals from buying guns out of car trunks, but if some are prevented from getting guns and law-abiding citizens aren’t, what’s the matter? Toss in harsher penalties for selling guns to criminals and fund police adequately — we may see real improvement in gang violence.

If it is plausible that a law-abiding citizen takes comfort in handling a “scary-looking” gun, why make that comfort illegal? I’ve never fired a gun, so I imagine I’d miss the target plenty — folks without skill may take comfort in having lots of bullets in cases of robbery or attack. People buy things for self-confidence rather than function all the time; one pair of pants over another because they look better. People may choose assault rifles over handgus because it makes them feel stronger.

America is a gun country, but it’s also composed of smart people. Let’s stop debating the obvious and pass universal background checks so that we can focus on whether certain types of guns are too risky for their benefit. We shouldn’t let skeptics deter us from attempting improvements, but neither should we take away comfort from the law abiding unnecessarily.

Andy Koons
The Daily Iowan guest columnist

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