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As I said in my other post, what happened in Newtown has given rise to discussion of two issues: mental health and gun control. I expressed my fear that the mental health discussion will distract from the issue of gun control, and vvs.

My stance on gun ownership is more nuanced that you might expect from a life-long lefty. I actually think guns are kind of neat: big ones, little ones, muzzle loaders, machine guns, howitzers, anything you can name If it has heft and goes bang, I like it. There are times when I toy with the idea of getting a gun, just like I toy with the idea of getting a computerized radial arm saw.

I have no idea what I would do with a computerized radial arm saw. I don’t even know what they used for; but hey, they’re computerized, they’re radial, they have an arm, and they saw!

My attraction to guns is pretty similar. Obviously, I know what guns are used for; but I have no idea what I would do with one. I’ve never gone hunting, and I’m happy to get my game second hand. By implication, I don’t have anything against hunting per se. We have so many deer, squirrels, and geese around here that I’d be happy to see more hunters.

I like target shooting, which I’ve done maybe four times. I’ve actually hit a stationary target! Skeet shooting is a different matter. I couldn’t hit a skeet if you waved it in front of the gun barrel.

Some people get guns for protection. If I had a gun in the house, I’d keep it in a gun safe; and I’ve never understood what good a gun in a gun safe is for protection. I mean, if someone breaks in at two in the morning how quickly are you going to get your gun safe open? Unless the robbers give you a call to tell you they’re coming, not fast enough.

The sound of a pump action shotgun is pretty distinctive, though, and familiar to just about everyone. How about something that makes the sound of a pump action shotgun? That might work.

I remember when we had a string of arsons in our neighborhood. A friend of mine said “See, that’s why you need a gun!” My response was “That’s why you need a fire extinguisher! What are you going to do, shoot the fire”?

In any case, I’m not totally against the sale and position of firearms. My position has nothing to do with parsing the second amendment.

But enough about me.

As I see it, those who are totally opposed to gun ownership are well-intentioned but impractical. That’s really all I have to say about them. As for those who think automatic weapons and light artillery should be outlawed, I agree with them. That’s where my liberal attitudes come into play. I’m not planning to take on the police force, let alone the military.

I don’t demonize those who own and use guns. It’s pretty clear that they run the gamut, not only in the types of guns they want and the reasons they want them.

Plenty of commentators, and some of our Representatives and Senators, have said that hunters are sportsmen; and that as such they don’t need more than a few rounds for a hunting trip. You shoot and hit, you’ve bagged your prey. You shoot and miss, your prey runs away and you start over. What you do not do is fire off 30 rounds into the brush and wait to see what screams.

So those are the sportsmen, the people who don’t think semi-automatic weapons and large clips are needed. They feel the same way about armor-piercing bullets and other such novelties. Even wild boar don’t wear armor, although they aren’t something you want to just wound.

At the far opposite side are the black helicopter crowd, the ones who want to be ready to fight off the UN (most of whose troops are drawn from such military powerhouses as Fiji and Nepal). They stand shoulder to shoulder with the sovereign citizens, the secessionists, and a raft of other people who reject the legitimacy of a democracy that persists in electing people that they disagree with. They believe that the very same government that can’t run a country efficiently can somehow manage a vast international conspiracy.

Somewhere in the middle are the majority of “gun rights” people. This majority is, I suspect, afraid of the loud voices from the fringe. Until they can shake off that yoke, we’ll never be able to have a reasonable discussion about what is, and what is not, an appropriate weapon for an average person to possess.

I truly hope that the NRA fragments along the lines I set forth, because when it does we’ll be able to get some work done.