Wednesday, August 7, 2013
All Glocks Down! Pondering the First & Second Amendments
I will admit to being a bit nonplussed the first time I drove past a local pawn shop advertising $499 Glocks on its billboard.
To be fair, you don't normally see pistols and handguns advertised on signs along busy thoroughfares. The thrift store down the block has "Fast, Free Pick-Up & Delivery" on its sign. "MENUDO," scratched in red spray paint, crawls off a sandwich board set in front of the dilapidated Cuban grocery next door.
"Wow. What has society come to?" That was my thought as I drove past. "Guns. Guns. Guns. No one needs all these guns. Much less the ability to pick them up at a pawn shop."
I drove on. The thoughts vanished.
Two days later, I passed the pawn shop again. "GLOCKS" screamed out from the billboard again.
"I need to get a photo of that," I thought.
The next day, I passed the billboard again. It was night and I didn't think I could get a good photo in the semi-darkness. But the message of "$499 Glocks" still beckoned.
This time, I started thinking.
Now, I'm a pacifist. I grew up around guns. My parents had guns in the house, behind the seat of every vehicle and pistols stashed in various places. Neither I nor my little brother managed to blow our heads off, shoot a playmate or fatally wound anything more than the local wildlife.
My grandparents kept two loaded rifles beside the front and back doors; these were used for critters and varmints - the four-legged type. Two generations of grandchildren knew better than to touch those guns for anything other than to move them.
I can't recall the last time I touched a gun. I'm not sure I'll ever touch another one. Firing hot lead out a barrel doesn't do much for me.
And to be honest, thinking that folks can pick up a Glock for $499 at a pawn shop in East Naples doesn't do much for me either.
But this thought kept running through my head as I pondered the sign. I just couldn't get it out of my mind.
"It is kind of a strange application of the First Amendment here. I absolutely don't like guns. But damn if I'm not grateful (and a slight bit amused) that I live in a country where we can advertise them on billboards."
Basically, I figure if I can have the first amendment, you get the second?
That said, the gun control debate in this country is ludicrous. The answer is not "take away all the guns." Nor is it "arm the planet." The solution is somewhere in between.
American citizens have a right to own weapons, be it for self-defense, pleasure or hunting. American citizens DO NOT have the right to own weapons of war; no intelligent, reasonable hunter or marksman would disagree with either of those statements.
No one is shooting a deer with a machine gun. You hunt one thing - and one thing only - with high-powered weaponry. And it shouldn't be available in this country - period.
But criminals will always get guns. Government can add background checks, databases and registries from here to Canada; if a bad guy wants a gun, he can get a gun.
I don't know the solution, other than to restrict the sale of weaponry to all but the most primitive armaments traditionally used in hunting or pleasure shooting. If you're caught with anything else, it is an automatic punishment - but not jail, the government puts you to work building infrastructure projects.
So, that's my train of thought that descends from a random pawn shop billboard.