09 April 2007

Guns are dangerous fun, so are cars and drugs

This piece was inspired by this post exploring the issue of guns in society.

The possession and use of firearms is a long established method for protecting life, exercising liberty and pursuing happiness in the United States, regardless of the reasons why and it’s objective effectiveness for these purposes. The only real question is how we are going to create governing institutions that facilitate our participation (directly or indirectly) in this valued activity. Indirect participation is the best we can realistically hope for even if you find guns abhorrent because guns are not going to cease to exist.

I value the freedom of responsible people to enjoy whatever pursuits they choose, so long as they do not recklessly endanger others or inhibit others from equally worthy pursuits. In the case of certain types of activity where the necessary equipment and/or materials can pose serious threats to public safety the long established and perfectly appropriate role of our public servants at every level of government is to ensure that public safety is reasonably assured even as the freedom of responsible people to learn about and participate in these activities is also respected. This role is clearly established in the cases of vehicle drivers licensing and professional licensing in a variety of fields, including medicine and law.

Therefore, I support licensing the possession and use of all firearms in the same way that I support both vehicle drivers licensing and the licensing of medical and pharmaceutical professionals. There are very different categories of both firearms and their uses. There are also very different categories of vehicles, therefore a proper licensing program needs to establish different requirements for different levels of education and appropriate ways to test for the proper use of each category of firearms and their expected uses. I think a similar approach to drug use may be possible, too.

Here's a post that seems to provide a little empirical support to my approach:
Craving and Denial at The Frontal Cortex

He concluded that teenagers should be taught to enjoy wine with family meals, and 25 years later Dr. Vaillant stands by his recommendation. "The theoretical position is: driving a car, shooting a rifle, using alcohol are all dangerous activities," he told me, "and the way you teach responsibility is to let parents teach appropriate use."
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