You’ve probably heard that that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban Big Gulps and other oversized sugary drinks. I don’t drink pop unless it’s mixed with rum or vodka and can get through my day without any caffeine so if this bill were to happen in Chicago or nationwide, it wouldn’t really affect my daily living. But I worry about what is next after the big drinks that are terrible for you.
I love ice cream. And M&M’s too. When I don’t exercise self control, I’ll happily eat a pint of Haggen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s. But that’s my decision. I know these products aren’t healthy and I don’t care. They taste great. And while I work out an hour a day to make myself feel better about my terrible eating choices, if I didn’t that really doesn’t harm anyone else.
The reality is that most food out there is bad for you. White bread is like poison. A chicken Caesar salad is more fattening than a cheeseburger. Even chicken and ground turkey are high in cholesterol. So if we don’t stop banning things that only harm one person then where are we going to draw the line? I worry about the day that my king size bag of M&M’s will cost me more in taxes than it does in product.
None of this is like banning or taxing cigarettes although the reasons the Government does so are probably the same. In their minds, they are probably saving you from slowly killing yourself by making cigarettes cost so much and prohibiting where you can use them. I think the taxes against cigarettes are absurd, but I’m all in favor of preventing people from smoking around me or my kids. 2nd hand smoke can harm. When my child sees you drinking a slurpee, the only harm is me having to deal with his whining after I tell him for the 10th time that he can’t have one.
This doesn’t mean that the Government shouldn’t educate or encourage good choices. My son won’t ever eat at McDonalds again because he heard about pink slime. His classmate became a pescaterian when he learned how cows and pigs are killed. I’ve avoided some food purchases after reading how many calories are in an item. But every now and then I order a milkshake even though I know it’s just a big glass of melted ice cream that will fill me with regret after the initial elation.
If the Government really wants to take away rights that people have grown accustomed to, they should get some balls and finally enact common sense gun legislation. It hasn’t received a ton of play, but I found it shocking that a recent report showed that in 2009 ten states had more gun deaths than car deaths (Indiana was 735 to 715 and Michigan was at 1,095 to 977). Surely some of those gun deaths were self defense just as many of the auto deaths were from some careless person running in the street. But you can bet that just as many car deaths were prevented by safer cars being designed by car makers, we can save lots of lives if we restrict the types of guns and bullets that can be purchased. An honest person will acknowledge that the 2nd amendment did not imagine a world where a gun could fire hundreds of rounds a minute or have bullets that could pierce body armor.
If you feel the need to have a hand gun in your home, I have no problem if that makes you feel safer. If you want to participate in the “sport” of hunting, I don’t get the thrill of shooting Bambi, but go and own a shotgun if that’s what you want to do. But to demand the right to own a weapon that can kill scores of people in minutes or pierce the bullet proof vest of a cop makes no sense to me. Sure we can imagine that there is a day when your home may be under such great attack by robbers that you would need such force. But it is almost always imagined and never real. You don’t ever hear of situations where a high caliber glock solved a problem that a gun which can only shoot six bullets at a time could not (gun nuts, please spare me the correction on how these guns work, we all get the idea of what I’m saying).
I’m not in favor of banning all guns everywhere and I know that the “bad guys” have guns and would ignore rules put in place to limit them. But if you stop producing bullets that pierce bullet proof vests, eventually they will run out. And while you might feel better having these bullets, I feel worse that gang bangers and drug dealers can kill cops who are trying to stop them. Same holds true if we outlaw manufacturing guns that can spray bullets. This won’t stop every gun death, just as we’ll never stop everyone from driving drunk or reckless. But the goal should be to minimize deaths.
Beyond that, what is really so wrong about making people jump through some hoops to own a gun? Training classes? That makes sense. Preventing someone from owning an arsenal of guns? Show that there is a valid purpose for having them and you should get them, otherwise you don’t. Require background checks and a renewal of permits and training? You bet. And while I’ve heard all of the arguments for concealed carry, how many shootings have occurred because someone with a gun made a bad decision in a heated moment? When Gabby Giffords was shot, Arizona law would have allowed her shooter to hold his gun at his side while he waited in line and the police could have only legally intervened if he pointed the gun at her or they had reason to believe he would. Now that is nuts.
I’ve lived in Australia where guns are mostly banned and any shooting in the nation would be national news. There is still violence of course, but after a gun massacre woke up the nation, the number of deaths from violence have plummeted and crime has gone down as well.
Ironically, many Republican politicians have supported Mayor Bloomberg in one way or another, but you know none of them would limit the rights to do anything with a gun. I’m more nervous about a bad decision maker with a gun than someone who overdoses on a Pepsi or Blizzard. If it can’t hurt me or my kids, do what you want. If it can, there should be restrictions.
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