Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gun Rights Parable

So I have a little story to tell.  It's a fictional story, but well, you never know how fictional.

A woman, let's call her Suzy, just bought her first home. Suzy's a single mom and the house she and her daughter will now call home is farm house just outside the city limits of your typical American small town. Suzy's excited about having a home and a yard where her daughter can play, but she's concerned about the safety of her family. She knows that living in rural America, if she calls 911, it'll be 10-15 minutes before anyone would actually arrive at her house. Suzy doesn't own a gun, but has been around them all her life and knows well how to be a responsible gun owner.  Suzy decides to buy a gun.

But wait... in the town where Suzy lives, there are no gun shops. Due to laws recently passed, the nearest gun shop is a two hour drive from her home. So Suzy waits for her next day off from her job as a waitress in the town's diner, arranges to have a neighbor watch her daughter, and drives the two hours to the nearest gun shop to buy a gun.

When Suzy gets to the gun shop, she has already done her research and generally knows which gun she wants to buy.  She talks to the owner and gets some additional information about her potential purchase. She picks out a gun and prepares to make her purchase.

Wait again...

"There's a three day waiting period to buy a gun, ma'am.  Need to do a background check. So you need to fill out this form and come back in three days," the shop owner informs her.

"Couldn't I have filled this out at home," Suzy asks?

"Nope," responds the gun shop owner. "Needs to be filled out in person so I can check your ID."

"But I had to drive two hours to get here. I'll have to take another day off of work to come back."

"Sorry ma'am.  There's nothing I can do about it. And I hate to be the one to tell you, but you have to attend a gun safety class, too."

"What?"

"Yes, ma'am. After you fill out this form, you also need to attend a gun safety class before I can sell you a gun."

"But I've been handling guns my whole life."  Suzy is getting frustrated. "Who offers the classes? And how long are they?"

"There's a place just down the street that offers the classes. Class is only a few hours long."

"Down the street? But I told you I live two hours away. I have to come back and take the class and then come back again to buy the gun? This is ridiculous."

"I know ma'am. We're not a fan of the law either."

"Well, ok. I'll fill out the form, but it might be a couple months before I can get back twice for both the class and again to buy the gun."

"Um, I'm afraid that won't do. After you fill out the form, you need to buy the gun within 10 weeks or the process expires and you have to start all over again."

"What! That's crazy! I work two jobs, I had to find someone to watch my daughter, and I had to drive two hours to get here. Now you're telling me I need to do that two more times in the next 10 weeks as well as attend a class that will tell me a bunch of information I already know just to buy a gun! This is ridiculous! It's like they're trying to make it impossible to buy a gun legally."

"Yes, ma'am. I agree. It really is ridiculous."

Suzy filled out the form, left the store, and began her two hour drive back home.

Now I don't know how you feel about gun rights in America, but regardless of your position on the subject, owning a gun is legal in this country. So any laws we enact should be aimed at making it safer for gun owners and non-gun owners, should help us ensure that criminals don't buy guns, and should prevent people from becoming victims of gun violence. Laws should not be put into place where the sole intention is to make it harder for people to do what is 100% legal in this country: buy or own a gun.

But wait, there's more...

100% of what I just said absolutely, positively applies to the rights of women in this country to get an abortion. No matter your personal opinion about the morality of a woman's choice to have an abortion, it is 100% legal in this country. So no woman should have to drive two hours to see a doctor, only to be told that they have to come back three days later. No woman should be told that in those three days, they have to go see another group who will council them against the decision that they are making. No woman should have to jump through hoops designed, not to provide them with more information or better healthcare, but only designed to make it harder for them to choose to have a medical procedure that is 100% legal in this country.

So South Dakota, let me suggest that you put into place the same laws for your gun owners as you do for women in your state. My guess is that voters in South Dakota would never stand for such blatant disregard for their rights as Americans.

9 comments:

OakParkGirl said...

Not offended, on either count. My gun toting brother in DuPage county will go on and on about this too. It's ridiculous how the only people the laws are enforced on are the people unlikely to abuse them anyway. No criminal deals with any of that, they buy it on the street from Joe gun dealer with no license, no background check, no training, and then mugs Suzy homemaker on her way home from the gun shop that turned her away :)~ Not saying it think it's all that comon for you and me, but I wouldn't be suprised if that happenned at least a few times...

I agree on the abortion point too. Although personally I think I'd like to have someone *suggest* the counceling and some further thought on the matter, but never require it. It's a slippery slope. Buying a gun without a "cooling off period" to make sure it's really what you want isn't so bad, but I'm OK with at least suggesting more education about something with far more damaging consequences like an abortion. Honestly, I would hope most people go in to get one after having given it a LOT of thought. But then again I sometimes wonder if a good amount of people who think that kind of thing through often don't have pregnancies they want to end in the first place... I might also just watch too much Law n Order where everyone is irresponsible :p

Nicole Hewitt said...

Okay - not offended, but I'm going to present an opposing viewpoint. Your point would be 100% valid if we were really talking about just a simple "medical procedure," but abortion is not the same as having your gallbladder removed. In five to ten years time, you're not still going to be thinking about that gallbladder and whether or not you made the right choice - you're not going to spend time thinking about what that gallbladder could have become or wish that maybe you had taken the time to find out more about your options at a time when a quick emotional decision was easier to make. Later in life, you're never going to be trying desperately for another gallbladder and have to wonder about the one you gave up years earlier. I've known women who have had abortions and they didn't just do it and forget about it. Three days to think about whether or not you are sure you want to end a life doesn't seem so bad to me. (Yep - I said it - a life. I could write another two pages about that, but this isn't my blog). Making sure that every woman is presented with options in a sensitive way and has fully thought out what she's doing doesn't seem bad at all. That's my opinion.
(By the way, I'm not keen on guns either). :-)

Heather A said...

Nicole, I actually agree with everything you said. I think that three days to think about what you're doing isn't a bad idea at all. My problem is that I think the law is CLAIMING to be about giving women time to think about their decision while ACTUALLY aiming to make it more difficult to make a choice that the backers of the law disagree with. The law could have allowed women to speak to a doctor on the phone for an hour and then required that they wait three days before making their appointment. It didn't. Many women will now have to drive hours, speak to a doctor, go home, drive hours, speak to someone who is trying desperately to get the woman to change her mind, go home, drive hours again to have the procedure. This means that the state is putting roadblocks in the way of poor women who don't have the means of jumping through those hoops. So give women more information and time to think about what they're doing: I agree. But that's not what this law was designed to do.

In reality, my positions on both guns and abortion are constantly shifting as I see different points of view. Was very pro-life in HS. Very pro-choice in college. I'm still pro-choice, but admit that it's hard for me to decide where the cutoff date should be. 8 weeks, IMHO, is not a person. Embryos can become people, but they just aren't people yet. 20 weeks, that's a little more troubling for me.

Guns, well, I used to think we needed much stiffer gun laws. I'm from a suburban area where guns are pretty much for recreation or for crime. Then started visiting the in-laws in the country, who literally would have to wait 15 minutes if they called 911. So just for the safety of the family, having a gun in the house is just common sense.

It's funny how I can have such strong reactions to topics that I'm still so very grey on. I guess it's the fact that on both of these topics, people really can't come together and find common ground, which I think could even exist on these topics. We're all just too eager to demonize the other side.

OK, that's practically a whole 'nother blog post. I'll stop rambling now.

Nicole said...

I've wavered somewhat on my viewpoints as well. I don't feel incredibly strongly about gun control, but I do tend to wonder how often the help vs. hurt.

As far as abortion goes, in HS I was definitely pro-choice, but I didn't have a whole lot of life experience to base it on - it was more of an idealogical viewpoint. I had a miscarriage at 11 weeks. The baby actually didn't develop past about 8 weeks or so, but I mourned the loss of a baby, not a mass of cells. When I was pregnant, no one asked me about how my fetus was developing - it was a baby - the only time we don't want to consider a fetus a baby is when the mother would prefer not to be pregnant. And the people that I know of who had abortions had them early on in the pregnancy, but they will still tell you that they are affected by it to this day. Okay, I wasn't going to rant about that, I'll get back on topic. :-)

As far as the convenience factor goes, I would look at it in the other direction. Why, in most cases, do we make it so EASY to have an abortion. This is one of the only medical procedures where someone can walk in and say "I want to have this done" and then immediately have it done. Why? Because the right to an abortion is SO important that we have to make sure that the woman can do it right NOW and that she is not inconvenienced in the process - because we don't want to have to make that woman think too hard about what she's doing and suffer in the process. No one is outraged by the "poor woman" who has to drive two hours to see a doctor about her gallbladder and then wait on the hospital's convenience to have the surgery scheduled and drive two hours back on the day of the surgery and then possibly drive two hours back again sometime post-op. We might sympathize with her and think it's a shame, but we wouldn't be outraged at the hospital's lack of convenience. It's a medical procedure - that's the way things work. But at some point, we decided that abortion was way too important for that sort of nonsense, so we made sure that it could be done with easy one-stop shopping.

Okay, so I got a little dramatic there - and I honestly don't want to demonize the other side. I think that having people think about the choice of abortion for a little bit longer and even being spoken to by someone who would hope that they would choose another way (as long as they're doing it in a compassionate way) are not bad things. Would it be better to have an option to do it all over the phone? Maybe. But, am I outraged that we're making abortion a little bit harder. Honestly, not really.
(P.S. - I remember you saying in one of your posts that you like debating moral and political issues, so hopefully you don't mind me doing so here. :-)

OakParkGirl said...

Know what the best part is? We're agreeing to mostly agree, and disagree on points, and not calling eachother insensitive whores or claiming the other has no vagina. THIS is why I like deabting with women and not men. I know men don't MEAN the horrible things they say, but WOW does it get loud, and ugly :)

I imagine we could have this talk over wine at Heather's house and walk away friends. Maybe we should some time...

Also, on the gun front, my brother and I are delivering a gun to my mother on Mother's Day. It can take up to 25 minutes to get an ambulance or cop to her area, and now that my dad has passed she doesn't feel safe. I think a good alarm system is ideal, but she'll never remember to arm it. She's been to several gun safety classes and can hold her own, but I still don't like that woman having a gun... But it's certainly her right. She's just a spaz and is likely to shoot herself in the foot. Heather back me up ON THIS... :)

Heather A said...

First, I absolutely reaffirm that I love a good debate, including this one. I would host a "hot topics discussion group" at my house if I thought anyone would come. Guns, abortion, religion, politics, health care. Civilized discussion only. Oh what fun! Instead it's just me and my husband, and he usually agrees with me.

Second, I don't think it should be too easy to get an abortion, but I also think that most women do seriously think about it before they just walk in and have it done. I don't think they're walking down the street and decide to pop in for an abortion. But I'd agree that many women may feel rushed to make a decision before it's too late. Or feel stressed out about a situation that they didn't plan to be in, but could be life altering. So doctors, I think, have a duty to make sure their patients have considered the repercussions of their decision. I think they'd do the same thing if a patient were having a limb amputated. But I do think that most doctors are already doing this.

Finally, I would disagree about when we have the debate about what's a baby and what's not. I think I have a whole blog post on the subject. Let me think on it a bit more.

Tim said...

"I know men don't MEAN the horrible things they say, but WOW does it get loud, and ugly"

I mean all the horrible things I say. ;) And now I feel compelled to throw in my manly 2 cents.

Guns - I believe: rational criminals usually only shoot other criminals; gun owners are more likely to shoot themselves or their kids than to defend themselves; the second amendment wasn't talking about bazookas; and it's the crazy people you gotta really worry about.

Abortion - It irks me that the anti-choice crowd focuses on preventing the procedure rather than preventing the problem. It irks me more when they block stem cell research valuing clumps of cells above sick adults. Where Heather's parable breaks down is that we don't have a clearly declared right to medical treatment let alone abortion as the Roe v. Wade judicial argument seems tenuous.

If we had a more sensible society we could come to terms with these issues, make pragmatic public policy concessions restricting rights for public health and safety while still allowing people to make their own choices.

rubyspikes said...

First, let me clarify a couple things about my position on guns:

I don't really have very strong opinions on gun rights. I used to. I don't any more. I do think that we could find some meaningful and sensible gun laws and I get a little frustrated that the NRA seeks to prevent ANY gun legislation that might impinge in any small way on gun owners complete and unfettered freedoms. I believe the constitution says government can't prevent you from owning guns. It doesn't say that the state can't prevent you from buying 200 of the same gun in a single day even though you're claiming that they're all for you and you're not going to resell them to criminals, even though you are. We really can't agree on some sort of law that will prevent straw buyers for gang bangers?

Anyway, I used the analogy because it's just one of those things that many conservatives get very passionate about and are very upset when governments put roadblocks in the way of lawful citizens buying guns. But a lot of those same conservatives have no problem putting roadblocks in the way of adult women who choose to have an abortion.

In general, I understand the idea behind a waiting period and making sure women have sufficient information before making what is a very big decision. When I was pregnant with my 2nd child, I started talking to my OB during my 3rd trimester about a tubal ligation in the event that I had an unplanned c-section. I knew that if I waited until labor day that she probably wasn't going to do it without knowing that I'd not decided to have the procedure in the last couple hours of labor. But I think that doctors are usually pretty good about making sure that their patients have given significant thought to life changing procedures. Also, I'd have been outraged if in order to have my tubes tied, I'd been required to go talk to a Catholic priest who wanted to council me about how what I was doing what immoral. Sorry, not the government's job to council me on morality.

The thing about the SD law is that we all know that the intent is not to help women who might not be briefed on all their options. The intent is to make it harder for women to make this particular choice because a lot of people in SD believe that the choice itself is immoral.

"It irks me that the anti-choice crowd focuses on preventing the procedure rather than preventing the problem. It irks me more when they block stem cell research valuing clumps of cells above sick adults."

I couldn't agree more with this statement. We are so worried about "condoning" immoral sexual activity that we don't give people the tools and education to prevent the unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Condoms work people. Planned Parenthood does so much more to prevent unwanted pregnancies than they do to end unwanted pregnancies, but since they do the latter they are vilified. In the big picture, I would imagine Planned Parenthood prevents more abortions than the facilitate because they help to prevent so many unwanted pregnancies.

And the stem cells, well, I try to see the other side on this one, but I do struggle. 32 cells with human DNA are no more people (to me) than a strand of hair is a person. And for people to be so adamant about preventing embryonic stem cell research which could do so much good, while not simultaneously decrying the regular disposal of unused fertility embryos is lunacy to me.

How about this as an abortion preventative: Government will pay for IUD for every woman in the country who wants one. 99% effective. 100% reversible. Good for at least 5 years. We could prevent unwanted pregnancies at unprecedented levels in this country and boost the American copper industry to boot. It's a win-win. Probably a bit pricey, but I'm sure the government could work out a nice price for buying in bulk.

OakParkGirl said...

"Government will pay for IUD for every woman in the country" -ACK!! Only if I have an option to do the Nuvaring too. I know it's safe and not normally painful but the concept gives me the heebie jeebies. Looks like a torture device! :)


"Guns - I believe: rational criminals usually only shoot other criminals"
Wait, RATIONAL criminals? That was a joke right? I live near the city, innocent bystanders get shot all the times by criminals, and MOST criminals around here are not rational. In my opinion, if they were rational they'd get a freakin job :) I know a few people with guns at home, they are all responsible, well-trained and I am 100% confident will never shoot themselves in the foot. My mom, that's another story...that scares the hell out of me. I'm encouraging her to get a security system.

I fear the horse has left the barn on gun law. Noone buying guns to commit crime are doing it lawfully so only law-abiding citizens are restricted by those laws.

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