The Slip 'N Slide.
The "Gun Fighter" toy cork gun.
The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab.
All these things have one thing in common -- they were banned by the US government because they felt the general public was too goddamn stupid to be trusted with them.
In many respects, the US government was right on the money. The Slip 'N Slide was for kids -- adults would jump on it forgetting about mass and momentum and go careening into injury. Absinthe is...well, absinthe (absinthe with a tiny bit of wormwood is legal, but my understanding is wormwood is what makes absinthe absinthe). Buckyballs were a choking hazard, as were the Kinder Eggs. Four Loko was banned because it was feared the flavoring would encourage alcoholism in kids. Sassafras oil and flavored cigarettes increased cancer risks. Lawn darts were just Weapons Of Mass Destruction Starter Sets (I was one of the kids who played the game correctly -- you threw the dart straight up in the air as hard as you could to see what kind of height you got, then ran like hell when gravity took over). The "Gun Fighter" was remarkably easy to modify into a miniature sawed-off shotgun. The Atomic Energy Lab actually came with a Geiger counter and real radioactive isotopes.
I'm thinking about this because of the debate raging over gun control. People seeking to hold on to their weapons are becoming zealots to the Second Amendment, complete with one guy shouting down a parent whose child was killed at Sandy Hook. It has been pointed out that many of the proposals would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy -- after all, the shooter didn't have the guns, his mom did, and he stole them. And since Sandy Hook, there have been numerous other instances of shooters out there, or people just plain nuts and armed (the Alabama incident currently going down).
The controversy getting the most ink is the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment. I believe responsible people should be allowed to own guns.
And that is why I'm wondering if I should support the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines -- responsible people should be allowed to own guns, and there aren't any responsible people owning them.
A lot of people, when it comes to guns and gun safes, like to trot out the "home invasion" angle, that if someone breaks into the house, they don't have time to enter the combination or key, load up the gun, and take care of business. I can accept that for handguns. But these aren't handguns we are talking about. No one defends their home with a loaded AK-47 unless they live in Beirut, not even in the inner city. Simply put, there is no excuse to not keep assault weapons in a gun safe if you are going to have them. This is a lack of responsibility on the part of the owners.
We live in an era where privileges have become rights. The phrase "adult freedoms" is no longer granted to people who understand the risks to themselves and others (drinking, sex, driving) but people who are simply chronological adults. As a result, there are always people who fuck it up for the rest of us. Sorry, no lawn darts for you, Peter, too many morons who can't be trusted.
I like to say that America is a land of mutually agreed upon laws -- they are set up so we can do what we wish without infringing on others doing what they wish. And yet, that entails keeping yourself within the limits as well. And with the recent proliferation of shooting crimes, it's clear that we the people can't be trusted with high powered weapons.
If someone breaks into your yard and drowns in your swimming pool, you are responsible for their death because the pool is legally considered an "attractive nuisance," meaning it inspires people to do wrong by dint of its existence, and if you don't mitigate the risk somehow, you are at fault. The gun advocates currently freaking out over the proposed laws are trying to keep things as they are and offering no compromise to help reduce the risk to others. I'm not expecting anything that will completely irradicate gun violence, but when all you have to do to become a killing machine is walk into the next room, that is irresponsible, that is lazy, that is WRONG.
So, I'm debating if assault weapons and high capacity clips should join the list of things the general public is too goddamn stupid to be allowed to have.
And things do not look good for the opposition to a ban.