I live in a small development near several tourist destinations in Arizona. There’s absolutely nothing remarkable about the neighborhood other than it is primarily populated by retirees from California and snowbirds from New England and the Midwest. The neighborhood has virtually no crime and has never experienced a home invasion. Despite this, I have to assume the majority of my neighbors are gun owners. Arizona, after all, is a gun-friendly state. Many people come here to get their cowboy on. And it seems that our legislature values guns more than people.
If that sounds crazy, I assure you that it’s not as crazy as some of our laws.
In Arizona, you can carry a gun virtually anywhere…in your car, to the shopping mall, to your church, even to the bar. The state has even made it illegal for cities to destroy guns that have been confiscated from felons or used in crimes. The cities are mandated to sell them.
As a result of our gun-crazy culture, Arizona has more than its share of gun hoarders…those who have convinced themselves that the government and/or the UN is coming to take their guns. There is also a large number of so-called “sovereign citizens”…those who refuse to accept the rule of government.
I have no idea how many of my neighbors fit into these categories, but I do know of two. One is a retired electrical engineer who owned a large collection of handguns, shotguns and assault rifles until he got drunk one afternoon and threatened to kill his wife and himself. The sheriff;s deputies confiscated the weapons and the neighbor is now serving time in prison for that and a variety of senseless crimes associated with his drinking. Another arsenal of handguns and assault weapons belongs to a neighbor whose love of high-powered weaponry is exceeded only by his love of alcohol.
Knowing that a few yards away there is a large arsenal in the possession of such an individual does not make me feel more secure. Neither does knowing that there are dozens more who have guns at the ready. These people are exemplified by a neighbor who was convinced to purchase a handgun by one of his gun-loving paranoid friends. He told me the first time he fired it, the slide nearly amputated his thumb. He’s still uncomfortable with it, but that doesn’t prevent him from keeping the loaded weapon on the nightstand next to his bed. Even more disturbing is the fact that he keeps a round in the chamber, which means he is more likely to accidentally shoot himself or a friend than any potential intruder.
Rather than make our neighborhood more secure, all of these guns make it more dangerous; more likely that there will be an accidental shooting; more likely that the guns will be used in a shootout between neighbors than to shoot an intruder. But most suggested changes for gun control would fail to weed out these people. They all passed background checks. They all supposedly took at least one firearm safety class. Yet they are all armed and dangerous to themselves, their families and their neighbors.
These people clearly demonstrate that the only thing that can reduce the number of nincompoops who own guns is to reduce the number of guns. Period.