Equalizers Don't Make Us More Peaceful

I was sitting at Avo's talking with my lawyer friend, Sue Forebucks, when Seymour Sharpe swaggered over sporting an odd bulge in his jeans. Sue asked, in a voice somewhat reminiscent of Mae West, "Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"

"It's actually a .9mm Beretta Mini Cougar," he said gruffly as he eased his way into the booth.

"Better be careful," I said. "There was a security guard who shot himself in the leg while trying to adjust his holster as he was driving. You could end up accidentally neutered."

"I've had all my training so I'm safe," said Seymour. "I paid my $138 and now I have an official permit to carry a concealed weapon." He sneered at us.

"Well you sure didn't make my day," said Sue. "I don't think having a bunch of yahoos carrying guns around is going to make the streets any safer."

"I'm not so sure," I said. "In the old West, a gun was called an Equalizer because it made a mild, puny man such as Seymour able to kill a large, obnoxious one. But if only one person has a gun, say in a crowd of people at the Lincoln Center or at a McDonald's full of kids, he can kill until he runs out of ammo. If there are other armed people in the crowd, then one of them could take him out."

"So you think having a bunch of weapons on the street is a good thing?" she asked.

"Not necessarily," I said. "But I suspect there are already lots of weapons on the streets of Larimer County. Having a few more guns carried around by people willing to be fingerprinted and registered with the Sheriff's department doesn't bother me that much. What scares me is if my kids go over to someone's house and their friends pull out Daddy's gun."

"There's no excuse for not being a responsible parent," said Seymour, "but this piece is always with me, never at home where kids could get it. Just one more benefit of the concealed weapons law." Someone walked behind him. He whirled around and reached for his groin then realized it was just another diner carrying a tempeh burger. He turned back to Sue. "Guns don't kill. People do."

"Actually, that's not quite true," I said. "The phrase should be: Guns don't kill. Bullets do."

"I never thought of it that way," said Sue. "You know, if we made a tax of say $10/bullet, then people with those 1200 rounds/minute assault weapons couldn't afford to spray lead indiscriminately. And that would force the NRA to quit whining about the rights of gun collectors. People could still buy any kind of gun they wanted. They just couldn't shoot them. And it wouldn't be a big burden on a good hunter, one who prides himself on taking no wasted shots and bringing down an animal with a single bullet. This may be worth pursuing." She pulled out a legal pad and wrote down a few notes.

"Then you'd just end up with a black market in bullets," I said.

"That's okay," she said. "They'd still be expensive because of the hassle of dealing with felons and moving merchandise and all that."

"But then people wouldn't be able to have decent training at shooting ranges," said Seymour. "That would create more danger."

Sue thought for a minute. "You could have licensed firing ranges selling ammo. Anything used on the premises wouldn't be taxed. I'm liking this idea better and better."

"Just make sure I can get bullets for my Peacemaker," said Seymour.

"Wrong name," I said. "Carrying a gun hasn't made you more peaceful. Look how nervous you are." Something popped in the kitchen, probably a baked potato, so Seymour ran in before he could answer.