It’s a melancholy experience for those who read or watch the news to be confronted, seemingly every day, with tales of innocent men, women and children gunned down in schools, malls and workplaces.
I think it’s agreed by all parties that the prodigious number of mass shootings and other violent crimes is deplorable and must be rectified. Thus, whoever could find a fair, easy and effective method of better protecting the citizens of this country would deserve to have a statue raised in her honor for having saved the nation.
Therefore, I shall now humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope you won’t find objectionable.
Liberals would have you believe the answer to our sad state of affairs is stricter gun control and fewer guns on the streets.
I believe what’s needed is more guns in the hands of good, honest U.S. citizens.
Of course, we’ve already heard that suggestion from the National Rifle Association, but why not go further? Simply loosening the current strict restrictions on gun ownership and use isn’t enough.
People should not just be allowed to carry firearms everywhere—they should be required to do so.
Here’s my Modest Proposal: When all citizens turn 18, they should be required to take a basic weapons class on the safe use of firearms and then issued their first weapon—ideally something simple to use, such as a 9mm handgun. From that day forth, they should be required to carry that weapon on them at all times.
The weapons certification class won’t need to be very intensive. Guns are straightforward and simple to use. Even a child can figure out how to shoot a gun without any training at all. In fact, children as young as two and three years old have proven quite adept as using firearms.
Some of you might think this plan goes too far. But think again.
First, the mandatory arming of citizens en masse will help prevent violent crimes or at least minimize the damage. Criminals and terrorists will be less likely to attack if they know their potential victims will be armed and ready to fight back.
After all, considering that the NRA and its partisans believe that position to be true, why not take it to its logical conclusion?
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, as of July 1, 2015, there were 247,773,709 individuals over the age of 18 in the U.S. If just half of these adults were authorized and required to carry firearms, there would be over 100 million protectors of the realm on our streets.
Don’t you already feel safer, just contemplating the prospect?
Even with the current relatively small number of armed citizens, there have been documented cases of average Joes armed with guns coming to the rescue and stopping criminals in their tracks.
For example, in March 2015, a man with a legal gun permit probably saved lives when he shot and killed a gunman inside a Philadelphia barbershop. The gunman had begun shooting at customers and employees after an argument escalated. At the time, there were children in the shop.
Our hero was outside when he heard the gunfire and ran into harm’s way. He took out his own weapon and fatally shot the gunman once in the chest.
No one else was hurt in that incident. Sure, the Left will argue that having citizens act as “vigilantes” without intense training in handling active shooter and similar situations will result in innocent bystanders getting shot.
However, the fact is that well-trained cops and federal agents also shoot bystanders, so that argument shouldn’t be a deterrent to my proposal.
Second, mandatory gun ownership will prevent not only mass shootings and violent crimes but also minor offenses.
For example, a brave woman with a concealed gun permit fired on a shoplifter fleeing a Home Depot in Michigan. Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez didn’t successfully stop the thief.
But at least she tried.
However, instead of being honored, Duva-Rodriguez was treated just like the common criminal she was trying to stop and charged with the misdemeanor of reckless use of a firearm. She pleaded no contest; the court sentenced her to probation and revoked her gun permit.
It’s hard to find fault with her response to the whole experience: She vowed to “never help anybody again.”
My modest proposal will ensure that the mindset that produces heroes like Duva-Rodriguez is nurtured—not condemned by soft-minded and elitist Liberals who’ve never seen the inside of a Home Depot.
When you think about it, we’re almost there. Open carry is already allowed in 45 states. Let’s make it the law of the land and prove that those folks who follow “New York values” (to paraphrase one of our current GOP candidates) are a minority— even, well, in New York. Surely, if potential criminals and terrorists see firearms on the hips of possible victims, they’ll get the message that whatever heinous act they’re considering isn’t likely to turn out as planned.
Ignore those academics who suggest there’s no supporting data. They don’t shop at Home Depot.
And to be logical, there’s no reason to ban firearms in “soft” targets, such as malls, schools and hospitals. Is there a possibility that innocents might perish during a shoot-out between a gunman and a law-abiding citizen or citizens? Well, maybe. But it seems to me that gun-free zones place even more innocents in danger.
I’m certainly not the first person to make this observation.
Republican congressman Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas responded to the tragic incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School by calling for more citizens to be armed. Referring to Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed while lunging at the shooter, he wisely observed, “I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office.”
To those who suggest that arming teachers, principals, security guards and others in schools increases the risk that children could get access to these weapons and inadvertently hurt themselves or others, I offer another modest proposal.
Let’s arm the kids.
The NRA’s highly effective Eddie Eagle gun safety program could be incorporated into elementary school curriculums, along with reading, math and computer skills. Don’t we want our children to learn how to defend themselves in our dangerous world?
And even if arming everyone doesn’t prevent violent or other crimes to a measurable degree, it will, at a minimum, level the playing field when criminals do attack.
Muggers, killers, rapists and the like will no longer be able to pull a gun or knife on an innocent victim with little fear of facing a weapon themselves. When men and women are able to effectively protect themselves and their loved ones, it will at least be a fair fight.
We shouldn’t have to rely on our overburdened police for protection.
I know that anti-gun fanatics argue that increased gun ownership will result in an increase in the use of firearms in domestic violence situations, and in more gun-related suicides. But no plan is perfect.
Bottom line: For every armed criminal, we need an armed citizen.
My proposal will benefit the economy. Increased gun sales will help our impoverished gun dealers and gun manufacturers, and a national gun plan will mean the industry’s leaders won’t have to keep moving their headquarters from states where they feel unwelcome.
Yes, the government would need to supply 18-year-olds with their first guns, much like it does for members of the military and law enforcement. (How will the government pay for these guns? By eliminating the excessive and completely unnecessary background checks currently required for gun ownership.)
But once citizens get a taste of the pleasures of gun ownership and gun use, I expect that many will want to expand their collections and buy even more guns, maybe venturing beyond a simple handgun to include machine guns and other assault weapons.The economy will also benefit if armed citizens shoot and kill criminals in the middle of committing their crimes, thus eliminating the costs of arresting, jailing and prosecuting them. Everyone agrees that our justice system is already under strain. So my proposal would reduce the burden on our courts and cut our prison populations.
Does anyone have a better and more effective idea to remove the scourge of gun violence from our society? I imagine there are some who might say my Modest Proposal would only create more gun violence. But as I noted above, even a casual glance at the legislation approved by cities and states across the country shows we’re already quite far along the road I’m mapping out.
I profess, with all sincerity, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than protecting the lives of my country’s law-abiding citizens. I would be content with a small statue in recognition of my efforts—or at least a presidential award.
And just to be perfectly clear, any resemblance of my concept to Jonathan Swift’s iconic 18th-century “Modest Proposal” is, well, perfectly intentional.
Robin L. Barton, a legal journalist based in Brooklyn, NY, is a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a regular blogger for The Crime Report. She welcomes readers’ comments.