Saturday, December 15, 2012

Civilization -- a Sadurday reprise

(This post appeared in March 2011.)

I must have some rare genetic mutation. Why am I the only person in America who doesn't want a gun?

OK, maybe not the only one. But sometimes it seems like it. Last week's New York Time Magazine had a one-page display of "purse pistols," small, deadly handguns specifically designed to appeal to the ladies. How about a cute little Taurus 738 TCP? It comes in pink and black. Or a Charter Arms Cougar Undercover Lite, also in pink and black, with a rubber grip to ease recoil, made to "complete your self-defense wardrobe"? Or the Casull's Improvement Freedom Arms .22, a tiny five-shot elegantly engraved by jeweler Paul Lantuch? Or the adorable North American Mini .22, with a sky-blue grip?

Kill in self-defense if you must. But do you have to do it with a fashion accessory?

The NRA tells us that "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." Sounds to me like the recipe for a civilized society. I would rather live in a society where only outlaws (and the police) have guns than in a society where every purse, briefcase and bookbag conceals a weapon.

The murder rate in the pistol-packing U. S. is three times higher than Canada, four times higher than Ireland, and eight time higher than Norway. My guess is that the "outlaws" don't do as much of the killing as loony ordinary folks who can purchase a 33-round Glock with hardly a hitch. With a little ingenuity I can pretty much stay out of the way of hardened criminals, but steering clear of the aggrieved teenager who can find a gun in the drawer next to his parents' bed is more problematic.

What does this have to do with science? Not much, really, I'm just venting. But I think it may have something to do with genes -- nature red in tooth and claw and all that. Nevermind. I'll be back in Ireland soon and feeling much safer.