I can’t help but notice inconsistencies in government response to different threats to public safety. Sometimes it decides the best response is to do nothing, and at other times it creates dystopian legislation like the Patriot Act. The responses rarely seem proportional to the risk.
Airport security is the most willing to add restrictions and steps to prevent wildly improbable threats like bombs in shoes and underwear. The indignity and medical risks of body scanners and pat downs were accepted for the perception of security.
Public cigarette smoking has been greatly curtailed with the help of smoke free legislation. When I was a young waitress, we smoked inside on our breaks. Now I can’t really imagine that being permitted. We learned that’s smoker could harm the health of others, so we reduced their opportunities to do so.
We’ve also learned the risks of peanuts for those with allergies. The sack lunch classic of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich became a banned item on school grounds, because one child’s lunch could cause the child seated next to them to have an allergic reaction.
Now in each of these cases, there was resistance. Some politicians and lots of fliers complained about “security theater” that makes flying unpleasant without actually increasing passenger safety. I myself kicked and screamed about no longer being allowed to smoke everywhere, no longer being free to inflict cancer on others. Parents of non allergic children have wailed and gnashed their teeth in response to the peanut ban. But the new rules passed all the same.
So why not guns? What’s so special about guns that we should ignore the threat to public safety and still allow people to walk around with them? I’m not even allowed to carry a cigarette lighter on an airplane, but people in my adopted state of Colorado are allowed to walk down the street carrying rifles and handguns. It was illegal for me to carry a knife for self defense as a girl in Florida, but the adults who might attack me were granted guns to aid their efforts.
Guns are a threat to public safety, like cigarettes and peanuts. But we actually limited cigarettes and peanuts to address this threat. When are we going to address guns in public?