I ran past a guy on Saturday morning, sitting on a stoop out in front of a closed business. He was smoking a cigarette, and a few thoughts came to mind: What is that doing to his lungs at nine thirty in the morning? I wonder if he notices that most people, including myself, passing by are not smoking. Is it okay for me to just run on past without stopping to try and stop this fellow from committing slow suicide?
Then it came clear to me: There was a time, not so very long ago, when the streets were crowded with smokers. Restaurants, bookstores and even airplanes, same thing. Then some very brave people decided that public health was more important than RJ Reynolds' bottom line. There have been a couple generations that have grown up with "no smoking" as a norm. That doesn't mean there are no cigarettes. Nor does it mean that RJ Reynolds has gone out of business. In a fit of corporate pique, they bought Nabisco so that even if people stopped smoking, they could still sell them Oreos.
Here's the turn: Gun violence is a public health issue. If everyone was a "law-abiding gun owner," this wouldn't be an issue. The problem is that second hand smoke can kill, but ricochets aren't exactly "second hand bullets." Interestingly, it has been illegal for quite some time to carry a gun on an airplane, but it is only recently that nuts have campaigned to make it legal to carry a gun into restaurants and book stores. It would seem that we are headed in the wrong direction.
It's time to try and tape the lid back on Pandora's box. More guns have not turned out to be the solution. The focus continues to be on the rights of those with guns, rather than those without. If you want to smoke in the comfort and safety of your own home, go ahead an light up. If you're under eighteen and want to buy a pack of Marlboros, you're out of luck. If you're over eighteen, you're going to at least have to make a point to overlook those labels that remind you that using this product will make you and possibly those around you die. The Surgeon General would probably tell you, if you asked, that guns cause death and more death. It would be great to think that guns could be monitored with anything approaching the kind of attention that cigarettes get.
That guy on the street? He might live a long an productive life, but it's a certainty that he would live longer without the cigarettes. Just like he will probably live longer away from guns. Now if we could just get Smith and Wesson to diversify into frozen yogurt. This works for me because I don't like yogurt either.