Questions on GUN CONTROL, an essay by Carl E. Smith
Carl E. Smith was born May 19, 1899. A World War I veteran who served on the German front lines and later served as a German interpreter after the Armistice and Avid outdoorsman, Mr Smith headed a group which developed the American Breed Basset Hound. He raised and sold Basset Hounds internationally. In 1983, Mr. Smith was named Poet Laureate of the State of Ohio for 1983 as well as being awarded the rank of Kentucky Colonel. In 1984, three years after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan and years of debate on the need for federal GUN CONTROL, Mr. Smith wrote an essay on the subject from his unique perspective as a veteran, a hunter, a witness to the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition , as well as nearly the entire 20th Century in America. Here, in its entirety is that essay, as appropriate today as it was 30 years ago.
I am a 95-1/2 year old former teacher, hunter, writer, speaker with 85 years experience with guns, over 5 states, and with many gun users and abusers. I can tell you that nobody would like, any more than I to see GUN CONTROL, if we could actually get it. But when we get down to actually GETTING IT, some unanswerable, as well as answerable questions present themselves.
- In the first place, would we not have to amend the Constitution of the United States which vouchsafes freedom to bear arms? If we had gun control at Lexington and Concord, could we have won the Revolution?
- The naive of course say “Oh, just pass a law requiring criminals to give up their guns.” Does anybody think the criminal would just come and hand over his guns, like a good little boy? Does he obey the laws now? How make him? Would not the attempt to do so require an army so big we couldn’t afford it, and one that couldn’t work? How find them? Wouldn’t it just disarm the law abiding man who would obey the law, in favor of the criminal who would not? What about the matter of search warrants for everybody’s houses, to hunt for guns?
- Did Prohibition work? Wouldn’t clandestine gun shops appear, like the stills did, in Prohibition, easier to conceal, and without the betraying smell of mash that accompanied the Prohibition distillery? Isn’t the sale of a gun more profitable than the sale of a bottle of liquor? & so on.
- Where do you think all these stolen gun collections went? Didn’t they just disappear into the underworld, available to criminals? If we haven’t been able to control the underworld before, who thinks we can now?
- Even if we could get a half way sort of bit if gun control, couldn’t the criminal MAKE HIS OWN GUN, even if you closed every gun factory in the country? Is the art of hand made and hand making guns entirely lost? Wouldn’t it be revived? And wouldn’t the criminal with his home made gun, have the drop on the law abiding man deprived of his protective gun?
- And even if we could get a measure of part way gun control IN OUR LAND, what about smuggling in guns by the thousands, from other nations? Have we been able to stop smuggling other things, from people to dope? Who can think we could prevent smuggling in things as profitable as guns? Wouldn’t surrounding nations profit big by the business of smuggling guns into the U.S.A.?
- How really have gun control unless you can control every person, every hour of the day, everywhere, in and out of his own home. Figure that?
- So, “They say the majority of citizens are in favor of GUN CONTROL?” Well, most of us, if suddenly asked that question, would say, “Yes, I’m in favor of gun control.” But that is on the major premise that THERRE COULD BE GUN CONTROL, would it not? Impossibility changes the picture, does it not?
- So we ought to get rid of guns because guns kill people? Don’t autos kill a lot MORE people? Do we hear sob sisters crying for getting rid of autos because autos kill people? Get rid of knives because people get stabbed?
- So we can’t do anything about gun control? Why not make an OUTLAW out of every criminal who USES a gun in committing a crime? Have we not been leaning over backwards about the dear criminal’s rights, while neglecting to think of the VICTIM’S RIGHTS? Why not take away the criminal’s usual extensive rights IF he uses a gun to commit a crime? Can’t that be done? How else, as we’ve shown above, can we exercise gun control without the attempts operating more against the law abiding citizen, and working mostly in favor of the criminal? Why not deal in hard facts, rather than in sentiment? Wouldn’t we ALL like to see sensible gun control, if it could be? But shouldn’t we guard against “jumping from the frying pan into the fire?” Is it not better to avoid a mistake and impossibility, rather than to have to try to undo a mistake, after it has been made, as was the case in “Prohibition”?