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home : opinions : columns   May 24, 2016

11/12/2013 9:40:00 AM
Column: What if?

Tamara Abbey
Mendota Bureau Chief

A long time ago, some moron was tailgating my car to the point of practically pushing us. The driver suddenly passed then swooped in front and hit the brakes.

My husband at the time hit his brakes and our children went flying around the back seat, ricocheting off the front seats.

What if he hadn’t been watching the moron behind us? What if he hadn’t taken the right evasive maneuvers? What if one of the kids had gone through the windshield?

I wasn’t always the most adventurous mom before, but that incident in the days before mandatory seatbelts and child restraint systems made me grateful I wasn’t saying “if only.” Now I’m the one who slows down at unmarked intersections. I’m the one that wants to make sure the oncoming vehicle really is turning and didn’t forget to flip the turn signal from the last turn.

Just as we all became accustomed to evolving rules of the road, why can’t we evolve on guns? Perhaps the attitude of “gun control” is what’s wrong with the arguments for responsible gun ownership. I’ve heard all the Second Amendment arguments for unrestricted, unfettered access to guns with unlimited magazines that can do untold damage in our schools, malls, theaters and other public places. They also kill in our homes whether an accidental shooting or a domestic situation gone horribly wrong.

What if guns were regulated like vehicles? What if gun owners needed a license, insurance and the possibility of heavy fines if they were irresponsible?

As NT writer Tom Collins noted last week, driving under the influence laws have been strengthened over the years and DUI arrests are down.

Laws governing vehicle use hasn’t stopped all risky behavior and any laws governing guns won’t stop all the gun deaths either. But, what if we could reduce those numbers too?

Yes, I know, guns don’t kill people, people do. But if people had only a few bullets, then perhaps we wouldn’t be dreading the one-year anniversary of a day when it took only minutes to mow down 20 children and six adults.

I’m not against guns but I don’t particularly like them either. As a child I once tried plinking some cans with a BB gun at my cousin’s farm. I proved that I could indeed hit the broad side of a barn.

Except I wasn’t aiming at the barn.

Years later I tried skeet shooting. Since there were no barns in sight, I didn’t hit a thing.
Even though I don’t enjoy guns, I can appreciate their function. My current husband used to hunt and those venison steaks were delicious. But what purpose do assault rifles really serve?

I would never advocate for the elimination of guns any more than I would advocate for the elimination of vehicles after horrific traffic fatalities caused by impaired drivers.

But I do believe we can take a page from other developed countries and pursue a more sensible approach to gun ownership that does not trample any civil rights.

Some gun enthusiasts don’t believe that’s possible. They point at the number of homicides in Chicago as an example since that city has relatively strict gun regulations.

But what stops people from leaving the city or county? I had a neighbor who gleefully planned an annual excursion to Indiana to buy the fireworks that aren’t legal in Illinois. She had it all planned out as to when to go and what roads to take to avoid detection by Illinois law enforcement as she smuggled her contraband across the state line.

Without a more cohesive approach, the same is happening with guns.

When vehicle insurance was required, there was no uproar. Does anyone question the routine of buying a license plate sticker or renewing a driver’s license?

What if guns and gun owners were licensed and insured? Would that really infringe on our rights? It probably wouldn’t stop the willful massacre of children, but would it make a homeowner or neighborhood watch volunteer a little more thoughtful before drawing a loaded weapon?

Tamara Abbey can be reached at (815) 539-5200 or

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Article comment by: Anonymous95970

Illinois gun owners are licensed, magazines are easier to carry than a cop, and I guess I should get my silverware insured because I might stab my hand, also way to throw George Zimmerman in there, he was found innocent.

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