Luskin: Life In A Bunker

Mar 5, 2018

When I taught writing in Vermont prisons, I had to leave everything but my keys and teaching materials in my car.

I then had to hand over my keys and pass through a metal detector and a sally port before arriving at my classroom. The white cinderblock room mirrored the blank page, and the students filled it with their stories.

A few years later, I visited my local elementary school and was shocked to find the front door locked. But I read the small print, rang the bell, and the administrative assistant buzzed me in. Inside the school hallways were filled with colorful student art; the classrooms with enthusiastic young learners. I forgot about the locked door until a child needed to use the restroom while we were outside studying garden soil. And the teacher had to walk the student to the building’s back door and unlock it.

I thought it was unbearably sad that these school children were subjected to locked doors not so very different from those I had found in prison. Guns, not children, should be locked up.

I don’t think we need to ban civilian ownership of guns in the United States. But I do think we need laws promoting public safety much the same way we have laws governing the ownership and use of motor vehicles. In my life, I’ve both inherited a car and bought one in a private sale. I had to register both with the state. And I needed both a valid driver’s license and state mandated insurance. So I think it points to a gaping hole in our public safety net that I could inherit a rifle and buy another in a private sale, without having to register or insure them - or even demonstrate my ability to handle a firearm.

I don’t know if civilians are allowed to own military combat vehicles, but I’m pretty sure registration with the department of motor vehicles would be required if they did.

Personally, I think all military weaponry should be reserved for the military. And I think it should be possible to establish reasonable licensing standards for gun ownership and registration of non-military guns while preserving our right to bear arms.

Then we could lock up our guns, like we lock up our cars, and let our kids run free.