My husband remarked recently that it seemed as though there was a mass shooting every week in this country, and I said it was more like every day. Then I saw this article in the Washington Post: “There have been 204 mass shootings – and 204 days – in 2015 so far.”
But this isn’t about me being right and my husband being wrong. It’s about the absurdity of what is highly regulated, and what’s not. When a friend quipped that it would be easier to buy a gun than to get his antibiotics, I started thinking about all the other things for which we need some kind of license, training, permission, or even just societal approval.
Here are 10 examples of things that are more difficult than buying a gun at a gun show (for which you simply need to show up and plunk down the cash):
1. Adopt a pet. Sure, you can buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, but if you want to be responsible and cruelty-free, you’ll go to a shelter that requires fees, licensing, and in some cases, a background check and home visit. An educated, gainfully employed woman I know was heartbroken when she was turned down to be a primary caregiver for a rabbit after her mother mentioned they would need a cage to take their new pet home. Rabbit adoption can be an elaborate process involving a lengthy application, a home inspection both before and after the adoption, and a promise that someone will be available to play with the rabbit 8 hours a day, as well as bunny-proof the apartment.
2. Volunteer as a “cookie mom” in your 6-year-old daughter’s classroom. School districts nationwide are requiring background checks for volunteers.
3. Become a massage therapist. Most states require a state-issued license, which involves hundreds of hours of training.
4. Ride a jet ski. Requires a boating license.
5. Allow your children to play unsupervised in your backyard. CPS was called by neighbors when an 11-year-old boy was allowed to play by himself in the back yard for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, this is not the only case of “Mrs. Kravitz syndrome” in the news lately.
6. Breastfeed in public. Breast milk increases babies’ immune systems and is a powerful source of nutrients. But we make it extremely difficult for a woman to breastfeed outside her own home because of our prurient attitudes about it.
7. Kiss your same sex partner in public. Depending on where you live, this act could cause you a lot of grief, even if you flash your marriage license.
8. Dive into a public pool. As an adult woman in Los Angeles, I have to pass a swimming safety test before I can dive into the deep end of our public pool. It doesn’t require an appointment or a license, but I’m trying to highlight the absurdity so I’m stretching the point with this one.
9. Get a seasonal job as a Macy’s elf. Background check required.
10. And finally…Get antibiotics from a pharmacy. You need a doctor’s prescription. The same is true for the birth control pill, Viagra, and many other common and necessary medications.
Until we stop letting the NRA define our national values, we’re going to live with this senseless loss of lives. If you want things to change, don’t get pulled in by the fantasy of the government taking away your guns—instead, do something about the reality of US citizens murdered every day. Yes, by people. People with guns. A good start would be expanding background checks, something supported by the majority of Americans. Another would be to close the so-called “gun show loophole,” in which background checks aren’t required. But the last time a bill came before Congress in 2013 after the Sandy Hook tragedy, it didn’t pass. So call your representative; raise your voice; exercise your rights. If enough people demand it, maybe the next time a bill comes to the floor it will have a fighting chance of passing. Because shouldn’t it be at least as difficult to buy a gun as it is to adopt a rabbit?
To get involved:
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.