Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Muddled Thoughts

I am in the process of reading From Chocolate to Morphine Winifred Rosen and Andrew T. Weil and one thing that struck me was the similarity between guns and drugs. In both cases we have something - in one case a weapon, and in another case a chemical (or chemicals) that can cause harm to people. We have used - for most chemicals - a legal approach that bans most chemicals and targets not only those that commit violence under the influence of these chemicals but also targets those who buy and sell them. In the case of guns I initially thought of the legislative approach as different. Guns are constitutionally allowed (although it is an amendment which suggests even the founders thought adjustments might be necessary). Guns are legal and most of the restrictions surround age, and type. But really it is the same with drugs, certainly there are plenty of legal substances - alcohol and tobacco being the most notable that are allowed and yet restricted.

This is interesting to me because while my grandfather hunted and my mother and brother were on high school rifle teams, I had considered myself - not anti-gun completely - but certainly in favor of serious restrictions on guns for personal use.

Coming up with this parallel has given me a perspective to chew on a bit. After all while I feel many of our laws about drugs focus on the wrong things, I do realize that since the drinking age was raised the number of alcohol related deaths among 18-20 year-olds has decreased. So there is some effect.

This is a timely introspection, although for the most tragic of reasons. The recent spate of school shootings will I imagine bring to the forefront the debate about guns. It is particularly sad that the Amish community, a group that eschews electronics, to say nothing of guns has been affected by this. (This is of course not meant to diminish the sadness that all of these communities are experiencing).

Certainly those who are determined to harm themselves and others will always find a way to succeed. That is a sad fact. But somehow it would hurt more to know that these various people were able to easily access the various weapons they decided to use. Particularly in a day and age where we restrict access to birth control - where often the lack provides more harm and poses the greater risk.