I think we should license and insure all guns and shooters.
We license all kinds of things. Businesses. Motor vehicles — from motorcycles and cars to RVs, airplanes, and boats. We even license trailers. We often say cars don’t kill people, people kill people. But let’s know who is trained and licensed and who isn’t. It would give us more tools to manage the atrocities.
We license ham radios and operators. We license bicycles and dogs. We require permits to operate dangerous activities and machinery. We license pilots and doctors and nurses. We license cranes and people who operate cranes. I’ll bet we’re going to license private astronauts, too.
So let’s license guns and shooters. And make it work either federally or like DMVs so it can be searchable across state lines. Make the shooters demonstrate competency. Make them renewable, for both the gun and the shooter. We often issue licenses and permits only to those who have experience or training. And we make them prove it — through written tests, driving tests, 3rd party certifications. We know how to do this.
We don’t issue permits and licenses to just anybody. And we take those permits away for bad behavior. So background checks matter. For every sale. No loopholes.
And while we’re at it, let’s require insurance. I have to insure my car and have the option of insuring me in any car I drive. I have insurance against uninsured motorists. When I had an RV I had RV insurance. I have health insurance, renters insurance, well you get the idea. Even Wall Street insures its financial betting. Why not do this for guns and shooters?
Insurance people know how to assess risk. Let’s get them involved. They set higher premiums for a sports car owned by teenage male than a middle aged woman driving a Camry. They take into account all kinds of factors, from type of vehicle, to your driving record, the number of accidents you have, teenage drivers in the home, and what neighborhood you live in.
You can get discounts for safety features like air bags and antilock breaks, dead bolts on your door… you get discounts for education/ drivers ed and a good operating record. Let’s figure out how to do the same for guns. I’ll bet the insurance industry could get a handle on this pretty quickly.
I have an old car. Every year to renew my license I have to get a smog check. It’s good to have someone check to be sure the car meets some basic criteria on a regular basis. For guns, we could check to be sure they have not been modified or have safety features removed.
And maybe Chris Rock is right. Bullets could cost $5000 each.
We can ban certain kinds of guns and certain kinds of ammunition clips, but why not start with registration, licensing, and insurance? We can make it cheap to get started — charge just $1 for existing guns and raise the fees to a level commensurate with other licenses and permits.
I pay $104 for my old car registration on an annual basis. I will probably pay $50 for the special smog check to get it renewed. If i had a cat I’d pay $12 for a lifetime license in San Francisco and between $11-52 for a dog (based on neutering and age of owner). My drivers license could cost from $31-66. If I lived in Santa Monica my bike registration would cost $3. Bikes are not licensed in San Francisco, but you have to wear a helmet.
My insurance might run between $950 and $1400 a year for both auto and renters together. I believe people who do risky things (skydiving comes to mind) also pay higher insurance. But you get where I’m going with this.
I grew up in a car culture. California in the 50s and 60s. I couldn’t wait to get my license. I wanted to be a good driver. I took the classes and practiced with my dad. I have a good driving record and I’m proud of it. I have never given up my license, and can’t imagine being without one even if I give up my car. When my dad was old, he stopped driving but he hung on to his license, just in case, and because it was one of his identifiers. It isn’t a perfect metaphor, but I assume gun owners feel similarly. Why not make getting the license a source of pride? And getting the insurance industry to weigh in to help us assess risk.
i just found out a friend died. two and one half years ago. no one called me. i hadn’t talked to him in ages, obviously. and he died. and my life went on without him. without knowing.
i found out when i was doing one of my infrequent middle of the night reaching out to see who i haven’t contacted in a while and i wonder if they are on facebook odysseys. i emailed bob and got a mailer daemon back. the next day i called and got a disconnected message. i googled him and found an obituary.
he was very talented in so many ways — as a writer, a playwright, an actor. he had this slow way of talking, an oklahoma drawl, a way of drawing out his words that reflected his thoughtfulness but also his childhood. there was alcohol in the family and he was a seeker — and he invited me into his circle. it was one of those times and one of those places where that invitation, that appreciation was of enormous value. i did not know i was a writer. but i had left my life in the fast lane of new york ad agencies (not in the creative department) and moved to santa fe. to quit everything i knew to open myself to something more creative. bob welcomed me.
the santa fe writers group. i have not found its primal equivalence since. of the 6-10 writers, 3 that i know of are dead. and i am so grateful to them, to all of them, and especially to bob, for letting me be part of the group and encouraging me to write.
he was funny and serious and his writing was always compelling. he was a thoughtful commenter and supporter of others’ work. he was a friend. a person i valued highly in the warp and weft of my life. i know i know i didn’t call him often enough. i have a lot of friends like that. i can’t handle too many on a daily basis.
he took photographs of me. he made me feel welcome and valued in my first writers group in santa fe.
bobshaw was the one who kept me informed when Kat was dying. another fabulous writer. she had MS. her husband left her, he couldn’t handle it. she had had electroshock treatments when she was young in an attempt by her family to dissuade her from living in a commune and exploring the ways many did in the 60s. we always wondered whether that contributed to her later getting MS. she wrote a column for the local newspaper right up til the end. bob gave me her email address so kat and i could be connected directly, even after i had moved to san francisco. we read each others’ work as long as we could. i knew she was writing with a blow tube. and that connection went deep.
no one did this for me and bobshaw.
i let it go. i let him go. i moved on. i don’t know if i’m in a better place. oh, i’m better and i’m in a better place because of bob and the group, but i don’t know if i’m better off because i moved on.
the last time we talked he seemed depressed. he wasn’t writing. he was thinking about moving to albuquerque from santa fe. to the area near the university, downtown. he was living in his sister’s condo. he wasn’t working much, there wasn’t much work for him — as a professional photographer in santa fe. everyone began taking their own pictures. he hadn’t made the transition to digital. it was eight months before he died.
i didn’t call him back. i suppose i hoped he would call me if he wanted or needed me to listen, to hear him. and now he’s gone. and i’m finally in tears.
I hear his flat drawl. I see the words he has written to me. i see him looking with amusement into my camera lens.
i dug around and found that i had talked with him in april. that we exchanged a few emails. this is how it is with some. i remember my high school friend randy. we’d both gone east to college. he ended up in calgary. i went to banff one summer and we drove through the northern rockies in his vw van listening to pharaoh sanders. we would call once a year. and one year he didn’t call. eventually i called and he was gone. died while cross country skiing with his family.
i know bob was not young. i know that i’m of an age when this will happen more and more and is in the natural course of things. i know he didn’t call me either. that at the end i wasn’t high on his list. but i still feel guilty. i still feel i could have somehow done something. something more.
i’m letting go of family things. i’m feeling overwhelmed by stuff i don’t use and can’t imagine wanting to use anytime soon. i have scoffed at my friend karen, who lives without many things — almost an ascetic existence. and have never imagined i could do the same. but i look around and want more air, more breathable space.
there are things i can let go of easily and things i cannot. i can let go of clothes i don’t wear, things i thought once i wanted but have not really used. i’m even thinking of letting go of art supplies i thought i would use and still want to use but am not using. i want more room for people. and more time. why am i equating space with time?
other things in my life are falling apart, too. things i can’t seem to write about yet. so i’m grieving for more than bobshaw. i’m looking at things i don’t want to give up. things i have loved, and still love. i want more than just memories.
i woke in the middle of the night, two nights running. i don’t want to move. i am exhausted. my throat is tight. my eyes feel too big for their sockets. i somehow know i will be all right, but right now i’m thinking about the deaths of things. my deep connections to things dead or dying. the grieving and the gratitude are all mixed together. i wouldn’t change a thing of what i had, especially with bobshaw.
I am writing a series of articles about green jobs and want to reach out beyond my own network to find interesting stories about people who now have green jobs and how they got them. Interested? Leave a comment with contact information.
I am interested in all kinds of green jobs — from sustainability officer to truck driver to scientist to green job counseling. For now, I’m interested in new jobs — those who are now in a green job and maybe weren’t before.
One of the things I do is volunteer with the Job Forum here in San Francisco and many of our participants want to know about green jobs and the state of green business here in the Bay Area. On February 2nd greenbiz.com and others are putting on the 2009 State of Green Business Forum here in San Francisco.
- February 2, 2009
- 9:30 – 3:30
- PG&E Auditorium
- 245 Market St.
- San Francisco, California
Attendees will participate in sessions on:
- The State of Green Business, 2009 — A presentation by GreenBiz.com Executive Editor Joel Makower of the trends and metrics on the greening of Corporate America.
- Innovation as a Green Strategy — How companies are harnessing environmental thinking to create new products, services, and sources of business value.
- Energy Efficiency Rises Again — The resurgence of interest in efficiency, especially among manufacturers and commercial building owners.
- Is Water the New Carbon? — How companies are preparing for anticipated disruptions in access to water around the world.
- The Green Jobs Opportunity — The role of companies and local governments in promoting economic and workforce development.
In another post, I’ll outline the speakers — which look like an interesting cross section from big businesses like IBM and small businesses and Institutes.
I’m weeding out my books. I need to make room… for something else. I’m removing things from my shelves. Books I have not opened in 10 years. Books I cannot remember the plots of. Books that don’t nourish me on a deep level. Books that someone else valued more than I do. I no longer need them here. I can always go to the library or a museum or look them up at Google books to see them, again. I don’t need to own them.
I’m going to get rid of things that “I might need someday”. These things I’ve kept for a rainy day have rarely been used. The adhesive on the bandages is probably dry. The expiration dates have long passed. The batteries are probably drained. I may regret this. But again I might not.
My father was a tinkerer. He’d fix things up. He’d figure out how to make something work better. And his workshop was a wonder. I loved his workbench in the garage, with that anvil looking thing that held things in place. By turning this little handle the jaws of this device would squeeze together and hold what you were fixing steady. And on the walls hammers and screwdrivers and paintbrushes, crescent wrenches and needle nose pliers and metal files. I loved the needle nose pliers the best.