The Baby and The Bathwater

I should be used to it by now. The knee jerk reactions that make it so difficult to really affect and effect change.  Somehow, we always end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater – despite our best intentions to do otherwise. And yet I find myself getting more and more irritated with stupidity.  Two great examples of this are the current hot button issues of gun control and dog ownership (particularly pit bull ownership).  Owning a gun and owning a dog carry many of the same responsibilities if you think about it.   You have to make sure your guns are well maintained (cleaned, oiled and stored properly), and you have to do the same for your dog (vet visits, shots, grooming etc) .  You have to make sure your dog is properly leashed or fenced in your yard, and you have to be sure your gun is stored safely and properly and the safety left on when not in use.

For some reason, we cannot seem to figure out a way to hold offenders accountable for their actions. For some reason, its easier to restrict the activities of the population at large than it is to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate criminal offenders.  I’ll use an example from the workplace.  Most workplaces have a dress code. Enforcing said code presents its own particular set of challenges that may or may not be quite humorous on occasion.  Like dealing with an employee who showed up to work in their jammies and couldn’t for the life of them figure out why they were being sent home – because they dress that way to go to the mall….. sigh.  Or, banning everyone from wearing sleeveless dresses, shirts or tops in the summertime because some of the men decided to cut off the sleeves of their t shirts and the gaping holes gave everyone a glimpse of nasty pit hair…. Instead of telling these guys they had to classy it up they just tell everyone – NO SLEEVELESS.  Baby. Bathwater…. and gone…..

So many people are negiligent when it comes to pet ownership and gun ownership.  Letting their dogs roam free to chase and bite people; leaving their guns out where children, toddlers, and flat out  crazy people can access them (with tragic results).  So what do we do?  Can I get a “Harrumph?” from you all? Because thats what we do. We get on our sanctimonious soapboxes and engage in inefficient hand-wringing – then we make ridiculous blanket laws that restrict and penalize mature,  RESPONSIBLE dog and firearm owners.  Look what just happened in Maryland with regard to pit bull ownership.  Look whats happening within the Gun Control Debate.  You only have to witness the political posturing to become really really annoyed. And I am. Annoyed. To the Max. I’m a centrist, basically. Common sense dictates we need reform -not blanket all or nothing restriction.  Nor do we need to jump into the Way Back Machine and head for the Wild Wild West.  Because we’re doing it again – throwing the baby out with the bathwater; instead of engaging in thoughtful dialogue and compromise to come up with solutions that work for the majority of responsible hard working Americans. Let me list a few ideas:

Brindle pit bull

Brindle pit bull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dogs –

1. If you want to own a pit bull you must register them for obedience classes and give a copy of the certificate to City Hall in addition to the rabies tag number when you get the dog licensed.  You must demonstrate re-certification of obedience training every 3-5 years. You must be a homeowner to own a pit bull, or have sufficient assets to cover a lawsuit if the dog injures someone. This goes for other breeds like Rottweilers, Pinschers, German Shepherds, Chows, Dalmatians, and Akitas too – since all these breeds have aggressiveness bred into them. There may be a few breeds I missed here feel free to add…

2. Dog owners already pay increased  homeowners premiums, (depending on the breed, and they may not even cover you if you have a banned breed)  but all dog owners should be required to submit proof of vaccination and licensing to their policy carriers.

3. All dogs should be required to be on leash or in a fenced in yard  when outdoors- subject to fine and/or seizure of the dog if non-compliant. Not all communities have leash laws, and those that do may only sporadically enforce them – doing so only after there is a problem.

4. Dog owners should be required to notify the public that there is a dog on their premises.

There’s probably more but that’s all I can think of right now. It comes down to common sense , really – Which ain’t quite as common as it should be, sadly enough.

219px-Weapons1                                             (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guns –

1. I’ve listed several things in other posts so I’ll just summarize here: Background checks for all sales.  Private sales should be illegal.  No actual possession of said  firearm by the buyer until a training course is completed and certification of the ability to use and store said firearm safely is on file with the gun seller, and the new gun owner’s insurance carrier. Yes I do think you should have to insure your guns. No sale to anyone with a history of mental illness ( improve those background checks) Your right to be bat-guano ga-ga does not supersede my right to keep breathing safely.  No sale to anyone who lives with a family member with mental illness. PERIOD. No sale to anyone under the age of 16.. Proof of age required to purchase. Possession of a firearm by anyone not carrying an FID card and proof of ownership should invite criminal charges for both the possessor and the registered owner. Magazine clip size should be limited. Modification kits – illegal.  If a tragedy does occur and the investigation reveals that the gun owner stored the firearm unsafely or improperly or knowingly allowed  someone other than themselves to use the firearm – then the gun owner should be held civilly and criminally responsible.

I understand this may not curb criminal activity or criminal’s access to firearms, but it will damn sure make it less likely that a toddler can pick up his fathers gun and kill a Tennessee Sherriff’s wife with it. And it will make it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for idiots like Nancy Lanza to provide their mentally ill child with access to firepower.  I am in no way saying people should not have guns if they want them. But they need to assure those of us that don’t  they can own and use them responsibly.  SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY. And,  SAFETY.

It is a great privilege to own a firearm, and be a pet owner. Both carry great responsibility with them .  If we enforce the laws we already have on the books, that will help also. But if people start understanding that they are responsible for the safety of themselves and others and will be held ACCOUNTABLE by laws that make sense for the majority of people  – then perhaps that baby I’ve been talking about can go get toweled off, powdered, and re-diapered instead of floundering around in the mud. Rant concluded. Thank you, that is all  (for now)

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16 thoughts on “The Baby and The Bathwater

  1. I love this post Donna. My dog and I were attacked by a big, mean, unsocialized dog that got out of his yard and it scared the crap out of me. And at an off-leash park last month a small dog was killed by a big dog, in a place where one would HOPE that all dogs are well socialized and good to be around other dogs. It’s so sad how I’m getting spooked to either walk my dog on leash in my area or off-leash at parks with other dogs because they’re not all nice with other dogs. Sigh. Or should I say Harrumph! And I have an old friend who is a very responsible hunter who generously shares venison with us each fall, so he’s a great example of HOW to lock up your guns. Yes, it’s all about being responsible. Excellent comparison, and a really great article. Thank you for sharing your wise thoughts with us! Cheers. Gina

    • Thanks Gina! I’m recovering from the emotional exhaustion of the last week and prepping to write about my emotional journey and the questions it’s raising for me. #BostonStrong

  2. From my observations, law/regulations are mostly reactions (knee-jerk) to some offense or wrong which someone committed. Yes, these are blankets to substitute for individuals being aware of their actions and the affects they have on other’s. Laws/regulations effectively reduce the potential for individual thought and decision making because laws/regulation guide our behavior. I would prefer to 1) address the issue with the specific person, and 2) have more public discussion of how our choices (dog or gun ownership, etc.) benefit us, potentially infringe on someone else, and bring responsiblity. When laws/regulations become codified, whether in the 10 Commandments, or subdivision ordinances, it is easier to say “It’s the law”, than to ask, “Why is this the law?”. Let’s keep the discussion going… before you make my Akita go to obedience classes. 🙂
    Oscar

  3. Knee-jerk reactions? They’re all over the news – look at the media coverage in the UK today over a particular event epically blown out of all context. We need to live the maxim keep calm and carry on. Great post!

    • Love that! Keep calm and carry on, indeed. You British do that quite well, and so do us Yankees (particularly Bostonians) . We’re still reeling in shock here. My best friend is a paramedic who was volunteering at the marathon. She was a few miles from the blasts but she said the whole situation was “unreal”.

  4. ” No sale to anyone with a history of mental illness ( improve those background checks)” Finally! Common sense does exist. Now if we can only bring it to the government instead of going to the extreme and banning them, we regulate with background checks and voila. problem sorta solved.

    ~C

  5. Good work. Donna, as you know common sense is not that common. And, since we cannot outlaw stupidity, we need to have laws that are enforced. Helmet laws for motorcycles are another. If you are riding a motorcycle at 35 mph and crash, the helmet may save your life. But, absent the law, some would not wear them and It will also save our medical costs if you are uninsured. Great post, thanks, BTG

  6. You just made the debate for the bully dog legislaturer by picking out specific large breed dogs when it is a documented fact that more people are bitten by small, yappy dogs.

    • At least if one of those small dogs bites you, you can defend against it more easily. I dislike the small yappy breeds for the reasons we both describe. But I have no reason to be afraid of something I can drop kick into next Tuesday if I have to. (Not that I would actually do that) My sister was attacked by a German Shepherd with no warning when she was about 7. Fortunately the owner was able to call the dog off before he did anything other than knock her down and rough her up.

      And its not so much about the biting, it’s about fatalities. “Death by Chihuahua” is not a headline I’ve ever seen. And I’m advocating for responsible ownership, not banning or euthanizing. If you want a dog breed that has a rep, you have to be prepared to account for that.

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