Every once in a while, I have thought about owning a gun. Really, that is about as far as it goes. I am not a hunter or a marksman. So, there is no reason to have a gun. The outlay of money to buy one (and which kind of gun would I purchase) and the planning of where and how to safely store both gun and ammunition simply overwhelms whatever notion I occasionally have to own one.
I have friends and relatives that have more than one. Whatever else they own them and use them for, they all will add home security to the list. Sure, I have thought of that, but really what is the risk? What is the real probability that I would ever need a gun to protect home and family? Compound that with the probability that I could get to said gun, unlock the cabinet, retrieve the ammunition which is presumably in the same place but possibly locked in another box, load the weapon, and then effectively use it. I have believe we are talking about a really low probability that probably gets lower with each passing year.
Plus I subscribe to the Mike Royko theory of home defense. In a column back in the 1970s or 80s, Royko queried why someone would keep a gun for home defense. He laid out a scenario for his thesis. A homeowner is woken at night by the sound of a prowler downstairs. The fellow grabs his gun that he has rarely used, loads it, and goes downstairs in his skivvies to confront a bad guy. The bad guy may have a gun and, as crime is his chosen profession, may be more proficient and adept at using it. The outcome? One dead homeowner. Royko reasoned that it was, therefore, better to keep a couple of hand grenades in the nightstand. Instead of putting himself in harms way, our homeowner would simply pull the pins and toss a couple of grenades down the stairs to clear out the area. Voila... one dead bad guy instead of our intrepid homeowner.
With the recent debate in both social media and congress on gun control. I was thinking that this country might actually pass legislation to curtail gun ownership. All of sudden, I was thinking:
Hey! I don't really want or need a gun. But if you tell me I can't or should not have one, I am more motivated to go out and get one... dagnabit!
So I did what I have to do in Illinois before I can actually buy a gun, I applied for a Firearms Ownership Identification Card (FOID Card). I filled out the form that is conveniently available in any gun shop, affixed a photo as prescribed, attached a $10 check, and mailed it to the state police. I can expect my FOID card in the next 60 days or so. It seems like there is a backlog as there has been a rush of other citizens who are thinking just like me.
I probably still will not buy a gun, but I will have my card to be able to do so whenever I might want.
The part that thoroughly has entertained are the ten questions they asked on the one page FOID application.
1. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
2. In the past 5 years, have you been a patient in a mental institution or any medical facility used primarily for the care or treatment of persons for mental illness?
3. Are you addicted to narcotics?
4. Are you intellectually disabled?
5. Are you subject to an existing order of protections which prohibits you from possessing a firearm?
6. Within the past 5 years, have you been convicted of battery, assault, aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, or a substantially similar offense in which a firearm was used or possessed?
7. Have you ever been convicted of domestic battery or a substantially similar offense (misdemeanor or felony)?
8. Have you ever been adjudicated a delinquent minor for the commission of an offense that if committed by an adult would be a felony?
9. Are you an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?
10. Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective?
This sounds exactly like what the folks that are advocating a greater degree of gun control are trying to screen for. The State of Illinois seems to be already doing that. We could be a model for the rest of the US except for the fact I am fairly certain it does not work. Law abiding citizens, like me, probably adhere to it and answer the questions honestly. Bad guys do not. Really bad guys don't bother and buy guns off of the black market from which an NPR report says is pretty sizable in the City of Chicago.
These questions are also a joke. What person that wants to obtain a gun for nefarious purposes would answer yes to any of these questions? No one. Everyone that turns one of these things in probably answers no to every question. I only hope there is an investigation done to determine one's criminal and mental health history... otherwise the only value of this form is the $10 fee the state collects.
It was worth getting this form and filling it out simply for the entertainment value of the questions. Am I intellectually disabled? Probably not in the way that means, but the question is certainly up for debate.
"Are you an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?" Who would ever answer yes to this in a document that is going to the State Police?
They may as well have asked the following:
• Are you planning to use a gun to commit a crime?
• Are you affiliated with any terrorist organization whose goal it is to topple the United States?
I used to think there was a reasonable middle ground between the gun control advocates and the NRA. Now, I having filled out this application, I am not so sure.