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A week ago, horror author Stephen King took to his Twitter account to spew forth his political opinion on guns. In the aftermath of yet another shooting after a rap concert in Colorado, the man responsible for some of the most nightmarish literary violence in history, told his followers that guns should be regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.
Multiple gunshot wounds last night at Red Rocks. We regulator booze and tobacco; it's time to regulate firearms.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) June 20, 2014
Never mind that shootings after rap concerts aren't exactly an uncommon occurrence. Time and time again, people get shot after these events, and research has shown a link between violence, substance abuse and rap. And yet, no one has proposed banning rap music. The shrieks of "RACISM!" would be deafening, and the opposition to the infringement on the freedom of speech would be vast.
Not so with firearms, however. No one blinks an eye at suggesting yet more control over guns, even though infringement on the right to keep and bear arms is expressly prohibited in the Constitution.
Every time a monster picks up a gun and vents his impotent rage at innocent people, hoplophobes around the nation begin to clamor for more infringements. "It's time to regulate firearms," says Stephen King.
A few years ago, my friend science fiction author Michael Z. Williamson wrote an essay in response to gun grabbers who claimed that guns are regulated less than cars. His well-stated point was that guns are already regulated, and more so than most other tools.
The point holds for alcohol and tobacco as well. I suspect if booze and cigs were regulated as guns are, the howls of protest would be thunderous, to say the least.
OK, Mr. King. You want to regulate firearms like we regulate booze and cigarettes? How about we regulate alcohol and cigarettes like we do firearms?
Despite there being a legal age for the purchase of alcohol (21) and cigarettes (18), Americans constantly lie and violate these laws with virtual impunity and an occasional slap on the wrist from local police. So in order to ensure that only people of legal age purchase these dangerous products, we will make it a federal crime to lie on an application to purchase cigarettes and alcohol punishable by up to five years in prison and a hefty fine.
We need to ensure that only responsible drinkers and smokers have access to alcohol and tobacco! So you will have to fill out a federal form confirming that you are a U.S. citizen, who has never been convicted of a felony, never been incarcerated, and never been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. And you will fill out this form every time you want to purchase an alcoholic drink or a pack of smokes.
After all, selling alcohol to a mental case could result in tragedy, and tobacco abuse almost invariably leads to cancer and death. We certainly need to ensure that no one will abuse these substances, right?
Oh, and if you try to lie on the form and you fail – if the background check for your purchase of that bottle of wine or that pack of Marlboros shows you lied on that form – you are still guilty of a felony.
Alcohol and cigarettes will only be purchased from federally licensed stores and restaurants, whose owners must be registered and fingerprinted. They will call the state to verify your information prior to your purchase of that bottle of wine or those cancer sticks.
And by the way, in some localities you will be limited to just one bottle of booze or one box of cigarettes per month. Otherwise, the government might think you're selling them on the black market or making a straw purchase for someone who is legally ineligible to drink or smoke. And if you do buy booze or cigarettes for a minor or an otherwise prohibited person, you could be facing a 10 year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
If you want to sell alcohol or cigarettes, you will be required to keep immaculate records of every single purchase. You will be subject to federal inspections of your business at any time, and if your records are incomplete or not in order, you could face tough penalties.
And if you want to buy alcohol stronger than wine or beer, you will need to get a special ID showing that you paid a special fee. There's just no need for anything stronger. Same goes for filterless cigarettes. Perhaps the legal age for purchasing them will be raised as well.
Are you getting the message yet, Mr. King?
I'm sure you would agree that alcohol and tobacco are powerful substances that need to be more regulated than they are, especially given your own history of substance abuse, right Mr. King?
Drunk drivers kill thousands per year. The CDC estimates Cigarette smoking causes about one of every five deaths in the United States each year. That's nearly half a million people.
Don't you think we need to regulate them as tightly as we regulate firearms, Mr. King?
Nicki Kenyon has been an avid gun rights advocate since she returned to the United States from an overseas Army tour in Germany. She began writing about Second Amendment issues in 2001 when KeepAndBearArms.com published her first essay, "The Moment.". She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from American Military University. Her area of expertise in those fields is European and Eurasian affairs. When not writing about gun rights or hanging out with her husband and son, she practices dry-firing her M1911 at the zombies of "The Walking Dead." Nicki Kenyon's Archive Page.