News flash for D. Watkins, author of “The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America” and columnist at Salon.com: Chris Rock is a comedian. True, he practices the style of comedy known as observational humor, but his goal is nevertheless to make people laugh.
So when Rock observed during a stand-up routine, “We don’t need gun control. We need bullet control – if bullets were $5000, people would think before they shot someone!” Watkins, who was in the audience, understood it was meant to be funny. He even reveals in his retelling of the joke in the lead-in to an article at Salon that he and “some friends … erupted in laughter.”
So how does he go so desperately wrong when, after acknowledging that “Rock was definitely on point,” he writes:
[B]ut I’d take it a step further – I believe that being shot should be requirement [sic] for gun ownership in America. It’s very simple. You need to have gun, like taking selfies with pistols, can’t live with out it? Then take a bullet and you will be granted the right to purchase the firearm of your choice.
Obviously, having to know the pain that guns can inflict on their living targets would be a deterrent to owning one — provided the prospective owner survived being shot. But why not impose the same requirement on a host of other goods and services that can be purchased legally and have the potential to kill?
Take motor vehicles, for example. Some 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year. That’s 43 times the number of people killed by firearms. So why not make a prerequisite of vehicle ownership agreeing to be involved in a traffic accident?
Or why not insist that people who participate in bungee jumping, sky diving, and other daredevil activities be forced to die once, to appreciate the risks involved, before actually trying it out?
Sure, Watkins identifies people who are were killed by guns, including John Lennon, John F. Kennedy, and Huey Newton, and others who died “before their time,” but what of them? John F. Kennedy’s son also died before his time when the plane he was piloting crashed, killing everyone aboard. Would Watkins argue that all aircraft should be permanently grounded? (Or at least that all would-be owners of private planes should be forced to crash once?)
In the penultimate paragraph of his diatribe, Watkins compares people who support the Second Amendment to defenders of slavery back in the day, but by this point anyone who’s not over-the-top liberal will have moved on to the next article anyway.