New York Times ethicist Randy Cohen was so impressed with President Obama's talk about a third way in the abortion debate, that it inspired him to apply that sort of thinking to another political fireball: gun ownership. Cohen proposes a radical new plan:
I propose curbing gun violence not by further restricting the availability of guns but by expanding and reorienting it. Men would still be forbidden to walk the streets armed, in accordance with current laws, but women would be required to carry pistols in plain sight whenever they are out and about.
Were I to board the subway late at night, around Lincoln Center perhaps, and find it filled with women openly carrying Metropolitan Opera programs and Glock automatics, I'd feel snug and secure. A train packed with armed men would not produce the same comforting sensation. Maybe that's because men have a disconcerting tendency to shoot people, while women display admirable restraint. Department of Justice figures show that between 1976 and 2005, 91.3 percent of gun homicides were committed by men, 8.7 percent by women.
How could this plan possibly satisfy both sides of the debate?
Many pro-gun advocates assert that armed and honest citizens deter crime. My plan would expand the ranks of those worthies. And those who are anti-gun can embrace the plan as a noble experiment in gender equality.
Fascinating idea. Click over to Cohen's full column here, and read his follow-up here.