Talking Heads frontman David Byrne weighed in on America’s gun control debate in an essay posted to his website Wednesday, suggesting that guns should be reframed as a “public health hazard” and, as such, regulated like cigarettes and “sugary drinks.”
In the essay, Byrne suggests “we willingly give up our rights in many areas” in exchange for “a safer healthier life for all,” and believes gun rights are one of the things that need to be given over to regulation in exchange for that “healthier life.”
“We have come to realize that in some situations we all benefit by giving up some choice,” Byrne wrote, comparing the situation to that of government regulation concerning seat belt use in automobiles. “We likewise accept that drivers need to be tested—for their driving abilities and competency—and we all feel safer on the roads as a result.”
The 64-year-old Scottish-born musician added that reframing guns as a public health issue “is the way to go in convincing our lawmakers, and more crucially our neighbors and our nation, to act on this issue.”
“The public feeling is already there,” Byrne wrote. “Everyone should not have the right to risk everyone else’s life and take away the freedom of others.”
He anticipates opposition from the NRA and other gun rights organizations, but suggests many of the things Americans have opened to regulation once had similar organizations defending them too.
Cigarettes, large sugary drinks and fossil fuels have all had powerful lobbies behind them, and yet we have come to feel that the benefits of regulation in these areas often outweighs the rights of individuals to impose risk on others—which is exactly what guns do.
Byrne did not mention that the places in which armed individuals “impose risk on others” are predominantly areas where strict gun control measures are on the books — cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, etc. These regulations predictably create a situation where criminal access to guns remains constant while law-abiding citizens struggle to find the weapons they need for self-defense.
Still, Byrne calls for regulation. And for those who believe it cannot be accomplished with the current Congress, Byrne cites the abolishment of slavery as a metaphor for what can be achieved with determination. He wrote:
Slavery was once broadly accepted, and now no one believes that any more. In just my lifetime, we have almost entirely rejected the notion that black people are inferior—a ridiculous, even offensive, idea today. And most folks now believe that gay people should have the same rights as straight folks,she shift that has largely taken place in a matter of years. These are huge changes, and some of them were unimaginable not so very long ago. There is hope.
Byrne has become something of an essayist in recent months. In February, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning musician penned a lengthy essay in which he argued that supporters of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump are “immune to criticism and to the exposure of his lies and false accusations.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.