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Opinion | Combatting rising bat violence in the USA: A modest proposal to create a safer nation

By Peter Kaboth
On March 21, 2013

The Constitution's 14th Amendment states no individual shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." Contrary to the stance held by most non-progressives, one must infer from this the responsibility of the United States government to defend the life, liberty and property of citizens against all threats. The Obama Administration's push to tighten gun regulations is a prime example of this Constitutional imperative in action; confronting the barbaric individuals who support the private ownership and use of high-capacity rifles embodies the common-sense lawmaking that facilitates Americans' personal safety today and into the future.

Given the Federal Government's unmatched competence in engineering, and subsequently maintaining the public's welfare, one is justified in demanding lawmakers expand the scope of new firearm legislation to include other violent implements.

Consider the baseball bat; in its full-size wood or aluminum guise, it serves little, if any, vital function in modern society.

The Major League style bat, as one might refer to it, exists simply for the leisure of law-abiding citizens. In the hands of a criminal, however, the Louisville Slugger, (a name hinting at the bat's destructive capabilities), becomes an indiscriminate weapon of lethal efficiency.

Do the materialistic pleasures of such a creation outweigh the substantial risks it poses to human health? I think not. FBI data from recent years confirms the dangers posed to society by full-size baseball bats; from 2008 to 2011, blunt objects were responsible for nearly twice as many homicides as rifles. Extrapolating these statistics reveals a startling fact; with respect to lethality, Major League style bats are indistinguishable from military style rifles. For decades, the baseball bat industry, with support from lobbyists and congressional cronies, managed to conceal these statistics and deceive the American public. This campaign of misinformation ends today.

A practical response to the arbitrary violence perpetuated by baseball bats entails significant legal and cultural reform; continued government inaction on this matter is unacceptable.

To ensure the success of any new policies nationwide, it's critical for the Obama Administration take the lead on this issue as it has in advocating for gun control, since federally mandated bat restrictions would circumvent right-wing extremists in state and local governments who defend hazardous bat ownership under the pretense of individual liberty.

Common-sense legislation targeting bat crime could take many forms. Instituting a measure limiting the size and weight of bats sold for civilian use represents a simple, but effective, means of safeguarding individuals' health that doesn't infringe on the right for people to own and use bats for sporting purposes.

Regarding the sale of full-size wood and aluminum bats, lawmakers could draft a bill requiring mandatory background checks on any person attempting to purchase said products.

Legislators should also consider a tax-based approach, since such a measure could simultaneously prevent bat proliferation and generate new federal revenues. The so-called "sin tax" already applied to goods like cigarettes and alcohol could just as easily be levied on Major League style baseball bats. The proceeds from such a tax could then be issued as federal grants to municipalities to fund bat buy-back programs.

Unfortunately, government efforts may not produce the reforms this country so desperately needs, as conservative opposition in Congress is all but assured given the rights general lack of compassion and desire to protect the rich companies that profit from dangerous bats.

Change is still possible, however, as government-imposed bat regulations are not the only avenue by which citizens may be protected from the dangers of Major League style bats.

The public must take a cue from courageous individuals like Mayor Emmanuel of Chicago, who has taken a stand against firearm manufacturers and their business partners.

By boycotting the makers of aggressive baseball bats as well as their corporate associates, (the banks that fund these death-dealers, for example), average citizens can send the message that Americans won't stand for the death and destruction caused by major league-style bats.

If new bat legislation could save even a single life, is the government not obligated to take action? Although conservatives may attempt to frame it as such, the matter of bat violence is not a partisan issue.

With a few rational policy measures, the federal government could create a safer nation with minimal consequences for baseball bat enthusiasts. It's easy to question the need for excessively large, and lethal, baseball bats, but it's impossible to deny the importance of preserving a life.

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