Things Being Equal

Gun violence is out of control. While experts dither and bicker about whether this or that act was done by “terrorists” they choose to ignore that gun violence is terror, no matter who’s pulling the trigger. The world in which bearing arms was declared an amended constitutional right was a world of muzzle-loaders. Like in those movies where someone took their shot, missed, and has to reload, feverishly pouring gunpowder down the barrel while the enemy closes in. Firearms were obviously deadly, but limited in their capabilities. All things being equal, it is easy to understand why such a right would be granted. Almost nothing is equal any more, however.

Consider this: weapons are now sold that can rapidly and repeatedly fire rounds that, in the wrong hands, can kill many people before anyone even has the time to react. These guns are useless for hunting, and their only purpose is to kill other human beings. We have been manufacturing them and selling them for many years and laws are such that most people could, if they choose to participate in the insanity, stockpile such weapons against a day when they will actually be used for their intended purposes. Consider also that the government, strapped for money to funnel to military causes, has shifted and narrowed the definition of mental illness so as to “normalize” people who would have, under other circumstances, been in institutional care. Add to this the increasing globalization that has effects that psychologists and sociologists are only now coming to see build stresses and strains in brains that evolved to be among their own “kind” and to distrust the “stranger.” And these stressed minds have easy access to powerful firearms. Who has the right?

I grew up in a different world. Yes, the Vietnam War was going on, but those who returned were exhausted by and despised the violence to which they’d been subjected. The pointless killing of others was culturally and personally just that: pointless. Fast forward half a century. Now we live in a world where seeing violent death represented is a daily occurrence. Even in simulation it is realistic. Mass murderers make videos presenting themselves as so heroic as to inspire followers. We no longer trust religion. We no longer trust the government. We no longer trust the American Dream. Wealth is bottled up where it can’t be reached and guns are distributed like candy. Are all things equal? Hardly. And yet those running for the highest office in the land worm for ways to keep the gun lobbies pleased. If we could only go back to muzzle-loaders and the time it took to reload—time in which even an unbalanced person had to think about what he, or now she, was about to do. Equality has, unfortunately, become as much a fairy tale as the right to bear arms.

400px-Manual_of_the_Musketeer,_17th_Century

4 responses to “Things Being Equal

  1. Gun violence has been going down for decades now. Mass shootings, while tragic, has pretty much stayed the same. It would be terrible to base national policy on outliers like mass shootings when gun violence has gone down.

    I am a gun owner, a classical liberal, a social progressive, and a skeptic. I pretty much disagree with your post. Gun lobbies work for their members. As it should in a democracy. I am a dues paying member of the ACLU so that they can lobby for our civil rights. I am a dues paying member of the NRA because they are primarily a gun safety and training organization. Their lobbying arm (NRA-ILA) is just a small part of the organization. Nevertheless, I want the NRA-ILA to protect the 2nd amendment. I am glad that my dues to both groups are working to keep our freedoms partly intact.

    We can bleed our hearts for the victims of violence, we are only human. But to massively curtail our freedoms for the sake of feeling safe is a bigger tragedy. Right now, leaders of both parties are using the terrorist attacks in California as a pretense to virtually eliminate the 4th and 5th amendments. It is not just the 2nd that is in trouble here, yet it is a tragedy that the media wants to concentrate on the 2nd because they view it as a proxy for the conservative side.

    To those who wish to curtail my 2nd, 4th, and 5th amendment rights in the name of security and feel-goodery, I will not back down.

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    • Thanks, Dan. I respect your opinion but disagree about the freedom part. When we are treated like criminals for wanting to fly, when we are not given opportunities for good jobs, when we are forced to support big business interests with which we disagree, we are not free. Owning guns, in my view, is a mere illusion of freedom. I personally believe the world would be better off without them. I grew up in a household with guns and, in my experience, it never made me feel any safer. I appreciate your outlook and I’m glad you shared it.

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      • I don’t understand your line of reasoning. Let us assume that our freedom is illusory. Would you still allow any police officer to go into your house without a warrant (4th amendment)? Would you allow the government to control the press, our personal speech, and religious beliefs (1st amendment)? I would think that, even if freedom is illusory, you would try to protect your life and abode from government intrusion. I really do not understand your train of thought in that regard.

        As for your second point. Growing up, I live in a household with guns too. Never saw the value of the things. And like you, I was not a fan of guns. But when I started my own family and had to relocate to a seedier part of town, you bet I got a gun. And that’s when the scales fell off my eyes and saw that the anti-gun rhetoric, while seductive for wide-eyed progressives, is too pollyanna-ish in the real world. I do not carry my gun when I go about, but it is very re-assuring that I have it.

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        • I can understand your point of view. My reasoning is, admittedly, idealistic. To explain in detail (which I intentionally do not do on this blog) would take far more words than I can afford at the moment. It is both a philosophical and political stance. Now that guns have been made readily available for decades, I doubt there is any practical way of ending what I see as only madness. I understand why reasonable people have guns (I know many who do), but it is a choice I have consciously made not to follow. I guess I’d rather be shot than to shoot someone, but I’d be happier still if guns were not in my idealistic little world.

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