So the latest news on gun control is that the best we’re going to get out of congress is background checks on all legal gun sales.
I doubt very seriously we’ll even get that.
Not that it will make much difference, since the country is already awash in guns and that, in and of itself, puts us all at extreme risk of death by gunshot.
“Not so,” you might say. “Not ‘extreme.’”
Well, I guess that depends on your definition of “extreme.” In inner cities the chances of being murdered by gunshot, because it’s so out of the range of what ’should be,” and yet fairly common as a way of dying, is large enough that I think most people would concur with the “extreme” terminology.
But more importantly, because it is both independent of geographical location and more common by far than murder, is suicide. As with virtually any risky behavior, the presence of a gun makes both the ease of execution (no pun intended) and the certainty of the outcome far more certain. Most suicides in the U.S. are done with the help of a gun. In many cases, of course, the suicide itself may escape detection as such by virtue of enlisting the additional assistance of the police through illegal, reckless, and threatening behavior.
I’ve personally known at least three people who’ve committed suicide with a gun. Worst, and much more pertinent, I’ve contemplated it myself a few times. That alone makes me think the use of the word “extreme” is appropriate.
But you hedge the statement as your biases force you to.
As I’ve said before, the place for the gun control advocates to go for remedy is right at the second amendment.
People usually react as though we should be very careful in reversing an amendment that the founding fathers thought worthy of inclusion. Unfortunately, they are ignoring one important fact: the second amendment, as envisioned by the founding fathers, has already been repealed. That’s what the Civil War was all about.
The second amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Many wonder why the second amendment combines discussion of militias and the security of free states with the right of the people to bear arms. The problem is that they have no understanding of the conditions surrounding the adoption of the bill of rights.
The facts of the matter are transparent: the entire reason for the bill of rights was to get a constitution all thirteen states would sign on to. There were many states that didn’t want to give up their sovereignty to, and virtually all were distrustful of, a strong federal government.
At the time of adoption, the only armies recognized as necessary were militias. After all, the War for Independence had just been won by precisely such an army fighting against the world’s greatest military power. And militias were based on citizens bearing arms they kept in their own homes.
The second amendment was offered as a means of guaranteeing that States would be able to resist the power of the federal government.
In the Civil War, it was determined, through incredible loss of life, that States would not be allowed to secede from the Union. The main reason the north wasn’t willing to let the south secede was the issue of slavery. Most abolitionists weren’t willing to let slavery continue whether or not it only continued in the southern States.
In the event of a modern secession movement, there might well be some issues that the States wishing to stay in the Union would feel were so clearly immoral as to want to prevent those States from seceding. Gay rights might be exactly such an issue.
But even so, I think the evidence of what the Civil War wrought is pretty compelling for thinking we’d be better off to tolerate secession under constitutionally guided procedures than invite another Civil War. The trick would be in establishing such guidelines.
If we want to honor the concerns of the founders, the second amendment should be rewritten as an authorization for States to secede. I’d suggest that would be tolerable if combined with a prohibition of re-entry into the union for at least ten years. I don’t think we should worry so much about losing Texas or Florida if a sufficiently super majority (to be defined) of the people in such a state wanted out, and I certainly don’t think it would be worth another civil war to prevent it.
Dealing with means of disentangling federal land from ownership by the seceding States would have to be provided for. Perhaps even a guarantee of some sort for migration out of, or into, seceding states following session should be dealt with. But I think covering such problems could and should be worked out rather than risk another civil war.
All that said to point out that the second amendment really had nothing to do with an average citizen’s “right” to carry without federal regulation a bazooka or a small nuclear weapon or even a handgun with a 30 round clip concealed under his overcoat. It had to do with the “right” of the States to remain independent of the feds.
That the gun manufactures have twisted the amendment to their own purposes ought not be allowed to stand. But the only way I see to prevent its standing is to repeal/rewrite the second amendment.
Such a move might finally bring sense to the gun control debate. Revising the true intent of the second amendment while clarifying its purpose would help. But there are people who really have only making money as a motivation, and I think our primary opportunity to end their continued dominance of the debate is to attack their sacred cow: a totally erroneous reliance on the second amendment.
But until that’s done, I expect we are all going to be participants, via inaction, in the continued occasional mass murder of our children and the persistent undercurrent of ongoing slaughter of children and others brought on by a culture that refuses to grow up. This is not the wild, wild west. It’s tightly packed urban areas.