From the Ridiculous to the Absurd

Posted: January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Second Amendment secures certain rights, but not absolutely so. The right to bear arms is one of those. It arose in a time when citizens defended themselves in militias and able bodied men kept their weapons in their homes. They would also assure that they were armed against occupying external forces. That was a remarkably different time than our own. What that cannot mean in our own time is that private citizens are armed like law enforcement or our military. That degree of armament should be governed for the sake of the entire citizenry.

Does this mean that people shouldn’t have their hunting rifles and shotguns, handguns for personal protection? Of course it doesn’t mean that. But friends, as a friend, please lock ’em up if you have them. I’m amazed I didn’t kill someone in the home of my childhood. I played with loaded firearms scattered around our house. I understand now why more fatalities occur as the result of unmonitored firearms in homes – accidents involving children and domestic violence – than out on the streets. The beast is inside the front door, not outside on the porch.

And … your second amendment rights are not more important than the life of my child, or my life, or of my neighbor’s life. It’s a right, but not an absolute one. It’s a freedom, but not an absolute freedom. Like everything else it has limits.

Universal background checks are not unreasonable, but a sign of sanity. Screen out, as far as is possible, those who shouldn’t have access. Will that keep the guns out of all the hands of the crazies and criminals? No it won’t. But it is the right, reasonable, and sane policy for a civilized society. It will discourage and screen out and that’s good enough. We have to be licensed to operate a vehicle on our public roads. Why should the standard be any less for gun ownership?

If guns were the solution to all the violence problems we’re experiencing right now we would have already solved them by now. With 300 million weapons distributed broadly across the nation we haven’t found a way forward yet. Arming every teacher and student in our schools isn’t going to do it. Rather, that kind of approach will destabilize even more. It’s just common sense.

It’s ridiculous to believe that high power assault style weapons and their accompanying accessories should be available to ordinary citizens. The carnage they can inflict is immense. You don’t need them to hunt or for common protection. The only purpose for weapons like that is to mount a siege against either law enforcement or the military. Preparing for anarchy is not the way forward. Get serious.

This is, of course, highly politicized. Rank and file citizens – gun owners or not – are much more moderate about all these issues. They should speak up and decry the fringe positions at the extremities.

Now a special word to my good friends who belong to the NRA, because I have some and you are reading this: There is a difference between the explicit objectives of your organization – gun safety, sportsmanship – and the political agenda of the board of directors of the NRA. They don’t represent you well. I suspect it’s time for you, as members, to speak to your own board. After all, you are the ones paying the dues and allowing them to do what they do. Just take a minute to consider who sits on that board. They are the CEOs of the gun industry. They have a vested interest – economically – in selling their product. They want to remove as many barriers to making profit as is possible. So whatever else the NRA ostensibly says about its mission, the primary focus is lobbying congress. They do it for their financial interest – not yours, the law-abiding citizen gun owner, or the public at large. They will create every argument possible to make the most money and do. They are using you. If I were an NRA member I would start talking about that. I would expect them to cease and desist fostering extreme positions that are so out of step with the typical citizen or sportsman. And then I would probably take my shotgun and go home and redirect my money elsewhere. Suspend your judgement for a minute and take a close look for yourself.

This is not the wild west; it has become worse. The answers that worked before are not working now. As we regain just a modicum of sanity we will need to think about this differently. The golden mean is never easy to achieve, but it is called golden for a reason. Time to find it.

  1. Laura W says:

    I couldn’t agree more! You have summed up how many of us feel and the people need to rise up and make their voices heard with their politicians.

  2. NMiller says:

    This resonates. At 16 I was nearly a victim of accidental shooting–by a well-trained, cool-headed, responsible hunter, my father–who mistook me for an intruder when I returned home unexpectedly early one Sunday from church. I opened our door and found him pointing a handgun in my face.

  3. vmrtx says:

    Right on !!!!

  4. Janie M says:

    This post is so well-said that I would love to see it as a letter to the editor of the Trib, and maybe other papers.

    • vmrtx says:

      You are so right !

    • Laura W says:

      I second that motion! I sent your blog to others today and I’m getting feedback.. “excellent”; “fabulous essay”, etc. Your essay should get a wider audience!

      I understand the Vice President may be putting together a pastor’s group on this issue. I hope you can join in.

  5. Audie says:

    The NRA lavishly funds campaigns for members of the US House and Senate on how each member votes on any and all even remotely connected gun issues. When the elected official does not comply, the NRA withdraws their supoport and even works to oust them from office. The NRA has bought their way in and have way too much power in Washington. They have a vested interest in selling guns and do not represent the common sense majority of Americans.

    These are activities that are far from a healthy democracy.

  6. Paul says:

    A member of our congregation was recently elected to congress. I was extremely disappointed in his comments last weekend when he held a news conference at a gun show. Below are excerpts from the letter I wrote to him.

    “I understand that many people enjoy guns; they enjoy hunting and target shooting. They do not want to lose the right to continue those sports. Nothing in either the President’s proposals, those supported by Vice President Biden, or Senator Feinstein’s legislation takes that possibility away from law-abiding citizens. You know that, yet you use phrases such as “trampling on our second amendment rights….

    “Buying and owning semi-automatic, military style weapons is abhorrent to me, but, if law-abiding, mentally healthy individuals feel they must have them, I can accept continuing to allow their sale. However, what purpose… do the high-capacity magazines have? Why are they necessary? You say in your press release, “…every life is precious.” If an angry individual just laid off from her or his job goes back to the office with a Bushmaster and has to stop to re-load, is there a chance one life, one “precious life,” might be saved? How many bullets does it take to shoot a deer or how many times must a sportsman shoot at a target to enjoy the sport? Surely 10 or 20 would be enough.

    “You describe the administration’s position as “misguided” and vow to seek real solutions. If you cannot bring yourself to support eliminating either assault weapons or high capacity magazines, please then advocate universal background checks. I have read that 40 percent of the sales of guns at the all-too-frequent gun shows such as the one where you held your press conference do not include background checks. Is that not at the ‘root of the problem?’ That would not have stopped the young man accused of the atrocity at Newtown, I know. He allegedly used his mother’s guns, but how about some of the other tragedies – Aurora, Virginia Tech, and on and on. And the fact that any of our actions would not prevent every deadly occurrence is not a valid reason for not attempting to stop at least one crazed shooter.

    “Universal background checks won’t cover individual sales that are done neighbor to neighbor, I know. That is an empty excuse for not requiring them at gun shows. As you say, “every life is precious,” so what if background checks prevented one mass slaying, or saved one life?

    “You are a politician. I understand you have to work to be reelected. Your constituents, unlike the nation as a whole, remain unmoved by Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Tucson and all the others. But you could be a leader as well as a politician. You could point out the irrationality of those who accuse all of us who support gun control as threatening the constitution. You could avoid the political theater of press conferences at gun shows. And you might be willing to stand up and say that, at minimum, you will support expanding background checks.

    “Every life is precious.” Listen to the cries of those parents in Newtown. If you could save one life by standing up to the NRA and trying to lead your constituents, would it not be worth it?

    “You will be in my thoughts and prayers.


    • Laura W says:

      Thank you, Paul for writing the new congressman from our church. Your comments are right-on!
      I was dumbfounded when I read his remarks at a local gun shop. Sadly, his viewpoints are shared by both Senators in Texas and many other Texas congressman. It will be an uphill fight but the pressure must stay on.

  7. Audie says:

    For more information about curtailing gun violence, please read this well documented article from the New York Times. These are more talkingl points to add to the conversation.

    Thanks for your consideration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s