Gun Control, Stage Right

It’s a bit of a toss-up as to which side to analyze first (If you are coming to this late enough, which is highly likely, then I may have the other view done, and you can chose which order you want to read).  Remember, it’s not helpful to sit about with people who have the same view as you and commiserate on the stupidity of the other side.  Instead, read both, and try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person to see where they are coming from.  That’s the only way to find middle ground.

The Constitution.  It wasn’t easy getting that thing passed, the fear of an oppressive government looming large.

“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.”

The fundamental premise of our country is freedom to do what you want to do, so long as you don’t interfere with the rights of others.  For the bulk of us who actually care a bit about those others, it is irritating that we have to have so many rules.  But such is life; there are bad people in the world.

As much as possible, I would like to prevent said bad people from doing anything unseemly to those close to me – the wife, children – oh, and myself included.  I feel strongly that it is my right to take steps to achieve that goal, so long as I don’t interfere with the rights of others.  I am not alone in this belief, and my interpretation of the wording of the second amendment is supportive.

Some say that’s crazy.  Or more specifically, unrealistic.  They may site statistics that show I am more likely to shoot myself in the ass than use a gun to protect my family.  Fair point.  But here is where you get into the concept of freedom.  Our constitution does not state the things that I must do because they are the most logical choices.  I get to do whatever I want.  Even if it’s stupid.

For example, I can spend all my spare money racing a car around in a circle.

Because in many ways, freedom is a mindset.  Think on the revolution itself.  We could have easily continued to accept British rule, paid the taxes, and gone on with our lives.  But we wanted independence, we wanted freedom.  We wanted to make our own choices, for better or worse.  Sometimes it’s not the end result so much as: can I live with myself if I do otherwise?  Do I have an obligation to take steps to potentially deal with someone who might break into my house in the night?  It is a personal choice, so how you feel about the scenario has no bearing on my decision.

This is usually the point in the discussion where some start saying, “you don’t need an assault rifle to protect your home.”  Depends on the home, and what you are protecting it from.  Recently, a man in Oklahoma shot and killed three intruders with an AR-15 (a semi-automatic assault rifle).

We could have a long discussion about this case, about the type of weapon, about whether or not deadly force was necessary, should charges be filed, with whom does the blame reside.  We can even compare this to the countless others where the bad guy wins.  But at the end of the day it comes back to freedom.  Who are you to tell me what is necessary?  If I am not interfering with your life, I have the right to do as I set fit.

But we do put limits on those rights.  All of them.  We have freedom of speech, but there are limits (slander, perjury, yelling “fire” in a movie theater…).  We have freedom of the press, but you can’t just print anything you like.  And we have the right to keep and bear arms, but there are limits.  The discussion really should be centered on those limits.  But we haven’t quite gotten there yet…

The major argument from those who are the most dedicated supporters of the second amendment is the ability of the people to defend themselves against a tyrannical government, but there are many who seem unable to get their heads around this entire concept.  That sort of thing could never happen here, and we are above the atrocities committed by others around the globe.  Besides, what good is a little rifle against the might of the government?  If it all goes south, resistance will be futile.

I have a great deal of statements for people of this mindset.  But the most important ideal embedded in all of the rhetoric is that, if our country goes in a direction that I find unconscionable, I don’t have to be a party to the injustice.  I might even be a small impediment.  Would such action be a useless endeavor? Perhaps, but that’s not the point.  Many people lost their lives in similar acts during World War II, but few look down on such defiance today.  There are scenarios where I would find it difficult to live with myself if I simply sat back and did nothing.

This is the foundation for the demand that government be left out of any regulation of firearms.  If the establishment has a list of the third of the population that could prove the most ornery in resisting some grand scheme, they will be the first to be silenced.  If there is to be any hope for the people, we cannot allow this, as it would swing the balance of power so far in favor of the government that resistance truly would be futile.

For anyone that feels a shred of emotion, there are few things that can dull the horror of an event like Sandyhook.  But the atrocities of the Holocaust are so immense that it is hard to put the numbers into meaningful perspective.  It would be like systematically murdering the entire population of Switzerland, every man, woman and child.  We cannot for any reason be complacent in such a plan, and if the price is a society that makes random acts of violence more common, then we have no choice but to bear that cost.

I will admit that this has not been high on my personal list of fears (though recent events do raise my eyebrows).  The scenario that I feel is of greatest concern is not the oppression of a tyrannical leadership, but actually the complete lack thereof.  It is a situation like the aftermath of hurricane Katrina that scares me.  It doesn’t take many days without power to start to recognize the veneer of security our present day society provides.  If by some natural or man-made disaster we lost all of our precious utilities, what then?  My family will quickly tell you how long I will last without a shower.  My ability to provide for them with traps and snares is going to result in an unavoidable weight-loss program as I get up to speed.

In such a situation, the defense of one’s home takes on a whole new meaning.  It is one thing to consider that the police may be several long minutes away.  It is another thing entirely when they won’t be coming at all.  Mix that with the animosity that inevitably follows a regional lack of resources, and I will be having that assault rifle, thank you very much.

Are there other happy countries that feel differently?  Yes.  But embedded in my psyche as an American is the right to protect myself and my family, to have a means to provide for them when the promises of our society fail, and to choose to resist any plans of unconscionable injustice.  No matter the utopia you wish were so, no matter if others in other lands smirk or even scoff at this ideal, it is without question one of the inalienable rights.  And the document that was signed in the formation of our still great nation agrees.

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