Guns, Guns, Guns.
Since everyone else is busy either buying a gun, or talking about guns, I guess that I am entitled to weigh-in also. Please note that I am not trying to convince anybody of anything in particular. I am trying to narrow the distance between opinions, so that fewer people get shot at that are not in a war, or are shooting at cops.
Since the Civil War there has not been an American topic that is quite so difficult to come to consensus on. That includes abortion. The fundamental difference is that abortion is something that you do, while guns are something that you have. Forget for a moment that what people do with guns makes all the difference, but the basic argument resides in having guns.That’s what we need to figure out…first.
Nomenclature. One word doesn’t properly cover this. Here is a for instance. My dad received a .22 rifle for his twelfth birthday. In the stock of the gun, he carved his initials. Today that gun resides at my brother’s house. There is no way in the world, when dad passed on, that anything else might have happened with this rifle. It would never have been thrown out or sold. Chances are it will never be shot again, but it will be treasured. My guess is that my dad shot at targets and rabbits with it. But mostly, he just had it. It is a treasure, I simply cannot think of it as a weapon. It shouldn’t be lumped in with every other “gun” by definition.
Similar to this, are guns that people use to hunt animals. Of course, hunting is a sport, and what do we call the necessary tools for sport? What group is a lacrosse stick, a bowling ball and a baseball bat in? I guess they would be best be called gear. In that way, a hunting rifle is gear. Is it in the same category as a gun that is actually a machine?
Also to be considered are those guns that are used for sport, but not to hunt animals. Lots of people have rifles and handguns that they use to shoot at targets and flying clay discs. Sometimes they shoot at paper outlines of humans also, but only paper ones, not real ones. Are they in the same group with all others? I doubt it.
All of these things have to do with intent, and intent matters. No gun described here is intended by rational owners to be used to murder other humans.
Police Weapons. It is easy to identify the guns that we give to police to kill others. They are defensive tools, but clearly used to kill. That is the intent.
Military Weapons. We give weapons to soldiers so that they can kill before they are killed, Unlike police weapons, which are defensive, these weapons are offensive. That is their intent.
Drug War Weapons. I don’t know what else to call these, but it’s the inner city weapon that is both offensive and defensive. Mostly they are handguns, and they are used for murder, not sport. There is plenty of data to support the connection between the drug business and these guns.
In one sense, it is in this area that there is so much contention. Something that most Americans will use for sport is clearly used for murder in this community. Sometimes I think that we should leave all of these knuckleheads and there guns alone, so that they can finally obliterate each other. The problems arise when a three-year-old kid ends up in the crossfire.
So, by my definition, we have “guns” which are OK, because the intended use is collection or sport, and “weapons” which are used to murder, or to obliterate. That’s an important distinction, particularly for hunters. Hunters kill, but they don’t destroy the animal. If they did, they couldn’t eat it.
If we went by my neat little conventions, it would be easy to say that guns are ok, but weapons are not, except for police and soldiers. We could make two columns and say what is ok to keep and what should be thrown in the river. My dad’s guns are fine. Semi-automatic weapons belong only to soldiers.
Then, of course, we have to add in the wild card. People.
My cousin Pat has lots of guns. He likes them. I might even guess that he has some of those items that I myself have defined as weapons. I don’t care. Why? Because Pat isn’t going to shoot me, no matter what. I don’t fear him. The only people that should fear him are people that might foolishly break into his house. I feel certain that Patrick would exercise his right to maintain safety in his home. I doubt that he would invite them to a conversation. I don’t think he would go after them with a mop handle. Pat would shoot them dead, and that’s alright with me. I don’t care if you kill them with battery acid or a Magnum .44. It’s your house. The intent is not offensive.
That takes us to the human area of insanity. This includes both crazy people and the most extreme anti gun control knuckleheaded nuts, and the people that want all guns to disappear.
You know that slogan “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” don’t you? It makes sense in a way. But if you can support that slogan then you should also support this one. “Sane people with guns don’t kill people, but the crazy ones do.”
There will never be any way at all to profile all of the people so that Patrick can have guns, but that James Holmes and Adam Lanza cannot. We can, however, be sensible, and try to minimize the damage, so that civilians cannot have “weapons”. Some right thinking Americans will be irritated by this, but fewer innocent people would get dead if we can support this. We are not a primitive people. We need to make it very,very difficult for anyone to shoot a six-year-old child eleven times.
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. That’s what it says, that’s the whole thing. And if you are going to quote it, then quote all of it. It’s not “I have the right to bear arms.”
The Supreme Court, who are hired to figure out complicated things, has commented in this way.
“The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home”
America is a Republic which means that we are governed by the laws of our own making. I personally like as few laws as possible, and would rather depend on the common sense of the people. The great barrier to this regarding guns is our own selfishness, which is, in a free society, a deplorable act. Liberty is something you give, not something you get. It is about doing what is best for all of the people, not you. That is the thinking that made slavery disappear. Certainly I could get a lot more accomplished if I could have a couple dozen slaves, but no one seems to want to volunteer to be in my service to that degree. If I have to force them, then I have removed their freedom, which is anti-American. Still, it would be good to have slaves. But only for me.
It’s not about me..it’s about everyone.
So, to the people who want to throw every last gun into the river, I say…”Don’t be stupid.” And I have the same sentiment for those that want to say that anybody anywhere can have any kind of gun or weapon they want. When they trot out the “If they use a gun as a criminal, they will be punished by law,” argument, I would like to remind them that someone will already be dead when it goes to court.
My argument is not about guns or controls or rights. It’s about murder, and there is too much of it.
Here is where I stand personally, on a complex issue. First, I am a pacifist. But that isn’t why I don’t have a gun. I don’t have a gun, because I am afraid of them, and therefore I know that it is dangerous for me to have one. I have tried to shoot guns, but I turn into Barney Fife in his most nervous state. I also don’t need a gun to hunt, because I don’t eat animals. Celery is much easier to hunt for.
I was, however, raised in a family of hunters. I want those guys to have their guns. They are sportsmen and they enjoy hunting.
Being a pacifist doesn’t make me wimpy. If you break into my house, or threaten my family I will hurt and try to kill you. Pacifists need to defend themselves from criminals like everyone else. It would just take me longer to hold a criminal at bay while I throw dishes at them, so I keep my cousin Pat on speed dial. Pacifists are against wars, but that’s another topic.
I don’t have every answer, or every solution. My entire point in writing is to encourage all of us to drop the selfishness of our own opinions, and enter into dialogue that makes it very difficult to shoot and kill people who you are not at war with, or defending yourself from.
If you twist around the constitution for your own amusement, or try to legislate others in ways that have no effect on you, you are helping the murders to continue. That makes you an accessory.
My hope is that we can begin a reasonable dialogue. We might just surprise ourselves with a happy outcome.