Discussing The Second Amendment

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There are very few things that strike me as something that I feel I should write about politically, because I’m not smart enough to properly elaborate on my thoughts much beyond, “I’m ok with abortion,” and “I don’t get why people aren’t for stem cell research.”  But other times it strikes me as simple but when I look into things further it gets endlessly complicated.  And it seems to be something that doesn’t affect me until some troubled kid walks into an elementary school in Connecticut (or a mall in Oregon or a movie theatre in Colorado or a church in Wisconsin or…Jesus Christ it’s endless) and starts mowing down people for no good reason.

I don’t get guns.  I don’t have an issue with them, I’ve just never had much of an issue with them, I’ve just never had much of an interest in them.  On the surface, this is somewhat strange.  I grew up in a hunting town, in a hunting state, watching movies like Die Hard and Lethal Weapon which seemed to revel in racking up body counts rung up by semi-automatic weapons.  But I never had any interest in picking up or shooting them, and in fact, at the age of 35, I’ve never seen a gun outside of a store.  I guess I should be considered lucky.  So I can’t think of myself as anti-gun.

But at some point you really have to sit up and say, “What the fuck?”

I’m really baffled as to why someone needs a semi-automatic rifle that shoots 30 rounds in a matter of seconds.  For that matter, I don’t get why you need a weapon that shoots 10 rounds in a matter of seconds.  Outside of military use, there’s just no rational explanation.

Are you using it for hunting?  If so, I hope your goal is to take the animal’s head off on site, because pumping an animal full of that many bullets is going to make it hard for me to buy into your whole, “I eat everything I kill” argument.

Are you using it for home defense?  If you need 10 shots to hit the guy who’s breaking into your house, you shouldn’t own a gun, or a house, or anything more valuable than an iPhone (and I’m not talking about the snazzy iPhone 5, I’m talking the free ones they’re giving away these days).

Simply put, you can’t explain to me why someone needs a gun that holds more than 15 bullets.  And you can’t explain to me why you need that gun to fire those 15 bullets faster than I can read this sentence.

But there’s a troubling footnote to this.  Look at the words of the Second Amendment.

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.

It seems fairly straightforward, but it’s not.  Of course, those in favor of gun ownership (I struggle not to call them gun nuts, because it’s not fair to label all of them such when in reality a vast minority of them are the ones proclaiming that the guns will have to be pried from their cold dead hands) focus on that crucial last portion of the Amendment: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

But that ignores a crucial portion of the rule, specifically linking the right to bear arms to the necessity of a “well regulated militia”.  This is not insignificant.  When the Constitution was written, the Revolutionary War was fresh on the minds of those writing the law of the land.  They had just gotten done with decades of a tyrannical government infringing upon their security.  The “well regulated militia” of which the Founding Fathers spoke wasn’t the far right-wing militia we think of today, but rather what we know as the U.S. military.

Of course, this is all irrelevant, as gun ownership has been upheld at all levels of government.  Nonetheless, it strikes me as odd that we focus on the right to bear arms without linking this to the importance of a well regulated militia.

Yet that’s where my confusion lies.

I’d be an absolute moron if I suggested the U.S. military should send troops into battle without the latest and greatest weaponry available.  That includes automatic weapons, unmanned drones, attack helicopters, tanks, and yes, nuclear weapons.

But the U.S. military isn’t the “well regulated militia” anymore.  At the risk of sounding like a right-wing nutjob, the current U.S. military is going to be the tyrannical government that would threaten the security of a free state.  Any outside threat (which, with the exception of a few attempted hot-air balloon attacks during WWII, hasn’t happened in 200 years) would be dealt with by that military.  The threat to the people – those people who are being given the right to bear arms – will come from the people who are supposed to protect them.  It’s with that in mind that I struggle to suggest that the people who would be so threatened should not have the same weaponry available as the people attacking them.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I don’t believe that our government represents a threat to its people.  I seriously doubt it ever will.  But if someone could say to me, “I believe that our government is a threat, and here’s why,” (and it doesn’t begin and end with, “Our president is black”), and then used that as a rational explanation as to why they needed to possess an assault rifle, I might be willing to listen.

That hasn’t happened yet.

The NRA did the right thing in the wake of the Newtown tragedy: they shut their mouths for a week.  Then they opened them up again and we realized that the pro-gun lobby as it currently stands is, for a lack of better words, idiotic and insane.  The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun isn’t a good guy with a gun, it’s to ensure that the bad guy never gets the gun.  So many of the guns used in these mass shootings were purchased legally, and if they weren’t they were available easily enough that their legality wasn’t a huge issue.  The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to make him a bad guy who can’t get a gun.  You can discuss the ability of a troubled individual to create mass casualties with a knife.  I’ll tell you that if given the choice between a guy walking into a crowded room with a gun or a guy walking into a crowded room with a machete, I’ll take my chances with the machete.

Get rid of the guns.  It’s that simple.

A few years ago, the city of New York sent a football player to prison for 20 months because he shot himself in the leg.  Let me rephrase that.  They sent a football player to prison for 20 months because he was caught with an unlicensed gun in New York.  Was Plaxico Burress used as an example?  Of course he was.  But New York City doesn’t fuck around.  To me this is relevant, because this year New York City is reporting its fewest murders since they started keeping track in 1963.  To put this in perspective, New York had 45 more murders than Detroit this year, despite the fact that New York has 10 times the population than Detroit.

Cause and effect?  Who knows?  It’s good enough for me.  You take the guns away, your crime rate goes down.

People may not think the same as me.  I’m ok with that.  If someone can have a rational discussion about gun control with me, I’m more than willing to listen and engage.

Until then?

Get rid of the guns.

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