The Middle on Guns *Quick Update*
The following is a simple overview of the gun debate and doesn't dive into the complexities of what could be the most significant debate in our lifetimes. Complexity isn't a vice, and simple answers aren't necessarily a virtue. The biggest issue with gun control is the issue of the debate itself. No one is willing to talk.
Left or Right
Much like any other argument today, we see the two sides (right & left) fight it out with little to nothing done. As in anything I write, this is IMPO.Part of this is based on the public face of the topic and not individuals. What each other group says about each other and what they say about themselves.
On the right, you have a group that sees personnel freedom they hold dear being assaulted by people who want to tell them how to live. This is despite the fact many of these are the same who want to ban gay marriage, enforce blue laws, and necessarily tell you how to live.
To many, a gun is a tool for something else, such as home protection or hunting. To these people, the concept of gun violence is idiotic. “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
Then you have the gun lobbyists who are paid by the manufacturers who see their business being made illegal. This leads to the false assumption that all members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) are against any regulation.
The third group are the people who are afraid that one law will eventually lead to a total ban on personnel freedom. There is a precedent for there fears. When Ohio voted on a statewide smoking ban in public, the population was told that private clubs (VFW) could still allow smoking. Shortly after the vote passed, the group that pushed for the bill went to court and had an exemption ruled as unconstitutional (state constitution).
On the left, you have people who see what is around them and think that society is being torn apart by violence and indifference and believe that we can do better. Many of these are the same people who will fight against any personnel abridgment of other rights. Now many of this group also own a gun wanting to limit the type of guns sold. “Do you need an assault rifle to hunt unarmed ducks?”
Don't Tell Me
Many people believe guns are as big a problem as cancer. They would say that like anything else if you have a gun, you will try and find a use for it. This group will point out how many people could have been saved if their shooter did not have access to a gun. It asserts the notion that by possessing the gun brought about the action and not another possibility. These are the people you can’t argue with because if you want a gun then you are not intelligent enough to make a decision.
Like with the right, you have the people who think that we can have limited reasonable gun control. I know many hunters who don’t see a need for an AK-47 to hunt deer and ducks. One man (an NRA member and a hunter) said: “the AK is a poor gun to take hunting because of the weight and control.”
Then there are the people who see our culture (movies, books, video games, etc.) as being too violent. This “Gun Culture” has helped spawn a wave of apathetic violence, a sort of disconnect between the act and the result. The argument also intensifies around mass shootings helping to create the case “how could you defend gun ownership after the school shooting." As if one is connected to the other.
The Second Amendment
We can argue over words and meanings, but most of that side of the argument is window dressing. Propaganda meant position one side as being right. A rifle becomes an assault weapon, or a weapons ban becomes a ban on guns. One provides an image of a violent action while the other sets the concept of outright prohibition.
Our history has shown us that prohibition does not work and creates new problems. Banning alcohol helped fuel organized crime. Banning drugs just put the people who are addicted to jail instead of a program designed to help. This also fueled violence both in homes and on the streets. A whole culture had developed around the mythology of the drug dealer and the power of using a gun.
Now, this is not to say that we can’t have laws to protect the public. We ban texting while driving as well as driving while drunk, but texting or drinking is not illegal. The concept that “when guns are illegal, then only criminals will have guns” is small thinking. Without a constitutional amendment, an outright ban on firearms will be ruled unconstitutional. An argument has been made that the amendment means that we should allow only those who belong to a militia (National Guard) to own a gun. Any fan of The West Wing has watched this argument. History has also shown us that opinions change with time. Today capital punishment is constitutional, but in the past, it wasn’t. How our descendants interpret, the constitution is up to them. The way we see it today is different from our ancestors. The constitution is a living document changing as we change.
One definition of society is the boundaries in which any group of people decides to live. This means that without boundaries, we would have no society. In this context, most aspects of society will require some limits. We all have laws that we agree with, and we don’t. History also shows us we can have limits without elimination.
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- Four sides of the gun debate
The problem with the debate over gun control is the same as with any other debate today. No middle ground.
Do you own a gun?
© 2013 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron