It’s past time to look for real solutions to U.S. gun violence
I’ve been a gun owner and a shooter for almost as long as I can remember. We grew up with guns, starting with BB guns and then up through sporting arms. For several years, I wrote freelance articles on the side for dozens of regional and national sporting publications in the ‘hook & bullet’ genre and I’ve hunted from Saskatchewan to the Mexican border. I hung it up a number of years back, but I’m not part of the anti-gun lobby; not by a long shot. Occasionally, I still head out to the range.
I also don’t believe that the Second amendment is about hunting. That wasn’t the concern when it was written. The purpose was to leave arms in the hands of the people against the potential for being enslaved by an oppressive government. Anyone who reads the Constitution quickly realizes that the document is not a list of rights given to people by the government. Instead, it is a list of limitations on government from the perspective of people who saw the need to vest ultimate control in the hands of the citizenry.
Having said all of that, I think it is long past time for a frank and open discussion about gun violence in this country and what we, as a society, ought to be doing about it. And if the answer continues to be the same old National Rifle Association bullpucky about trying to say that the founders meant to anticipate all of the technological improvements in firearms that have occurred over the past 220 years, then that is going to be the wrong answer. The founders mostly understood things like flintlock, muzzle-loading single-shot weapons as the “arms” for which they were retaining rights in the Bill of Rights. That’s what people had and that’s what they knew.
Anything that matters in this area of the law is going to be a hassle for people like me. I understand that. There are a lot of things that are a hassle. Take a flight, attend an appearance of the President, go to a major sporting event or try to do a lot of other things. Times have changed since I was a kid. They’ve changed even more since 18 years before Abraham Lincoln was born and the Bill of Rights was being enacted. And while the founders did some pretty good work, they left some work for the people of this country in succeeding generations to clean up long after they were finished, too – (little things like women having the right to vote or dealing with slavery, as a couple of examples.)
Like many others, I read the barrage of campaign mailings from the NRA in the last election. It provided some great guidance to know who that group was supporting and opposing, (although not necessarily in the same manner that these folks were intending.) The NRA sends out candidate questionnaires filled with loaded questions and then tries to help elect and re-elect legislators who will be just as unreasonable as they are. They are successful often enough to keep them at it.
Maybe the answer is different for Wyoming than it is for Connecticut. Maybe we need to look at this provision of our Constitution and alter it, as we have done in the past when we found things that no longer reflected our needs and values. There won’t be a silver bullet. But if we want to solve 21st Century problems, we can’t continue to rely upon the NRA and its unbending, never-ending insistence on the same old 18th Century response. And we can’t rely on legislators who pledge allegiance to the NRA in the face of the carnage we continue to experience as a result of our failure to deal with firearms violence in this country. Those who steadfastly refuse to be part of the solution are part of the problem.
A timeline of mass shootings since Columbine:
Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough: “It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas. It’s time for politicians to start focusing more on protecting our schoolyards than putting together their next fundraiser.”