I had planned on doing a post, today, on gun laws. I thought I had waited almost long enough after the Jordan Davis shooting when the Jovan Belcher/Kasandra Perkins shooting happened. Today, that clock reset, and I finally got tired of the argument that it is ever too soon to talk about this. The simple fact is that it is too late. Too late for Trevon; for Jordan; for so many young children. So, I am proceeding with this post, edited to reflect more of my feelings this morning.
American foreign policy is to limit the proliferation of weapons. UN policy is to limit the proliferation of weapons. We understand, as humans, that other people having more efficient ways of killing humans is bad.
We don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. We don’t want North Korea to have a delivery missile for the weapons we know they have. We don’t want anyone to use chemical or biological weapons. Weapons are bad.
So why are Americans so opposed to talking about gun control? Weapons control is a huge part of American policy, both foreign and domestic, already. Why are there stricter limits on my carrying blades than on my carrying firearms? What are we really afraid of? Why can’t we be reasonable about this?
We need firearms. We need hunting rifles and some people honestly need a rifle of shotgun for home defense. I accept that. I applaud people who teach their children to respect the power of a firearm and to use them safely. I am not anti-gun. I love shooting, personally.
That said, I don’t see a need for private citizens to own automatic weapons, or even semi-automatic weapons. Maybe we can create special licenses for well regulated ranges to offer the chance, but no private citizen has need of an AK47. Making them available to anyone makes it easier for criminals to get them, though theft or through under-the-table deals. Anyone who wants to own a handgun ought to have to go through the Police Academy or bootcamp. I am serious. The geek in me leans on the adage that “with great power comes great responsibility”, and a hand gun is a lot of power.
Americans always end up having this discussion as though someone involved is a constitutional scholar. “The 2nd amendment says that I can own any gun I want!” “The Constitution says that you can’t take away my guns.” Let’s look, very briefly, at what it actually says, though. The first words of the 2nd amendment are “A well regulated militia”. I think the fact that the law opens with the words “well regulated” shows that there was never intended to be a hands-off policy. The founders knew that guns were dangerous and only getting more so as time went on. They knew that they couldn’t foresee the actual course of weapons technology. More over, US law does limit the kinds of weapons available to the public, and has been stricter about it in the past.
What we seem to be ignoring another very important fact that the founders were wrong. They were wrong a lot. Remember the three fifths compromise? Are we forgetting the disenfranchisement of women? Or the appointment, rather than election, of senators? We have corrected their mistakes and oversights over the last 200 years. That is a part of the Constitution, even before the Bill of Rights.
We have a gun problem. We have cultural problems of violence and apathy that need to be addressed, and it isn’t wrong to count them as the real root of the gun problem. Being angry and violent isn’t caused by the gun. We cannot ignore that access to the gun makes that person much, much more dangerous.
We need to have a serious discussion about guns. We cannot wait until the tears are all dry, because it is clear that, as long as we avoid the discussion, that day will never come. It is not too soon. It is never too soon to honor the victims by changing the situation so that it doesn’t keep happening. This is what we do after most tragedies: we address the problems head-on and try to insure that they don’t happen the same way, again. Why, then, is 2 weeks too soon to talk about this issue, when we know that our reluctance will allow it to happen again in a few weeks time?