These are my opinions, and that is all that they are: opinions. I make no pretense of scholarship or expertise. I am simply a guy who thinks about things and forms opinions.
Does that sound fair?
So, are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin.
As a nation, the United States of America was founded in an act of armed rebellion.
The framers of the Constitution, conscious of the fact that it may very well need to happen again, specifically designed the framework of laws that would provide the foundation of this American nation to emphasize personal freedom, and then ensured that one of the very first amendments to this new constitution gave law abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms.
I do not believe that the framers were wrong to do so, but I do believe that the world has changed in ways that they never would have been able to see or anticipate.
When the framers wrote the constitution your average gun was a single-shot deal that, while certainly deadly, required an investment in time in order to set up for the second shot.
Now we have handguns with magazine that support between 8 and 12 rounds, and automatic assault weapons that can shoot, in the immortal words of the philosopher Radar O’Rielly, “30 corporals a second.”
When the framers wrote the constitution mental illness was a largely misunderstood thing and was never dealt with especially well.
Now we understand more about mental illness than we ever have before, but I’m not convinced that we’re any better at taking care of those who need it than we were before.
The framers could never have anticipated the era of terrorism, and yet that’s exactly what we’re living in now. And, it seems, not only living in but surrendering to.
For all the progress we have supposedly made, I sometimes question whether we have made any at all.
I do not believe that the right to bear arms is something that should be revoked, but I do believe that the wording of the second amendment needs to be revised.
It needs to be revised to take into account the fact that there are people who simply are not capable of carrying out the responsibilities associated with the lawful possession of firearms. It is therefore reasonable that steps be taken to keep such weapons out of the hands of these individuals.
It needs to be revised to take into account the fact that there are people who have no conception of the value of life, and think nothing of taking an assault weapon to large groups of people simply because they feel they have a point to make or because the voices in their head told them that it was a good idea. It is entirely reasonable that steps be taken to keep such weapons out of the hands of these individuals.
It is entirely reasonable that steps should be taken to keep weapons out of the hands of convicted criminals with a high probability of recidivism.
It is entirely reasonable that steps should be taken to keep weapons out of the hands of those who would make threats against schools and churches and movie theatres and other venues where people gather in large numbers.
And yet there are those who believe that such steps are wrong, that they’re an infringement of the rights of all, and that the solution to our problems is to increase the proliferation of firearms and promote the benefits of an armed society.
Because increasing the proliferation of weapons has worked out so well for police forces all across the country.
It is not unreasonable to propose some gun control measures, but gun control in and of itself is a band-aid solution, and essentially meaningless until and unless the root causes of gun violence are identified and dealt with.
But what are those root causes?
I would like to propose two:
Firstly, I would like to propose that a major component of the problem is the attitude of a great many Americans towards firearms.
These individuals have been taught, and have bought into, the idea that firearms are the ultimate symbol of freedom. If you don’t have a weapon then you’re not free. And thus they believe fervently that the answer to most of the problems plaguing modern society is to remove any and all restrictions on firearms and The United States of American should advance towards becoming a society of armed individuals.
Their arguments in favour of this proposition seem largely to be the result of wishful thinking and flights of fancy, devoid of much in the way of any rationality.
I am not certain that this is what the framers intended when they wrote the constitution and presented those first amendments.
A great many on the left have the mistaken impression that these individuals love their firearms more than they love the lives of their children. I’m not certain that’s the case. I think that what they love more than anything is what they believe those firearms represent, and they’re as devout in that belief as they are in their Christianity.
This mindset is not the kind of thing that can be solved with gun control. In fact, in this case gun control measures will only aggravate they further, regardless of how benign the regulations are.
This is something that needs to be changed on a societal level, and short of executing all conservatives, evangelicals, and libertarians I have no idea how that would be accomplished.
The second possible root cause is something that is far more nebulous and far less tangible. In other words, I have no proof for what I am about to say, just a general feeling that this is so.
But it seems to me as if a great many people in this world today have absolutely no concept of the value of human life.
And because they hold life cheap they see individual people as inherently expendable and interchangeable. And it is sometimes easy to see why: there are over 7 Billion of us now, and we’re breeding at rates unprecedented in our history. For every one who is killed we simply make one or five or a hundred more.
But they are wrong.
Life does have value and that value needs to be respected.
Certainly life has value to those who have lost loved ones.
Mayhaps a part of the problem could be a lack of empathy, yes?
There is also another issue to be considered: should the imposition of gun control measures be left to the individual state legislatures, or should it be a federal matter?
This is largely an opinion driven issue, and one which is argued fervently and passionately by both sides. Though I do find it interesting that those arguments largely consist more of insults hurled by one side towards the other than of any amount of rational thought.
I have no interest in insults, so I will try to restrict myself to rationality as much as possible.
It is no great secret that I distrust politicians. It doesn’t matter if they’re on the left or on the right, politics is a game for the corrupt, and while it is possible for people to walk into an arena like that with the best of intentions, the fact of the matter is that it is only a matter of time before they are captured by the system and fall victim to the rampant corruption that is so prevalent.
It is also no great secret that I have an inherent distrust of large central governments.
Understand, I absolutely accept that a threshold level of government is essential to the running of a civilized society. But that government should be limited in power and in scope. You know your government has grown too large when every issue needs to be decided on a federal stage.
That being said …
The United States of America was designed to be less of a united nation, in the truest sense of the word, than a loose hegemony of individual states. The purpose of the federal government in this arrangement becomes primarily that of mediator, weighing in on issues of importance to the states as a unified whole.
But the vast majority of power has traditionally rested with the individual state governments than with the federal government.
I see this formula as being very effective. Certainly it seems to work in Canada.
I am therefore inclined to think that if there is to be any gun control regulations, then such matters should be left to the individual states.
The counter argument is, of course, that if we follow this formula then all we will be doing is perpetuating the status quo, in that there will be those states that pursue gun control and those that do not.
And there is some measure of truth in that.
But I would still rather see such matters in the hands of the individual states than in the hands of a federal government that has already grown far larger and accumulated far more power than it was ever intended to.