I actually hate talking political issues on my BLog for a number of reasons. One is that this site really exists as a space to discuss art. The second is that every time I do it — no matter how carefully I couch my words and no matter how nuanced my position — there’s always at least one jackass who (I can only assume deliberately) misapprehends what I’m saying and raises a stink. And because I’m just naïve enough to think that such people can still be educated, I end up wading into the muck with him/her.
Anyway. Enough of that. I feel the need to unburden myself a little bit today.
First of all: As I have mentioned before, I grew up in a gun culture. There were hunting rifles and other firearms in my house growing up. Every weekend, my stepfather went hunting. The background soundtrack of my Sunday mornings was the distant echo of rifles.
I don’t have a problem with guns.
I don’t have a problem with people who own or like guns. I have fired guns (at targets, never anything living — just don’t care about hunting one way or the other). I enjoyed the experience, but it’s not one I’ve particularly sought out over the years. Again, this isn’t a philosophical or anti-gun thing on my part. Just as you might try a meal once and find it OK, but then never make an effort to eat it again, well, that’s my feeling about guns: Not offensive to me, but nothing I really care to repeat.
So, with that established, I figure maybe now is the time to talk about something that bothers me:
What I do have a problem with is bad people having guns and incredibly stupid and/or cynical people blathering about them stupidly and/or cynically.
A while back, Sharon Angle of Nevada said [emphasis mine]:
If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.
More recently, during the whole Chick-Fil-A kerfluffle, another office-seeker, Ron Williams of Mississippi, claimed that those mayors interested in blocking the restaurant from opening franchises in their cities “need to be introduced to the Second Amendment.”
Later, Mr. Williams said he was exaggerating and not advising “anybody to go shoot anybody.”
If you don’t “mean it,” then WHY SAY IT IN THE FIRST PLACE? There’s no other interpretation for this! If I say, “Let’s look at some First Amendment remedies to such-and-such a problem,” you can take it a number of ways. I could mean let’s talk about it. I could mean let’s pray about it. Let’s start a newspaper about it. A blog. A TV show. A radio program. A podcast. A play. A book. A myriad of possibilities.
But when I say a Second Amendment remedy, there is only interpretation: Get a gun. And a gun is used to either shoot something or to terrify someone into compliance via the threat of shooting. (Some will say, “A gun is for defense.” Sure. But in the context of a “remedy,” using a gun for defense is nonsensical. Defense is passive. A remedy is active.)
When was the last time you saw a liberal/progressive candidate say, “Let’s discuss Second Amendment remedies?” The people who are pissed at Chick-Fil-A spoke of boycotting it — no one suggested shooting Dan Cathy in retribution.
The most stalwart defenders of gun ownership will tell you that they need guns to protect themselves, their property, and their loved ones, either from criminals or from a government gone amok. OK, let’s not dispute that. Let’s stipulate to it.
Even with that agreed to, though, “protecting yourself and your property and your loved ones” does not equal “shoot those who disagree with you politically.”
“Protecting yourself” does not equal using a firearm to coerce a political outcome.
My buddy Steve Conley recently made this point on Facebook:
The same people who worship the U.S. Military as the greatest fighting force in the history of the world, also think their right to get a semi-automatic weapon without a waiting period means they think they stand a chance against the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. Good luck with that.
True. If you believe your gun will protect yourself from the government, you’re in for a rude awakening. Ask the folks at Ruby Ridge. Ask David Koresh.
Hell, ask the guys in the Whiskey Rebellion!
When a small group of armed individuals go up against the federal government, the federal government always wins.
“But, Barry! How are we supposed to protect ourselves from government overreach!”
Seems to me there’s something called the ballot box for that. And by the way, just because you don’t like the result of that process doesn’t mean it’s automatically evil and abhorrent. It just means you don’t like it. I don’t like broccoli — but I’m not trying to get it banned. Don’t worry — if you don’t like the guy in office, you get another chance soon enough. And if you don’t like him, either, you get another chance after that. (If a whole hell of a lot of chances go by and you’re never happy, maybe — just maybe — you should rethink your position. There’s a possibility that you’re — gasp! — wrong about something. Constant re-evaluation of our own entrenched ideas is one of the best uses of the lump of tissues and nerves between our ears.)
So, regardless of our politics, can we admit that there’s a gun problem? Can we admit too many people are being shot and killed every single day? Seems pretty simple to me. Seems basic.
I’m not interested in making guns illegal. I’m not interested in taking them away from people who genuinely need them or use them responsibly. And I am the first person to admit that I don’t know what the solution is.
I’m just saying: Can we at least talk about the problem? Are gun owners really so threatened by something like talk? Hell, you guys have the guns! How can simple talk be so damn threatening to you?
But I do know this: The solution must begin with discussion. And that means you can’t have one side (NRA, I’m looking at you…) stomp its feet and throw a hissy-fit every time someone opens their mouth to talk about this stuff.
It has been claimed (by pundits and jurists of multiple political stripes) that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
Then why the hell are we killing ourselves?
[NOTE: This post is not about gun control. It is about the meta-discussion of talking about gun control and about people irresponsibly citing the Second Amendment. If you'd like to comment, go ahead. But if you start blathering nonsense like, "The liberals want to take my guns!" or "Obama's a commie, so I need my gun to defend myself!" then your comments will be deleted as off-topic. See, the topic here isn't pro or con gun ownership. The topic is people being stupid about it. Stay on-topic.]