The recent shootings in Charleston are bringing out the inevitable tut-tutting about the state of the Union, combined with people decrying our present gun laws, and the inevitable gun lovers attacking them for being short-sighted and un-American for criticizing the Second Amendment.
America’s irrational gun fixation makes me picture a nation full of drivers afraid of the dangers on American highways… so they speed up, trying to get ahead of the danger. But this makes everyone else speed up, everyone trying to get to the front of the line… resulting in a literal Deathrace, highways becoming more and more dangerous amidst maniacally-speeding drivers.
Until you have small accidents… that become mass accidents… that lead to mass casualties, damage done to the highways and to the lives of everyone caught in the traffic behind the crash.
And still those people cry: “If only I’d gone faster…”
It’s ironic that those who defend the Second Amendment as the final statement on America’s right for private citizens to arm themselves, as guaranteed by our Founding Fathers, manage to ignore two things: One, that our Founding Fathers made it clear that the government of the United States, and its laws, were designed and intended to be malleable as time and necessities changed; and Two, that the very name of the law they defend, the Second Amendment, is a clear indicator that the laws not only can be changed, but have been changed as needed.
And if it isn’t painfully clear that the needs of the nation have changed since then, nothing will ever be.
But still Americans insist that the solution to guns is more guns. Look where that’s gotten us. Any criminal, racist and mentally-unstable idiot can (and does) get a gun, with the result of shootings in private homes, public parks, malls, theatres, clubs, playgrounds, churches, and randomly on the street. Americans shoot other Americans for looking at their girlfriend wrong. Americans shoot other Americans for cursing at them. Americans shoot other Americans for being thoughtless in traffic. Americans shoot other Americans because they’re not getting laid. Americans shoot other Americans because they think having a different skin color is somehow wrong. Americans shoot other Americans because they—yes—just think it’s okay to shoot someone.
We’ve even exported that attitude, applying it to the Middle East by arming insurgents to take down unpopular governments. The result has been worse governments and more insurgents (which we arm just like the previous guys), growing and evolving terrorist sects, Al-Qaida, ISIS and a forever-destabilized region that now spills out onto the people who originally armed them (you get one guess who).
“When the Supreme Court ruled in (the Heller Decision), Justice Scalia said he was following his doctrine of originalism. But when you actually go back and look at the debate that went into drafting of the amendment, you can squint and look really hard, but there’s simply no evidence of it being about individual gun ownership for self-protection or for hunting. Emphatically, the focus was on the militias.”
Today, our Militia is the Police, National Guard, Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. And unlike the past, when we required our people to bring their own guns when they served (which most Americans almost certainly owned since we were a hunting culture at the time), today our armed forces have their own guns, and are more than willing to hand them to you at the door when you sign up.
And in a country where anything you want to eat can be obtained at your local grocery store, there’s sure no need to hunt. So that’s two reasons for gun ownership taken away.
Leaving the idea of self-protection. Which wouldn’t be nearly as dire, if it weren’t for all of those guns out there… it’s a firearms Cold War, both sides dedicated to mutually-assured destruction, and not waiting for the other side to pull the trigger.
But now there are defensive and non-lethal weapons that can be just as effective as guns to protect the home. My favorite example is the taser: Tasers can fire an electric jolt that will immobilize an attacker, leaving them unable to fire a gun at you, or do much of anything else, long enough for you to disarm them or run away. Tasers are simple to use, can be fired multiple times (depending on the model), can have a range of a few dozen feet or used at close range, are easily carried, and do not require a license to operate. I don’t own a gun or have a license, but I can legally buy a taser in a store or online, today.
And I’ll bet you that any gun-toting criminal is going to think twice about pulling on someone they believe has a taser on them. Those things aren’t fun.
For other non-lethal weapons, my second favorite is: The extended baton, which allows you to strike an assailant that’s close-in. This weapon has recently been featured on episodes of Elementary, where Sherlock Holmes trained Joan Watson in its use… and she has had occasion to use it against attackers, to good effect.
And there’s nothing like good old martial arts to teach you defensive strategies, how to break holds or disable opponents, and how to keep them at bay. If America’s public schools announced tomorrow that every child would take and pass a mandatory martial arts component before graduating from junior high school, I (and a lot of parents) would only be dee-lighted.
So, if there are non-lethal defensive weapons available to every member of the public… if we don’t need to hunt for food… if our armed forces already have plenty of guns to loan us when we go to serve… and if we have clear evidence that constant escalations in arms are not making us any safer…
…exactly why do private citizens need guns again?
Answer: We don’t. We, as a people and a country, have evolved… just like the Founding Fathers expected and intended us to. It’s time for our lives and our laws to evolve and—ahem—amend, just like the Founding Fathers expected and intended them to.
If we want to be the most intelligent and civilized nation that our Founding Fathers wanted and knew we could be, it’s time to agree to lay down our private arms, systematically track down all the illegal arms, and melt them down into plowshares (or better yet, windmills).