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“Ah how shameless—the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes, but they themselves, with their own reckless ways, compound their pains beyond their proper share.” Homer’s The Odyssey.
“We the People, of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Preamble to The Constitution for the United States of America.
I’m a person of strong convictions and opinions, yet I try most times to see all sides of an argument. But with this shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, I find the mediator in me unusually quiet. Because frankly, I’m tired of our willful avoidance and denial of the obvious. I’m tired of waking up to find out that there’s been another shooting, that X number of people are to be added to the rolls of persons murdered by a person with a weapon he had no business having. Tired of the predictable follow-up to the news of the most recent slaughter, the immediate comments, the absolute immediate comments, before the names of those twenty children and six adults had even been released, before the autopsies were even finished, that even after this, even after this—the immediate comments that we still must not talk about gun control. “Guns don’t kill people.” Yes they do. They most certainly do. Some guns even are designed to do nothing but kill people.
Then, once more I try to fathom why we are so obsessed in this country with this concept, this goddam sacred cow, one that the rest of the world absolutely does not share, the “right” to own a gun. We are so obsessed with it that we protect the rights of people with dubious credentials of being capable of owning guns without the net result being a bunch of innocent people being taken out. So obsessed that we refuse to draw a distinction between a gun and a weapon. A weapon, and ammunition designed to kill the most people in the most efficient way possible, to make sure those people, those children, didn’t stand a chance.
Of course, the answer is—”it’s in the Constitution.” Uh-uh. Because the Constitution came out of the chute perfectly written? We would never change one sacred word?
Article I, Section. 2 [Slaves count as 3/5 persons]. Article I, Section. 9, clause 1. [No power to ban slavery until 1808]. Article IV, Section. 2. [Free states cannot protect slaves]. Article V [No Constitutional Amendment to Ban Slavery Until 1808].
Oh yeah, slavery was okay by us, all sanctified by the Constitution until we changed our minds and passed the 13th Amendment in 1865.
Another argument that I just love is— “gun control won’t stop every shooter, people can still find a way to get a gun if they really want to.” Well, no shit. Thank God we don’t use that “logic” anywhere else. “Gee, we’ll never make planes and automobiles completely safe; let’s not bother with safety regulations!” We’re knee jerk reactionary, ready to pass laws about everything under the sun – a convicted felon gets out of prison and commits another crime – we need a three strikes law! Boom, it’s done! Try to pass a law, any law that has anything to do with guns, forget about it. Unless the law is about further sanctifying gun ownership; yeah, we really need those “Stand Your Ground laws,” then it’s smooth sailing.
Then there’s “the answer isn’t gun control, it’s mental health services, blah, blah” argument. Right. In what alternate universe is this supposed to happen? We’re cutting social service funding at every opportunity; we’ve been pushing people out of mental institutions and closing those down since the deinstitutionalization movement started under John F. Kennedy’s presidency. But somehow through some magic, we’ll figure out some formula for determining which people are potential murderers and come up with a way, and the money fix them? Sure. And in the meantime? How high does the body count have to go before we say “enough?”
There is always a tension, in any society, between the rights of the individual v the rights of the collective. That’s not a bad thing, as long as we have discussions, debates, about managing this tension. Except, we don’t have those discussions, we don’t have those debates. We don’t talk, in any effective way in this country about important issues. We just sound bite everything to death. And if the topic we’re dealing with just happens to fall under the heading of something a special interest group, such as, I don’t know, maybe the NRA, has an interest in, then we double down on shutting down meaningful discussion.
There are no easy answers here, but what I will not tolerate is the admonishment that I’m not supposed to talk about gun control. We need to talk about it. We need to make sure that all of those innocents will have someone speak for them. They deserve from us at least that much.