After taking a break from the world of politics, I feel compelled to return to the fray of the insane and misguided. While few in Washington are putting forth solutions that make sense for everything ranging from hurricane relief to fixing the economy, the worst of the debates seem to be the ones focused on the right to bear arms. Gun owners and enthusiasts versus safety and security fanatics.
On a personal note, I fall more on the safety and security side of the debate, but there are extremes in every conflict, even when the rational solutions are relatively clear. After the shootings over the past year, the debate has emerged to the forefront of national discussion. This has not been without its radicals though. While most of the public and politicians have vocalized an interest in having a rational discussion over the issues and even revisiting policies that were originally created to make the gun trade safer, the loudest voices are the ones that have been derailing opportunities for real growth and positive change.
Let me start with the most absurd on the pro-gun side…
As absurd as it is for there to be a national holiday for gun appreciation, it was actually more absurd that it was associated with MLK Day when he stood for equal rights in a peaceful society. Larry Ward of FOX News was on-air when he proclaimed that slavery may not have been a chapter in America’s history had black people been allowed gun ownership during the early years of the colonies. Take a moment to let that sink in…Ships delivered men in chains to the colonies and slavery could have been avoided by allowing those trapped in bondage the opportunity to own guns? I think the face of the country would look drastically different had the colonists given their captives the means to fight back. This argument implies an outcome that is all circumstantial, hypothetical and completely outrageous.
Just as absurd was the recent argument that Jews would have been able to fight off Hitler had they been equipped with assault weapons during the Holocaust. Similar to Ward, it has been argued that Jews suffering from oppression would have had better luck than France and Russia fending off the Nazis. While it of course would have been a better situation for the Jews to have been able to better defend themselves and there is no telling how successful they could have been fighting off the Nazis, this is not Inglorious Basterds and we are speaking in hypotheticals again. This is not a worthwhile argument.
It has also been mentioned that Americans need to defend themselves from a government that wants to steal away all of their rights and run the economy into the toilet. While Obama may not be the savior of the US, he is also not the person trying to derail progress in the way the conservative movement has suggested. His policies have been met with massive opposition in the Congress to a point of gridlock. The House Republicans have threatened sequestration, stating their strong inability to agree on the direction laid out by the opposing party. There are fundamental differences in the party platforms but not to an extent that has been painted in a desire to weaken or destroy the country’s current degree of stability. There is no government-issued attack on its people coming and no need for some sort of revolution. So what is the real threat?
Guns themselves are not the problem. People are and have always been. The reality is that the guns are dangerous tools that can be used to protect and to destroy lives. In the hands of individuals with mental instability or ill-intent, tragedy is almost a given. Where is disagree with the gun lobbyists is that everyone owning a gun makes me feel less secure than less people owning weapons. If everyone was carrying around a concealed weapon, I would be more cautious of the possibility that anyone could snap and feel compelled to use their tool of pain to end a life without hesitation. While I know that people would not be killing each other left and right, the idea of guns flowing freely out there does not make me feel safer.
Assault weapons are definitely a bigger issue than handguns, in that one is meant for use in war zones and the other is low capacity. The idea that assault weapons are collectables or can be purchased with ammo for regular citizens to own seems awfully scary. In the recent tragedies at Sandy Hook, Aurora, California and Arizona, assault weapons were accessible to the assailants and multiple lives were lost in each incident. It may be an extremely small percentage of people who fall into this scary category, but one individual can make a huge impact if given access to the right tools. Restricting access to assault weapons seems like a no-brainer. Some people can handle a handgun or a shotgun, much less a semi or fully automatic rifle.
I hope that the combination of the recent tragedies and public nature of this issue at the moment bring about some real revision of the government’s stance on gun control. There are hundreds of policies out there at both a federal and state level that are being blocked by dummy legislation or ultra conservative views that ignore the evolving nature of society from the original colony’s development of the Bill of Rights. Let’s take the time to reflect on what we’ve blocked or misused and find ways to be more mindful of creating a safe and supportive community.