2013

23 Janauary 2013: No guns means no gun violence

No guns means no gun violence

The heated debate over the role of guns mirrors the divide in which we are still mired.  The sides arise from two disparately world views: pragmatism v. social-political-economic ideology and religious fundamentalism.

Pragmatists are not wedded to a particular set of beliefs.  They tend to be forward looking, progressive problem-solvers, willing to put all options on the table.  Ideologists, who often seek the cover of philosophy, are purists, unwilling to deviate from secular or religious dogma.

For them, the gospel has been declared, the Word given and the faithful must declare unfaltering fealty or face being declared “anathema” and cast forth to the demons’ realm.  It’s an old story concocted by the first monotheists, which, one supposes, has its role when it comes to dogmatic religion that insists it has a grip on Truth—e.g., Christianity or Islam—but when it comes to democracy that relies on give-and-take in its political process, purity in thought causes political paralysis and dysfunction.

Being a commentator and columnist, the First Amendment assures me the right of speech and of the press, but both are limited by the mores and tastes of my listeners and readers—calling someone an expletive—and the rights of those with whom I disagree.  Libel is a very serious offense.

Ideology often is expressed in absolute terms, and when that happens it becomes tyranny when imposed: e.g. communism.  In context of a liberal democracy, when one refuses to compromise in a reasonable manner on some matter critical to the whole, he/she initially assumes the role of intellectual tyrant and if getting his/her way, political tyrant.

We have had skirmishes and out-right battles with Ayn Randian worshipers of the god of capitalism to private-life snoops most willing to tell others who they can marry and who they cannot and what women cannot do with their bodies, despite not being unable to keep their own private lives and marriages whole and intact.

This time the front is in regard to pragmatic controls on the availability of weapons of mass destruction—military assault style firearms—and the unlimited supply of ammunition, the fire power they are capable of discharging that not only boggles the mind but also allows for a most efficient way to inflict carnage.

The Second Amendment is not the Blood of Christ so therefore not a Holy Grail.  It is a poorly written construction, part of a larger text, designed to allay late 18th century Americans’ fear of a restoration of monarchial government.

A historical footnote: Ironically, some of the same winter soldiers who fought to overthrow the King conspired to re-impose such a tyranny by anointing George Washington as our first king.  It has become known as the Newburgh Conspiracy.  What stopped it was neither arms nor killing.  It was the great man himself saying no.

Since then it’s been organized bedlam, but through every phase of our history, from slavery and workers’ rights to female suffrage and the right of women to control their own bodies, pragmatic progressive voices of reason in time have prevailed over the purists and fundamentalists.

The battle once again has been joined.  On one side are the purists, the absolutists, the ideologists personified by the NRA—Second Amendment high priests—and its political and media sycophants.

On the other, the rest of us weary of the carnage being reaped upon every group of American society and, like bar patrons who did not enjoy the ostensible pleasure of second-hand smoke, feel less safe, even threatened, when a macho-strutting he-man shows up packing heat.

The voices of reasonable compromise are being assailed as “anti-gun,” an illogical assertion since one cannot be against an object.  It is like being anti-car or anti-computer.

What I oppose is the easy proliferation of guns and bullets that are politically unnecessary—the best defense against tyranny lies in the First Amendment for the power of ideas overwhelms any wall or gun—and all too often find their way into hands of unstable individuals.

A simple fact: Where there are no guns, there is no gun violence.  As Rep. Claire Levy correctly and succinctly notes, guns merely “create the illusion of safety.”

Another simple fact: Guns are never going away, but reasonable people can find ways to minimize the potential for unstable men from accessing them to do their thing.

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