Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What if the crazies are right?

I have read many hundreds of comments that the pro-gun folks are posting online. I have listened to them speak in public and talked with them in private. I have read the emails they have been sending to me. I am starting to wonder, what if they are right?

What if more people having more guns really would lead to less crime? What if everyone was so prepared to unleash lethal violence that would-be criminals would be intimidated into not committing crimes? Would this be a country that anyone would want to live in, or would people flee the oppressive threat of violence and live as refugees in other countries?

What if our government really is poised to send jack-booted stormtroopers to grab the guns away from patriots and replace democracy with a totalitarian communist fascist socialism, whatever that is? What if the Jews really do run the world through secret international banking cabals? What if our president really is getting ready to execute a secret plan and turn our country over the the United Nations?

What if the crazies are right, and the rest of us are deluded dupes being led to the slaughter like sheep? What if it really is pointless to enact laws because bad guys don't always obey them? What if we all had the obligation and the God-given, inalienable right to defend ourselves with no limits on the amount of deadly force we could use, regardless of how many innocent bystanders we maim and kill?

What if all the thousands of newspaper reporters and columnists, and the TV and radio reporters and commentators are really conspiring to hide the truth from us? What if no children were shot at Sandy Hook, Obama wasn't born in the U.S., the federal income tax is unconstitutional, and each state is free to do whatever it wants because this is a Republic? What if the Constitution can't be interpreted in the context of modern experience but must be read according to some right-wing zealot's view of what it meant at a time when Africans were slaves, Native peoples were considered less than human, and women were property in America?

What if everyone who disagrees with the loonies is a traitor to our country who should be beaten senseless? What if the John Birch Society is right and fluoridated water really is weakening our minds and vaccinations against childhood diseases really are destroying our bodies? What if psychiatric drugs are to blame for all the school shootings? What if AIDs was invented by the government, gays really are polluting the gene pool, Mexicans really have taken all the good vegetable harvesting jobs, affirmative action is making our country effeminate, and aliens from outer space are among us? And what about the zombies?

What if evolution is an unproven notion that threatens the existence of God, climate change is just a theory, and cigarettes don't cause cancer? What if unions destroy jobs and hippies don't take baths? What if every soldier is a hero and it really doesn't matter how many Afghan, Iraqi, and Vietnamese civilians we've killed? What if Iran really is getting ready to launch nuclear warheads they don't have on missiles they don't have? What if Muslims really are trying to destroy everything America stands for, regardless of what it says in the Koran?

Maybe the crazies are right. Or maybe they're just crazy.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Saving the Second Amendment

Gun lovers don't seem to understand that their own actions are endangering their beloved Second Amendment. People in this country were horrified by the slaughter of innocent schoolchildren at Sandy Hook. People are growing weary of the daily news of drive-by shootings, shooting suicides, rage shootings, crime shootings, and accidental shootings. After decades of complacency about gun violence, people want change.

People are asking their representatives in government to enact new laws to reduce the level of gun violence. Most people will be satisfied if rather modest changes are made, such as banning assault rifles and requiring background checks of everyone who buys guns, including people who buy them at gun shows. If the NRA would simply accede to these changes and let them become law, the public's furor for any additional new legislation would dissipate.

But the NRA has been resisting all change, just as it has for years. They insist that the Second Amendment gives them the right to have whatever weapons they want, free of government interference. If they succeed in blocking even the modest laws that are now under consideration, the majority of Americans will feel their will has been frustrated. It is very likely that they will start talking seriously about repealing the Second Amendment. People who want to protect their children from guns will feel that they have no choice other than to eliminate the one thing that the NRA gives as the reason why change can't occur.

With only 25 percent of Americans owning guns, it probably won't be all that hard to get rid of the Second Amendment. The Constitution only requires 75 percent of the states to ratify an amendment. There have been quite a few amendments over the years.

Repealing the Second Amendment will not ban guns. It will simply put gun laws on the same footing as other laws. States and municipalities will be able to decide whether they want guns around or not, and on what terms. Since most people don't own guns and don't have much interest in guns, a lot of places will probably put rather severe restrictions on gun ownership and use. We will start to see our death rates from guns decline to be more comparable to the rest of the world, which does not have the guns or the gun problems that we do. These successes will be noticed, and states will follow each others' examples and enact progressively stricter laws.

The Second Amendment protects the rights of the minority of Americans who own guns. That minority has been shrinking steadily for decades as our population has shifted from rural to urban. City folk and suburbanites just don't hunt much. They don't grow up with guns, so they don't have any emotional attachment to them. They don't think they need guns to protect themselves. Guns are simply irrelevant to an ever growing majority of Americans. If they get fed up enough with gun violence and an intransigent NRA, they'll dump the Second Amendment without regret.