In the first two entries of this four part series – A Violent Society and The Black Hole of Mental Health – we examined the first pair of the three part “reasonable discussion” currently being offered by those seeking new and immediate gun control laws. They involve the nuanced, oh so helpful sounding approach to curtailing mass shootings such as we witnessed last week in Newtown, Connecticut. The third leg of this particular stool will be the heaviest lift for those still concerned with their civil liberties, so I advise you to fasten your seat-belts before we proceed. Some truths can be hard to speak during such dark times, but their veracity is not diminished one bit. Today we will discuss the argument being put forth by these concerned citizens wherein they assure us that they love the Second Amendment… they don’t want to deter your right to go hunting… they simply don’t see why you should legally be entitled to “Military Style Weapons.”
But first, another brief update on the evolving media circus surrounding this rapidly building tsunami. If you don’t think that you’ll be facing the sympathy card on this front, do not be deceived. Just look who the Democrats are lining up to make their case.
During an emotional news conference announcing their new focus on gun control, House Democrats put forth several members personally affected by gun violence, including Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), who took a seat in Congress after being shot and wounded alongside former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Jan. 2011; Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed and son severely wounded in the December 1993 shooting on a Long Island Railroad commuter train; Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.), who has had to use a wheelchair since age 16 after being wounded in an accidental shooting; and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), whose 29-year old son was killed in a 2009 shooting.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) would like us to simply skip the entire. bothersome legislative process and have you just turn in your guns now. For a bit of a palate cleanser, you’ll want to check out Joel Engel, who touches on some of the topics we’ll cover today.
Let’s press on to the final argument which we shall hear in the days, weeks and months to come. They’re only trying to eliminate…
Military Style Weapons
This is an argument which is already being picked up not only in every media outlet, but by normally reliable conservative voices. It breaks down into a neat, repeatable refrain in three parts which can be parroted as follows:
1.We aren’t trying to stop anybody from hunting! We support your right to hunt!
2. And besides, we’re not talking about coming and taking your guns. We just don’t want them sold any more.
3. All we’re saying is that we don’t want these military style weapons around. They’re only good for killing people!
Taking these in order, it is first important for our conservative thought leaders to loudly enunciate one very important point about the hunting angle. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. So when you hear this, you need to shut it down immediately. First off, the Bill of Rights says nothing about hunting. It talks about the possible need for a militia, which has since been affirmed as an individual right by the Supreme Court, particularly since anyone might – in the darkest of possible times – be once again called upon to stand up for the survival of the nation. This is a subject which I have been lax on in the past, as several readers have pointed out on occasion. My only point by way of defense is that hunters and sportsman’s associations have long been such a natural fit with second amendment supporters, and beneficiaries of the work by the NRA and like minded groups. Hunting shouldn’t even be a government issue. It remains a mystery to me why any of us need to pay a fee and obtain a license to hunt, fish or trap on “the King’s land” to feed and clothe our families. (But that pet peeve of mine shall remain a discussion for another day.) This is not a hunting issue.
These same, soft spoken voices will, as I noted, also assure you that nobody is coming to take your guns. Perish the thought! They simply want to restrict the methods of obtaining them. limit access in increasing fashions and essentially stop the selling of whichever types of weapons and accessories they deem unacceptable in the future. This, to me, rings as hollow as Republicans who argue for reforms to Social Security and Medicare, but begin the discussion by saying, “Of course, we’re not going to touch YOURS.” That’s a dishonest approach, though it may be politically expedient.
But were I a liberal falling into such a category, I would immediately be wondering… what happens to my children and grandchildren? Second Amendment proponents should demand the same answer. Even if you have your guns today, what about the day when you take your son or daughter out to purchase their first firearms? The long game here is simple: we may not be able to get rid of all the guns today, but if we stop their sale, eventually all of the weapons will drop out of the system. This isn’t a fight for what you have today, but rather a stand against what happens to future generations.
The final point is, as I warned earlier, the hard one. It will be argued at the same time as they show the mourners standing over the tiny caskets of the mass shooting victims and the tearful mourners. How could you – or anyone – be such a monster as to want a weapon which is essentially only fit for killing people at a time like this? I will risk the sin of self aggrandizement here by quoting… me, from an article I published shortly after the Colorado shooting this summer. Why would you demand the right to own a gun primarily suited to killing human beings?
There may yet come a day when you will have no choice.
I know.. I know.. heresy. But I submit the following premise to you. America was founded by and remains populated by people who, in many cases, realized that an armed population might be vital to our survival. There are three basic scenarios which are likely on the minds of many people, presented here in (hopefully) descending order of likelihood.
1. Some people have concerns that, in a very unstable world, things might eventually go completely pear shaped and the social fabric could be in danger of collapse. Nobody wants this and I’m not saying it’s even likely, but if that is one concern of yours, you’re going to have to be ready to defend yourself, your family and your property. And not against deer.
2. There has been a constant undercurrent of worry that the United States might still, some day, be invaded by a foreign power using a land invasion rather than a nuclear attack. And if such invaders overwhelmed the troops and the National Guard, there would still be an armed force of tens of millions of Americans to deal with. More than a few people wiser than me have opined over the years that this is a large reason nobody has tried to invade us.
3. The last, worst, and – I hope – most unlikely scenario is one which persons as “radical” as Thomas Jefferson fretted over. And that is the possibility that a vastly swollen and powerful central government could forget and abandon the promises made to the people and violate the fundamental rights promised to them. The Founders came from a land and a time when that was hardly science fiction. And while I see no indication that such a thing is imminent today, an armed populace remains a constant reminder to those in Washington that, should they ever dare go so far as to employ the military to suppress their citizens and break those promises… You only rule by the consent of the governed. We outnumber you vastly. And we are armed. This isn’t a threat. It’s a reminder.
No, there is no reasonable person who wakes up in the morning hoping for the chance to kill another human being. But in times of war, ultimate disaster, chaos or – God forbid – the betrayal of those in power, killing another human being may, sadly, be part of the only path to survival.
Yes, that’s a hard argument to make during the horrible times shortly after an event like Newtown. But it’s an argument which, in my never very humble opinion, passes the test of time and serves as an important reminder. And before smiling faces with tear reddened eyes come during our darkest hours to pilfer your rights you may need to stand up and hold these ideas in mind, though the popular tide shall identify you as the monster who doesn’t care about the victims.
This is precisely the moment which many gun grabbing enthusiasts have been waiting for. A horrible tragedy has seized the emotional heartstrings of the nation and plucked them loudly. A recent election has delivered not only a Senate slightly enlarged with liberal activists, but a formerly cowed President now unfettered by fear of another turn before the electoral wheel. Previously reliable defenders of Second Amendment rights are making the rounds on every network, suddenly willing to compromise – just this once on a few egregious points – and give ground to those who dream of a gun free society. It’s going to be an enormous headwind to fight, and even I wonder if there will be enough people to man the ramparts on this one. But have no doubt… the fight has been brought to us and it will roll out in a matter of days, not years. We have compromised. We always compromise. But if sales of a list of weapons which even includes semi-automatic handguns are about to be curtailed, (even as sales skyrocket) a line in the sand needs to be drawn.
Tomorrow we’ll conclude this series with a discussion of what you can expect as the rest of this tale plays out, as well as what we might do. Until then, sleep well. You’re going to need the rest.
The new horizon of gun control, Part 1. A Violent Society
The new horizon of gun control, Part 2. The black hole of mental health
MSNBC host Chuck Todd on gun rights: “That’s a different America”
Slippery Slopes are Sometimes Real.
The missing link on gun control
Catch up with me on Twitter if you’d care to continue the discussion.