At the risk of alienating some friends, I have questions in the wake of the second of two recent mass shootings in the United States. The first occurred on July 20th in a theater in Aurora, Colorado, and the second happened on August 5th in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
I have read some online remarks on news articles and seen some posts on Facebook that make me wonder about the thinking process of some gun owners. I don’t mean all gun owners, of course. I’d like to think that most gun owners are reasonable, responsible people, and I recall reading that the majority of rank-and-file members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) are far less militant than the leadership of the organization. But even among my Facebook friends, there are some shared pictures that I find bothersome. Here’s why:
- First of all, what is the perceived threat to the Second Amendment to the Constitution? Nobody but nobody is making any organized effort to repeal the Second Amendment. That would require a constitutional amendment in itself, and do you grasp what a major undertaking that would be? Constitutional amendments require two-thirds majority votes from both houses of Congress plus ratification by three-fourths of the states. Do you truly think a movement to repeal the Second Amendment could get that kind of support? Get real. Besides the delusional rants of NRA leadership, where does this cockamamie notion come from?
- Furthermore, no one is trying to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Again, the source of this kind of paranoia is a curiosity. In this political climate, lawmakers can’t even pass laws to make it harder for people on the Terrorist Watch List to purchase guns. That’s the stranglehold the gun lobby has on legislators. With the ironclad sanctity of the Second Amendment, your guns are safe. (On the other hand, if you’re really that paranoid, should you possess a gun?)
- Why, so fresh off the tragedies in which multiple people are shot to death and wounded, do these assertions of the right to gun ownership ramp up? This is not about political correctness; I’m talking about basic human decency. People are mourning their murdered loved ones and tending to the wounded, and communities are shattered by the violence. But you (I don’t mean you in particular, but rather the impersonal you) feel this is the perfect time to thump your chest and declare that nobody better try to take your weapon away. You (again, impersonally) can spout off all the vapid clichés about cold, dead fingers and outlaws having guns and how guns don’t kill people all you want. But I can’t imagine those trite sayings and bumper-sticker slogans offer any comfort to the victims and their families. Why the extreme insensitivity toward shooting victims and their families so soon after mass shootings? ‘Insensitivity’ is too mild a word, come to think of it. Why the shameless, brash, in-your-face, down-your-throat, bad-ass bullying assertion of your God-given right to own enough firepower to kill several persons in under a minute? Are your rights more valuable than people’s lives?
What we get from certain politicians and pundits are calls for gun control advocates not to exploit these tragedies to push for restrictions on the types of weapons people may own and carry, or the size of ammunition clips. “Now is not the time…” they say. So if I have it straight, they — pols and pundits– are saying it’s bad form to take these teachable moments and learn something from them, but it’s not too soon for gun enthusiasts to seize the moment, even before memorial services have been held, to declare their love for guns, victims be damned.
So when is the time? When do rational people get to have a conversation about reinstating the all-too-sensible assault weapons ban? The wackos have had their say and they have had their way. Spare me the Second Amendment argument: The law banning assault weapons expired — it did not lose in court. During its implementation, it was never challenged as unconstitutional. Reinstating the ban will not then restrict possession of handguns or rifles, let alone the single-shot muskets that existed when the Bill of Rights was written.
Why should I – and those who might agree with me – be the ones who have to shut up? I respectfully submit we should have spoken up sooner, but when is that elusive appropriate time for us to be heard? It has been reported that the accused shooters of Aurora and Oak Creek obtained their weapons and ammunition legally. Is there some comfort to be taken by this fact? What is your plan to keep guns out of the hands of persons who would use them to wreak mayhem? Do you have one? Certainly you must agree that such persons exist. I submit Aurora and Oak Creek as examples that the status quo is not particularly effective. A reasonable person might think that’s cause to change the laws to make it more difficult for an individual to obtain an assault weapon or thousands of bullets. If the status quo is your preferred course of action, or inaction as the case may be, how many more of these mass shootings are acceptable to you? Or does doing nothing seem more reasonable?
If you are someone who has been offended by what I have written here and take my challenges to you personally, I have one final question: What’s the matter with you?