This is now my fourth attempt at writing on the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington DC. My first attempt got scrapped because I thought the tone was snarky. The second attempt got scrapped because I thought I was sounding patronizing. And the third attempt failed in its attempt to prove the old adage, the third time’s a charm, true. Snarkiness crept its way back in. And, I was dogged by this nagging doubt that anything I have to say is going to actually change anyone’s mind on the topic of gun control.
Interestingly, I didn’t feel that way when I was writing about abortion, last week. And while I don’t know if I changed anyone’s mind on that subject (I didn’t get enough feedback to make that determination) I was driven, while writing, by my own change of mind on the topic. Hey, if I can change my mind on something, then anyone can, right?
That is my theory, anyway. But, I have never changed my mind on the subject of guns. And that, I think, has been putting up hurdles for me, while I attempt to take a step back from all the hollering going on, on both sides, to write a rational blog post.
Is it better to just remain silent? I certainly have that right, for now.
That is why I initially remained silent after the Parkland shooting. Yet another shooting in a gun-free zone, where people aren’t supposed to bring in guns and start shooting the place up. I remained silent, while smelling something fishy about this particular shooting.
It was clear (to me, at least) that this wasn’t just another school shooting. The students mobilized much too quickly afterwards (the bodies were still warm). There wasn’t the usual lag time, which we should expect, owing to shock. While I don’t doubt we all deal with stress, and loss, in diverse ways, I can’t think of another example of this kind of immediate response. That it was choreographed, and probably weeks in advance, seemed likely.
No, I am not suggesting that I subscribe to some “conspiracy theory” about the shooting. It is just that I wish the narrative we are presented with, what we are told should pass for reality, didn’t make conspiracy theories seem quite so plausible.
And here I am with my fourth attempt to put down on “paper” what I am thinking in my own mind. With any luck, I will succeed after trying and trying, again and again.
Why am I trying to do this? Anyone who knows me, or is familiar with my blog posts, knows how offended I am by violence of all sorts. As I cycled through the verses of the Taoteching over and over again, Lao-tzu offered me myriad opportunities to talk about the virtue of non-aggression, and how abhorrent violence and the tools of violence (e.g. guns) are. Yet, Lao-tzu understood, and I understand, that in dire necessity the use of tools of violence can be justified – when we are forced, and as a last resort.
That is the whole purpose of the second amendment to the US Constitution. Our founders understood that the right of the people to keep and bear arms must not be infringed. It was a necessity, if they were to guarantee a free state.
Already, many of my potential readers have tuned out.
I read, just yesterday, that retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has said that the second amendment is antiquated, a relic of the 18th century, and should be tossed in the dust bin. And, I have heard, so many times, “No one needs an ‘assault’ weapon.” And, “How can anyone expect to stand up to the power of the government’s military prowess?” Try telling that to the “insurgents” which have been keeping our US military at bay for going on seventeen years in Afghanistan; and the people of many other sovereign countries who haven’t greeted us as liberators, much to the surprise of our country’s leaders. No, our founders understood that dire necessity would justify that the people keep and bear arms, just as people do in other countries, otherwise we won’t remain a free state.
The second amendment was never meant to be about hunting, or defending your property against thieves, or defending your school against lone gunmen, though those are certainly legitimate uses for guns. The second amendment, along with the other amendments which make up the so-called Bill of Rights, was written, and included, not to grant rights, but to restrict the government from infringing on our rights.
Many people don’t understand this today. Though it is vital to our freedom that we do understand it. It was the great fear of our founders that people would later misunderstand, and think this was a listing of our rights. What the founders were concerned with in agreeing to the Bill of Rights is that our natural rights would be protected from government encroachment.
We used to know and understand this. Amendments were added to the Constitution to protect the rights of the people. Amendments were added which banned slavery, which ensured voting rights, not just for a select few, but for all, regardless of the color of our skin, or our biological gender.
But our history has also witnessed amendments added which allowed the government to encroach more, rather than less. I am thinking of the amendment which allowed the income tax, and the amendment which banned alcohol consumption. At least we later came to our senses and added another amendment overturning prohibition. I am still waiting for the amendment which will overturn the 16th amendment.
The point I am trying to make is that amendments, especially in the Bill of Rights were designed to rein in government. Not to grant us a select number of rights. And the 9th and 10th amendments make clear, this isn’t an exhaustive list of our rights. They are only meant to restrain the government.
I am no Constitutional scholar; but I was required, back in high school, to pass a test on the Constitution, proving I had a basic understanding of it. They still require that, don’t they?
Getting back to the issue of guns, I am not going to start citing statistics to support my argument that guns prevent more violence than they inflict. That gun violence has actually gone down as the number of guns has proliferated. That the nations with the most guns have the lowest crime rates. I also won’t be citing statistics about the places in my own country that have the greatest degree of gun violence, the cities where guns are the most restricted. Nor will I cite statistics about the reality that gangs armed with illegal guns are the ones committing the most violence. I won’t cite the statistics because both sides have cherry-picked statistics where numbers have been manipulated to make their arguments appear valid. There is a reason Mark Twain railed against “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics!”
I hope that my first three attempts to write this blog post managed to get all the snarky and patronizing out of my system enough to write a thoughtful analysis of the situation. That you can agree or disagree with me, as you will. But any accusations that I was just throwing mud are self-evidently refuted.
I do want to address these students who, we are told, mobilized themselves to march to Washington “for their lives.” I listened to some of the speeches. And the students are right about a number of things. They are right that the adults have failed them. And they are right that enough is enough. But they are wrong when they blame guns.
It wasn’t the fault of guns. It was the fault of the young man who used the guns. And, it was a failure of law enforcement. I could respect these students, if their march on Washington was to complain that law enforcement failed them. That would be legitimate. Law enforcement did fail them, from the local level right on up to the FBI. Nothing short of gross incompetence was involved. And heads should roll because of it. That is what these students, marching for their lives, should be demanding.
I am in great distress, as I fear for my nation that common sense, and a clear reading and understanding of our Constitution are going to be relegated to the dust bin. And we won’t remain a free state.
Once again, I want to encourage my followers to give me feedback on this blog post. I certainly put plenty of effort into it. Let me know what you think. And, as always, have a great day!