Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gun controls and the 2nd Amendment living in coexistence


On December 16, 1689 an Act of Parliament created the English Bill of Rights.  Amongst these rights were: Protestant subjects "may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and allowed by law".  100 years later the US Constitution would also include a Bill of Rights, and its 2nd amendment would state: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
There is little debate that our Bill of Rights were strongly based on the English Bill of Rights.  But the English Bill of Rights was as much about righting the wrongs of the monarchy and establishing Parliament’s power while the American counterpart was about protecting citizens from tyrannical government.  Nonetheless, when it came to guns, the English Bill of Rights was specifically addressing the 1671Game Act that forbid Protestants from owning guns.   This new Bill of Rights would allow all citizens regardless of station to religion to own guns.
It just seems to me that we can still have a 2nd Amendment but also address our gun problem.  There are over 300 million guns in America and 60% are purchased without background check.  I believe hunting rifles should be legal, regulated, and the path to ownership torturous.  But I will not accept such easy access handguns and certainly there is no place in a free society for a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle with 'multiple magazines'.   Yes I realize I said a free society with bill of right restrictions.  But when the proposed solution to a society with 300 million guns is to install armed guards to protect ourselves, we have entered Monty Python times.
We are forfeiting some civil liberties for the sake of one specific civil liberty; a civil liberty that has become perverted.  The National Firearm Act of 1934 included testimony from then NRA President Karl Frederick.  During his testimony in front of the Congressional committee, Mr. Frederick said “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. I have when I felt it was desirable to do so for my own protection. I know that applies in most of the instances where guns are used effectively in self-defense or in places of business and in the home. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”
Can you see Wayne LaPierre calling for any form of gun control?
And then there was the December 16th broadcast of ABC’s This Week where George Will thought he was making the case that gun control doesn’t work by citing one off instances in Scotland and Norway.  In 1996, a man went into a gym class in Scotland, killed 16 5- and 6-year-olds and the teacher. A few years ago in Norway, a young -- deranged young man killed, what, 69 people on an island, mostly teenagers. Connecticut has among the toughest gun laws in this country. Didn't help. Scotland and Norway have very tough gun laws. Didn't help.”
Clearly George Will doesn’t think it is worth trying after all here is what he said in July: “The killer in Aurora, Colorado, was very intelligent and farsighted and meticulous. I defy you to write a gun control law that would prevent someone like this with a long time horizon and great planning capability from getting the arms he wants. I just think this is a mistake.”
Then there was Jason Chaffetz on the same December 16, 2012 broadcast blaming everyone but the near unlimited access to guns.  After blaming mental health, the Utah congressman turned his attention to Hollywood:  “… you put violence and death and gore in a movie, you're not going to get an R rating. You do something else, OK. But I've got to tell you, I think the movie ratings are terribly misleading when it comes to violence, death, gore, and glamorizing it.”
So the problem in the U.S. is movie ratings, video games, and mental illness.  But don’t other countries see the same movies?  Play the same video games?  Do we have a monopoly on mental illness?  Seems to me the problem is one of a cultural interaction: take the above issues and thrown in 300 million guns and voila. 
How can any reasonable individual believe that addressing gun prolificacy is not a reasonable approach?
Never has the right been so wrong.  Sometimes righting a wrong can be taken too far.

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