*I’m willing to concede certain points to gun enthusiasts – really I am. But this is getting a little ridiculous, don’t you think?
I’m willing to admit that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution has been consistently interpreted to mean that people can own weapons. But I will point out that the reason people are supposed to have weapons is to form a well regulated militia. And I see no evidence that these people are using their weapons to undergo military missions on behalf of their state or country.
I’m willing to admit that access to a firearm is supposed to deter agents of the state from infringing upon an individual’s rights. That was the original intent of the Bill of Rights – to stop government from getting too powerful. But I will point out that I can find no one that believes an individual having a handgun will stop agents of the government from harassing that individual except at the very local level. Certainly openly carrying a firearm might help some people avoid an immediate confrontation with law enforcement, but if someone is deemed a threat to society, their handgun (or any number of weapons) will not deter government officials from apprehending them.
Furthermore as a person of color I am particularly unimpressed by this train of thought as this perspective applies less to me than to Americans of European descent. I would argue that officers who happen upon me openly carrying a firearm would be more likely to give me unwanted attention.
I am willing to admit that guns don’t kill people (by themselves); people (use guns) to kill people. But the purpose of a gun is its ability to dispense deadly force. And I cannot rationally argue that most people need or should have access to something whose sole purpose is to kill and or maim.
I am willing to admit that according to the founders of our country people need weapons to defend themselves against tyranny. But unless we want individual citizens to be able to stockpile high level explosives, an army, navy, and air force, it’s time we all admit that no person’s personal cache of weapons is going to prevent the government from tyranny. I am willing to admit that this lack of a military barrier to government dictates is a problem. But I also do not see the government operating tyrannically. As much as I did not appreciate the change in the tax code promoted by President Trump, and passed by a conservative Congress, I cannot claim that it was imposed on the citizenry undemocratically. Much to the contrary it was stopped by democratically elected representatives multiple times and then eventually passed through the legislative process as countless other laws have. The truth is that our bureaucracy moves extremely deliberately and the threatening lawmakers with violence because an individual feels put upon is useless and misguided.
I will admit that guns are used for sport. But I will also point out that there are other ways to hunt and shoot for fun. If the point is to be able to kill an animal, that can be done without semiautomatic weapons. Even if those types of tools were needed, there is no reason that individuals couldn’t use a specific facility’s weapons for a designated time in a designated area with the supervision of a trained chaperone. To be clear I’m talking about setting up hunting preserves in which a person would check in with the reserve and be given a weapon and an employee to monitor the use of said weapon. If a person wants to enjoy a firing range, they could do so under similar parameters. But there is no reason people who enjoy these leisure activities need to own the weapons they use.
I am willing to admit that the 2nd Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution and it is indicative of a civil liberty that has been present in American society since the beginning of the country. But I will say that the Constitution is not etched in stone; there have been several edits to it (of which the 2nd Amendment is one) that have negated earlier parts of it. Similarly American society has and continues to evolve. The rules that were reasonable in 1790 in many cases do not continue to setup the best situation for Americans in 2018.
I am willing to admit that adjusting access to guns in American society should not be seen as the only step that could/would/should prevent mass attacks. But it is a piece of the puzzle. And along with whatever other pieces anyone would like to focus on, this needs to be addressed.
I am willing to admit that most gun owners are responsible and that this would unfairly and adversely affect them. And I am willing to admit that this is the toughest admission for me to refute – it would be undeniably unfair to lots of people if all of a sudden they had their private property and personal freedom taken away because of something someone else did.
But then I reflect upon my life as an athlete and think of the many times the entire team got disciplined because of what one team member did. Or the rules at various workplaces that were instituted because one individual did not exercise good judgment. Or the rules that parents put in place that affect younger siblings because the older sibling screwed up. I’d argue that at least one of these situations applies to everyone in the country. No one likes these situations but we all put up with them because on some level we all realize that while we might be the problem, some rules are for the betterment of everyone.
Case in point: Before September of 2001, you could board an airplane with very little hassle after buying your ticket minutes prior; you could bring certain personal items (personal property one might say) into the cabin of an airplane. I’m sure there are other things I’m not mentioning that were true of pre-September 2001 air travel that I’m not mentioning. But post September-2001 lots of our civil liberties around this aspect of American life have been stripped away; people’s private property has been confiscated (with no value given to them). All of this because folks recognized that it would be better if the way we did air travel changed.
The tragedy of 9/11 helped everyone realize two things: 1- the stakes were high enough that changes would have to be made. 2- (more importantly) we were all on the same side I think the same concepts apply today after the increase in mass shootings. If you disagree then you either don’t believe the stakes are high enough – and there are people out there in this camp; people who question whether the school shooting actually happened last week in Florida. Or you don’t believe we’re all on the same side – if you believe the crazy liberals are coming to take your guns then you clearly don’t believe we are all on the same side and you are part of the problem. Because as long as you believe that you are not in this together with everyone else in the country, you will abandon a solution that works for all and cling to the solution you believe works best for you – namely keeping your firearms.
I will admit that I don’t have all of this figured out. But I will say that changes have to be made.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.