From Here & Back Again
(Cazenovia, NY – Dec. 2012) Imagine you get a call from the school your 7-year-old attends, or from the police or, worse, you hear an announcement on the news. And the news is a gunman has gone berserk and killed 20 children and several teachers and staff of the school he or she attends.
Your heart races, you feel powerless, you question, “Why?” You wish in the depths of your spring-wound tension that your child is safe, knowing with guilt that in doing so you condemn someone else’s child to tragedy; you absolutely must rush to the school to find out.
It is easy enough to write about it and to try to imagine it, but until it happens to you, you and I really don’t know the absolute terror of such an experience racing from the tip of your toes to the pit of your stomach to the lump in your throat to the head that feels as if it will explode.
To paraphrase President Barack Obama: this must stop.
In truth, the best we can do is to minimize the chance of these events from happening. This must start with facts and rational discussion and get beyond the emotions and falsehoods so frequent in any talk of gun control, or even any talk of a talk about gun control. But, we can do something if we unite to see that it is done.
Too many of our people, especially our “leaders,” are influenced by what they want to hear, by what they feel and not by what are facts. Congressional leader John Boehner says the U.S. has the “best health care delivery system in the world,” end of story, no need to talk about it.
This is said in face of much research ranking the U.S. low and poorly in health care. Climate-change naysayers, like Fox News and big oil, provide false information, trying to convince people that there is no scientific consensus that such change is occurring when in fact there is very strong consensus that this is true.
Rep. Tim Scott, likely to soon be appointed to the Senate, has the chutzpah to say, “The greatest minority under assault today is Christianity.” The great majority of citizens are Christian, and a new report points out those most discriminated against are atheists. The fact that the Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously passed by the U.S. Congress in 1797 said, “The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” doesn’t keep Christian apologists from screeching to the high heavens that we are a Christian nation.
Let’s not let facts and evidence get in the way of what we want to believe.
Gun control is affected by the same emotion and lie-driven syndrome. In the first place, our Second Amendment gives a reason for allowing the right to bear arms, and it is to have a “well-regulated militia.” It doesn’t say anything about the right to hunt or in defense of home or property or even life. And the two so often overlooked words are “well-regulated.”
Regulations mean limits, controls, rules, not helter-skelter. But bring this to a conversation, and you are un-patriotic, without any discussion. It doesn’t fit with predetermined beliefs.
When gun advocates say no matter the law, people will get guns, they are correct, as witnessed by studies of guns crossing borders today. But people drive drunk in the face of drunken-driving laws; should we do away with all such laws? Statistical studies say no, the laws do reduce drunken-driving.
Studies also show that gun laws make it more difficult for certain individuals to get such devastating weapons as those used at Sandy Hook. And comparing such crimes, we find countries around the world with strict gun laws suffer many fewer such incidents, although Norway showed clearly they can’t be eliminated.
Saying ‘guns don’t kill people; people kill people,’ is also true in some regards. Guns do not pull their own trigger; however, that is left to people. And this relates to the oft-given apologetic that guns are needed to defend myself and the solution to guns is more guns. Already, apologists have said if the Sandy Hook school was armed, it might have prevented the tragedy.
Think of having armed teachers: would having armed students make us safer? Studies have clearly shown that having a gun in a home is more likely to end up harming or killing someone in the home than an intruder, raising the chance of homicide in the home.
Where did the guns used at Sandy Hook come from?
The notion that taking away my guns is the first step to taking away my freedom is contradicted by the Second Amendment itself. This notion leads to the further excuse that the Second Amendment doesn’t allow for any limitations on the right to bear arms, although the amendment clearly state “well-regulated,” as described before.
Freedom of speech has limitations (can’t call “fire” in a crowded theater, slander and libel laws, etc.). There are exceptions made in the law to many of the amendments, why is the Second sacrosanct? My freedom is threatened when I cannot attend a political rally, a theater, a college, a church, a clinic or an elementary school without fear of being shot.
As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until 2010, in the face of 200 years of rulings, the Supreme Court affirmed a personal right to bear arms.
It’s time to take action, but before that we need a national discussion. Both must be based on reality, on facts and evidence and not on paranoia, lies, distortions and threats. Unless we do, our democracy and our freedom will continue disintegrating.
Unless you care enough to take action, discussion will not take place.
Jim Coufal of Cazenovia is a part-time philosopher and full-time observer of global trends. He can be reached at email@example.com.