I’ve discussed the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution often in this column, the right to keep and bear arms, a position more sacred in America than the inner sanctum of any church in the land.
“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.”
My buddy Terry and I talked about it often when we had our radio program on KZUM in Lincoln, NE, and it seems the sides have only become more polarized since then.
And that’s odd, because, though each fringe side will deny it, there is a large, a very large middle ground. It’s just that only the fringes get the coverage, those who want little or no control over the right to keep and bear arms, and those who want to eradicate guns from the American landscape.
It’s hard to imagine an American landscape without guns; I grew up with them, learned to shoot and most farmers had a varmit gun in their pickups.
I also was born before we had an interstate system, before color TV, before computers were laptops, before the Internet, before Brown vs. Board of Education, before Wal-Mart.
So there has been some change over time, some good, some, not so much.
Cars have become safer, with a drop in the mortality rate over time, as safety requirements for cars and roads were developed and implemented.
However, the mortality rate for gun deaths has continued to rise, as safety rules and regulations are fought tooth and bullet by the gun lobby. Using the 2nd Amendment as a shield they deflect any and all discussion about attempting to bring down the number of people killed in the US each year by gunfire. “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns,” is the rallying cry.
It’s a good country and western hook for a song, and it has a visceral appeal to the “won’t back down” mentality that leads to aggression being met with more enhanced aggression which leads to more aggression.
Eliot Rosengarten of Louisville, KY, in response to the Oct. 16 Times article about the Los Vegas shooting brought up a good point about trying to find some middle ground in stemming the blood flowing from the culture of the gun in the US. He found some irony in that the same Times issue had a feature on breast cancer. He wrote, “Many say that criminals will just find a way, so why bother trying something, anything? Imagine if cancer researchers had the same thought.”
Cancer’s a tough opponent; why bother? It’s likely a researcher won’t come up with a solution in his or her lifetime. Why bother?
But what if there were a way to honor the 2nd Amendment and still implement some common sense regulations on gun ownership and purchase?
The US Constitution starts with:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Before any amendments were made to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers were careful to espouse the idea of ensuring “domestic tranquility,” even placing it ahead of providing for the common defense.
It does seem like it would be worth the conversation to attempt to bring down the appalling number of men, women and children killed by gunfire in the US.
In July of 2015, retired U.S. Army Gen. Russel Honoré was quoted in The (Lafayette, La) Daily Advertiser, "As a country we're in a state of denial because we've confused the right to bear arms with the right to carry arms all the time anywhere or anyplace you want. We have to have a different kind of conversation in America and be prepared to speak about the politically unspeakable."
Gen. Honoré, best known for leading the recovery efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, said, "I've been around guns all my life, but when I was growing up they were locked in the cabinet unless you needed them for hunting."
"The best place for weapons when you're not in the field is to be locked up in the garrison," Honoré said. "Our biggest problem before Desert Storm was (soldiers) accidentally firing their weapons, and they're trained. We've got to rethink and re-set our thoughts about guns. We have to focus less on ideology and more on practicality."
Rethink and reset our thoughts about guns.
Worth a thought.