Now Is the Time

I need someone to explain to me why we must so diligently defend the right to own a gun.

No, really. Someone please explain it to me. Real reasons.

I confess up-front: I hate guns. They are instruments of death, created only for the purpose of injury or killing. That said, I understand that some people need guns to protect themselves or their families from wild animals. I understand that some people need to hunt in order to eat. I understand that some people live in places where they don’t feel safe unless they have one. I have a bit of trouble with that last part, because I don’t think owning a deadly weapon should be a safety blanket, but I don’t live somewhere where I feel I need a gun, so I won’t claim I understand.

But here is the amendment so many people so vociferously and sometimes ferociously defend:

“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.”

Why do we always seem to forget about the first half of that amendment and insist on the second half? A well regulated militia securing a free state. Also known as the military and law enforcement. Not everybody and their brother. Everybody and their brother are not a well regulated militia. 

What has happened so many times in our country is not just about the second amendment. It’s about a lot of things. But it does have a lot to do with guns, because the other potential reasons – the breakdown of family, the secularization of society, generational poverty, lack of opportunity, the glorification of violence in mass media – none of those things cause murder with spoons or sticks. Mental illness is a global problem – it does not discriminate based on age or gender, nationality or creed, geography or income level. I will always, always advocate for the mentally ill. I will always insist that we remove the stigma of those who are unwell. I could and might write a whole separate post about it. But there have always been the mad among us… yet there have not always been these kinds of mad acts. Proof of this exists in the numbers of gun-related deaths around the world. My God, we have so many more. And so, so many unsolved. Welcome to America: you’re free to fire. Wave that flag.

And it’s not that I don’t love my country. In fact, it’s the opposite. I love my country so much that I want to stop proving to the world how much tragedy we allow under the guise of defending words ratified 221 years ago (December 15, 1791), presently pushed in the name of commerce, trade and lobbying. There hasn’t always been easy access to guns. But we’ve already slid down the slippery slope. We already have literally hundreds of millions of guns in this country – I heard one estimate that there’s one for every man, woman and child.

The Constitution, the Bill of Rights – these are not the Bible. These are not the infallible words of God. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written by human beings trying to extricate themselves from a king. They had rifles that had to be loaded through the barrel with a tamp, and pistols that puffed smoke when they fired. Bring back Jefferson, bring back Adams, bring back Hamilton and Franklin and all the undersigned, and I swear to God they would all tell us we’re out of our minds for letting everybody who wants to own a gun do so in these times when we are not trying to beat back Redcoats in front of the farm. I swear to God they would want to know how all the people who walk into gun shows and all the people who thrill at the power of the weapon in their hands constitute a well regulated militia.

We are wrong about the Second Amendment. We. Are. Wrong.

But we have slid down the slope, so I can be reasonable. Can gun rights advocates be reasonable, too? I won’t take away your right to own a handgun or a shotgun. But I for damned sure am done with your supposed right to own anything more, or to own, frankly, more than one or two. I am done with your supposed right to own more than ten rounds of regular, non-armor piercing, non-hollow point ammunition for a handgun, or the average number of shotgun shells needed to bag your family’s dinner for a month. It’s just not reasonable. It’s not. And I declare this forcefully because no one has ever been able to explain to me why it is.

Twenty-eight mass shootings since April 1999 and ColumbineTwenty-eight. And every time, those who advocate for gun rights say “now is not the time… don’t politicize the tragedy… guns don’t kill people – people kill people.” I’m done with it. NOW IS THE TIME. Make it political, because gun rights are political. The NRA can go to hell. Twenty children are dead. 

I’m done.



13 thoughts on “Now Is the Time

  1. I agree with every word you have said. I live in Canada where we do NOT have the right to bear arms. So I really don’t get it. Great, great post.

    • I believe it’s in knowing the audience for whom the Second Amendment was written: a people who were fighting for freedom in a revolution and a new land, sometimes besieged by outlaws and the British Army (and Native Americans, but we won’t go there). They were powerless to fight the aristocracy in England because they didn’t have guns, so they needed them. At the time. That time’s passed. It’s a whole different battle now.

  2. I SO agree with you! Automatic weapons should be OFF the table, out of gun shops, and outlawed at gun shows.
    I guess I understand why our founders needed a shotgun around the house, for hunting and for protection against bands of mauraders, whether British troops, outlaws, or rampaging Indians. And they knew that their fellow nationals back in Europe were helpless against the force of tyrants–the Aristocracy and their military–because peasants didn’t have guns (couldn’t afford them even if they hadn’t been against the law).
    I certainly hope that the president and the democrats, at least, have the courage this time to outlaw automatic weapons (they once were banned from civilian ownership) and to outlaw clips with large numbers of repeats. Bloomberg, a smart, powerful man with a large platform and a great many admirers in both parties, is still and again urging gun control. Big city mayors know what devastation guns in the hands of immature men can wreak.

    • I saw Bloomberg on Meet the Press on Sunday, and then I saw David Brooks. And I have to say both men were right – but what David Brooks said was more critical to the needs of the country: having Bloomberg (or Feinstein or Schumer or POTUS) advocate for change is counterproductive because those who support gun rights put them down as raging liberals. We need moderates and conservatives, from red states and rural areas, to get on board. To that end, take a look at Joe Scarborough’s on-air essay from Morning Joe this morning. As a former conservative Republican congressman from the Florida panhandle with four terms of A ratings from the NRA, his message is what the nation needs to hear.

  3. I grew up going to the rifle-range with my Dad to target shoot and received my own rifle for Christmas. I hunted in the woods once or twice but couldn’t stand seeing a bird I’d shot. But I don’t like guns, don’t understand gun aficionados, and can’t understand why anyone would search the woods for a beautiful animal then kill it. Yet my daughter is married to a gun collector hunter and has learned to shoot the guns they keep in a safe (thank God). I have a few gun collector hunter friends who seem like regular guys but they are fanatical about their “right to bear arms.” Of course, the gun rights people claim that guns save more lives than they take. Even John Stossel, a journalist I respect, has made that argument and there are some statistics to support that, although the gun-folks tend to distort any statistics in favor of gun rights. There’s also some statistics in areas where gun control has been increased that it had little effect. I think that’s likely due to gun saturation, the fact that there are so many guns already out there. Adam Lanza likely would have committed his horrible crime with the Glock and Sig-Sauer he was carrying, and as you say, we’ve gone far enough down the slippery slope that it’s unlikely weapons like that will be banned. I saw one Congressman suggest that the problem was that the teachers weren’t armed. Jeez. Let’s put guns in the rooms. Idiot.

    The Constitution may not be the Bible but I’m not ready to throw the Second Amendment under the bus. It is a document that has served us well and I’m glad it is hard to amend. But I agree, it’s time to put on the brakes. It’s time to outlaw possession of assault or military-style weapons meant for warfare and for high-capacity clips that make no sense as self-protection. It’s time to tighten standards for gun possession. Gun rights folk talk about only criminals having guns but crimes like Sandy Hook are more often committed by the mentally or emotionally debilitated and there certainly can be more control of access for the potentially unstable. Still, the guns Lanza used were his mother’s. Sadly, I think only more extreme security measures at the schools can keep them from being a target of choice.

    There’s a line in an old Buffalo Springfield song, “A thousand people in the street, Singing songs and carrying signs, Mostly say, hooray for our side .” When that happens, those of us in the middle aren’t heard … and nothing gets accomplished. I’m with you but I won’t carry a sign that says, “Hooray for our side.” It has to start with dialog, something we seem incapable of these days. My sign might say, “Here’s what I think. What do you think?” And I suppose I shouldn’t call anyone an idiot but I have my limits.

    • I think you understand this about me and my post, but I will say it in case anyone else doesn’t: for me, this is not about me personally winning a debate. It’s about, as you say, and as I tried to make apparent with my insistence in my post, common sense. It is time to put aside blind foot-stomping about “rights” without regard for common sense. I have a right, too. I have a right not to worry that my itchy trigger-finger neighbor might hear me coming home late at night and mistake me for a prowler, and I have a right to send my nephews to school without worrying they’ll be shot. Maybe we do need more security in schools, but we don’t need average citizens with more guns. An armed teacher would have done no good if the gunman had shot her first. In fact, then he might have just taken her gun, too.

      My only problem with the “here’s what I think – what do you think?” conversation is that we’ve been doing that for decades and it’s done nothing, except for the ten years of the assault weapons ban that made a ton of sense and inexplicably was allowed to expire. I know what those who disagree with me think. I know what gun “enthusiasts” think. And it’s not common sensical. Let’s get real. You and I agree.

  4. What I’m saying is that when the gun folks have a point, however tenuously made, we need to acknowledge that and not call it “not common sensical” because it’s just as easy to do the same thing with arguments we think are iron clad and completely common sense. The best we can ever hope to do here is find a middle ground. Yes, you and I agree on what needs to be done. And it definitely is not about winning a debate … it is about finding consensus between two points of view. My point was that the guns save lives argument is NOT totally without merit although “gun enthusiasts” distort how much, just as “we” likely distort how many lives gun control will save. I don’t think we’ve been having a dialog for decades, by the way. It’s been shouting across the barricades. Sandy Hook has made some gun advocates more open to change. We can’t exploit that by saying everything they believe is false. Because it’s not. Or by calling into question the second amendment because that brings in another whole crowd of passionate folks (aka fanatics).

  5. Pingback: A liberal dissident in the land of the Second Amendment | John Cashon's Musings

  6. Something definitely needs to be done and too bad if that means that not everyone will be able to keep/own/use a gun in America. Gun ownership should be a privilege not a right.

    • Hi Miss Y, thanks for being here. Gun ownership IS a right, unless we repeal the 2nd Amendment – and I don’t think we can – or should – do that. That’s when you get separatists, hostage situations, barricades, dead police officers and ATF/FBI agents, etc. There is a way to bridge the divide, allowing the 2nd to stand while still responsibly and logically putting limits on reasonable ownership.

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