Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Identifying the Real Shortage

In an online story yesterday datelined Aurora, Colorado, CNN reported on a growing shortage of ... not water ... not food ... not affordable housing ... not quality, affordable medical care ... but ammunition. Yes, gun owners across the nation have been buying up and hoarding ammunition of all calibers because of a perception that the new administration will increase taxes on bullets, move to enact more restrictive gun control laws, or both.

Katy, bar the door - the apocalypse is here!

Every few months I feel the need to sit down and hug one of the biggest and most highly-charged third rails of American life - gun ownership and the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Before all you NRA members hit the button to send your pre-canned "don't take my guns away" messages, here are a few disclaimers:

1. I have owned guns in the past, although I don't own any at the moment.

2. I enjoy target shooting, particularly skeet shooting.

3. I do not have a problem with the Second Amendment or with the responsible and prudent ownership of firearms.

My problem, as ever, is with morons.

Here is what the Second Amendment actually says: 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. Twenty-seven words, along with a pair of problematic commas, which have generated more passion than probably any other part of the Constitution.

Consider some of the other parts of The Bill of Rights ...

Here's the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Remember warrantless wiretaps? How about the FBI wanting to see what you've checked out of the library, or borrowed from your local video club? Yeah, no problem - just keep your hands off my $#%! guns.

How about the First Amendment? - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Should the Federal government channel your tax dollars to "faith-based" programs run by religious groups? Should the construction of Islamic mosques and religious schools be permitted, when many radical Islamic clerics stridently oppose American culture and values, and insist on rights they routinely deny other religions in their home countries? Can you afford the cost of the legal representation needed to petition the Government for a redress of grievances? That's not important - just keep your hands off my $#%! guns.

I'm always amazed by people whose entire lives revolve around one particular hot-button issue, and who absolutely refuse to brook any discussion of that issue contrary to their beliefs. Want to find out how passionate someone can be about an issue? Suggest to a hard-core gun enthusiast that there should be any restriction, of any sort, for any reason, on his or her ability to own any firearm of any type, and watch the reaction. It's not pretty.

There's nothing wrong with firearms per se. And the Constitution does enshrine our freedom to "keep and bear" them. The problem comes when a laser focus on freedom clashes with a need for thoughtful responsibility. What reasonable, rational limits should there be on gun ownership? Is it reasonable for private citizens to own military-grade assault weapons? Does a deer hunter need a thirty-round banana clip and a fully-automatic AK-47 to facilitate his quest for venison?

Take a deep breath and think this whole thing through. If we can all agree on measures that will balance our Constitutional rights with the responsibilities for public safety we all share, perhaps we can reduce the voltage on that third rail. And we won't need templates like this to help journalists report the latest mass shooting incident: We need to address the shortage of responsibility and thoughtful debate. Not ammunition.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

10 comments:

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I'm just shaking my head now.

KKTSews said...

And for a chuckle on this subject, check out the Eddie Izzard lampoon of the NRA with his routine on monkeys, Charlton Heston, and the NRA--"guns don't kill people, people kill people (and monkeys do, too, if they have a gun)".

Once again, I'm in total agreement with you. I respect those who hunt to feed their families, or just to enjoy some venison. I don't blame the folks who live in dangerous areas who want ONE handgun in their home. But the flat-out rejection of any limitations or registration, waiting period, etc, is beyond my comprehension. Good Luck on this issue, though.

Anonymous said...

Is it only the lowest 25% of the population or just the cooks? You all know President Obama is turning us into socialists/communists and the only thing that will save us is extreme right wing conservative republicanism led by Rush Limbaugh!!!!! There is a run on facemasks and hand sanitizers because of the Mexican Flu. I wonder if both could be rolled into a conspiracy theory....hmmm

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...someone has stolen my name.

Just want to make a point here: ownership of actual automatic weapons (as opposed to self-feeding, individual trigger pull required for each individual shot weapons, which are legally and technically semi-automatic weapons) has been legally restricted since the 1930's. The Supreme Court has supported the laws which require an elaborate permitting system which enables a few individuals, mostly movie companies and dedicated (and rich) collectors) to obtain actual single pull for multiple shot weapons, such as actual automatic AK-74s, (the choice of dictators worldwide). The NRA, nexus of the gun lobby, has never objected to these laws, some of which were inspired by the St. Valentine's Day massacre, which pre-dated them.

Gun rights are actually symbolic: the real issue is that subjects (as in Subjects of the British Crown) have no rights, while citizens have inalienable rights. These rights are either seen as a logical consequence of being a being with free will, or are believed, as by our Founding Fathers, to have been given to us as our birth right by a just and knowledgeable God. Gun nuts are well aware that inalienable rights disappear incrementally unless guarded continuously--I certainly have no sympathy for nutsos in the woods that would really love to have a Browning M1 machine gun (which, by the way are would be as difficult to legally obtain as a TS/SCI clearance), just in case the UN sends them black helicopters again. But I do defend the true constitutional and philosophical issues which make gun ownership a mark of American citizenship. And to top it off, according to Max Hastings, universal gun ownership is one of the reasons nobody has tried to invade the USA since the War of 1812. Even Hugo Chavez knows that--and it's one of the reasons President Obama can pretend to be civil to that particular nut.

From the ORIGINAL Mr. Anonymous

fiona said...

Being "British" I have a wee bit of a problem with the whole gun issue here.
Our Cops don't even carry them in the UK...
I could wax lyrical for hours on this subject but I'm just going to zip my lip.
* zipped *

allenwoodhaven said...

I remember an old Art Buchwald column in which he said, in essence, "guns don't kill people, bullets do". He suggested that anyone who wants any gun should be able to have it, but no one should be able to have ammunition, unless they pass very strict standards (being in a miltia, law enforcement, military, or at a shooting range, etc.). He was writing satire, but it does make some sense....

SusieQ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SusieQ said...

I am not a gun enthusiast. Neither is my husband. In fact, guns scare us. However, we are protective of the Second Amendment and do not want to see laws passed that are designed to whittle away at the Second Amendment until it is worthless to the law abiding citizen.

I am very much in favor of educating our citizenry about gun safety. I do not know much about the NRA, but I seem to recall that they promote gun safety education programs.

Just want to add that it appears crime goes down in communities that end up allowing their citizens to arm themselves. Personally I think a big black dog with a big bark is one of the best means for deterring home invaders. We have one of those.

Melissa B. said...

Have you ever lived in Texas? They've got the Moron Quotient for the entire country covered, right there in the Lone Star State. And I can say that, since I'm a Native Texan. Virginia is trying like heck to compete with Tejas, though. Have you heard about the proposed law that would let idiots carry concealed weapons on college campuses? Geesh!

Mike said...

HEY! If you keep stirring up the natives like this I may not come back. ..... NOT