Sunday, June 19, 2016

Repeal 2nd Amendment?

Quiet, relaxing morning allowed me to read the Sunday Inquirer, and gave me the inspiration for today's post.

The sports section first, my fluff reading so to speak.  Fluff because while I enjoy watching sports, I don't get as excited as some "fans" who live and die with the city's sports teams.  

Then right to the lead story in the Currents (Opinion) section which featured pro and con arguments for gun control.  Unfortunately, nothing new there, nothing we haven't heard ad nauseum after each and every mass killing, which is the really sad and terrible part, that there have been so many of these horrific acts.

At the back of Currents, an interesting letter to the editor in which the writer encouraged religious leaders of all faiths to preach a repeal of the 2nd amendment.

Finally, the Local section which included a summary of the higher profile votes taken by our elected officials in Washington this past week.  But before I reached that page, I found a thought provoking article by one of the staff writers concerning the everyday anguish that occurs in America as a result of senseless violence, both mass killings like in Orlando and the less publicized but more common violence that happens all too often in our neighborhoods, especially in those of our big cities.  At the end, the writer asks the frequently asked question which is voiced after all such mass killing events - When will this end?

Then, finally, back to the votes on Capitol Hill.

In the House, a vote to block a floor vote on a bill (shelved in the GOP controlled Judiciary Committee since Feb 2015) which would prohibit the sale of firearms or explosives to individuals on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List.  That's right, the GOP controlled house is against such a bill in its current form.  Although to defend those GOP representatives, the House did pass by overwhelming majority an anti-terrorism package that among other things, requires better cooperation between law enforcement agencies and requires the Department of Home Land Security to more effectively counter ISIS recruitment propaganda.  Pretty bold move, eh?

And, of course, the House passed a $576 billion military appropriations bill (the Senate's version is $602 billion).  Sadly, the House version stripped out funding for the president's directive to the Department of Defense (DOD) to identify and assess the impact of climate change on national security (classic head in the sand thinking), and voted to refuse to consider a new round of military base closings despite the DOD's own estimates that it has a 22% surplus in its domestic facilities.

Finally, the GOP controlled House voted not to limit surveillance currently authorized under the Patriot Act.  Among other strategies not deemed illegal, are the ability of the government to coerce businesses to build security flaws in their products that would facilitate searches by law enforcement agencies, and the necessity of the NSA to obtain warrants for the surveillance of American citizens' overseas communications as is required for domestic communications.

So, to be succinct, the GOP controlled House is more than eager to weaken pretty much any of the amendments to the Constitution when it comes to fighting terrorism, except the 2nd Amendment. Can you say NRA influenced, GOP controlled House?

Still, at the end of the day, it is not fair to blame those men and women.  In reality, we all share the blame via the culture of violence that permeates America.  It is not about having a weapon that can mow down multiple targets, it is about the belief that it is OK to use violence to resolve disagreement and conflict.  And, it is certainly not about the 2nd amendment right to self defense, as other military only weapons, bazookas, tanks, napalm, etc, are illegal for sale to everyday citizens, just as assault weapons and guns with the ability to fire multiple bullets in seconds should be.

But again, will such a ban eliminate killing in America?  Not as long as we believe in the Hollywood shoot em up movies and lessons derived from such, that good people with guns always do the right thing.  And the mistaken mantra of the NRA that more good people with guns will deter the bad people from both committing crimes, and may even stop those acts in process, and that new gun laws will only keep law abiding citizens from owning guns.

Which brings me to a query?

What do you call a person the day before they kill one of more people with a legally purchased gun?
A law abiding citizen.

Unfortunately, good people do bad things.  Sometimes in the heat of passion, sometimes during the fight or flight adrenaline rush that evolution has provided for us, sometimes as a reaction to difficult times, stressful situations, mistreatment or merely bad luck.  While I would like to think that we are evolving towards a time when violence will be the last choice of conflict resolution, not first, in the meantime, perhaps it is time to consider that the technology to harm each other has surpassed our sense of morality that prevents such harm.  And that in our current state of fear which is whipped up daily by those who profit from our anxieties, it is even more critical to limit access to tools which are meant for one purpose only, to mete out easy and efficient death.

Repeal the 2nd Amendment as was so bravely suggested?  No chance.  But restrictions on the type of guns that can be owned, regardless of the "goodness" of the owner, can be created that would limit availability of such weapons while still providing recognizing that responsible gun ownership needs to be supported.  

And, to answer the question of when will it end?  Perhaps when all our leaders, government and religious, and all those who have influence will preach love, understanding and restraint rather that hatred, ridicule and violence.

No comments:

Post a Comment