That Immortal Right

constitution.jpgI wasn’t going to weigh in on the Virginia Tech shootings. I figured enough people had already done so. I sympathise deeply with the victims and their families and friends. Innocent deaths need to be mourned in a way like no other. Mourned with more than just grief.

No doubt that it’s a miserable business. Understandably people, victims and others alike, are attempting to come to terms with it and are looking for answers. I didn’t see a need to throw my two cents in the pot and cloud the internet with my ramblings. Then I saw this and this. And now, laid back guy that I am, I am pissed. This is a rare thing indeed.

Why is the answer to guns more guns? Wouldn’t it be better to have no guns? As metro pointed out, you don’t see headlines like ‘workplace baseball-batting kills 29’ very often. And who can honestly suggest that it is the fault of someone in the University Administration that this maniac killed so many?

I live in a country where it is no more a right to own a gun than it is to drive a car. In fact it’s less of a right. You have to be licensed to own a firearm here, and it’s not that easy to pass the test and ‘sound character’ assessment. That seems sensible to me. I lived in the states for a while. The sight of guns and ammo on sale in Walmart was unnerving to say the least.

I’m not clear on why it is necessary for the right to bear arms to be constitutionally protected in the US. I have heard arguments ranging from simple self protection to being able to bring down the government. If ever there was a US government in history that cried out to be removed by the armed force of its own citizenry, this is it – and it hasn’t happened. I have yet to hear one of these arguments that I didn’t consider either impractical, unrealistic or outmoded.

The price of having this constitutional protection of arms is that nutjobs can go and get weapons if they want to. It’s that simple. Putting the checks and balances in place after the point of sale just can’t work. The US cannot have their cake and eat it too on this one. If their citizens want to reduce the number of these massacres, they need to remove or restrict the right to bear arms. They seemed fairly willing to let the Bush Administration curtail or completely remove their rights to fair trials, privacy and free speech, among others, by way of the Patriot Act. Why not guns? Of all the rights to give up, why not guns? Wouldn’t you be happier to give up guns than free speech?

I have a legal suggestion. Bear in mind I’m not a lawyer. Pass a bill defining anything more dangerous than a nerf dart as a ‘weapon’ and ban the carrying or ownership thereof. Define anything nerf dart or less as an ‘arm’ and therefore you have not removed the right or tampered with the constitution. This is why I’d be a better President than Bush.

I feel like I shouldn’t even mention it, but there’s a disparity here. 33 violent deaths is 33 too many, but how many others died needlessly in ones and twos around the US on that day? I don’t know the figures, no doubt someone could quote them, but are they less innocent? If not why didn’t they get equal billing on the news? Just because they died apart rather than all in the same place? Are they acceptable sacrifices to the right to bear arms? On a different level entirely, how many died in Iraq or Somalia, or any number of other places, on that day from the proliferation of weapons? If the US wants to show genuine world leadership, a good place to start would be taking a good hard look at themselves, and having the courage to make the changes.

I ask a lot of questions without providing real answers. That’s regrettable, but it’s not my place to provide them anyway. The answers will have to come from the people of the US. The truth is I have no idea how to implement the changes I suggest, or even if they would work at all. I do think they give the best chance for success, as I define it, however. In the meantime, this was mainly food for thought. In the meantime, I think people need to step back and take a breath. I know I do.

It’s time for some tolerance and fresh thinking.


5 Responses to “That Immortal Right”

  1. 1 Stiletto 20 April, 2007 at 2:10 am

    I’m very torn over this one, Filter (oh my, I almost called you Cream Sauce, sorry). For a long time I was very anti gun and felt the same way that many of our world counterparts do…on the other hand, after enjoying a good day of [lousy] shooting at the range and acquiring a concealed permit weapon (which, by the way, you would not – or actually, you would – believe how EASY it was – I felt “empowered” holding that weapon in my hands and mentally dared anyone to fuck with me so I could act out my PlayStation 2 fantasies.

    And maybe this is the problem. Many in my country feel powerless without having that option. We may be a progressive country in terms of democracy and freedom but we sure are not englightened. With the great Texas yahoo currently in office, the world will not see any mild or radical changes in relation to this issue.

  2. 2 Stiletto 20 April, 2007 at 2:13 am

    FWIW, I still don’t own a weapon. I guess that part of me that hated guns is still there. I guess I don’t trust myself.

    I’ve always believed that guns attract trouble. I’d like it if we had a national mandatory martial arts training so everyone could learn to kick ass in different ways.

  3. 3 Envelope Filter 20 April, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I know exactly what you mean. I have been in the military, and have fired a fair few guns as a result. Big ones. Biggest being two tonne howitzers. You can feel it in your kidneys. Seriously cool.

    I’m an engineer, and I can appreciate weapons on that plane too. There’s just something so alluring about the precision and design of these things.

    All that aside, I just can’t imagine a need for me to actually own one. Let alone need to carry one concealed. I mean, why does and ordinary person need a concealed weapon?

    The upside of national level martial arts would be that you’d get cheesy kung-fu battles all the time. You’d be walking down the street…you’d accidentally make eye contact with a stranger…he’d be all like “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT! YOU DISHONOUR MY FATHER!” (well, in my case anyway – with you he’d probably be all “hey baby…”) and you’d have to have this battle and all you really wanted was to get a coffee on your way to work or something. And think of the property damage! On the plus side, reality TV might improve.

    The hilarious side would be all the drive by kung-fu-ings in LA. Gangs would stop being gangs because everyone would laugh at them and no-one would take them seriously.

    Man, I can’t wait for that…

  4. 4 Metro 22 April, 2007 at 5:17 am

    Yeah! I love that idea.

    Maybe that’s what the Founding Fathers really meant? (Insert “bare arms” and ghi reference here.)

    Maybe the States needs some sort of paintball duelling system: you pick your argument, girl/guy to fight over, scientific theory or principle, and take it to a local park. People could place bets.

    Then you blaze away at each other, and the one who goes home blue has lost and must acknowledge it publicly. There could be a national “I lost, so I’m wrong” list.

    And the first thing I’d do is line up Richard Dawkins and Michael Egnor. Or better yet, Bush and Kerry!

    And I’d so go look up whoever Nicole Kidman’s hanging around with. Maybe Maggie Gylenhaal too.

  5. 5 Michael 24 April, 2007 at 1:30 am

    So you may or may not know that I’m a bit of an idealist. Here’s a question, which is better, a world with guns, or a world without guns?
    Although I believe that they’ve served a historical purpose, I believe that the later is what we should aspire towards.
    I find the boyish allure of guns quite disturbing, but at the same time understand, and occasionally feel it. However, for all their glory, guns are designed to kill. I always keep that in mind when I see one – they make me feel closer to death, and I don’t like that.
    I also think that people who need a gun to feel powerful, are actually quite insecure.

    Having been in countries where guns are common place (Pakistan to name one) I do appreciate coming home to our New Zealand and not having to see them on a daily basis.

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