It’s rare that I write about politics. I’m far too radical for my parents. Recently, my dad forwarded an email on to me where he suggested that liberals are essentially well-fare leeches, and that I personally was lazy and useless for having different political ideals than him. The topic would reoccur just a few nights ago. I assume he is unaware that I am, in fact, working, paying taxes, and otherwise trying to make my way through this world same as he is.
Of course, this is just the Randian rhetoric of the last 50 years, bandied about without thought of its source or effect. I imagine it will still exist in a 100 years.
The current debate, spurred by recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, has created a vast sweeping fear in my little hometown. The sign at a local electronics shop announces proudly that they can’t take our guns and any attempt to do so is “facism.” I imagine the owner is thinking about that email chain that states that the Nazis in Germany deprived the citizenry of their weapons to support their violent rise-to-power. Sadly, there was no resistance to Nazi power in Germany, armed or otherwise. By the time gun control laws were in place, Hitler had been fairly and cleanly elected with an overwhelming majority. Should democracy in the United States fail, it will be in the same way — with a round of applause.
Gun stores all over the country, including national and multi-national chains, have sold out of handguns, rifles, and assault weapons (where available.) This doesn’t bother me. Most of these people are just beefing up existing arsenals. It’s not like a person with two guns is more deadly than a person with one. A steep rise in gun sales does not necessarily mean a steep rise in shootings. However, I’m sure that there are some people who have recently acquired weapons that should not be entrusted with that kind of responsibility. I am sure that at least one mentally ill individual has recently acquired a weapon. Yet, I’m unbothered.
I’m not a proponent of gun control. I think gun regulation is a good idea. It is perfectly reasonable for the State to demand that only those who are mentally fit and in good standings with the law can acquire guns. In fact, the State has had these kinds of regulations since 1792. (These same regulations also demonstrate that the U.S. government has a right to mandate it’s citizens possess a particular item, in this case guns.)
Guns are just tools. They have legitimate uses and illegitimate uses. They are no longer a necessity, since so few hunt as a primary source of food, but they’re still a part of our culture and our sports.
However, we live in a country of very, very mixed up priorities. Recently, the NRA issued a statement pointing the blame, not on lax gun-control laws, but on video games and television. Even our news has been credited as desensitizing us to violence, and driving people into murderous shooting rampages. According to the NRA, our entertainment media is the source of violence. Our entertainment certainly contains violence, I won’t argue with that, but is it really to blame? Or rather, should we enact censorship to stop violence? These are our priorities. People in this nation, the NRA among them, are willing to throw away the First Amendment just to protect the Second. We have reached a point, long after the erosion of the Fifth Amendment led to the creation of facilities like Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, where we are willing to give up any freedom just to own guns which (I assume) are to be used to defend our quickly dwindling freedoms.
It is my educated opinion, that a nation that gives up its First Amendment in order to save its Second deserves neither. I’m alarmed by the possibility of an armed populace existing completely without liberty. It sounds unlikely; you may wonder, “Won’t they use their arms to defend their freedoms?”
No. Given enough hardship, and the deeply twisted governing priorities, people will be willing to give up their rights to trial, to privacy, and now to expression — to chose for themselves which ideas they will entertain and which ideas they will shun — all in the name of personal, individual safety (as protected by guns.)
I have my fears.