Flawed premise of America’s obsession with guns
Published: Dec 21, 2012
Truth be told, the 24/7 media coverage of the Newtown shooting massacre had me feeling wistful even for coverage of the farcical Washington debate on the fiscal cliff.
Alas, it’s an indication of how little influence I have to trend topics that, despite writing a commentary on the MLK Memorial this week, all anybody wanted to talk about was this massacre. Granted, they might have been more interested if I’d written about Honey Boo Boo.
Anyway, I derive some consolation from the fact that media coverage has now evolved from wallowing in the survivors’ grief (for ratings) to egging on a national debate on gun control (for even greater ratings).
Frankly, I fear that curbing gun violence in America is almost as daunting as curing lung cancer.
Yet, just as the daunting challenge does not deter us from attempting to cure lung cancer, I do not think it should deter us from attempting to curb gun violence. And the best place to begin is to inject some clarity and sanity into our understanding and application of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Second Amendment specifically refers to “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of [i.e., not from] a free state”. Obviously, this is because, when the Constitution was signed 225 years ago, the United States did not have the well-regulated police forces, let alone the well-regulated armed forces, we have today.
Therefore, it is arguable that the only reasonable reading of this amendment in today’s context is that the only people who should have the right to “keep and bear arms” are those in law enforcement and the military (i.e., those actively involved in ensuring national security).
Nevertheless, in deference to American culture, I am prepared to concede that congressional legislation granting citizens the right to keep and bear (at most) six-cylinder handguns (for home protection) and single-shot rifles (for hunting) does not violate the spirit of the Constitution. But I would make it illegal for civilians to possess any other type of firearm or munitions. Period.
Accordingly, I believe that anti-gun advocates who argue for a ban on all guns are just as irrational as anti-immigration advocates who argue for the deportation of all illegal immigrants.
More to the point, though, pro-gun advocates (most notably the NRA) who argue that civilians retain the right to possess everything from semi-automatic pistols to assault rifles (with magazines that carry 100 rounds) are just as cooky as evangelical Christians who argue that we all descend from Adam and Eve.
This, notwithstanding that no less a person than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose legal reasoning I’ve always thought is way overrated, has opined that it is probably constitutional even to keep and bear “hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes”.
For if this self-professed “textual originalist” were more rigorously intellectual, and less vigorously partisan, he would insist that only muskets, bayonets and single-shot pistols can pass constitutional muster. After all, these are the only types of arms the framers knew of and could have (originally) intended when they drafted the Constitution in 1787.
But I have no doubt that Scalia’s opinion will provide aid and comfort to the paranoid fools who would happily buy a Sherman tank to fight off the federal troops they know President Obama will order any day now to “take their freedoms [i.e., guns] away”.
Apropos of which, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has perpetrated a brazen and unconscionable fraud on the American people by pretending to be arch defenders of their right to keep and bear arms, because the NRA is just the lobbying arm of gun manufacturers, and its sole mission is to ensure that those manufactures have the right to sell as many guns of every type to as many people as possible. Period.
Therefore, the American people would be well advised to consign the NRA to the rogues gallery of American politics – right alongside groups like the KKK.
And any politician who even appears to be doing its bidding should not only be thrown out of office but pilloried as a venal sell-out in perpetuity. In fact, we should begin by targeting the 31 senators who, before Newtown, were wearing their “A” rating from the NRA like a badge of honor; but who, after Newtown, were too cowardly/ashamed to appear on Meet The Press to defend their uncompromising pro-gun voting record.
Note: Am I the only one who finds it odd that police are talking about the investigation of this shooting massacre taking months? What, do they think he was part of an al-Qaeda cell or a neo-Nazi group? Hell, it seems patently clear to me that all we have here is what we had in Columbine and elsewhere; namely, just another mentally disturbed and socially alienated kid going postal.
• Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant – headquartered in Washington DC – who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com. Published with the permission of caribbeannewsnow.com.