Friday, January 11, 2013

The Audacity of Thinking

Over the past few weeks, um... years, this country has been deeply divided on the huge issue of gun control, mostly due to horrible incidents involving young, white males walking into schools or malls and shooting lots of people. Each time this happens, the flames of rhetoric rise up on each side of the argument and the raging debates (or blind arguments) begin. We see lots of statistics thrown around about hammers and England. We see lots of screaming hot-headed radio talk show hosts, foreign commentators (who seem to know what's better for our country because of what goes on in theirs, even though they choose to live here), the proud and defiant public, and -- of course -- the super-informed and educated politicos from the entertainment world.

All parties involved have already set their minds on how they think gun control should be and aren't going to change their minds or the minds of those they're against. To each, their mission is to recruit more ill-informed and emotional citizens to their side as fast as they can to secure "their vote" for the cause. The bigger problem with this is that in the middle, screaming for attention, is the Constitution. It's not just with this situation, but with almost all major social issues that have arisen in the past 3-4 decades, at least. I'll explain.

Most American citizens now view our Constitution, somewhat at least, as an old archaic document written by old white guys a long time ago. Judging by public opinion and the current state of our Federal Government, most apparently believe that these old white guys were ignorant about progress and couldn't imagine anything past beeswax candles for producing light or bloodletting for curing disease. Truth of the matter is that they were all smart fellows living in one of the most productive ages in American history in respect to invention and technological (non-electronic) advances. Most citizens have this opinion because the media or someone else has told them so. It pangs me that 300 million people in this great country have no idea how we got here and what it is that provides the very core of our freedoms... and they don't seem to care.

Most Americans also have no concept of the timeline of our Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The Constitution was not written and approved at just a couple of meetings and then signed in 1776. In fact, it took years of collaboration and intentional debate and wasn't signed and ratified until September 17, 1787 -- over a decade after the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights wasn't adopted until December, 1791. All parts of the Constitution and the structure of our Federal Government (remember the "checks and balances?") were well thought out and intentional. They were constructed to form a new style of government... giving power to the people and the states and preventing one part of the Federal body from wielding unfettered and unstoppable power.

Why is any of this important to the gun control debate?

Well, for starters, I give you the Girandoni Air Rifle, circa 1779 (that's over a decade BEFORE the passage of the 2nd Amendment, for the math challenged reading this). This rifle was carried on the Lewis and Clark expedition and had a high capacity magazine of 30 rounds and could fire them as fast as the operator could drop a new 46-calibre ball from the magazine (via gravity feed) into the firing chamber. It was as effective as the modern .45 ACP (I used several sources, readily found on the internet... none of which were blogs). The argument that the Founders could never have imagined the "assault weapons of today" is pretty absurd. That's about the same as someone from 100 years in our future saying that there's no way we could have imagined "laser beams" or "landing on Mars."

Secondly, there is a lot of talk about repealing the 2nd Amendment or rewriting it for modern times, or worse, overriding the basic provisions of the amendment (for the greater good) through executive order and selective, interpretive reading. The Founders knew this would happen and took strides to put in fail-safe measures, but measures that must be used correctly to be effective. They made the process of repealing an amendment difficult in order to keep "heat of the moment" emotions and knee-jerk reactions from causing damage to the foundation of the nation. They put in specific processes to prevent one man or woman from having the power to change things at a whim... a very real danger we are facing today.

My intent here is not to debate whether you are for or against gun control. It's to defend the Constitution and the due process that should be allowed to take place. I am not going to change the minds of those who are hell-bent on taking every gun and all ammo, down to the last BB, away from every American citizen, and I'm not going to ease the stance of those who have more semi-automatic weapons in their house than socks in their drawers. What I hope to do is encourage everyone to look at the Constitution for order, for guidance and structure... in its purest form. The Constitution is not a living document, as some like to claim... it is a foundation to build upon, not to chip away. It was designed to be built upon by the process of Amendment, which requires the voice of the people... not to be malleable by the so many hammers as might whack at it under the fury of the moment.

I urge you all to step back from the heat for a bit and look at the bigger picture. Whether you are for or against gun control, for whatever reason, be willing to look at the process. Be willing to accept that the 2nd Amendment is real, it was intentional, it was written with forethought as well as with historical consideration, and it was written to protect the citizens. Be willing to admit that, if it needs to be changed or repealed, that it must at least be done in the proper manner... and understand that alteration, dismissal or overriding by any other means is treasonous and renders the rest of our rights as equal targets.

1 comment:

  1. I would argue, to counter a comment on Facebook, that the 2nd amendment was more than about hunting or protecting from the native American people. The Founders, and the states which ratified the Bill of Rights, were fairly explicit that the right to bear arms was a mechanism whereby the people would have a way of preventing tyranny. Tyranny was rampant during the time of our founding and the founders knew that keeping a lid on that would be the key to the society.

    In terms of the "we won" part of the comment. You won the Executive branch and one house of Congress. The People's house, The House of Representatives, is held by a different party. And, just because there is a perceived majority, it doesn't mean that "we get to try things". These are our Founding principles. The Bill of Rights was the only way the Constitution could be ratified...there had to be some guarantees for the PEOPLE. If changes are to be made, there is a process for is the Amendment process. The problem is that Obama and the Democrat party know there is no way to possibly make the changes they want thru that process, so instead, they will try to do this by fiat. And, when that starts to happen, hold on. Because it won't stop.