A couple of months ago, I wrote a piece ("Gun Control...No! Responsible Gun Control...Yes?") about the need for the rational regulation of guns; not one based on leftist fear-mongering or right-wing “any-gun-should-be-available-no-rules” insanity! My suggestion was that access to guns by qualified citizens (excluding non-felons, ex-felons, and crazy people) should be based where a citizen lives, and the proportion of threat to their environments. Under this regime, the citizens of shooting galleries like Chicago (my hometown) would not be prohibited from purchasing and owning weapons to defend themselves, while those who live in gated communities—where police protection is fairly effective—would not be allowed to own arsenals of military-style weapons…the conspiratorial perception of a “tyrannical government” notwithstanding.
Somewhere in the fight about gun rights, both sides have chucked all level of reason aside in validating their point-of-views. Take for example the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Most supporters of open-ended gun ownership love to invoke the Constitutional provision allowing Americans the means to protect themselves with guns. However, many also seem to forget that the Second Amendment was written during a time when the existential threat to American liberty was real, not imagined…and was written as such. In case those of you who use the Second Amendment to defend you “right” to gun ownership have forgotten, the text reads:
Despite the many ideological interpretations over the years, it would seem that the right to keep and maintain guns was based on the ability of the citizens to mobilize in the face of a threat to the union. Yes, that right was extended to gun ownership in times of relative peace, but those who ignore this fact also ignore the implication that gun ownership is not absolute; it can be regulated in much the same way as liquor consumption and voting by age. Also, saying that gun ownership is an absolute right also ignores that the U.S. Constitution also has other provisions, some of them far out of date. Consider the Third Amendment:
The rights and provisions of the Constitution are supposed to be flexible to accommodate changing times, customs, and beliefs. If an Amendment that has no bearing on our daily life can be out of date, so possibly too can one we hold in such high esteem. The caveat here is that that defenders of the right to keep and bear arms have to be open to the flexibility of gun ownership…it is more of a privilege than a right, one which our government affords us and should be as flexible with the times as much as any law of the Constitution.
However, many on the left have allowed their fear of guns to shatter what little reason there is in crafting reasonable social policy not predicated on knee-jerk reactions. Consider what happened last week in at a Pennsylvania community’s elementary school.
A 5-year-old kindergartener was suspended for 10 days for “making a ‘terrorist threat’” using (insert gasp) a small, Hello Kitty automatic bubble blower loosely-shaped to resemble a gun. According to news reports, “The kindergartner…caught administrators' attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.”
Such idiotic policies are the administrative variation of mandatory sentencing in our public schools. “Zero-tolerance policies” leave no room for the application of common sense, of the individual judgments of those who are required to enforce such policies (just 2 weeks ago, I myself was headed to court with a client, and was turned back at a metal detector because my barely-an-inch-long fingernail clipper set off the device, and a brief lecture by guards about how such “weapons” were prohibited).
People should be allowed to own guns for protections, but the debate of gun ownership and regulation, where it intersects the debate between security and policy, seems to have been flooded with an incredible amount of anecdotes, bumper-sticker statements, knee-jerk reactions, and ideological rhetoric from both sides of the political aisle…and all devoid of reason, logic, clear-thinking, and/or common sense. When I see such instances of irrational thinking passing as public discourse, or put into practice in the form of questionable policies, I have to arrogantly wonder whether or not I (and a few others) am/are the only sane sole(s) left in America?
(See also: "Sandy Hook, Guns, & Questions")