Thursday, July 03, 2008
The Second Amendment
Well I guess it's settled for now. SCOTUS has spoken. With an overwhelming majority of 5 to 4, our boys in black robes have confirmed that according to the 2nd Amendment it is okay to own a gun.
What I don't understand is how this decision would have any affect on the reality of gun ownership in this country. According to Rense.com, there are 80 million gun owners in this country. From the sample population I have met over the years, not one of them would willingly give up their firearms.
This highly charged emotional issue is another perfect storm to illustrate the uselessness of laws that are doomed to fail before they get out of the gate. I have read, heard, or been telepathed that there are over 200 million firearms floating around in this country. With this many horses out of the barn already, it would be difficult to disarm these 80 million people without stomping hard on the rights of the other, what, 250 million people.
I have no opinion whether or not someone should own a gun or not. In my opinion, choosing to own a gun is like choosing to own anything. Individual perception of individual needs. If a gun helps someone make it through their day, well I guess it's okay. Personally, I have not fired a weapon or carried one in over 35 years. The instances when I was faced with possible physical harm by another would not have been made easier if I had a gun. And even though my life has not been packed with life threatening criminals, there have been moments. At least 2 times a gun or weapon was stuck in my face and once in my ear. I know in those instances, a gun would not have helped me.
I have not had a loved one die from gun shots. But I have had 2 friends (well they were drug friends) die from gun shot wounds. In both cases, they had placed themselves in the position and situation to get shot. As I also had the few times I was threatened. I lucked out. They did not. The lifestyle we were engaged in was a dangerous place. And any law for or against guns would have had no affect on our individual encounters. Laws were already being broken. A law against guns was not even on the radar.
Guns are a tool. Like any tool, how they are used dictates the outcome. A law against the tool does nothing to address the intent of the user. Murder is murder whether it is by gun, a knife, a blunt instrument, or a car. Making folks pay for the result of their tool use makes more sense than uselessly trying to preempt their actions by removing one of the tools.
A good example is the state I live in. Maine has one of the highest per capita gun ownership ratios, and regularly has one of the lowest murder rates. And of the few murders committed, guns are not the favorite tool for the job. Fists, knives and blunt instruments all hold their own against the gun. Seems Mainers don't like to waste good ammo on something they cannot eat.
Many people in this country on both sides have elevated the debate over guns to one of biblical proportions and religious fanaticism. And both seem to look at the words of the 2nd Amendment with different lenses. Both seem to think that a law, an amendment or arbitrary rule will either rid us of guns or protect our right to own them. In that laws are only strongly worded suggestions, it is up to each individual to determine what they choose for rights. We choose to go along with the rules or we don't. No matter what the law says now or will in the future, gun ownership will be a fact of American life. Guns are woven into our cultural tapestry. They are part of our national persona. Their existence is a forgone conclusion. No enforcement will change that without serious damage to the other privileges we have become accustomed to.