Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Taking Back Our Lives

How do you like being told what to do? Not so much, I'm guessing. We put up with it when we have to. Most of the time we know its for our own good. Traffic laws, criminal laws, environmental laws. Sometimes, though, it seems like it's for someone else's good, not our own, and then being made to live in a way we don't want to is galling. This is what has the Tea Party so upset. They don't want the federal government, or any government, telling them what to do.

I see their point. And lately, I'm as mad about what someone is making me do as they are about paying taxes. Like some Texans, I'm ready to secede. The bully that's got my back up is the gun lobby. We need to get organized and throw off their tyranny. We need a revolution. We're being taxed by them, in lives, without representation. They have bullied our legislators and have accumulated Justices on the highest court who are willing to endorse their anachronistic view of our Constitution. Their answer when we complain: "Let them eat bullets."

As a nation, we've always been ambivalent about guns. We don't much like taking them away from folks. Given our heritage, that's understandable. But the bloodletting in our cities got so bad that a few, notably Washington D.C. and Chicago, passed laws designed to get guns off the streets. Not so fast, said the Supreme Court in 2008 and 2010. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of an individual to own a gun.

Many scholars think the Second Amendment does no such thing. Michael Waldman, a law professor, has written a whole book about what the framers meant, reviewed in today's NYT by Joe Nocera. A year and a half ago, after the Connecticut school shootings, I joined the chorus complaining that the Supreme Court got it wrong. But that's what they said; and now that's the law of the land. We can wait for them to change their minds, or we can do something about it, the only thing we can do: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Wait, do you mean take away guns? Not at all. If there were no Second Amendment, guns would be like everything else in a free society: you could own them unless someone passed a law saying you couldn't. In some places, say Wyoming, that's unlikely. In Chicago, I'm sure they'd be delighted to try again to stop the bleeding caused by guns. 

The point is this: Guns don't deserve special protection. Except to the hard-core, the right to own a gun does not have the same sanctity as the right to be protected against racial discrimination or unwarranted search and seizure. A gun is nice to hunt with. If you're really paranoid, you might like to keep one in your bedside drawer (although the statistics indicate it's more likely that a family member rather than a criminal will be killed by it). You should be able to decide how many guns you want in your community, you and your fellow citizens. You shouldn't be forced to live in a town where your personal safety is threatened by the ubiquity of guns, not if you and a majority in your community don't want that.

But that's the situation we find ourselves in now. The gun lobby is fanatical. Some might even say fascist. They have in effect take over the country and are forcing their ideology and unsafe living environment on the rest of us. They are a minority, I believe. Let's find out. Let's put it to a vote. In your town and mine.

But before we can do that, we have to clear away the special protection they have won for themselves through the Supreme Court's wrongheaded view of the law. We have to repeal the Second Amendment.

Ha, you say. True, it's a tall order. But so was emancipation. So was women's suffrage. We've done it before. We can do it again. We just have to believe we can. And we have to care enough to try. I don't know about you, but I can't stand to see another young person murdered. I'm ready to vote against any politician who won't support repeal of the Second Amendment. I'm ready to be like the NRA and make mine a single-issue vote.

Are you with me?

"Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free."


  1. I don't think the three people knifed to death in Santa Barbara would be against gun ownership. They probably would have been happy to have one when this kid started his rampage.

  2. I so agree with you, Mac. Why don't more people say this, in fact!?? -- that the best way to peace within this country is to repeal this amendment entirely. It's been reinterpreted since it first went on the books, in 1791 -- and this most recent ruling by the Supreme Court has been devastating.

    Something I really love here too is your use of the language the Tea Party and other rightist groups use, this time to go in the opposite direction -- Yes! I agree that our right to safety and a peaceful society are being trampled by people cowed or supportive of the NRA, and by the Supreme Court itself. Why should we be so held hostage by this permissiveness and laxity around guns? Our children are being murdered.