The issue of guns in America has floated over our political landscape like cumulus clouds on a summer day.
Many opinions on firearms can be correlated to where a person lives. Many people living in urban areas have had little experience with guns and are uneasy when they are exposed to firearms. Many people living in rural areas have had extensive exposure to firearms and consider them a normal part of everyday life.
Proponents of gun restrictions see inner cities ravaged by violence that makes normal community life unattainable. They see deranged killers taking the lives of innocent people far too often. Proponents of gun restrictions believe that small restrictions on gun ownership such as age limits and background checks are part of the solution while others propose banning the ownership of assault weapons. Political leaders such as President Biden deride gun-rights organizations as evil because they fight any gun restrictions.
Gun rights organizations defend vociferously any attempt to deny them their Second Amendment right to bear arms. When questioned about their rigidness in refusing any small gun restrictions they point to the cigarette industry. Many years ago people smoked cigarettes anywhere they wished. It was a normal part of life and people smoked at home, at work, at restaurants, at bars and public events. As organizations became aware of the dangers of smoking they started to enact small restrictions on smoking. At first, they said that you had to sit in a separate part of the restaurant in order to smoke. Smokers complied and dined in their own area.
Once the smokers agreed to this restriction, the anti-smoking community demanded that smoking should be banned in the entire dining area of the restaurant. The smokers accepted this and went to the bar or outside to smoke. Once these rules were established the anti-smoking community demanded that smoking be banned in the bar area. The smoking community complied and went outside to smoke their cigarettes. Once this rule was passed, the anti-smoking community decided that smoking should not be allowed on the sidewalk and banned smoking on the sidewalk. A pattern emerged that showed any concession would be met with more restrictions.
The proponents of the right to own firearms believe that the groups who desire to put minor restrictions on the ownership of firearms would behave the same way as the anti-smoking community and respond with stricter prohibitions with each accepted restriction.
Throughout our history, citizen groups have used guns to protect themselves when they felt their constitutional rights were being violated. When the black community felt they were being oppressed by racist policemen in the 1960’s they formed the Black Panthers who were armed and stood guard in their communities. When Angelinos where the targets of serial killers, they formed neighborhood watch groups and armed themselves to protect their neighborhoods.
Do you think Chinese officials would have carried out such draconian measures against their citizens for the purpose of Covid eradication if they knew their citizens were armed? I think not.
Fortunately, our founding fathers believed that the right to bear arms was so important that they made it the second amendment to our constitution. If we as a society deplore gun violence and accept the fact that the right to own guns is protected, we must get serious about how to end this untolerable outbreak of gun violence against our most vulnerable citizens.
There will be no magic panacea that ends this scourge on our society but we can attempt to implement common sense approaches to stopping this behavior. In the coming months we will discuss some of these proposals.