Pavlov’s New Dogs

I’m beginning to liken the hardcore second amendment folks with Pavlov’s dogs. But instead of a bell causing them to drool at the thought of food, it’s the NRA saying Democrats want to take their guns away and they froth at the mouth and lose their collective shit. I’ve done my best to stay on the sidelines in this instance. What happened in Orlando was truly horrific, but the conventional wisdom appears to be just ignore it and it’ll go away. Something else will hit the news and the nation will get distracted. Why would this situation be any different? If 20 adolescent kids getting mowed down in their school can’t get folks to talk rationally about gun legislation, what are the chances that over a hundred gay people (and their allies) being maimed and murdered would be any different? I know that sounds callous and uncaring, but show me where I’m wrong about the apparent lack of conscience of the country.

Over the past few days, I’ve sat back. For the most part anyway. I’ve been reading what others have to say. But what is absolutely stunning to me is the apparently inability for second amendment folks to listen to the other side and comprehend what they’re saying. This isn’t to say the opposite isn’t true, but I simply haven’t seen that as often. What’s more amazing are the literal fields of straw men being constructed by those who like the gun situation as it is. In an effort to offer a peace pipe, with every fiber of my being trying to avoid sounding condescending or snarky, let me explain what most of us want. Along the way I’ll try to dispel some myths so that you folks can at least try to calm down a bit.

Let me start with this: If you’re a law abiding citizen, I don’t give a shit if you have a gun. Seriously. Don’t fucking care. I hope you find great enjoyment in your hobby. Got that? Good. Let’s continue.

What 90% of the country wants is to make it harder for bad people to buy guns. Right now it is positively frightening how easily an extremist from any line of thought can acquire a gun. Extending background checks to include all domestic sales of firearms is what we want. Does it inconvenience you as a gun owner? Yes, a bit. But call this part of being a “responsible gun owner”. It’s also an inconvenience to renew one’s driver’s license, but I don’t see a National Driver’s Association having a shitfit over that. I’d like to add that registering what firearms you own is not a huge infringement on your personal rights.

In addition to having background checks extended to all sales, we’d also like it if folks who are on the terrorist watch list not be able to buy a gun. Put differently, we’d like to disallow people with known associations to terrorist networks that know perfectly well how easy it is to get a gun anywhere in the United States for the purposes of shooting innocent Americans. I really don’t see how that’s unreasonable, or how any responsible gun owner could disagree with it.

Literally everything else you’re upset about was drummed into your head by the folks you listen to out of choice. No legislation in the US Congress has been introduced that demands folks turn in their guns. None. Zero. Stop believing everything you’ve been told by the NRA through their mouthpiece of choice.

Now…*sigh*…let’s look at the Second Amendment, shall we?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In more recent years, that “shall not be infringed” part has been a rather curious sticking point — meant to be taken literally and without question or argument. To suggest otherwise means that said person wants to take away all your guns. (See previous note — seriously, relax.) In fact, I’ve been chastised personally that the conservative end of the Supreme Court of the United States “at least knows how to interpret a sentence correctly.” That person was really smug until I asked them where in the Constitution it states that four year-olds cannot openly carry and wield a Glock. I got a blank stare because it wasn’t a talking point but an actual inquiry into their overall argument. I said, “It doesn’t. But to suggest that they are guaranteed this right is clearly ludicrous. That’s why we have laws, rules, and regulations that assist in more clearly defining who should and who should not have a firearm.” The point is that there already exist addendums to the Second Amendment to make it more clear. Just like you can’t use the First Amendment to shout “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theater. They’re the framework, not the finished product, and it was deliberately set up that way. That’s also why Amendments about boozing and slavery were ditched.

Also worth noting is the use of the phrase “well regulated Militia”. Apart from the clear and obvious use of the exact word “regulated”, let’s look closer at that. What is a well regulated militia? It would’ve been really cool if the Founding Fathers had more clearly defined what it was, right? I mean, it’s not like you can’t actually find anything about the subject written in their own hand.

If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the national security. If standing armies are dangerous to liberty, an efficacious power over the militia, in the body to whose care the protection of the State is committed, ought, as far as possible, to take away the inducement and the pretext to such unfriendly institutions. If the federal government can command the aid of the militia in those emergencies which call for the military arm in support of the civil magistrate, it can the better dispense with the employment of a different kind of force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be obliged to recur to the latter. To render an army unnecessary, will be a more certain method of preventing its existence than a thousand prohibitions upon paper.
–Federalist Papers, James Madison

It would appear, in what some would call a very clear explanation, that this well regulated militia was, in fact, citizen troops formally trained by the States to protect their interests against a standing army of a federal government. You see, the Founding Fathers had some rather recent memories of the horrors surrounding an army run by the head of state. They really didn’t like the idea of professional soldiers and that’s why the Revolutionary War mentions State-specific units that were comprised mostly or farmers and laborers. The modern day equivalent of this would be the National Guard, not a bunch folks who dress up in camouflage and conduct drills deep in the woods for the coming apocalypse. No, those would be crazy people.

Now for my opinions…

Yes, the AR-15 should be classified as an assault rifle. Yes, I’m smart enough to know that the consumer model is semi-automatic and that means shooting one bullet per trigger squeeze. But making it full auto can be Googled, and performed with the right tools. (Though I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t want that in my search history nor want to give crazy people easy access for their DIY home projects.) This is illegal, yes, but for all appearances to the layperson, one simply cannot tell just by looking at the gun that the fucking thing can rip off a few dozen rounds quite handily. The gun was clearly made for folks who want to feel “cool”. The common argument is that it’s no different than any other hunting rifle of a similar caliber. My counter to that one is simple: They why do you need the one that looks like that cool gun you saw the action hero shooting at bad guys in the movies? Sounds to me like the other one will suit your purposes just peachy. That’s by your own argument. You made it for me. You do this a lot without realizing it.

“Passing these laws will not stop murders! They can use all kinds of weapons and killing will still happen!” So because there’s no silver bullet — forgive the imagery — to wipe out 100% murders and assaults, we simply say it’s not worth doing? In a consumer society like ours, guns are the cheapest and most effective way of killing a lot of people in a rampage. I actually saw someone try to state that the nutjob in Orlando could’ve achieved the same number of deaths with a chainsaw, which is quite possibly the dumbest thing I’ve read in a decade. Number one, the range of a chainsaw, even when hurled, is just a tad shorter than your standard 7.62mm round. Number two, when chainsaws are purchased you can actually trace who bought it from the serial number. “What about bombs?” Bomb-making is actually a skill that requires a lot of planning and thought. Oh — and the sale of bomb-making materials is tracked and regulated heavily. Unlike, you know, guns.

Ultimately it comes down to this: I’m tired of hearing about some person who has completely flipped their lid and decided to take themselves out and take a great number of people with them in the process. I’m just as tired of hearing truly insipid arguments that are offered by the “FUCK YOU! DON’T TAKE MY GUNS!” crowd out there. The methods that can be used to curtail this surging epidemic are out there and we need everyone on the hunt to figure out how best to employ them.

All joking aside, we need to take on this problem with open minds and less mistrust of one another. You are all my fellow Americans and I want us to do good and do well.