I am not referring to nuclear proliferation and the cold war rivalries between the United States and the then Soviet Union. As we are just beginning to see the Newtown school shooting put to rest (or at least moving own albeit the hurt will never completely subside), the debate over gun control continues to escalate. And with Washington, D.C. unable to make a deal to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, politicians and political scholars have shifted emphasis to gun control. The problem is I don’t think the argument can ever be won—the greatest scholars, the masters of the Platonian dialectic can never reach an equilibrium synthesis that makes sense.
On the one hand, the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) has a clever slogan they have used for years, If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Though the slogan is an oversimplification of the issue, they are actually right. There is no such thing as a law-abiding criminal—when one makes up his or her mind to commit a crime, that person is already committed to breaking at least one law and the possibility of being arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced looms. So why not break a gun law in addition and increase the odds of a successful crime? It is not unreasonable for law abiding citizens to have guns to protect themselves from such criminals. The problem is where does it end? If I have a forty-five, the criminal will want a semi-automatic. If I have a semi-automatic, the criminal wants a fully-automatic. If I have a fully-automatic, the criminal wants…God help us all.
On the other extreme, liberals believe only organized militias should have guns. Not everybody can have a militia right in their own backyard. Nobody opposed the police carrying guns, but the police can’t be everywhere. Also, can you trust any militia? Do you really want the Michigan Militia solving your problems for you? They are not angels themselves. And those weapons have to be stored somewhere; usually in the homes of the members of the militia. It is not impossible for them to get into the wrong hands. Mrs. Lanza had a Bushmaster automatic, illegal to begin with. Adam Lanza stole his mother’s Bushmaster, and that alone, he broke two laws. He stole a gun, robbery or grand larceny, and he violated Connecticut’ ban on assault weapons. I still would like to know why Mr. Lanza needed a Bushmaster.
Horatio Alger once said build a better mousetrap and someone will eventually build a better mouse. We could all own weapons of war and our streets would be a modern version of the Wild Wild West and our schools and other such institutions would be prisons for children or the appropriate parties to spend six hours a day. Once everyone has a war weapon, God only knows what will be available for criminals.
When I was a senior in high school, I took a Psychology in Literature elective course with a teacher who was quite liberal. As an aside, he was discussing swear words and made an example of the proliferation of the F word. If you use it all the time, where’s my F—ing pen, my F—ing car won’t start. You put the F—ing fork on the wrong side of the plate…then when you hit your hand with a hammer, what’s left? If we are going to live under martial law all the time, then what do we do when we really have declare martial law? We are effectively building prison walls around the nation’s borders and in every home, school, and office we set foot in. Doesn’t sound like a free country to me.
I do defend the 2nd Amendment for several reasons; one reason is I don’t want to do brain surgery on the original Bills of Rights. If the 2nd Amendment were repealed, it would set an irreversible constitutional precedent and then Free Speech could be next. I think the best solution is to debate with the scholars and find the outer limits to the 2nd Amendment—the same way many years ago someone determined Free Speech does not include yelling FIRE in a crowded theatre not on fire. When a decision is made on which weapons are not covered by the 2nd Amendment, curtail production of such weapons. They will never be impossible to acquire, but a reduction and reducing the chances of a repeat in Newtown is the best we can hope for. This is not unreasonable because when our Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, the weapons at issue today hadn’t been invented. We drink from the fountain of wisdom we inherited from the Founding Fathers, but we pass laws based on twenty-first century parameters.