“We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.”
Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
The tragedy in Colorado has surely renewed the debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights. It is also surely going to further divide a nation already fractured to its core. As typical on social issues such as this, I am lost in a sea of what I feel/want versus what I know to be true. Things like this are never easy, and such things often exercise our minds versus our values and should, if we exercise these things carefully and with awareness, leave us with a resolution to adhere to our values. Character demands nothing less.
As true with my attitude on abortion rights (I am pro-life but believe everyone has the right and should have the freedom to decide for themselves) my views on gun control often inspire a reactionary event in those I know, love and/or discuss with. I would shrink from the discussion if it were not so important in our national discourse. My personality and my character simply does not allow me to hide in the shadows. That being said, I am nothing more than some anonymous blogger who loves people and values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights bestowed upon us all by our Creator.
I feel a distinct and immutable sadness over the death, suffering and destruction created in Aurora. Tears well up inside me as I empathize with those who have lost a loved on to such a heinous act. My heart bleeds for those who were injured. My soul prays for healing and yes, it even prays for forgiveness for the person who created caused it all. Yes, I wish him healing and love as surely as I wish it on the victims. If that offends you, I am sorry.
I am no longer a man prone to violence, and I see it as the lowest frequency of human vibration. I see violence as fear’s lowest low, the moment when our human minds become their weakest, and our hearts lose their hold on the smaller part of us. In that light, I cannot react to violence with violence and expect the world to become a better place for my existence. I must find the strength, resolve and love in my heart not to beat you down but to find a way to lift you up when I feel you have done me wrong.
That is my way. It may not be yours, and I have found it take great resolve and strength to act in accordance with that vision even in the most benign of circumstance let alone in an event like the tragedy in Aurora. I struggle with adhering to this vision daily and certainly know the strength it takes to not react in fear’s grip when it is so easy to do so given our societal instruction from birth. I understand that we are taught “an eye for an eye” from birth, and that “domestication” creates in us a reactionary personality that feels the need to do something when we feel a wrong has been done. Sometimes stillness should be the answer, but we weren’t raised that way as a collective and certainly were never taught how to exercise that restraint. That “domestication” often makes hypocrites out of even the most peaceful and well-meaning among us.
Control is Control and Control is Oppression
To me, it is this simple. The mechanism by which a deranged human being carries out his fantasies is not the issue. A man bent on killing others will find a way to carry out is will regardless of what weapon we put in his hand. One such example was at the Happy Land Social Club, where an angry boyfriend used gasoline to kill 87 people. A difference here is that there is no “right” to gasoline, a gas can, or matches. The Oklahoma City bombing was caused by fertilizer and fuel oil. You simply do not need a gun to carry out acts of terror, vengeance or anger on other people.
So, while I personally see no need for anyone to have an assault rifle, I can’t inflict my attitude on those who do. As a vegetarian, I see no reason for people to kill Bambi at all, let alone with an AK-47. I read somewhere that about 13,000-14,000 a year, far greater than those who are killed by assault weapons every year. While speeding is against the law in the United States, I have heard no one propose that we take cars away from those who speed. They may lose their driver’s license after about umpteen tickets, but they still have their car. Guess what, there is no “right to own a car” written in the Constitution anywhere either.
While this argument may sound silly to you, the idea of punishing law-abiding citizens whose pursuit of happiness involves owning a Uzi because of the handful of deaths committed every year at the hands of assault weapon owners is just as silly to me. If they want to own a Uzi, fine, they should be free to own one. As long as they don’t shoot up innocent people as a result. People should be free to make choices for themselves.
Attitude is a dangerous thing, especially when some try to force others to adhere to their own. Gun control is not about controlling guns, it is about controlling others. It’s about keeping them from doing as they wish and distorting the Constitution to fit that attitude. The Second Amendment is not about bearing arms as part of a “well-regulated” militia, it is about ensuring that the People can both keep a well-regulated militia as well as ensuring the right to bears arms is not infringed upon by the Federal Government (study Tench Cox and the opinions of the delegates on the Second Amendment). Both things, the militias and the right to bear arms, were a direct result of real fears of our founding fathers pertaining to tyranny. They wanted to ensure that the government could not keep the citizenry from both militarizing and protecting itself from a government.
“Another source of power in government is a military force. But this, to be efficient, must be superior to any force that exists among the people, or which they can command; for otherwise this force would be annihilated, on the first exercise of acts of oppression. Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.”
Noah Webster (1758-1843)
This was a predominant fear, particularly of those who fought against the European monarchies and tyrannies. Understand that many Americans did not want a strong central government just for this reason. There was a real fear that everything they fought for against England would be lost by creating a government that could usurp the power from the People. The Second Amendment was considered, debated, and approved under that auspice; the People can fight back whenever the government becomes too tyrannical.
So this isn’t about Bambi, or Aurora, or Columbine. It is about the real fact that we have a right, liked or not by all, to keep and bear arms in this nation. That right exists more clearly than the right to abortion, the Separation between Church and state as well as many other “principals” many of us hold dear.
Freedom is Not Free
The price of freedom isn’t always about currency. It is not always about fighting foreign dictators or evil empires. It’s not always about liberating the oppressed. Sometimes the supreme sacrifice made in the honor of freedom is found in movie theaters, in schools, in dark alleys, or on college campuses. Sometimes those who die for freedom are not part of a well-trained military unit, but our neighbors, friends, husbands, wives, and children. It sucks to say this, in fact it pains me greatly to say this, but we can’t honor those who have died for freedom by eroding that freedom out of fear just because we don’t happen to like something.
Yes, my attitude may be dramatically different had I lost someone close in Aurora. Anger does that to a reasoning mind. Sometimes we have to allow cooler heads to make decisions for us when in the throes of an angry reaction. I sincerely want the person who did this to be punished for his crimes, but I don’t want to punish everyone for them too. I don’t want to allow this government to take any freedom away from you, from me, or from anyone else. I simply don’t trust it enough.
I realize this may create some angry reactions. Understand that it is very hard for me to not only take this position, but stick to it. Stick to it I will if only because I am sick of being told what I can and can’t do because of the attitudes of others. I have to wear my seatbelt (I always wear it anyway, it is the have to I dislike) for instance. Hey, if I want to drive down the road without my seatbelt and suddenly wear my windshield as a necklace that’s on me. And for the love of all that’s holy don’t tell me about the monetary costs created by those who don’t wear their seatbelts. Freedom is not free, and sometimes we pay a monetary price to allow others to exercise their own.
I pray we can have intelligent, wise and controlled public debate on this issue. To me, freedom is the issue here, and what we are willing to sacrifice in the quest for a false sense of security that will never exist.