To the editor:
Most certainly, the current gun debate has required us to test the strength of our Constitution's Second Amendment. I wish we could time-travel the framers forward to the here-and-now and respectfully request some clarification.
Left to our own modern interpretation, it appears our forefathers were justifiably concerned about the ease with which tyrannical governments can stifle free will (despite these same men stifling the free will of the slaves they held in their keep).
I find the same hypocrisy of the framers alive and well today. Where were the zealous owners of automatic weapons when George Bush signed the Patriot Act which allowed unfettered surveillance of private information without first securing a search warrant? Where are they now when old white guys in expensive suits dictate what their wives and mothers and daughters can and can't do with their own bodies? These are the precursors to tyranny that frighten me most and yet they go unnoticed and unchallenged by the same vociferous defenders of the Second Amendment.
Tyrannical governments don't have free elections or supreme courts. Media must meet government approval before it is disseminated. There is no freedom of religion. No separation of church and state. No right to gather peacefully. Purists would argue that the confiscation of guns is the first slide down the slippery slope. And I tend to agree, to some extent. That's why no one will violate my right to own a registered hand gun or a bolt-action rifle. I suppose we all have our own threshold for government invasiveness. But we didn't have automatic weapons, gay couples wanting to marry, or the internet when the Constitution was drafted. As Benjamin Franklin has said, "With freedom comes responsibility."
As a nation, we have realized that in order to live in a law-abiding, civil society, we must drive sober, stop at red lights, get frisked at airports, and not yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater. These might all be interpreted as infringements on our individual rights. Despite my own concerns about the over-reach of the Patriot Act and corporations now enjoying the same rights as individuals, I'm willing to tolerate these constitutional indiscretions because the world is becoming a complicated, messy place. If we get to the point where Apache helicopters are landing in our front yards, tanks are rolling through our streets, and soldiers are confiscating our guns, basement caches of AK-47s won't fix a governmental breakdown of that magnitude anyway.
The fourth mass shooting in as many years is also a symbol of societal breakdown and there's plenty of blame to go around. The glorification of violence in movies and video games, the slashing of mental health treatment funding, the lack of monitoring and supervision by parents, and a sloppy, cavalier ATF agency that might have too many friends in the upper echelon of the NRA. These are the issues which have transported us to the unenviable place we are today.
But one thing must be made clear: President Obama does not want to take our guns. In fact, during his first four years, he signed a bill allowing citizens to carry registered handguns on Amtrak trains and on the grounds of national parks. Compare this reasonable sensibility with George Bush's complete lifting of the assault weapon ban with zero regulation. A trained monkey can press the trigger and unload a hundred-round clip. It is the skilled and humble handgun owner who respects the power in their hands, uses sound judgment, and doesn't rely on fear, paranoia, or extremism in order to feel more secure. Save the fear, paranoia, and extremism for the Communists, Nazis, and radical Muslims. These values have no place in a socially responsible America.