“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.”
— Amendment II, United States Constitution
Let’s get a couple of facts out right from the get-go. One, I’ve owned guns. And two, I believe the U.S. Constitution is a special document.
Given those two items, I chose to leave my rifles and shotguns out west when I moved back to Massachusetts a couple of years ago. Why? Because I believed the gun rules in this state — requiring a written test, fingerprinting and the like — were onerous and contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. In fact, on numerous occasions in the past I thought about joining the National Rifle Assocation and attempting to fight against those rules.
But this past December, a week before Christmas, the events in Newtown, Connecticut, affected me to such a degree that I shifted my beliefs. And now, four months removed from that awful tragedy, seeing, just a couple of weeks ago, the weakness on the part of our elected officials and the continued loathsome behavior on the part of the NRA and the often-asinine comments by people I know and sometimes respect, well, I felt like I wanted to add my voice to the din and contribute whatever I could to seeing such tragedies cease.
If you want to lose weight you have to change what you eat. That’s just a fact. And if society wants to see school shootings end then society has to change what it’s done in the past. And the reality is that in the wake of every tragic shooting, from the University of Texas tower in 1966 through Columbine and Virginia Tech and right up to Newtown, once all the bluster quieted we in the United States have done nothing. Nothing at all. And as Einstein pointed out, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.
So with that in mind, and acting on Gandhi’s exhortation that we be the change we want to see in the world, I’ve realized that if I want to see a different America — an America where gun rampages are less likely to occur and the daily carnage wrought by guns is lessened — then I have to change my outlook, my behavior. To that end, I now intend to go through the rigamarole required by the commonwealth in order to possess a firearm. I’m going to submit to the test and the fingerprinting, and I will do so willingly.
No, I don’t think my actions or new gun laws will prevent all gun violence. That’s a specious argument coughed up by the NRA and its lackeys to prevent any progress whatsoever on gun legislation from taking place. But I also don’t believe that banning automatic weapons or requiring background checks or making people wait seven days to purchase a hand gun are a violation of the second amendment. If we’re going to go by that guideline, let’s limit all gun ownership to those who are members in good standing in a militia that is well-regulated…in other words: you have to be a member of something like the National Guard, administered and regulated by society. Hey, that’s what the second amendment says.
OK, granted, that’s pushing things. But I’m always amazed at how selectively pro-NRA people choose their arguments. They’re against background checks because such checks criminalize legal, upstanding citizens. And yet, these are the same people who say that we shouldn’t be against warrantless wiretaps and 24/7 surveillance cameras unless we have something to hide. So what’s good for others isn’t good for you, is that what you’re saying?
As for those who argue about the second amendment being sacrosanct, well, consider these words of Thomas Jefferson:
“I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”
And then have a look at this video. Anything?
That’s why I’m changing my outlook on the gun laws here in Massachusetts, because if I want to require stricter gun laws then I need to accept that our current laws are inadequate and that those laws apply to me, a legal, upstanding citizen, too. If we can change our outlook on guns then maybe we can change the current, bleak outlook engendered by our gun-happy culture. And I’m going to do my part, however small, to help promote that change.