As Twenty-First Century Americans, WE (consciously or not) hold these truths to be self-evident: that all GUNS are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with certain UNALIENABLE rights, that among these are Life (the power to take anyone’s of whom we are displeased), Liberty (because banning assault weapons is a Slippery Slope that will lead, within mere days, to taking away any and ALL Liberties of any kind) and the Pursuit of Happiness (we Americans cannot possibly be happy unless we are prepared to defend ourselves from every – mostly IMAGINED – enemy, foreign, but especially domestic; most notably, Democrats in Congress).
Responsibilities to our families and fellow citizens, to live peaceably and conduct ourselves with civility be damned.
Credit and apologies to the principal author of the American Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Can it be said that the Founders even imagined the country we have today, with transportation, communication, agriculture and manufacturing technologies in use now? If they could not imagine our country and our society, how could they possibly have considered the ramifications of the forms and structures of government, the Constitution, laws and court system they established in addressing the challenges before us today?
As to the Slippery Slope nonsense, University of Chicago Economics Professor Richard Thaler wrote recently,
More generally, we would be better off as a society if we could collectively agree to ignore all slippery-slope arguments that aren’t accompanied by evidence that said slope exists. If you are opposed to a policy, state your case based on the merits — not on the imagined risk of what else might happen down the road. The path of that road is so unpredictable that it may even produce a U-turn.-----
Predictably, in the immediate wake of the most recent mass murder, there has been a wide variety of written media (news, blogs and social media postings) bemoaning the fact that this kind of thing continues to happen in America. I know it happens elsewhere too, but I'm addressing our country and the set of laws and unwritten mores that allow it to continue.
I've seen the predictable, and largely irrational, claims that had there been someone in the Aurora, Colorado theater with a concealed carry permit, packing heat, the murderer "shoulda, coulda, and woulda" been stopped before causing as much harm as he did.
That is, in my not so humble opinion, complete bullshit.
This person was decked out in full tactical gear. A gas mask made him immune to the smoke grenade he deployed in the theater. His weapon was loaded with a 100 round magazine.
In November 2009, in Lakewood, Washington four heavily-armed, highly trained police officers were slain. If they could be ambushed and slain, it is absolutely insane to think a lone civilian with a CCP, in the chaotic scenario early Friday morning, would have been able to neutralize James Holmes.
A number of thoughtful op-ed columns and blogs have been published in the last day or so with some common themes. First, most suggest that there is neither now, nor ever will be political will to change guns laws in the US in any substantive way that could minimize the risk for the next mass murder.
Beyond that, there have been a number of legitimate ideas set forth that, except for the Slippery Slope fallacy, would be given serious consideration by public policy and lawmakers. Links to some of those materials include:
- Guns Don't Kill, by Univ of Chicago Law Prof. Geoffrey Stone
- Casa Center for Positive Social Change, Stephanie Orr, executive director
- Nicholas Kristof (NYTimes columnist)'s twitter status.
- Living Under the Gun, a (five minute) video essay by Bill Moyers
- Why can we talk about gun violence but not gun control?, Bill Moyers
Here are ideas Nick Kristof posted on his Facebook profile:
A thought after the cinema shooting: If it's politically impossible to curb even assault rifles, then maybe at least we can adopt a public health approach to guns, to minimize the harm. That could include limiting gun purchases to 1/month, making serial numbers harder to erase, banning oversize magazines, more thorough safety checks, a mechanism to show whether bullet is in chamber, etc. This public safety approach has been very successful in reducing both auto fatalities and drunken driving deaths. Isn't it worth trying with guns as well? (emphasis mine)-----
Further, it appears the Supreme Court of the United States has previously ruled, in some cases, that the Second Amendment (Holy Scripture that it is these days) is actually a STATES rights, rather than individual rights issue.
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol makes a strong statement for reasonable gun control on yesterday's edition of Fox News Sunday, hosted by Chris Wallace.