Self-government is the greatest treasure of American Liberty. We need to be jealous of this awesome jewel placed in our hand. It does remain in our hand, does it not? Self-government demands civic responsibility and personal determination from every citizen. More importantly, self-government directly affects three hundred million people at this very moment. It also affects the unborn millions yet to draw a single breath of American freedom, future participants yearning to sip from the cup of
We make the journey together, participating in this noble societal enterprise. We make great national strides and suffer mighty set backs, together. Yet, we are truly better off today because our ancestors gave us this political vehicle, even though misguided at times, because we are only human, prone to make unintentional mistakes.
Self-government is the people’s public vocation. We are proprietors, as well as common shareholders, ardently laboring to keep
There is no disputing the fact, though, that the American people are the fountain of power. There is no doubt that we are the source of legitimacy, the wheelhouse moving the nation, shaping its laws, protecting all of our lives, liberties, and properties, so long as we prudently administer our public and private duties through a federal union of republican governments, conducted according to the rule of law, with merciful, equitable, and proportional justice. This may be an ideal conception, merely stale digitized bits, but it is not an idle proposition. Only with proper deeds can conceptions transform themselves into honest and peaceful actualities in time and space.
It is rather disturbing - but certainly not surprising - to hear and see so many people caught up in a popular whirlwind of fantastical manifestations, constantly drawing in the fearful, the paranoid, the ignorant, the timid, the useful, the conspiratorial, and many more suspecting no one, or everyone. This tempest of human nature, thousands of centuries in the making, continually spins, twirls, and hurls, with a subtle, but rhythmic flow of history, studied closely, fervently encouraged, always felt, barely comprehended, and, yet, there are a few opportunistic profiteers who sufficiently utilize this whirlwind to seek undue power and fleeting prominence once a moment of crisis, panic, chaos, and duress, sets in.
Most people, on the other hand, are temperate, remain well grounded, while holding genuine concerns for the common interest. Boldness and haste are not leadership tools to use on every occasion, and those who do, with reckless self-interest, will one day be defenseless, lying prone on the ground, cloaked with naked ambition, out in the open for all of us to see.
Maybe an insufficient understanding of internal and external stimuli has deceived this independent observer of fact and circumstance. It is possible, but certainly not probable, that I could dwell in a detached realm of my own creation, having nothing to do with reality. Maybe I possess limited and deficient senses lessening my ability to employ reason and logic in a sufficient manner, constructing faulty premises, leading to erroneous conclusions. To sacrifice a bit of modesty, I highly suspect that this is not the case.
Let us take a closer look at this debilitating popular whirlwind, particularly as it pertains to the recent public debate about gun control. The term gun control itself is loaded, pun very much intended. These two words form a political concept. It means different things to different people. One possible definition of gun control is simply an individual with a firearm, safely, properly, and lawfully owning and operating it, with discretion, respect for life, consistency, and precision, whether shooting paper targets, animals for sport and food, or stopping violent assailants. Another definition of gun control is legislative assemblies passing laws and ordinances to regulate the access, use, possession, manufacturing, and sale of firearms and ammunition, which is the most widely held political notion of the concept.
Aside from this understanding, and more importantly, the gun control debate concerns violence, specifically committed with firearms. Obviously, no person, no matter their political philosophy, possessing a correct mind, or acting with any sense of moral virtue, wants even more violence and death committed in any community, with any implement, for any reason.
American society has legal exceptions for homicides committed with firearms, specifically for self-defense, police power under the color of law, and during military operations in foreign countries. Common law, and American society, has excused these particular species of firearm violence. Even with these few distinctions, abuses and accidents can, do, and will occur.
The other species of firearm violence involves individuals who commit wanton acts of murder, mayhem, and destruction, no matter the motive, in which society imposes severe penalties and burdens for crossing the clearly marked moral and legal line. Usually, most people take notice when the perpetrator has already crossed the line. American society, and its laws, highly regulates the act of using a firearm for self-defense, murder, suicide, or any other unfortunate accident resulting in the premature and sudden death of innocent people. Legislation is easy, and proper. Legislatively removing or preventing the evil nature of depraved maniacs is nearly impossible.
Let us now look at the statistical segment of this inquiry, in particular respect to suicide and violent crimes, committed with and without firearms. In
What is even more disturbing, and quite alarming, is the increase of active duty suicide within the American military, and by veterans. This is a result, in great measure, of living in a perpetual state of war, surrounded by death and destruction, where hyper-vigilance causes fatigue and disillusionment, where helplessness and despair creeps in over time, even among our most trained, brave, and committed, volunteers, and all of whom deserve our utmost care.
It does appear, though, no new studies, propositions, ordinances, laws, and policies, now passionately called for, to suggest that a meaningful reduction of people killing themselves, with firearms, will occur any time in the near future. Human society has a proven inability, so far, in which history suggests, to prevent warfare and suicide, and by no way does this mean there will not be punctuated fluctuations of both, or future societal responses to them. In some instances, you can consider war and suicide as being the same thing. Societies and individuals entertain both, and sometimes at the same time. Suppose, for instance, there were no firearms in
As opposed to the
More people die in
Every sane person in
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 4.8 million crimes of violence occurred in 2008, over seventy percent of those crimes occurred without using any weapon. Two-thirds of the violent crimes committed with a weapon, those criminals used a weapon other than a firearm. Roughly sixteen percent of all violent crimes were committed with a firearm. There is already a tremendous amount of federal, state, and local laws and ordinances regulating firearms, for the criminal, and the law-abiding people buying, possessing, and using them, lawfully. Never has there been such a clamor about so few people, unless it is about the wealthy one percent. The national violent crime rate, in which firearms are only one constituent component out of several variables, has fallen over the last several years.
Are we to suppose that this decrease in the national trend happened because of a criminal background check system for legal firearm sales, which, we hear so often, are not fully enforced, or consistently updated and sufficiently administered? Is it because there is a gun show loophole? Did this decline occur because of the prison industrial complex we hear so much about? Do stop and frisk laws in certain jurisdictions reduce firearm violence rates? Do concealed carry laws make it more likely a criminal will have known easy targets? Is it possible, if the national trend persists, that the status quo is good enough?
Whatever we’re doing, or not doing, as a society, seems to be working. Ah, yes, it can go lower if we can just have more gun control. A stiffer penalty for existing law is more practicable than erecting new ones. Even with a national trend temporarily moving in the right direction, there are still unusual, extreme, and commonplace incidents of violent crime perpetrated with firearms that continue at exaggerated rates, for diverse motives, in multiple manners, particularly with greater frequency in large urban localities with very strong gun control laws. Media editors and producers will continue to magnify or ignore each unfortunate instance of violent crime that happens in American communities, and they may or may not provide an honest assessment.
This ends the statistical component of the inquiry. Next, we will move back into the metaphysical and perceptual realm. It should come as no shock to the enlightened masses of
We do know that half of the nation is not running around with firearms killing and maiming the other unarmed half. A very small and somewhat insignificant few always prey on innumerable soft targets, especially in a free society. A dozen wolves fail more often than they succeed in taking down one sick, young, or infirmed American Bison out of hundreds. The herd is constantly on the lookout, defends their ground when needed, succeeds or fails, and then moves on to graze. As for the wolves, they usually choose easier targets than Bison. This is certainly not a defeatist mentality, nor is this some sort of twenty-first century Social Darwinian assessment gleaned from the National Geographic channel in HD; it is a realistic observation of nature, though, which has numerous instances of predator-prey relationships, where there are no laws other than the ones that operate in the severe and arbitrary realm of beasts. Most people in
Over the last several decades, it is sad to admit, Americans have become all too familiar with the horrific capacity of human beings to inflict pain and death in an instant, and on a mass scale. Sometimes it’s fashioned by foreign assailants murdering our own people right here in
People ask the same questions, repeatedly. How can this be? Why did it happen? Can we be safe anywhere? Whom can we trust? Where did we go wrong as a society? What should we do now? What more could I have done? Who can we punish? What new law can we pass to prevent such atrocities in the future, even if that means saving just one life? What current laws need to be changed, or enforced? Naturally, we ask these questions. There is nothing wrong with asking any questions. The answers remain quite elusive. However, it is a well-established fact, though, that we, as precious human beings on Earth, experience a great deal more that is good. There is no doubt, in this free and independent mind, a proud citizen of a free and independent country, that America will continue to see even greater and more numerous acts of peace, love, and happiness.
Americans have also become too familiar with repetition. This broken record skips because it has numerous nicks and scratches, accumulated over several generations. It sounds the same worn out and tired beats, over, and over, and over, again, and again. The people of
This repetition occurs every time a deranged assailant goes on a murderous rampage, especially when quickly snatching several lives, ravaging many bodies, in one brutal instant. Nevertheless, we all know, or should know, that lives are taken, young and old, every day in
The American people act with more compassion, justice, and mercy than any perplexing series of warped actions can tarnish, or diminish, in any way whatsoever. We do not need to hear lectures about not having proper compassion, uttered from behind official podiums, when the camera and lights are on. We are not children. No one needs to point a finger at us. We, the People, if anything, tell our servants what to do, and how to act, according to the laws sanctified by our elected assemblies. Some individuals really enjoy browbeating, and shaming people for not agreeing with political proposals dealing with the terrible actions of a relatively few deviant perpetrators.
The American people are among the most generous and compassionate people of the globe. We selflessly spill our own blood and spend the treasure of our citizens in so many ways, for so many reasons, with both good and bad outcomes, here and around the world. The United States, the fifty republican forms of government that compose the
We hear the clarion call for more laws, shouted down from the mountaintop, no, better yet, from the clouds, even though there are many laws already operating, and some curiously, or incompetently, enforced. We have too many laws to catalogue here, and, I suppose, maybe even too many to enforce. We should be aware of the two-thousand page laws passed in Congress, and the thousands of administrative regulations to implement them. This does not mean that we suddenly give up a need for necessary alteration and further legislation today, or in the future, although we should certainly try to enforce and correct the laws already in the code.
Murder is illegal, in every jurisdiction, with specific gradations, and in some jurisdictions, death by poisonous cocktail or electrocution is the penalty, unless the act results in a murder-suicide. Whom, in that instance, do we penalize, ourselves? Shall we parade in the streets dressed in sackcloth, a national day set aside for self-flagellation? Multiple murders committed by one perpetrator, or more than one, is illegal, and carries with it additional legal sanctions. To carry this train of thought a bit further, using any firearm - a black powder musket or pistol, revolver, semi-automatic pistol or rifle, an automatic, or any other powder charged dispenser of lead - whether legally owned or not, during the commission of any crime, is also illegal, having a multitude of penal sanctions attached to the criminal act.
For sake of argument, ban and confiscate all semi-automatic rifles - chances are it will not happen. Oh, but one might say, mass murders, or any murders and deaths now committed with firearms, would be least likely to occur if we just limit the possession of firearms to single round black powder muskets and pistols, six round revolvers, or fifteen round semi-automatic pistols. Not many, if any, criminals or mentally deranged individuals used a black powder musket, or pistol, during the commission of any recent twenty-first century crime that resulted in a mass casualty event.
Move on to the next classification. Plenty of people use six round revolvers to kill innocent people, and commit suicide. The last class, a semi-automatic handgun, is the most prevalent firearm in society. Even if unnecessarily limited to ten rounds, an individual looking to kill and maim innocent people, could carry five extra magazines and shoot sixty-one rounds. Just to save one more life, should we pass a law to limit the amount of magazines to one per household? Shall we put manufacturing limits on the number of bullets a magazine could accommodate? Do we go even further along, and say that no person can buy or possess more than one revolver in a lifetime, or black powder rifle or pistol, and limited to one hundred bullets in a lifetime? Banning the manufacture, sale, and possession of all semi-automatic rifles, and placing limitations like the above-mentioned hypothetical propositions, would only make it illegal and out of reach for the law-abiding citizen, possibly making it a bit harder for some domestic criminals, and may do next to nothing to deter foreign malefactors, who recognize no laws, from killing and maiming the American people.
We hear feeble assertions made about violent entertainment, movies and video games, even though overwhelming majorities who see and use them do not commit illegal acts of murder and assault. Sure, there are young, impressionable minds, voraciously consuming violent entertainment that may induce them to act in a manner inconsistent with the laws and ordinances society has enacted. Should we assume that violent entertainment strips a person of morality and correct judgment? Of course, the fictitious and vivid incidents of violence expressed through diverse mediums have increased over the past few decades. People still have responsibility, whether they take it or not, and usually face the consequences for their own choices and actions. Individuals should not be sheltered from responsibility by suggesting violent entertainment brainwashed them.
Today, violent portrayals in media are more frequent and accessible to consumers. Is this why violent crime has gone down over time? Have we blindly accepted the notion, or merely invented it, that violent entertainment directly causes a level of desensitization, especially in the most vulnerable and impressionable minds, that mysteriously creates an automatic disposition, or a greater propensity, to act out a murderous fantasy scenario in real life, with no consequences and remorse, through no fault of their own? Are we all not human beings, with basic notions of morality, who possess free will to act, or not act?
From cartoons to words, and from movies to video games, there is violence in entertainment. There is violence in society, and overwhelming majorities of people do not commit atrocities on their fellow human beings because of movies and videos. In fact, it is very clear, that human beings have killed each other, and plundered each other’s property, with ferocious purpose and determination, regardless of assigned motives, long before the advent of any written language, religion, movie, video game, or mobile internet device.
Do you see the celebrified breed on television, hear the whiney and droning voices on the radio, or read the editorial scribblers commenting about the non-violent entertainment that makes us feel good about ourselves? Of course, they do that. That kind of media does not generate enough profitable clicks, viewers, and listeners. So let us see the death, devastation, mayhem, blood running in the street, car chases, barricaded suspects, and contrived controversy. Roll the footage and keep it coming; somehow, American society likes that. Could it be that we have become so civilized that most of us satisfy some unconscious primitive impulse to see death and destruction visited upon others in fictitious movie productions or through real time news footage? Is there a genetic footprint to show us how difficult and dangerous human life was one hundred centuries ago?
A thousand acts of kindness and love occur every second on this Earth. There are movies about this, too. The human race would already be extinct if evil outnumbered its ravenous opposite. Is there any entertainment and information that prevents murder and supports life? Is there any other form of human expression that better serves our intellect, not despoils, or makes a mockery of it? Further legislation to regulate violence in movies and video games is a hollow gesture.
Every time there’s a mass murder incident, we see the police, fire,
We hear songs and hymns. We see the ruptured communities consoling each other. We see charities - even the criminally fictitious organized to swindle. We see the funeral processions and diverse religious ceremonies. We hear the speeches. We see the tearful memorials, eulogies, and testimonials. We see the darkness. Yet, we continue to feel love’s warmth, and the light of justice is always well within sight and reach. Yes, that is why we, who go on in this life, look up, move forward, and thankful we can participate in this life with a sense of purpose, with greater awareness and respect.
We see and hear the various mediums reporting, and, at times, misreporting and sensationalizing fluid events, turned out all day and night, for weeks. Our need for information is primitive and natural. How information is used can have good and bad results. We need information, of the good and bad variety. It provides us with balance, perspective, compassion, context, and generally contributes to our overall knowledge and experience. We see the celebrified pundits running around presenting their patrons with a little bit of fact and context, mixed in with plenty of advertisements, inconsequential gossip, a race for the scoop, political agendas, speculative assertions, innuendos, and sweeping generalizations.
We see the tormented actions of the mentally disturbed, or chemically imbalanced brain, when, typically, most of the truly distressed and vulnerable minds and souls do not physically harm anyone but themselves, and when they do, it is most often silent and of an intimate nature, although they do have a greater propensity to create violent episodes. One could simply say that people who have a disturbed brain commit all violent crimes. It is clear, though, most people do not have a mental illness, and most people do not commit crimes. Without getting into the medical and legal definitions, disturbed individuals, whatever internal and external forces influencing them, who do commit violent criminal acts, for the most part, have somehow shaken off the normal personal restraints morality and society impose on the rest of us, and do not follow the law, or have any respect for human life and private property.
The disturbed individual, who is not suffering from any organic or chemical brain imbalance, otherwise known as a criminal who chooses to be so, is also a rare and extreme variable of human nature, deviating from the more moderate course of society, dwelling in dangerous excesses and deficiencies, which may be seen or unseen. They execute distempered designs that abuse the liberty we take for granted, whether well thought out and planned, or completely random with a great measure of spontaneity. Most of these willing assailants are miniature tyrants, especially the individuals plotting and planning. They possess little or no regard for the law, unless it is the law of their own will. They have no conception of common decency. They are slaves to their self-interest, emotions, and, in some cases, paranoid delusions. They first ravage themselves. Then, they naturally move toward the lives and properties of their family and friends. Next, when that is fully degraded and adequately despoiled, they move to their innocent, weak, and unwitting neighbors, preying on the most vulnerable and helpless in our communities.
As individuals of a free society, the American people certainly retain a God given right to defend themselves, with or without government, with or without force, with or without a firearm, from the despotic brutes and reckless rogues whose venomous plague spreads through our communities, contaminating all of us with a miserable disease. We have more ability to restrain our own thoughts, words, and actions, than we have the practical capability as a society, through the imperfect art of legislation, or as an individual acting on their own behalf, of restraining and preventing the torturous thoughts, wicked words, and deplorable deeds of others.
We see and hear our public servants, celebrified punditry, and other citizens offering the most emotional testimonies, and many tripping all over themselves to see who can be the most sincere or suggesting doing even more to protect our own children from ourselves. The opportunistic profiteers exploiting tender episodes, stoking public clamor, and misdirecting debate, only drives an audience of fools and dupes that click, read, link, and vote. Predictably, we see demagoguery and political posturing rising to an unhealthy, and unwise, extreme, just like any other human activity can produce.
We should never set aside public discourse and political debate, for any reason, even if it’s blatantly and selfishly deployed for political advantage. Everybody has a right to express any opinion, however passionate or sincere, whether absurd, ill conceived, extreme, hateful, or wrongheaded, so long as it does not pose immediate physical harm or danger to any person or the public. The bloody shirt waves high atop the political flagpole, catching the popular wind on a daily basis. One has every right to wave that shirt, even with deplorable acts of flattery, fawning over popularity, and running with haste into reckless countermeasures. We should never grow fond of limiting any fundamental right such as political speech. This would be highly offensive, wholly repugnant to a free people, and has no place in a republican form of government. It is plainly certain that we need a more tempered public discourse and policy driven by fact, mature deliberation, and reason, not zealous circumspection, vindictive retaliation, rabid emotion, or party loyalty.
Now we must address the perverse realm of conspiratorial assertions. We see and hear the fear and confusion. Some of it craftily manufactured to evoke a predictable response. The amount of hysteria swirling around our public discourse about gun control is very disconcerting. The hypothesized assertions cast about are truly wondrous. I fully recognize the need to curtail the expansive nature of public discretion, power, authority, and jurisdiction. Nevertheless, when we hear people denouncing firearms, and speculation about the need, or no need, for a Second Amendment, discourse is really bordering on madness, but in no way, I suspect, does it reflect national sentiments.
Are we to suppose that our government, composed of ourselves, will suddenly show up at every house and confiscate every gun in
I understand the suspicion people have about a national gun registry of those who lawfully possess firearms and, more importantly, government power in general. To suggest that a list of names, though, whether already completed and stored in a guarded database deep underground in an undisclosed location, or compiled at a future date, will directly lead to a confiscation of all or most firearms in America, is not only a paranoid conception, to say the least, possibly induced by the exaggerated populist delirium recently unleashed in America, but is altogether a ludicrous proposal.
We already have a list, it is called the Bill of Rights, but it is only a written list, and means nothing if we do not uphold its principles through self-government. Gun confiscation is one great slippery slope. It touches on so many nerves and emotions, but fails to meet the barometer of logic, reason, and law. It arrives at a place where conspiracy theorists and willing purveyors congregate, each having their own turn sliding down into a reflecting pool of erroneous conjecture, straight into the endless realm of oblivion, joyfully taking along with them anyone that blindly follows endless circular arguments that cause severe bouts of dizziness and bloating.
A gun confiscation policy would only unleash wild scenes of civic unrest. Look at all the clamor and bickering going on around you right now. One is almost tempted to believe, due to the heightened rhetoric - if completely naïve, or just willfully manipulating the people’s apprehensions and rousing aversions for some private self-interest - that there’s a current effort afoot, swiftly moving closer and closer to your abode, waiting for the opportune time to break in and enter every house in America, first to find, and then to snatch away your firearms.
I ask the American people – most especially, the seers suggesting that law-abiding people are about to be disarmed - the following question: Who would benefit from such a policy? Would the
Let us be realistic here folks. All we need to do is look at the sheer size and scope of
One has to take a large leap of faith to see a possible scenario where federal, state, and local officials - who are a small number of citizens, and servants, mind you, a part of our own family, friends, and neighbors - will suddenly conspire with each other against the rest of the people, and forcibly alter the U.S. Constitution, the Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, government, and society. Oh, I see, we should suspend our belief in the American people, those Liberty loving participants of self-government, who liberated millions from the vicious tyrannies of the world, and just stand by and let their own public servants swoop in using the pretense of law, safety, and necessity, under the cover of darkness, in one night, or over a longer duration, and confiscate firearms in America. Does anyone in
Let us go on a bit further along with the counterfactual prophecy some entertain. A gun confiscation policy would take the combined effort of too many self-interested and jealous entities to even undertake such a national proposition, let alone be successful at it. The American military, with all of our volunteer citizens, combined with civilian contractors, and all of our might, technological ingenuity, and national resources, had a rather difficult time disarming and reducing dangerous foreign assailants in a small town of
The future dictatorship some people are worried about would have to impose conscription, pay mercenaries, and possibly rely on foreign armies to conduct the nefarious operation. What would make anyone believe our national government, with the help of state and local governments, and anyone else willing to make such a hazardous venture, could ever successfully attempt such an odious display of national suicide? Who would consent to this? Are we really to believe, as rational creatures, that our political leaders, I use the word leaders loosely, our public servants, and the various departments and agencies under their attendance, would and could completely subjugate the American people and take all their firearms, jeopardizing all of our lives, liberties, and properties? One would be either too paranoid or too ignorant to realize the logistical absurdity and constitutional malpractice of such a brazen enterprise. The people who believe this and disseminate the idea are self-interested assailants of reason and logic.
Does anyone believe that hundreds of American towns and cities, and the citizens who populate them, would willingly participate in a policy that could utterly rip apart the whole fabric of the nation and bring us to a demoralizing state of war, where criminals reign with impunity? There are not enough crazy people in government - although there are most likely some - or in
Do you not think the word would get out? Well, the fear of tyranny and despotism has been a concern since
The American people are scrutinizing public power and discretion at every level, and our elected servants, for the most part, listen, even if they are a bit tardy and paternalistic. After all, we grant them a temporary trust, which is revocable at any necessary moment. We have term limits. We vote. We run for public office. This is a republican form of government. We should be so fortunate never to have a tyranny erect itself on American soil. Of course, you may never completely rule out tyranny’s menacing prospect, even though it has a remote possibility, in my most humble opinion, of succeeding in
Some believe tyranny is already here. I, for one, do not. For sure, there’s nothing in