When the nation was reformed under the US Constitution, the country ratified the Second Article of Amendment of the Constitution, which stipulated the right to be armed in defense of the nation. The US Supreme Court has ruled that this right includes the individual’s right to be armed, outside of a militia (roughly because, if the individual is not armed, how can the militia really be so).
But we have random shootings happening, and we wonder what we should do about it. Some claim that we should limit the amount of automatically fed ammunition that firearms support. That we should pick and choose which guns should be sold. That we should have waiting periods and background checks. Others say we should focus on mental health care: that people who kill people are obviously disturbed, and they should be treated to prevent these incidents.
There are a lot of guns in the country, most of which are owned by law-abiding folks who are reasonably responsible. They want to keep owning guns, keep going hunting, keep target practicing. They have a bit of a fear or concern of government encroachment of these activities, too.
But nobody wants more people shot. We just haven’t figured out how to act. So we wait. We wait for the breakthrough that will let us do something, anything, about the problem, or around the problem.
The gun control crowd thinks that it’s insane we can’t just crack down on guns. Make them be registered, make them harder to obtain, they say.
The gun owning crowd thinks that it’s insane we can’t just arm everybody. Make them ubiquitous, make anyone looking to shoot someone worry about being shot right back, they say.
Then there are a lot of other issues that get brought up in the mix. How should the media cover such tragedy? How did the candidates respond? How many times does this have to happen before we try something? Anything?
I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is, but a couple of things do stand out:
The gun lobby, if they want to keep their guns, should be leading the charge to try to get non-control solutions enacted. The fact that they only whine and repeat tired lines about their cold, dead hands means they’re begging to have their guns taken away, rightly or not.
The pro-gun folks are constantly on defense, because these are gun issues. Barring some major change in culture and language, these will remain gun issues. Moreover, they fail to support reform of any sort, mainly out of fear that if and when it fails to produce the desired result, they will have a harder time blocking gun control.
So, their strategy is to do nothing, even though these are issues about which they choose to concern themselves.
The gun control side should push divestment and other economic leverage strategies if they believe their cause is just. They don’t have the legislative route, but money is louder than law anyway. The fact that there is no high-profile divestment and boycott is an equal sign of complacency as the gun lobby’s inaction.
But they don’t do that. The control side is a lot less organized and vocal. The fact that they do not have a legislative caucus, capable of legislating, means they feel like they can’t do anything. They haven’t found the traction to build any sort of national movement, and they’re as afraid as the gun folks that if they try a big push and fall, they will lose any credibility and set their movement back even more.
So we have a stalemate of inaction. Neither side dares to actually do anything meaningful. And so the only people doing anything are the shooters, with their meaningless violent acts that bring horror and dismay to us time after time.
But, if either side acts, the stalemate will get broken, and something will change (successfully or not). If both sides act as above, the stalemate will still get broken, and something will change (successfully or not). This seems to be a case where any action would be preferable to no action. Either side, literally doing just about anything, that would be something.
Waiting for Congress to elect a speaker, to swing to the Democrats, to figure out that none of us call post offices by their pet names so they might as well stop bothering, that’s all futile. Congress is proving that although we do need government, we can get by without a legislature. We won’t do great things, but we won’t just fall apart if the GOP decides it has better things to do than govern.