"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Gun Control 2…

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Prof John Stackhouse has produced a post on the questions not being asked in the USA concerning violence. I find myself in violent agreement with his words.  He points out that we really don’t want to hear God’s answer to the question ‘why does evil happen?’ because it would turn the pointing finger right back on the asker: 

Even when violence erupts unavoidably in front of us, we refuse to think hard about what is actually happening, in an appropriately broad frame of reference, and what it all tells us—about ourselves, about how we have run things, about God, and about how God runs things.

We certainly don’t want to look any harder than easy, quick, simple solutions, whether more rigorous gun registration (Jeffrey Goldberg mounts a brave, scary attack on that idea from the left) or putting an armed security guard in every school (the NRA’s “answer”).

We don’t want to look at our own stinginess, our systemic disregard for the mentally ill and their caregivers, or our reflexive (and therefore too easy) recourse or resistance to the state.

We certainly don’t want to look at what it might mean theologically for God to allow us to do so much harm to ourselves and others: What possible agenda could God have that is so huge and so important that it could warrant such a program of dangerous freedom? What would it mean for us to live our lives in the light of that agenda?

Nah. Let’s just be there for each other. Let’s just do that One Thing That Will Solve the Problem. And then we can just get back to business as usual. Like Pilate so badly wanted to do.

This author (following) is also one of the first to point out that armed citizens have stopped several mass-killings to be…by being in the right place with a pistol at the right time.  He also notes a contrary police attitude, and then notes that the officer’s anecdotal comments are not borne out by the crime statistics.  The fact of the matter (as well proven by a number of studies like Lott’s) is that suitably trained and licensed citizens carrying concealed handguns has a calming impact on violent crime.  Opponents of such laws need to acknowledge that the primary basis for their counter-argument is borne in emotion.

From an article in the Atlantic by an author that Stackhouse identifies as left leaning, another excellent perspective (and the first journalist I’ve read who refers to John Lott’s study).  He argues a hybrid of more guns and more gun control, which is right alongside my thoughts on the subject:

James Alderden put it another way: “Your position on concealed-carry permits has a lot to do with your position on the reliability and sanity of your fellow man.”

The ideology of gun-ownership absolutism doesn’t appeal to me. Unlike hard-line gun-rights advocates, I do not believe that unregulated gun ownership is a defense against the rise of totalitarianism in America, because I do not think that America is ripe for totalitarianism. (Fear of a tyrannical, gun-seizing president is the reason many gun owners oppose firearms registration.)

But I am sympathetic to the idea of armed self-defense, because it does often work, because encouraging learned helplessness is morally corrupt, and because, however much I might wish it, the United States is not going to become Canada. Guns are with us, whether we like it or not. Maybe this is tragic, but it is also reality. So Americans who are qualified to possess firearms shouldn’t be denied the right to participate in their own defense. And it is empirically true that the great majority of America’s tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners have not created chaos in society.

A balanced approach to gun control in the United States would require the warring sides to agree on several contentious issues. Conservative gun-rights advocates should acknowledge that if more states had stringent universal background checks—or if a federal law put these in place—more guns would be kept out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally unstable. They should also acknowledge that requiring background checks on buyers at gun shows would not represent a threat to the Constitution. “The NRA position on this is a fiction,” says Dan Gross, the head of the Brady Campaign. “Universal background checks are not an infringement on our Second Amendment rights. This is black-helicopter stuff.” Gross believes that closing the gun-show loophole would be both extremely effective and a politically moderate and achievable goal. The gun lobby must also agree that concealed-carry permits should be granted only to people who pass rigorous criminal checks, as well as thorough training-and-safety courses.

Anti-gun advocates, meanwhile, should acknowledge that gun-control legislation is not the only answer to gun violence. Responsible gun ownership is also an answer. An enormous number of Americans believe this to be the case, and gun-control advocates do themselves no favors when they demonize gun owners, and advocates of armed self-defense, as backwoods barbarians. Liberals sometimes make the mistake of anthropomorphizing guns, ascribing to them moral characteristics they do not possess. Guns can be used to do evil, but guns can also be used to do good. Twelve years ago, in the aftermath of Matthew Shepard’s murder, Jonathan Rauch launched a national movement when he wrote an article for Salon arguing that gay people should arm themselves against violent bigots. Pink Pistol clubs sprang up across America, in which gays and lesbians learn to use firearms in self-defense. Other vulnerable groups have also taken to the idea of concealed carry: in Texas, African American women represent the largest percentage increase of concealed-carry permit seekers since 2000.

But even some moderate gun-control activists, such as Dan Gross, have trouble accepting that guns in private hands can work effectively to counteract violence. When I asked him the question I posed to Stephen Barton and Tom Mauser—would you, at a moment when a stranger is shooting at you, prefer to have a gun, or not?—he answered by saying, “This is the conversation the gun lobby wants you to be having.” He pointed out some of the obvious flaws in concealed-carry laws, such as too-lax training standards and too much discretionary power on the part of local law-enforcement officials. He did say that if concealed-carry laws required background checks and training similar to what police recruits undergo, he would be slower to raise objections. But then he added: “In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?” Do we want to live in one “in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?”

What Gross won’t acknowledge is that in a nation of nearly 300 million guns, his question is irrelevant.  [emphasis mine]

My conclusion is that the USA does not want to seriously engage the question of violence…which makes perfect sense given the state-sponsored torture of terrorists, and the frequent use of Hellfire missiles launched from drones to take care of enemies of the state.


Written by sameo416

December 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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