Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hardly anyone should own a gun ...

"The most savage ideological warfare imaginable…" That's what Ed Kilgore predicts we're going to see now that the President has thrown down with his "gun safety" proposals.

In the interests of adequately wide ranging ideological warfare, I'm happy to throw down my thoughts: nobody who is not a public safety officer should be allowed to wave a gun around. If we can't get that -- and a plurality of nincompoops at the Supreme Court have misinterpreted language about primitive state armed forces to say we can't -- then anyone not legally required to carry a fire arm on the job should be able, briefly, to check out a pistol to play at a shooting range or a rifle capable of no more than one shot without reloading to hunt for a day. And those "sport" uses should require a thorough background check. Anyone else in possession of a firearm goes to the slammer. Period. No "assault" weapons. No monster magazines. No "concealed carry." No armor piercing bullets. No bullshit.

Ain't gonna happen, so a couple of comments on what we're seeing. From the left, the ACLU warns, quite properly, that putting "new resource officers and counselors" into the schools can be another means by which youth of color just acting like dumb teenagers end up criminalized and lose their chances in life.

While well-meaning policymakers might assume that adding police, metal detectors and surveillance necessarily makes students safer, experience demonstrates otherwise. In practice, most school police spend a significant portion of their time responding to minor, nonviolent infractions—children who have drawn on desks or talked back to teachers, for example—rather than behaviors that seriously threaten school safety. … Criminalizing minor misbehavior that should be handled by teachers or school administrators has serious consequences for kids and only contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline - that is, pushing kids out of classrooms and into jail cells. When students are arrested just once, their chances of graduating drop dramatically and they face lifelong repercussions as a result.

Colorlines is following this aspect of the gun story.

Meanwhile, Kilgore tells us over and over what the wingnuts' gun obsession is really about: they think they must be armed well enough to overthrow the US government.

To “protect the citizenry from even their own government” may sound reasonable as an abstraction. But what it means is that Erick [Erickson, a prominent right wing blogger] wants Americans to be able to keep an assault rifle at home in order someday to use it to shoot police officers dead if the laws they seek to enforce represent “tyranny.”

But who decides when a tyranny is present? The people with assault rifles in their closets, apparently. With a few easy clicks, I can find people publicly describing Obamacare, progressive taxes, and even Keynesian economics as “tyrannical.” “Tyranny” has become an extraordinarily common term on the Right for describing the Obama administration generally. …

It is obviously impossible to have a rational discussion of gun regulation with people who think they may need to shoot you at some point to defend such fundamental liberties as their right not to subsidize health insurance for “takers” and “looters.” But it is important to remind them and everyone else now and then that their eminently respectable-sounding ideology is based on blood and fire and the implicit threat of violence.

A pretty substantial majority of us don't' want these bitter guys (yes, they are mostly guys) deciding what kind of government we have. We decide that by voting. And the proper use of force in this case is to disarm the lawless. We fought a civil war about this 150 years ago. "Government of the people, by the people, and for the people" prevailed. The struggle to actualize it never ends, but we don't carry it on by shooting law enforcement personnel enforcing laws we don't like.

Obligatory disclaimers: yes, as a kid, I took "riflery" and enjoyed shooting at targets. My older male relatives were hunters in the more rural society in which they lived. One of my current friends is a competitive biathlete. I know lots of contemporary gun owners have more sense than the NRA leadership or Erick Erickson. But I still think private gun ownership is not yielding a safer, saner United States and that we should just stop it.


Rain Trueax said...

You represent the far left on this issue and that's certainly your right. I've heard the view from other leftie friends, but it's what the gun owners fear is the real motive behind Obama's reasonable and sane actions. When they fear control by someone who doesn't understand guns or their need in anybody's life, they will then reject the measures that actually might prevent future massacres. Obama has his head on right, and I hope that all gun owners can see he's the one in power not those who secretly want all the guns. That would be a good way to turn the country against any proposals at all. It reminds me of the same way any restriction or limits at all on abortions makes those who want abortion legal right up to nine months fear it means they'll lose all their right to freedom of choice. The slippery slope ends most reasonable approaches to anything.

As a gun owner, one with a concealed weapon permit, one who has loaded guns in my home, I am all for Obama's proposals and hope people get behind them instead of become distracted by the hate/fear gun mentality. I think the majority of gun owners see it that way-- those who don't want assault and semi-assault rifles with the idea of taking on the US military or overpowering a whole state or who knows what looniness. I totally respect that some are scared of guns, see them as the cause of a lot of bad things (so are bombs, knives and fists), but I also know that a total ban on them will not happen in this country. Obama has declared there is a Constitutional right to own guns for ordinary citizens; but even if it did, the only guns turned in will be by those who are law abiding to begin.

Likely a lot of this will be settled by the Supreme Court as I suspect Obama's reasonable approach will be challenged. I have no idea how they'll see this issue. To me the Constitution does not mean someone has a right to war weapons, but who knows what they'll decide. For the sake of going to malls, move theaters, political rallies, sending our kids to school, I hope there are some sane heads on the right. The talk right now is all the hotheads. and boy is it hot if you listen at all to the right wing pundits go at it. Their threats to us, our government and our President are very scary to me. They think Obama wants what you do and they are ready to shoot somebody to prove they are responsible owners of weapons... Human logic and lack of said, is an amazing thing.

janinsanfran said...

Hi Rain -- appreciate that we disagree. I'm well aware that I'm stating an extreme position here; I'm doing it because I am confident that at least one quarter of us and probably more hold this sort of view, but are cowed into shutting up because we might upset the NRA and that means we mustn't squawk. The NRA -- the gun lobby -- bullies politicians, citizens and sensible gun owners so it's hard to approach this straightforwardly.

The NRA succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to adopt an historically indefensible interpretation of the 2nd Amendment by an exercise of raw political power. Aside from the NRA, nobody argued that the Constitution created an individual right to gun ownership until quite recently. The language is about state militias and so it was understood for the first two hundred years of this country. It took pandering politicians putting in judges that kept them in good odor with the gun lobby to come up the current abomination.

I see nothing wrong with meeting the political clout of the gun fanatics with the (larger I think) political clout of people who want to enact universal background checks, bans on military weapons, and other sensible controls. It's been done before. I think Obama's program is on the right track -- and I think those of us who want to go further should push like hell.

Rain Trueax said...

The problem with your desire to go further is it validates those who are in the middle, could swing either way, to think they can't do anything as if you give an inch and the anti gun people will take a mile. Doubtless you do represent around 1/4 of Americans and the other 1/4 want assault rifles in every school. That's what both extremes have to realize, they are extremes and the middle decides what happens. If you convince the middle that taking all guns is Obama's real aim (he says it's not) then you will get nothing. Why not concentrate on the one actual goal that could be achieved (and as he said not easily) then you can talk extremism afterward.

You are totally wrong that nobody needs guns; but living in a city, i can see where you might believe that.

I hope you realize that you cannot get them all no matter what Amendments you might get passed someday. A lot of Americans do need those guns. A lot, like us, who support solid regulations, don't like what either extreme wants. That's pretty much how America works.

What's bad right now is the extremism on the right over this is nearly hysteria. If you are listening, you see the potential for it to turn very violent as it has done before and it doesn't take guns for that to happen.

Yesterday I tried to listen to the right wing talkers for awhile to hear what they are saying and just couldn't take it after five minutes. What they think and want would break this country apart. This isn't just a hypothetical issue to them. It's something they fear deep in their bones. And worse, more of those extremists on the right are winning political offices which puts them in the mainstream. This country really is dividing up and guns is giving those who want exactly that a match to light :(

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