Letter to the
Excuse me boss; ya got a minute? I hope this isn’t too soon, but there’s something I’d like to talk to you about. In a recent column in the Anchorage Press you (Publisher Dennis Anderson) said I was losing my marbles. Not me specifically, but you implied gun control advocates in the persons of Jimmy Kimmel, Colin Jost, and local writer and radio personality Shannon Moore, were a couple of aggies short of a full bag.
You accuse gun control advocates of trotting out the same old “tired arguments”, and actually, you’re right. In the wake of 58 murdered and one suicide, some of us are questioning the rationality of things like multiple round clips and devices that make semi-automatic weapons operate like machine guns. Every time something like Las Vegas or Orlando or Newtown happens, those of us on the wacky, reactionary, left tend to react.
When Ms. Moore questions why her uterus is more regulated than guns, and when folks like Jimmy Kimmel and Colin Jost question the need for assault rifles and wonder why anyone would need 47 of them, they are not presenting shiny, new arguments. These are questions that have been asked before. These are questions that will be asked again. They are tired, old questions that will keep being asked until a reasonable answer is given. If you think you’re tired of hearing them, consider how weary the questioners are.
Those on the other side of the debate are fond of saying stuff like: “guns don’t kill people; people kill people” and “gun control is using both hands” and “ Honk if you’ve never seen a gun fired from a moving vehicle.” I’ll admit that last one is funny in a sick, twisted cold dead hands sort of way.
And yes the 2nd Amendment is enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It does say, in so many words: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It also prefaces that statement with: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. The Supreme Court has on multiple occasions interpreted that preface as meaning gun ownership should be regulated by the state. Again, this is not exactly ground breaking insight.
The point is both sides have their hackneyed responses to what is obviously an ongoing problem. And neither side is willing to give an inch to the other. So if we’ve all picked a position and are armed with our favorite quotes, let’s take one more trip down that dark rabbit hole. Actually, let’s not.
My take on this is nothing new either. It’s just my observation. Political discourse in this country has become so divisive and defensive that no one is listening to anything but the sound of their own voice. While the murder of 58 concert goers is something that tends to get your attention, it is an anomaly. It is, thank God, not the norm. It does, however, produce outrage and frustration with the attendant defensiveness that comes from both sides.
Meanwhile, we point our fingers and man our particular barricades and 53 more people die. These weren’t concert goers. These were people, in places like Parkton, North Carolina; Canton, Pennsylvania; and Seward, Alaska that died by gun violence on the day Steven Paddock checked into the Mandalay Bay Resort with 47 guns. In fact, according to gunviolencearchive.org, from October 1st to October 13th (the day of the writing of this column) 468 people have died in gun related incidents from sea to crimson sea. That number does not include the 58 plus one dead in Las Vegas. If you include Las Vegas that’s over five hundred people dead in thirteen days. Do you think maybe we ought to look at ways to possibly bring that number down?
And to those on my side of the barricade, gun ownership is actually a right. As a right it is not something that is bestowed on the holder. It is a pre-existing condition like free speech, or the ability to go from place to place, or something that would exclude one from a republican healthcare plan (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Rights can’t be given to you; they can only be restricted or taken away completely. This is why some gun owners get their bandoliers in a bunch when we start talking about gun control.
So where is the common ground here? I hope that we can all agree that 527 people shot to death in not quite half a month is a bad thing. And, at the risk of contributing to the de-marbling of America, I hope we can all agree that some rules need to apply when dealing with equipment that is capable of producing all those dead people in that short amount of time.
I’m not sure what we can agree on, but I am sure that we need to come to some consensus. It is not too early to talk about it. In fact the numbers show that it’s much too late for 527 formerly living people. Can we do something about bump stocks, or multiple round clips or keeping people with a history of mental instability from owning a firearm? I don’t know. What I do know is somewhere between melt all the guns down into peace amulets and toe rings, and I have a God given right to my own ICBM, there has to be a reasonable middle. At 527 dead and counting I don’t think we’re there yet.