Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Vote With a Bullet

Ho-hum. Another week, another massacre. Words fail at this point, you know, what else can you say on this miserable subject? Interesting debate over at Ed's nonetheless, with commenter Nick making some decent counter-arguments. Regardless, there are salient points and questions you just can't ignore in this context:
  • Why it's easier to get firearms than to get over-the-counter decongestants.

  • Why it's easier to get a gun than it is to legally drive a car.

  • Is there anything at all, any scrap of token resistance built into the acquisition process, that gun absolutists can accept, in the reasonable common-good goal that deranged individuals not have a completely unobstructed pathway to being able to inflict catastrophic damage to crowds of innocents in a matter of seconds? Or is it just a shrug of the shoulders and a "gee, that sucks", until one of their own kids gets slaughtered by one of these goons?

  • How does this inalienable right, this freedom, become more exalted and sanctified than any and all others? That is, we all concede absolute freedoms all the time every day, everywhere we go, because we have a utilitarian concept of what the "common good" entails. We acknowledge that the freedom to drive a car, and the freedom to drink alcohol, don't also confer an ability to do both at once. We get that you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, or make death threats, no matter how empty, against people. So where did we all decide that we can't erect any roadblocks, even modest ones, to lunatics acquiring AR-15s and cop-killer bullets, no questions asked? At what point did we all mutually agree that the collateral damage was just the cost of doing business?
None of this is said lightly; it's not fair to punish the vast majority of honest, responsible gun owners, for the actions of a deranged few. And as Nick points out repeatedly, pointing the finger at a deadly object does not remove all the underlying causes of the behavior that compels these individuals to commit these horrible crimes.

But we all put up with infringements to our absolute freedoms all the time; we put up with random police checkpoints for everything from seat belts to drunk driving, we allow ourselves to be felt up like strippers and herded like cattle, to ride on a goddamned plane. American life is filled with increasingly abusive and intrusive experiences, for the hollow promise of safety. There's even a new-millennium neologism constructed just for the phenomenon: security theater.

Would gun control (or bullet control -- or hell, just modest background checks and waiting periods) prevent all gun crimes? Of course not. But these acts, however meticulously planned, are on execution acts of immediacy, where everyone in that line of fire gets just enough time before the bullet hits to wonder whether a 72-hour waiting period or a background check might of thrown their wingnut on that day at that hour, just for a moment, just enough for a different quantum event.

Or is doing absolutely nothing infinitely preferable, because it might conceivably somehow infringe slightly on the god-given rights of people to buy a pallet of bullets to take out to the range? It's a tough question, and one that needs to be asked and examined by both sides of the debate, because simply chanting "Second Amendment" over and over again isn't cutting it.


Tehanu said...

Of course I agree with you -- but it's too sensible for the raving loonies of the NRA and its mouth-breathing bigot enablers. I was just reading about the OK Corral and couldn't help but notice that the gunfight did NOT take out half the population of Tombstone because they had a city ordinance against toting guns. Try telling that to a winger.

Risk Assessment Group said...

I agree. Background checks should be mandatory not only in the work place but also in gun control.