At times of national angst, it is useful to consider what great philosophers have to say. Today we consider what that great Texas philosopher Molly Ivins had to say about guns in our society.
(With a tip of the hat to the Great State of Maine at Daily Kos for bringing this to my attention.)
In truth, there is no rational argument for guns in this society. This is no longer a frontier nation in which people hunt their own food. It is a crowded, overwhelmingly urban country in which letting people have access to guns is a continuing disaster. Those who want guns---whether for target shooting, hunting or potting rattlesnakes (get a hoe)---should be subject to the same restrictions placed on gun owners in England---a nation in which liberty has survived nicely without an armed populace. […](March, 1993.)
Michael Crichton makes an interesting argument about technology in his thriller "Jurassic Park." He points out that power without discipline is making this society into a wreckage. By the time someone who studies the martial arts becomes a master---literally able to kill with bare hands---that person has also undergone years of training and discipline. But any fool can pick up a gun and kill with it.
"A well-regulated militia" surely implies both long training and long discipline. That is the least, the very least, that should be required of those who are permitted to have guns, because a gun is literally the power to kill. For years, I used to enjoy taunting my gun-nut friends about their psycho-sexual hang-ups---always in a spirit of good cheer, you understand. But letting the noisy minority in the National Rifle Association force us to allow this carnage to continue is just plain insane.
Since the horror of last Friday's murders at an elementary school in Connecticut where the bodies of first graders were literally riddled with bullets by a psychopath wielding an assault rifle, many of the usually predictable apologists for gun nuts have been notably silent, but some never learn when to shut up. In that category would be another Texas philosopher named Louie Gohmert who is of the school of thinking that if only that principal had had an assault rifle of her own, she could have stopped the killing. He, of course, fails to address the fact that the killer's mother apparently had a whole arsenal of assault rifles at her home. They didn't protect her. She's just as dead as the innocent children.
Then, of course, there is the self-righteous twaddle of Mike Huckabee who has run the gamut from blaming the lack of public prayer in schools to, now, abortion pills and homosexuals, for the deranged murder of children in their classroom. He utterly refuses to address the fact that virtually 100 percent of these incidents are perpetrated by a particular social group - young white males with a history of mental problems and appallingly easy access to guns.
Perhaps we would do well to look at that social group and see what it is that is making them so devoid of human feeling and empathy to be able to commit such crimes. Perhaps there is even something we could do to ameliorate their situation and help to integrate them into society instead of allowing them to be outcasts with no stake in society. But, no, in Gohmert/Huckabee World, better to just issue an assault rifle and kevlar vest to everyone, including, I suppose kindergarteners.
It is just barely possible, I think, that we may finally have reached a tipping point in this country. At least in the last few days politicians seem more willing to discuss the issue of guns and their control and of instituting sensible laws to restrict their availability. Sen. Diane Feinstein has said she will introduce such legislation in the next session of Congress. As has been pointed out by various commentators, the Democrats are never going to get the votes of the gun nuts anyway, but it is possible to win without them, just as they won the last election without the help of white rural Southerners. And so they might as well be bold in proposing sensible gun control regulation. They may well find that the vast majority of Americans will support them and appreciate their efforts, even though as long as the Tea Party Republicans control the House of Representatives, it is unlikely that such legislation will be able to pass. Regardless of the outcome, it is still a fight worth having, and it is all the more reason to start organizing NOW to take back the House of Representatives in 2014!
In an op-ed today in The Washington Post. Joseph A. Califano, Jr. wrote about the experience of another Democratic president in a similar situation:
If ever there were a moment for President Obama to learn from history, it is now, in the wake of Friday’s shootings at the elementary school at Newtown, Conn. The timely lesson for Obama, drawn from the experience of Lyndon B. Johnson — the last president to aggressively fight for comprehensive gun control — is this: Demand action on comprehensive gun control immediately from this Congress or lose the opportunity during your presidency.If ever there was a moment to politicize an issue, this is it. It is time for the Body Politic to make its wishes known to its elected representatives. It is not a time for them or their representatives to be cowed by the bullies of the National Rifle Association and their allies whose only goal is to line their own pockets. Don't believe for one second that they are concerned about the Constitution! They are concerned about making money and controlling politicians and only that.
We have an opportunity at this moment to turn the conversation away from the "rights" of gun nuts to the rights of our children to be safe in their classrooms from psychotic killers wielding assault rifles. The innocent blood of the children demands that we seize this opportunity with both hands. Molly Ivins would counsel us to be brave.