The Most Anti-American Thing I Can Think Of
Sandy Hook has come and gone, faded from a national conscience which focuses as intensely as it forgets. With Obama’s attempt at minimalist gun control behind us, we slide back into life complicit to the maimed, mangled,and murdered children who we failed to protect.
I can’t think of anything more anti-American than a gun.
What some Americans celebrate as something that once enabled our culture is something which erodes it.
This is a country built on freedom and equality, in principle. To honor the (debatable) founding sentiment of our forebears who thrice enshrined slavery in our original documents in the face of dead five year olds is an act of cowardice.
Our founders were not in favor of a woman’s right to vote or a black man’s equal protection of the law, so when it comes to equality, why do we care what they thought about guns?
I don’t. I couldn’t care less what they thought, and the argument about what they meant about militias or individuals isn’t relevant. What I do honor is the founding fathers’ maverick sentiment about the importance of freedom above all else, and the fierceness of their original thinking.
Shouldn’t we be as willing to topple their anachronistic view on guns, in the same way that they toppled the British? What they wanted is this to be the land of the free, to my interpretation, and at the moment it is not:
When you walk into kindergarten or a movie theater, it shouldn’t be the possibility set that you’re going to be shot by a semi-automatic weapon.
Said differently, guns are one of the greatest forces of inequality that I can think of. They give power to those who wield them over those who don’t. The idea that we should all get armed in response to this is about as sensible as suggesting that we should all get infected with HIV so we can stop wearing condoms. That such an idea is put forth by those who celebrate our right to bear arms to begin with should not be surprising, it should be expected.
Recent surveys suggest assault weapon bans and background checks are no-brainers, and yet for those in favor of such sensible measures we abdicate our ability to do anything to the power of the NRA and the gun lobby.
Why do we do this? My sense is we do because smaller groups of people who are intensely passionate about something can be more organized than larger groups of people who care less intensely. It’s like being a Bears fan and being dominated by the Packers for two decades. There are fewer Cheeseheads, but man are they tight. I mean, they own their own team? How baller is that?
I love the people of Wisconsin. It is one of our nation’s greatest states. And I don’t equate them with the NRA, who while they hold the wrong view about the role of guns in society as of 2013, at least should be admired for their ability to organize and get what they want. It seems to me that those of us who oppose guns ought to be equally compelling in our ability to organize.
I asked a neo-conservative friend of mine who I look up to intellectually about his view on gun control on Monday, and he cogently argued it is a pointless discussion: There are 300 million guns in the US, we can never get them back because the people who own them can fire bullets, and none of the background check laws would have preempted the recent spate of mass shootings.
My view is different, which is this: should we not try? And why should the assault weapon used at Sandy Hook even be available? Why does anyone need that gun outside of our nation’s military?
Why have we already forgotten about the dead kids who unified us around wanting to do something, and let the gun lobby win yet again?
Because they care more consistently and persistently than we do. So they deserve to win.
That saddens me, and it angers me as well.
And so I ask, if you woke up this morning, like I did, sickened by the fact that a kindergartener might be shot, what can I do today to oppose those in favor of guns as forcefully as those who support them?
What can I do to feel that this America, built on freedom, can evolve, even when doing so requires perhaps opposition to the people that berthed it?
And can I look my own child in the eye, say I love you, and mean it, if I abandon the parents of the dead ones who deserve far more than just my fleeting grief?