So, a horrible thing has happened.
This particular horrible thing isn’t on that scale. This horrible thing was something we can all understand and react to. And perhaps we should be more outraged about the horrible things in Rwanda and Syria and Darfur and Pakistan and Somalia than we generally are. But this horrible thing isn’t made any less horrible by its not being the worst thing in the world.
I don’t have too much to say about this, and if I don’t cover the obvious bases in much detail – that this is unspeakably tragic, that everyone involved deserves as much compassion and help and respect and privacy as we can give them – please understand that my own words are intended to be supplemental to these facts, not to supplant them.
With the proviso, then, that these are far less important than many other things to be said, I have some scattered thoughts related to the recent school shooting in Connecticut.
– Gun control. Some people want it, some people don’t. Some people on both sides of the argument in the States are talking about it more loudly now than they had been before. I’ve talked about it in the past, without coming to any particular conclusions.
But there’s one thing in particular that I wish people who are deeply pro-gun, and have been vocally so in the time since the shooting, would understand:
You know that other lot who you don’t like, who are calling for more gun control laws right now? They’re not doing it because they’re liberal fucking assholes. They’re doing it because eighteen children just got shot dead by a gun.
Trying to get someone to truly and sincerely understand where another person’s coming from, when they’re politically at odds, is always a challenge. But this really should be an easy one for you guys. Someone broke into a school and just kept murdering people with the guns he owned, and many liberals responded by proposing legal measures to curb gun ownership. It should not be that difficult to take a charitable view of these liberals’ motivations, and to understand why they might be suggesting such a thing.
You don’t have to agree with them, but they’re not fucking assholes for thinking that way. A bunch of kids are dead. It doesn’t make someone a moron or an authoritarian ideologue if they come up with “not letting people have all the guns they want all the time” as an idea which might conceivably stop so many kids from dying in the future.
And yes, yes, the government imposing limits on the rights of citizens is a dangerous precedent and a slippery slope, blah blah blah. Sure. But eighteen children just got shot and killed. And what that means for you right now is that you need to work pretty goddamn hard not to seem unforgivably petty, if you’re going to spend more time talking about protecting your right to own guns than about protecting children’s right not to get shot dead by those guns.
The other guys are sincerely trying to act in the interests of innocent people. You’re spending most of your own effort defending your right to own the weapons that just massacred them. I’m not saying you’re entirely without a point, but have some perspective on the argument and be aware of how you sound.
– Would it even work? The point of gun control is to reduce gun crime and save lives; the only point in supporting it is to achieve that end. But the correlation between lax laws and more deaths isn’t necessarily as straight-forward as all that.
Someone observed on Twitter earlier (I’ve got to stop half-remembering people’s tweets and failing to credit them) that many conservatives, who oppose gun control laws on the grounds that they wouldn’t even be effective in reducing gun ownership and crime, nevertheless support such demonstrably counterproductive endeavours as the war on drugs. A draconian set of laws is clearly doing nothing to seriously reduce the drug problem over there, and the frequent right-wing hypocrisy is clear.
But the argument goes the other way, too, and I’ve not seen any liberals giving the corresponding syllogism its due. If, like many on the left, you recognise what a dismally failed effort the drug war is, and the extent to which it exacerbates many of the problems of drug use and creates scores of new ones of its own… then why assume that restricting gun ownership will be drastically different?
– Whatever the answer, it’s not too soon to have the conversation, about gun control or anything else which could help. If eighteen dead children doesn’t make it a good time to start seriously examining our options, I don’t know what will.
– Final point. Fuck the Constitution.
Seriously, you colonials over there. Get over the fetish for this ancient piece of paper.
Okay, maybe that’s harsh. I guess I don’t have a massive problem with much of the document. It’s got some good ideas and some stuff which was reasonable at the time. And I’m not saying I think it’s terrible because any particular part of it does something I don’t like, or there’s any specific legal principle within that I find disagreeable.
But it was one bunch of people’s ideas of how to run a country, which they came up with in the 1780′s. Smart people with a positive vision for a glorious and thriving egalitarian democracy, they may very well have been. Their ideas should be given due consideration. But you’re allowed to move on.
If you’re trying to decide what laws you should have in your country, have laws that are good laws. Don’t have laws solely because they seem to line up well with what some guys two centuries dead thought would be good laws.
You’ve had nearly a quarter of a millennium now, as a country, to consider and reflect on the original Constitution, and think about how its contents might best be updated in the face of an ever-changing set of societal requirements and conditions.
Particularly, say, in the case of the rather significant advances in handgun technology that have come along since the invention of the musket.
There was much to admire about Thomas Jefferson but we might, collectively, be able to make better decisions than him on the subject of waiting periods and background checks before people are allowed to purchase an M1941 Johnson Rifle and set of armor-piercing .30-06 Springfield cartridges. The founding fathers had some smart ideas, especially about the importance of freedom, and it’s true that many politicians are too keen to second-guess them and assume they know better… but I really think us 21st century folk are in a better position to make the call on this one.
It’s a really, really good time to have a conversation about guns, and about any possible ways we might be able to minimise horrible things that happen because of guns in the future. An honest conversation needs to consider all the options, including gun control, no gun control, or just somehow persuading the entire USA to be a little less batshit insane about firearms.
And a worthwhile conversation about gun laws actually needs to be about gun laws, and not – please, for the love of bacon – about the placement of fucking commas in the Second Amendment. For fuck’s sake.