I've been reading the news about what happened at Virginia Tech off and on. It's been a bit of a mad storm as details come out and things still don't seem much clearer on many levels. I largely checked out after I kept hearing the about the gunman only being referred to as 'South Korean.' This is true, as it was the country of his birth, but the guy had been here since 1992 (when he was 8). As I was changing in the gym locker room the other day I heard Bill O'Reilly (on the TV) say something to the effect of "This guy comes from South Korea, gets a gun and kills 32 students." Wow, talk about spin or a complete disregard of facts. Anyway, this is the same stupidity that continues to come forth in the attempt to understand the mind of what appears to be a disturbed individual. I was actually waiting for the fun debate to begin...the one about guns.
Well, it's finally getting kicked off. I'm not sure if it will get much bigger though as it's a hot button issue that many people either don't have the brains or the balls to discuss. You can read two points of view at CNN.com. One by Ted Nugent
(pro-gun) and the other from Tom Plate
(anti-gun). Both do their best to make their points, but both fail miserably in my opinion, with Nugent failing worse as his statements border on the line of "insane gun-toting hick." I've heard Mr. Nugent talk before and I know he can create a more cohesive and better argument than what he submitted to CNN. Some of the more interesting stuff is in the comments from readers. A few even brought in an issue that almost nobody talks about in a gun control debate, and that is the full language of the Second Amendment. Well, maybe not the full language but they mention a key word that is usually missing from the debate on both sides. Can you guess the word?
Here is the amendment as listed on the "National Archives Experience
" website:"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Can you see the word that people don't tend to talk about? Here is another clue. When people hear the word they tend to think crazy people in the woods preparing for the day the government implements a police state. That's right, it's the word "Militia"! You see, this is a key for me when it comes to listening to anything someone has to say about the "right to bear arms." If they don't remark on the word "militia," I simply tune them out. They aren't arguing the Second Amendment, they're arguing the part they like or don't like, which is the part of people having guns.
Now, just to be clear I'm not against regular citizens having guns, but then again I'm not in favor of it either. What I am in favor of is a consistent and clear definition of the Second Amendment, which we simply don't have. I believe one of those reasons is that people don't want to address the fact that the word "militia" is in the Second Amendment. My opinion about why that is? To do so would result in historical reflection and I have a gut feeling that people don't want to do that (when has history ever helped?). I don't think some folks would like discussing the fact that the colonists were fighting what they saw as a tyrannical government, they knew every able bodied man (I'm talking history here, I'm not being sexist) was needed to defend the colonies and in order to do that those men had to be armed so they could fight for their new colony at a moment's notice. I don't think people want to discuss that because then we have to ask, "Is that true today?" The answer as I see it is that it is not true.
In the modern age we have a military (volunteer), a police force and a national guard. Those are the US's militia. However, as the idea of the Second Amendment (as I see it) was to keep tyrannical governments from oppressing everyday citizens I can see the point of people wanting to keep their guns in case our government implemented some kind of police state and started taking away things like our civil liberties (uh...well...in a more obvious fashion). So, let the civilians who want to keep their guns keep their guns, but hold them to the responsibility of someone within a militia. In my mind that is that you don't get a gun without lengthy training, without being a certain age (I'm fine with considerations for youth hunters with single shot rifles) and without proper registration with some local established arm of government militia (police, military, etc.). Personally I don't think it's a bad idea that the local police have a list of people who have gone through the necessary steps to own a gun. I think that if this country ever were threatened from the inside having a pool of individuals who could be quickly deputized really wouldn't be that bad.
Of course then you get the real weirdos in on that argument though. You know, the ones who expect the government to enforce their right to have their firearms, but yet they don't trust the government enough to tell them about every firearm they have in their possession. I don't know about you but THAT is a very scary mindset. That tells me that those people don't want their guns because they government says they can have them, they just want them.
I think those people would be similar to the ones who make the argument that things would be better if everyone was armed. You can find a number of those comments on the articles I linked above. The mindset that really makes me laugh is that people (bad people) would think twice about shooting anyone if they knew everyone was packing. Ummm...that works for the people who are boisterous at best. You know the guys that always talk smack but don't truly have any backbone. Everyone packing doesn't stop truly evil people (sorry Mr. Nugent) or people on a mission. Everyone packing only does one thing in those cases, it tells you that you need to be faster and you need to shoot first and ask questions later. Sure, it will stop the guy who wants to intimidate you into giving him your wallet because he's scared as hell he might have to shoot you if you don't comply, but it won't stop the guy who shoots you in the back and takes what he wants off your dead body. I'm actually worried that everyone having a gun would actually put more "scared" people into the mindset of "Everyone is packing nowadays, so I just need to get used to taking a life if I want money." I don't know if that would truly be the case, but I am worried it would be. The way you get around everyone carrying a gun? Shooting them before they see you.
Relating this back to Virginia Tech...I don't think everyone having a gun would have made a huge difference. Sure, maybe some people would have been saved if someone else could have taken down the gunman. OR maybe the same number of people would have died in crossfire. We just don't know.
The problem with this issue is the same as with so many other issues (as I see it). We can't have a quick fix. There is no perfect solution. We need constant intellectual debate (there is that 'Critical Thinking' thing again). Right now we just have pointless debate. I'm not seeing a lot of intellect from either side. I'm glad people are willing to voice their opinions on the issue, but until I start hearing the word "militia" regularly being used and people truly talking about the outcomes of everyone carrying a gun I'm just gonna ignore the debate or laugh at the people debating.
I will say this to those folks who believe everyone carrying a gun is a good idea though. Talk to our troops in Iraq and the new police force over there. Ask them how good of a deterrent their weapons are to the truly evil and disturbed and how easily they can pick those people out of a crowd. I think they'd have some damn good insights on that and gun control issues.