A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


When something bad happens, we react. It’s perfectly normal. Often we change something in an attempt to get different results. This applies on a micro and macro scale, and it has both positive and negative repercussions. The TSA and airport body scanners are a great example. So are seat belts, parachutes, metal detectors, stop signs and Kevlar vests.

But not so with gun massacres.

Well, a few people mention gun control laws and such, but they're quickly shouted down. Coverage of the Denver theater shooting was filled with talking heads preemptively explaining how it was too early to discuss gun control, or how discussing gun control would "politicize" the tragedy.

Gun culture is deeply ingrained in America. I'd wager that the majority of the voting public could tell you what the Second Amendment is about. How about the Third? (Protection from quartering of troops) Seventh? (Civil trial by jury) It’s interesting to note that while Americans steadfastly defend the Second Amendment, the Fourth is nearly forgotten, and looking rather ragged lately.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution reads:

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 

So what’s this mean? Seriously – what does this mean? I’d love to sit down every adult and have them write down what this does and does not cover. Because no one really agrees. It’s ambiguous. And more than 200 years old.

And this is why we have a gun control debate - actually, this is why we have almost zero gun control debate in America. Well, that and the lobbying power of the NRA. Many on the pro-gun side of this debate see it as rather black and white. We either do or do not allow guns. Or at least, that’s the message that we hear. We’re told that it’s a slippery slope, that gun laws only hurt legal gun owners, that guns are how we keep the state honest.

I’ve been on both sides of the gun debate. I empathize with gun owners, and I don’t genuinely propose eliminating guns. (Because c’mon, I’m trying to have a serious conversation here. Can you imagine how this would go: “Guns are now illegal in America. Please turn your firearms in at your local police station. Thank you.” Oh man, the hilarity that would ensue.)

The problem here is that the right is not even willing to discuss the issue. Every proposal, no matter how moderate, gets slapped down. You need look no further than the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was allowed to expire, and the right seems perfectly happy that it’s dead. With it out of the way, the voting public is free to purchase 100 round magazines for their assault rifles.

Some on the right want to make guns even easier to get. It’s the idea that an armed civilization is a polite civilization. That’s great on paper. It’s a noble idea. Until you throw booze into the equation. Or domestic violence. Or road rage. Or bullying. Or all of the other things that happen, and would continue to happen, if you armed every voting American citizen. All made worse by the level of experience and training that armed citizen has. I have a friend who spends hours and hours at the gun range every week. I also know gun owners who haven’t visited a gun range in years. The idea of them picking up a firearms and trying to use it to defend my life or the lives of my loved ones is fucking terrifying. “You just point at bad guys and pull the trigger, right?” of course it’s that easy. Bad guys don’t shoot back, it’s always well-lit, and people don’t run through the line of fire. And besides, good people with guns never make mistakes and shoot someone by accident, or by mistaken identity – or by just plain missing their target.

So here I am yelling into the void. Despite numerous recent instances of law abiding American citizens picking up their legal firearm and using to massacre innocent people, no one is willing to have a serious conversation about how prevent this from happening next time.