The Evolution of Politics
Gun Control and People Control are Everyone's Problem
February 17, 2013
by William Szczepanek
Guns kill people. No, people kill people. Actually, people with guns kill people. Since the massacre of teachers and little children at Newtown, CT discussion of the gun violence problem has been more frequent than after similar travesties. How long discussions will continue and how long a time will come before we have a solution are indeterminate. In general, you and I watch and hope that a solution will come, but few realize that the problem has been caused by each and every one of us. Yes, you and I have played a part in the killing of these teachers, children and other innocent people and until we realize that it is all of us that have to change, then sufficient change will not occur.
There is no one right answer and in some ways the problem will likely never be entirely solved, but a positive direction needs to be established. In fact, the problem is not even being defined adequately since thousands of people are killed by guns in this country every year, but it is only the occasional mass killings that seem to bother us. Most killings are not occurring in schools and the likelihood of mass killings occurring in movie theatres, malls, stadiums, churches or other places where large groups of people gather are just as likely. The answer is not armed protection in any or all of these areas. The further we go toward arming everyone the more likely it will be that those with the newfound responsibility of protecting everyone will accidentally or purposefully do the damage.
I am from a different time. A time when these problems did not exist in this country to the extent that they do now, and a time when the proposed solutions would seem more likely to endanger our inalienable rights than provide for them. In fact, the problem is now part of the American culture. So to effect a possible change in gun violence our culture needs to change substantially. Our cultural regression has been occurring for decades, so to expect an overnight solution is pure delirium. To understand how we got here we need to look at how things used to be (the past is not necessarily better) and then establish various plans for improvement, determine how we can accept these changes, determine what is most important to us and then make corrections if the results don't improve. There are at least seven (7) different areas of our lives that need to be examined. You can probably think of others. I will attempt to do so in as few words as possible, though I think that each subject requires a lengthy and thorough analysis. The point of the article is to encourage people to think about all of the problems that combined are contributing to our negative societal direction. Solutions are not found in single answers or in going backward to a time when these problems did not exist, but when other problems did, but in significant, broad, cultural change that will need to occur in the future.
1. Media Attention
Our news today is always "breaking". If it isn't breaking then we may not think it is important enough to be watched. And, this is something we need to be told on a continual basis by the media spokespeople to prevent us from changing channels. What news agencies might be trying to tell us is that our news is "broken". The news is conveyed in a way that preserves the political views of its owners. Journalism as we have known it is dead. We have very few journalists who we can trust and those that would like to trust are not allowed to say what's really on their minds.
News is now largely entertainment and its presentation isn't to inform but to advertise and manipulate. In effect the news media is largely responsible for the attention that mass killers get in their final hours. Killers now know that they may have the attention of the nation for days if they can do something more malevolent than their predecessors. We all are to blame because if we didn't watch so much of the sensationalized news there wouldn't be the inclination for the news media to "break" so much. So, don't get sucked into the hype. Get the message and then move on to something productive. You may save a life in doing so.
2. Gun Control
Why do we really need any form of gun control? Don't we have the right to bear arms according to the Constitution. The answer to that is debatable. The real question is whether having the right to own guns is worth the loss of life. Remember, according to the Constitution we have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Does the right to bear arms by the militia (us) protect our rights or diminish them. It depends on the circumstances.
A good portion of the discussion involves arguments about assault weapons. By definition, assault weapons are for assaulting and attacking. They, in fact, do not provide for good defense unless you are carrying them with you at all times. They are not a deterrent to the those with mass killing on their mind because nearly all of them kill themselves in the end anyway. Right now we have more than 3 million assault weapons in the hands of the common people. Many of these people have weapons because they are afraid. If you feel you have the right to own an automatic weapon, then do you also believe that your nutty neighbor, who happens to dislike your dog, have that right also?
I am a Viet Nam Era veteran. I had significant training in the use of automatic assault weapons and was rated very highly in the use of these weapons. During the training process some of the most dangerous times were during maneuvers with our own men. I would estimate that only a small percentage of current assault weapon owners are qualified, either physically or mentally to use this kind of weapon in a responsible manner. In most cases today assault weapons are nothing more than macho toys. We do have a right to have toys. Why don't we determine what is a gun, what is an assault weapon and what is a toy and then address who has the right to own any of these. We may save a life.
There has been more discussion recently about movies, TV and video games and their influence on young minds, but no one has done anything about it. It is up to parents to instill proper values in their young and in so doing affect their ability to understand violence in movies and games in an adult manner. Today I'm not sure adults handle these issues well. If each parent would say no at some point to their children when it comes to buying or playing violent games, some kids might think twice when they decide for themselves. In doing so we may save a life.
4. Public Places and Personal Security
Need armed teachers? Then we need armed movie theater personnel, armed priests and reverends in churches and armed store keepers in shopping centers. In doing so we are more likely than ever to be putting guns in the hands of the wrong people. Will all of these guns make us feel safer? Why not put guns in the hands of those who protect by virtue of their profession and let others do what they are best at in their own profession. Exceptions exist, but these are exceptions, not the norm.
At one time members of Congress were allowed to bring guns onto the floor. There are many examples of violence, fighting and physical beatings that have occurred on the floor of Congress. One of the most famous occurred in 1850 when during a debate, Senator Henry Foote of Mississippi and Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri got into an argument and called each other cowards. Benton rushed Foote and Foote retreated pulling a pistol, cocking and aiming it at Benton. Benton exclaimed, "Let the assassin fire!" Peace was eventually established, but not before everyone's lives were threatened. My point is that anyone can be provoked to act in a violent way, not just the mentally ill.
5. Prolonged Economic Recession
All kinds of crime occurs during hard times. When people lose jobs and lose their way of making a livelihood they can get very down and begin thinking in negative ways. Sometimes they want to lash out at the world. When it happens to someone on the psychological edge they occasionally do crazy things. Strengthening our economy and providing the ability for all to earn a living will cause killings to decline. It's a fact.
6. Mental Illness
There has been much discussion of mental illness and its relationship to gun ownership. In general, who has the right to determine who is crazy enough to kill someone else. In many cases mental illness could make someone more docile. The question isn't so much of how we prevent someone from owning a gun who is mentally ill, but how to determine when someone will become mentally ill enough to kill someone. Our best military people have learned how to kill and have been subjected to mental stress that has changed how they think. Does that mean that they are mentally ill and should not own weapons personally? We need to care for mentally ill people. Laws for gun ownership must reflect a person's ability to use the gun properly, much like a driver's license and testing is required for driving a car.
7. Religion on Decline
Religion of all kinds is on the decline in America. It's a cultural direction. Is there a replacement for the benefits of religion in our society?
Treat thy neighbor as thy self. Simple enough, this is a tenet of most religions and in many ways it is the belief in this concept rather than the specific religion at hand that is important. Atheists have morals also. It is the lack of morals and inability to understand the needs of our neighbors that do us in. Religious participation strengthens this message when it occurs regularly. Some people need this reinforcement, others do not, but to say it doesn't matter is showing a lack of understanding of the weaknesses in the human condition, and after all isn't that at the crux of the matter? We all should show respect for all religions. Treat your neighbor as yourself even if you don't have a religion. It may save a life.
The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave
America was not always free. Its common people fought bravely for that right. And, in so doing they may have had a much better understanding of our Constitution than the Supreme Court justices do now. For it is in the doing that we become brave and better understand the meaning of freedom. Very few of our current leaders in Congress have fought for freedom.
America is no longer free. We are searched like potential criminals while boarding planes, we are watched by surveillance cameras as we shop. Our social messages are examined and we are judged by a higher body.
We are also not brave. We secure our kids in schools behind locked doors and carry guns to protect ourselves from one another. We have become the land of the watched and the home of the fearful, and that is the culture that continues to shape this dystopia of ours. We sit and wonder why things are happening to our country rather than doing something about it. Hopefully history will record that this as America's weakest time, just before the people took back control of their country, as they have done in the past by instructing the people in Congress what laws are necessary.
Conflict: Which is more Important the Second Amendment to the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence?
Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Second Amendment: "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."
The second amendment allowed for the people to act as a militia. It was therefore necessary for them to bear arms (muskets). They were prepared to fight the tyranny of the British. Today most people who own guns do not belong to a legal militia. The Declaration of Independence provides for the right to Life. Guns compromise the right of those who perceive Life as more important than guns.
We often speak of our Founding Fathers with reverence as if they were some special set of beings who could provide for a way of life in perpetuity. In fact, they had trouble solving the problems of their time. Slavery would not be resolved for nearly a hundred years and would take a Civil War. Women did not have equal rights and they did nothing about it at the time. Could the right to bear arms be something that was necessary at the time, but could someday be unnecessary?
If the Founding Fathers back then were asked whether in 250 years, "it would it be better if the entire population owned assault weapons, or would it be better that the entire population would no longer need to own weapons at all," they probably would have answered based upon the ability of the country to defend itself. If the military was weak, like in the time of the Revolutionary War, then having citizens own weapons would be good. If the military was strong then there should not be a need and the owning of weapons, particularly those designed to kill on a large scale, would create more problems than they would solve.
What I am getting at is that owning weapons in the USA is a reflection of our current culture. We are the unrivaled leader of gun violence in the world. We like violent movies, we like violent sports and we like the simulated violence of video games. That progression will inevitably mean the destruction of the country from within. Our country will become a place where freedom to Life will become more and more difficult to achieve.
The proliferation of weapons is largely the success of marketing and special interest groups who convince the masses that they deserve and have a right to own something that they in many cases are not qualified to use. It is about time that the American people defined their rights in a way that will provide for peace and life in the future. It is not a matter of this or that. It is a matter of direction.
Law abiding citizens have a right to own guns. Not everyone is law abiding. All people have a right to Life. Do you feel that we are heading in the right direction? Can you do something to save a life? Think about it carefully. It may be your Life or your child's Life someday.
"The evolution of politics and how we advise and direct our government officials will determine our future."