Co-conspirators In Las Vegas
Whenever there is an act of domestic terror in the United States, gun advocates defend the 2nd Amendment, when in truth, the issue is not the 2nd Amendment; it is the blatant fact that people are dying.
What’s Our Threshold?
Recently in Las Vegas, another record was set for deaths in a mass shooting—58 dead with over 500 wounded. I wonder if there is a threshold of the number killed that we must reach before we act and resolve the issue of gun violence in America? Or perhaps the issue is not number of dead, but who is dead. If children die will we act? Apparently not because there was Sandy Hook. If members of Congress are attacked will we act? Apparently not because there was the carnage on the baseball field. What will it take? Is there a threshold we have not yet reached?
When there is domestic terrorism, there are two viewpoints. For the grieving, the center of the gun violence issue is dead children, deceased husbands, wives, friends, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. For others the center of the issue is the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment
Let’s look at the amendment. Remember the context. It came into being in the 18th century shortly after the Revolutionary War. Great Britain’s oppression and taxation without representation was still fresh in the minds of the people of the world’s newest nation. The citizens of this new country wanted to preserve their right to bear arms, to maintain militias and to rebel if their new government attempted to restrict their natural rights and freedom.
A question that stirs concern, anger and fear must be asked. Is the Second Amendment relevant in the 21st century? Some say yes! The right to bear arms and form militias are fundamental rights of Americans. Consider that many white supremacists groups call themselves militias, for they affirm the government infringes on their rights, and they maintain a vigilance like sentries on a army’s perimeter.
Sportsmen and gun enthusiasts certainly support the Second Amendment. For them, the use of guns is a sport whether it is hunting or target shooting. And, of course, for some there is a need for protection. I think most people support the right of individuals to pursue their sport of choice. In fact, the pursuit actually enhances gun safety and that is important. However, guns and sport were not on the minds of those who conceived the Second Amendment. Oppression and the means to throw off the tyranny of rulers who abused their power was at the heart of the amendment.
This does not mean we should repeal the Second Amendment, but we do need to be informed in order to resolve the issues that generate such fear, anger, angst and concern. I say again: the issue is not the Second Amendment; the issue is that people are dying.
Now Is The Time
Whenever there is a mass shooting in America, some people say this is not the time to talk about the 2nd Amendment, gun violence and the right to bear arms. This is an old tactic that we must dismiss, for remember the issue really isn’t the Second Amendment. This issue is gun violence and our lack of willingness to solve it. Immediately defensive positions are taken as redoubts are built to protect the Second Amendment while people remain at risk. The issue isn’t the amendment; the issue is that people are dying not in combat but while attending concerts, church and going about their daily lives.
We have failed miserably in approaching this problem. Basically, we have not even attempted to solve it. Instead we defend the amendment and cling to our guns, and in our defensiveness, we become co-conspirators with every gunman who strikes at innocent people.
What Should We Do?
Obviously, we don’t know how to solve the problem, but there are other countries with the resolve to deal with the issue and with the consciousness to develop strategies that work. We perceive ourselves as a world leader, but in the area of gun violence, we lag behind most of the world.
Australia took aggressive action to resolve gun violence after a mass shooting that killed 35 people. Countries ranging from Japan, Great Britain, Spain and Germany, to name a few, have addressed this issue and succeeded because they addressed the real issue—people dying through gun violence.
Our failure to see the real issue makes many congressional representatives and gun lobbyist co-conspirators. Why? Fear. Fear that people’s guns will be taken away or that the 18th century Second Amendment will be repealed. Fear opposes background checks or denying guns to people on the no fly-list or people with mental problems.
Imagine passing a law that enables you to buy a device that turns a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic killing machine, but makes it illegal to use the weapon. As Jesus said, “…they know not what they do.” This is a good definition for ignorance.
Another argument in the gun violence debate is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Correct! That’s where background checks and restrictions of people who are mentally ill or who are on the no fly lists come in.
There is tension here, a struggle of viewpoints and values. Time and time again, it is said that the primary function of government is to keep its citizens safe. Our leaders are failing us, and their obstinate inaction makes them co-conspirators with the gun lobby.
Let’s call it what it is: a struggle to keep us safe and a narrow, outdated interpretation of the Second Amendment. Thus far, the vigils, memorials, funeral services and gravestones make it clear that safety is not as important as the right to kill.
What’s Under Attack?
Let’s be clear what is being attacked—It isn’t the Second Amendment—It’s people. Can’t Congress and the gun lobby see this? Apparently not, and this makes them co-conspirators. May the scales fall from their eyes.