The reactions to the Orlando massacre were predictable.
Some called for more regulation, some for an outright ban. Others voiced weary talking points… If everyone had a gun, it wouldn’t have happened. We need to halt immigration — apparently from New Jersey, where the gunman was from — and, finally, it’s our Second Amendment right to carry guns capable of killing 45 people a minute.
Sure. You never know when you will be standing on your front porch like Rambo, single handedly holding off a battalion of soldiers. You never know when you are going to need to commandeer a wildlife refuge. (Don’t forget the snacks.)
And, yeah, you do need a Bushmaster to shop at Piggly Wiggly. Just in case something at the meat counter ain’t quite dead yet. It impresses chicks and distracts attention from your incredibly small hands.
True sportsmen don’t want to be lumped in with wing nuts anymore than I do with swooning liberals who haven’t a clue that my grandpa’s semi-automatic deer rifle is a lethal relative to an AR-15. The difference is, the latter is the civilian version of a military weapon — and you can get a 100-round magazine for it.
Necessary, I suppose, if the deer ever start firing back. Or for your glorious last stand the day the blue-helmeted United Nations New World Order troops come to drag you off to the FEMA camps.
By remaining intransigent about the smallest compromise that might prevent another madman from getting his hands on a killing machine, gun rights radicals are playing a dangerous game that runs contrary to public opinion. The vast majority of Americans support background checks—Democrats and Republicans.
Although gun homicides are down dramatically, mass shootings are on the rise. The cumulative effect of Orlando, Sandy Hook, Blacksburg, Aurora, Columbine and other bloodbaths have scarred the American psyche.
Logic tells us before anyone should own any mechanism designed specifically to kill, there needs to be some serious vetting. Not just a handshake at a gun show. A waiting period. A psych profile. A competency test. Does anyone support putting these instruments of death into the hands of the unhinged? Let’s weed them out.
Before we set tons of steel hurtling down the highway, drivers have to meet certain criteria, because a car or semi can be lethal. And they’re not even designed to kill like guns are.
At this point, True Patriots — because only Socialist, Devil-worshiping, hippie liberals on welfare would think of restricting firearms — are standing on the hoods of their pickup trucks waving Old Glory (and a beer) in one hand, an AR-15 in the other, shouting, “Constitution! Second Amendment!”
Not so fast, Bubba. If you’re betting the farm on that one holding up, all that lead you’re handling must have leaked into your brain.
Let’s consider the 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.”
Unless you can present a valid ID showing your membership in a well-regulated militia, you don’t have a Constitutional right to play with guns. Well, you could enlist.
Former Chief Justice Warren Burger famously said, “The Second Amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
It is telling that just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court refused to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a Connecticut law, enacted after the Sandy Hook massacre, banning many semi-automatic rifles. Eventually, it will be challenged and the Second Amendment will be reinterpreted. Correctly, this time.
The smart play for gun owners is to be proactive with legislative compromises, instead of responding with tone-deaf knee-jerk reactions after mass shootings.
Keeping guns out the hands of people on the No-Fly list until they can be thoroughly vetted is common sense. People with potentially-dangerous psychological issues need to be screened. Do we really need 100-round magazines? Should we reconsider the concept of Gun Free Zones? Let’s put it all out on the table.
Without compromise now, when these mass killings reach critical mass, assuming they haven’t, there could well be an overnight overreaction. And it won’t be good for law-abiding gun owners. Connecticut’s response could spread.
I grew up in a world in which pickups had gun racks. Guns were as much a tool as the wire stretcher in back. Hunting is a long-standing American tradition necessary to manage wildlife populations. Concealed carry? Go for it. You’ve been vetted. Part of that process includes contemplation about the grave consequences when you pull the trigger.
But, along with the right to self defense in the home, the American vision of freedom also includes the right to feel safe beyond our front doors. We shouldn’t have to live in fear every time we or our loved ones go to a nightclub, ballgame, fast food restaurant or — God help us — church or school.
Whatever we do, it won’t be fool-proof. But we can do better and we should.
© Tony Bender, 2016