I don’t want all your guns. In fact, I hope never to see your guns. I hate guns.
I accept, however, that guns are the accessory to some people’s hobbies and sweet dreams. Target practice at a gun range. Hunting. Something in your bedside table to give you peace of mind about a hypothetical home invasion. I also accept that guns are the office equipment of certain trained professionals. I am therefore willing to accept a compromise between my feelings and our practical reality.
I ask because you seem to hear “gun eradication” when I say “gun control.” You call me stupid, and irresponsible, and a threat to our freedom. I don’t know how to have a conversation with you about this, but I want to.
It is not a conversation when you play the Second Amendment like a trump card. If you want to talk about the Second Amendment, let’s talk about it being drafted when the standard firearm was a musket. Let’s talk about its motivating concern for a “well-regulated militia.” Let’s talk about how it’s followed by an amendment that addresses quartering soldiers. Please take a moment to reflect on the Founding Fathers drafting for times that are very different from ours.
Or don’t. Stick to your position that the Second Amendment is absolute. In that case, let’s consider the First Amendment.
The First Amendment explicitly says that Congress can’t make a law that “abridges” free speech. Now let’s acknowledge all the ways free speech is legally abridged. If it weren’t, you might see highway billboards featuring hardcore porn, for example. Please take a moment to consider why time, place and manner restrictions are acceptable for undisputed First Amendment rights, but not for whatever rights you claim exist under the Second Amendment.
Or maybe your argument isn’t constitutional. Maybe your argument is practical.
After all, you call me stupid for suggesting new guns laws because you say no criminal would comply, resulting in a wasted effort. Allow me to ask why our laws should be based on what a criminal would comply with. Also, if we should only pass laws that won’t be broken, what kind of laws should we pass? Certainly not laws on, for example, immigration, right? Wrong? Please help me understand your distinctions.
You call me a simpleton because I seem to think that gun violence will magically disappear once we pass new gun laws. Allow me to reassure you. I’m open to attacking gun violence from every available front. I’m willing to put everything on the table. Please tell me what you are willing to put on the table.
You call me irresponsible because I want fewer guns, while you say we actually need more guns. Allow me to ask: more guns than what? According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the United States constitutes less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but 35-40 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. And we also have more mass shootings here than any other country in the world.
Do you mean, perhaps, that ideally a civilian would have multiple guns of various models? I can certainly think of gun-bearers who fit that description. They’re the young men responsible for many of the recent mass shootings.
Perhaps what you intended to say was that however many guns a bad guy has, the good guys need more. Our schools, movie theaters and public events patrolled by armed security guards. Our classrooms led by armed teachers, our date nights third-wheeled by a concealed weapon, our spectators waving rally flags with one hand and cradling a handgun with another. Please help me see freedom in those images.
I think we need to have this conversation.
Because I am not prepared to accept frequent mass shootings as inevitable, especially where we do not resign ourselves to terrorism, or disease, or natural disasters. I am not prepared to agree that one strict interpretation of text is more sacrosanct than thousands of human lives. I am not prepared to bear witness to the murder of my children by a young man who had an easier time stockpiling weapons than getting a girl to go on a date with him.