March 2015

Gun Follies: The Dangers of Gun Absolutism.

by Pitt Griffin on March 31, 2015 · 1 comment

in Guns

“accidental shooting death, they argue, are just part of the price we pay for freedom … and besides, that sort of thing would never happen to me; I’m too cool-headed” ― Stephen King

Many Americans own guns – as do many Canadians and Swiss – the vast majority of those gun owners are quite reasonable. Then there are the others – call them gun nuts, gun absolutists, ammosexuals – who seems to think the Constitution is the 2nd Amendment and some other stuff. And they are killing people.

Ok, I’ll grant you that was over the top. Nevertheless, those whose philosophy is constrained by fealty to one idea – that gun rights are sacrosanct, without limit – have created an ecology in which common sense is is discarded in favor of gun worship. Facts and evidence be damned.

People believe that guns keep homes safer. And at first blush that seems reasonable. But it doesn’t pass statistical muster. A gun in the home significantly increases the chance of someone in that home dying of gunshot. Give this information to a reasonable person and they will make a considered decision about whether to have a gun in the house.

But gun nuts are not reasonable people. They treat facts about guns the way evangelicals treat facts about evolution. As a plot to pervert the truth. Whipping them up is the marketing arm of the gun industry – the National Rifle Association.

The NRA has a long and honorable history. It was founded to make people better shots. It supported gun control – thank them for the ban on fully automatic weapons. But in 1977, reactionaries took control and the NRA sacrificed its concern for gun owners on the altar of 2nd Amendment absolutism.

And that shines a light on the 2nd Amendment. That amendment has the power to render those, who do not know the difference between a present participle and a gerund, syntactical scholars with the exegetical energies of Talmudic scholars. Nobody knows what the founders exactly meant. Nevertheless, the gun nuts interpret the 2nd Amendment as enshrining the right of the citizens to bear arms should they need to vist mayhem on the government. But the idea that the creators of the new American government would write the seeds of its destruction into its founding document is silly.

But the idea that the creators of the new American government would write the seeds of its destruction into its founding document is silly. For them, the bulwarks against tyranny were established by the checks and balances inherent in the whole Constitution.

And for most of the Republic’s history nobody thought the 2nd Amendment meant the exclusion of reasonable gun control. Even in the ‘Wild West’ some towns banned guns. Few thought that sane precautions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the insane were an insult to the Constitution.

But the gun lobby is not sane. It is not large in number, but it has the power of monomania. People (the vast majority) who think sensible gun control is just that , rarely decide their vote on gun control positions. But to the true believer, fealty to gun primacy is the sine qua non demanded of any politician. The politician that wobbles on gun absolutism is guaranteed a flood of adverse publicity and well-funded opposition

It is paradoxical that, as the number of guns owned goes up, the number of gun-owners goes down. As as their number lessens their passion grows. And that passion blinds them to common-sense.

For years reference to accidental gun deaths were sneeringly rebutted with reference to car accidents and drownings. There is a difference. The AAA has consistently lobbied for safer cars. The NRA resists safer guns. Driving requires instruction and tests. Frequently, gun ownership does not. Building codes mandate restricted access to pools. In many jurisdictions, there is no penalty for leaving guns lying around in easy child’s reach.

Automobile safety technology has been advanced. Gun safety technology has been stymied. Biometric guns, even safety locks are sneered at and dismissed.

As long as the gun absolutists focus gimlet-eyed on gun rights and remain blurry on gun responsibilities, children will shoot children and adults; and adults will shoot children and themselves – unnecessarily.

 

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