Thursday, June 28, 2007

How to be popular

A couple of days ago, I posted a comment on a blog I ran across. The blog in question, What Would John Wayne Do?, is hosted by a firearms enthusiast. WELL, suddenly TONE got comment after comment--all from gun fanciers (I trust that they will not be offended by that term). I haven't counted, but there may be as many comments on that one post as on all the other posts this year.

(While it's nice to be popular, I moderate comments to keep out spam--the policy is to publish anything that isn't defamatory or commercial--so keeping up takes time. And I got drawn into the debate, which took more.)

I wonder, though, why this subject generates so much heat. Given the power of the NRA and other organizations of those who favor a relaxed approach to firearms regulation, the millions of Americans who own guns and the millions of firearms that are in American homes (and on American streets, but that's another subject), why is there such a need to contend so vigorously with even such a mild expression of dissent as mine? (And let's face it, TONE's readership doesn't approach that of The New York Times or the Daily Kos.) I don't question the legitimacy of the positions taken by those who have taken the time to post comments--many of them make good points. But I do question whether the subject is really more important than the other issues that TONE comments on, like the damage done to our constitutional system in the name of a "War on Terror," the Iraq war, corruption in government, the challenge of climate change and the like. To me, the debate over gun regulation is an important issue, but its not the only issue, or even the most important right now.

Ah well, that's what makes horse racing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those gun enthusiasts and, no, I don't take offense at the title.

I can't speak for anyone but myself.

I am concerned with other issues; of course, I'd be on the opposite side of the debate regarding most of the issues you pointed out; however I consider the rights espoused in the first two Amendments to be the most important issues at ANY time. The restrictions placed on government by the first two Amendments are the cornerstones of liberty and freedom.

The right to freely criticize our political leaders and the establishment, the right to publish and share those criticisms with fellow citizens and the world, the right to peaceably assemble in order to draw attention to those criticisms, the right to address our grievances to the government, the right to freely practice our religion of choice (or lack thereof) unfettered.

But...if the rulers of government simply decided to usurp those rights. To throw people in jail for speaking out against them, to ban and burn "seditious" publications, to quash peaceable demonstrations through military and police force, to mandate religious practices not in keeping with personal beliefs.

How would we stop it?

Through voting them out? What if they refused to leave office? What if they rigged the elections? How would we get the word out and campaign against them if our political speech is suppressed?

Can't happen here you say?

Why not? Similar things have happened elsewhere throughout history. Has basic human nature changed or are human frailties and the lust for power somehow suspended in this Utopia on Earth called America?

It most definitely CAN happen.

Thomas Jefferson made a prediction many years ago:

"... the spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. For the conclusion of this war [for independence] we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion."

So we must ask...what can prevent it from happening?

The founding fathers were never ones to just bellyache pointlessly. After identifying a potential problem, they immediately set to the task of finding a solution.

"The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation ... (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms." – The Federalist, No. 46 –
--James Madison

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence."
--George Washington

The solution for this problem was enshrined into the supreme law of the land in the form of the Second Amendment.

Because of our Inalienable, Natural and Constitutionally Protected right to keep and bear arms, the only way that the government of the United States could EVER impose their will upon us without our consent is by disarming us first.

As long as the Second Amendment stands as a bulwark against tyrannical government, the only way the government can force its will upon us as a people is voluntarily. We have to LET them do it to us.

Granted, our society seems ever more eager to allow the government to run roughshod over us and we may eventually lose any semblance of liberty. This issue was identified by our founders as well:

"...I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other."--Benjamin Franklin

But as long as we continue to guarantee the ability of the citizenry to arm themselves against tyranny, it can never be forced upon us, we can only concede infringements on our freedom voluntarily.

The Second Amendment is the civil right that protects all the others.

And that's why we fight for it so hard.

Sorry for the filibuster. This is an important, and complicated, issue and can't be summed up in a "sound bite".

One more quote for posterity; one of my favorites:

"To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem. To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized, merely the domesticated."
--Trefor Thomas