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As another tragic shooting shocks and saddens this great nation, the conversation that has emerged from Newtown, Connecticut will inevitably turn toward a uniquely American topic: the epidemic of gun violence in this country, and how we can prevent a tragedy like this from repeating.
Unfortunately, since this tragedy has already unfolded several times, we all know what the product of that conversation will ultimately produce: Diddly squat. The NRA and their followers will make sure of it, as they have time and again.
“The second amendment to the Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms”, they shout, “and this tragedy cannot be used as an excuse to take away my inalienable….”
Blah, blah, blah.
The irony is that the same group of people that shout at the top of their lungs about their inalienable right to bear arms are conspicuously silent when other rights (i.e. freedom of speech or religion) are tossed aside.
How many of these people screamed about free speech when the previous administration used “Free Speech Zones” to ensure that protestors would not get in the way of propaganda? How many shouted about freedom of assembly when Occupy Wall Street was kicked out of Zuccotti Park and not allowed to return?
Who among them expressed the same outrage at the government’s willing abdication of the Fourth Amendment when they found out about Bush’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program? Worse yet, how many of them defended such actions as necessary to protect us from the threat of terrorism?
The same people who scream out over their inalienable right to carry more guns that Rambo and John McClane don’t say a thing about these abuses, either because a) they are not personally affected by them, or b) they don’t particularly like the people that are being affected by them.
Their view of the Second Amendment is not informed by an abiding love of the Constitution, but rather by their love of the ego boost holding a piece of steel affords them, while looking in the mirror as Don LaFontaine narrates a personal story of badassery in their minds.
If they truly knew about the Amendments to the Constitution, they would know that almost all of them have exceptions, designed to safeguard people from the reckless and dangerous fringes of society or corporate influence.
Americans have the right to free speech, but that right does not allow you to make threats against others, or spread lies about other people. We have the right to assembly, but an unruly mob carrying spiked bats and molotov cocktails can’t come marching through a town without getting arrested. We have freedom of religion, but if the main component of your religion involves human sacrifice, you’ll be backsliding your way to the electric chair.
If the NRA applied their self serving, narrow interpretation of the second amendment to the other amendments, these things would not only be the law of the land, their occurrences would be as ubiquitous and commonplace as these mass murders are becoming.
So, why have we allowed a group whose allegiance is clearly with gun makers to so thoroughly dominate the conversation on gun control, drowning out the voices of hundreds of thousands of victims of senseless tragedies like the one that unfolded at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
Or Aurora? Or Tuscon? Or Virginia Tech? Or Columbine?
Applying common sense to gun laws is not a hard thing to accomplish, and it doesn’t have to violate the rights of responsible citizens who wanna hunt, or protect their homes, or whatever other reason someone wants a gun, besides playing Grand Theft Auto in real life.
You can have a gun, but not an automatic rifle capable of mowing down innocent civilians with a click of the finger. You have to pass a criminal and psychological check before you can buy one. If you wanna sell one, the person you sell it to has to pass one as well, and the gun has to be registered, like your car (or your vote, for those of you who wanna play the “an automobile is not a guaranteed right” game). And if you need a 50-shot extended clip to hunt a deer, then you should probably get your venison from a supermarket, cause hunting ain’t your niche.
It’s past time for us to look at the Second Amendment the way we look at the other amendments; with common sense and logic and not through the eyes of a man who beats off to images of girls holding AR-15s. If we don’t, we will all be having the same conversation again and again.