Note: Bluestem has consistently been a gun rights supporter in the past. However, like Joe Scarborough, the Sandy Hook school shootings have prompted us to rethink our position on gun rights and gun violence. We're looking now at what regulations would be most effective in preventing gun violence in America. While we get up to speed on the research, we'll be posting guest commentary. They are the opinions of the authors, not the editor of Bluestem.
Guest commentary by Samuel Twitchell
An earlier version of this post appeared on Twitchell's Facebook page
I've read a lot of Facebook posts on the subject of gun control since Friday's tragedy, and hearing about yet another senseless shooting spree has made me pissed off and cantankerous, so I feel I should offer my fellow lefties a word of caution. Advice is free, and you don't have to take it:
1. There are as many firearms in the United States as there are people. If for no other reason than practicality, banning all guns in this country is impossible. You can't put this particular genie back into the bottle, so don't waste your time/effort/breath trying.
2. Even if it was practical, banning guns is not constitutional. The Supreme Court has already ruled on the scope of the Second Amendment. Read that again: they already ruled. The same court that protects the right to choose has decided that gun ownership is constitutionally protected. Don't be like those Tea Party douches and say that only certain constitutional freedoms count.
3. Even if it were practical and constitutional, it would be stupid. A lot of studies point out that a) the U.S. has a lot of guns, and b) the U.S. has a lot of violence. But that is correlation, not causation--which, as you know, is a logical fallacy. Taking away guns would be the equivalent of treating a symptom and not a disease. There are other developed countries with high percentage of gun ownership/possession- -especially countries with compulsory military service--that have nowhere near a corresponding rate of gun violence or deaths. We are violent, and we have a lot of guns, but these are not the same thing.
4. Focus on the real problems: our culture of violence that permeates every level of our society, our lack of access to mental health care, and our absolute negligence in maintaining adequate regulation of gun ownership and possession—including strong restrictions on assault weapons. We need a lot more of all three, and these are politically feasible goals. There are a lot of people who will support these efforts, but who will also reject you if you make it about banning guns.
5. Finally, put your efforts and political resources into addressing the real problems that contributed to today's shootings. Don't point fingers at people you have decided not to like because they own firearms. There are twenty dead kids in Connecticut who don't care how pure you are.
If we put half as much effort into getting results as we seem to maintaining political orthodoxy, I'd be driving a hover car right now.
Samuel Twitchell grew up in Southern Minnesota. He has a Master’s degree in history, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in History of Technology at Iowa State University. His wife teaches science in a Des Moines area school district.
Photos: A grieving resident of Newtown CT.
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