Guns, God, Government

April 14, 2009


In America, especially in the south, if you want to anger someone those above 3 topics pretty much are a way to do so. Perhaps in many areas, guns most of all.

A startling piece on Sunday nights “60 Minutes” profiled the brother of a girl who was shot and killed at VA Tech. The brother, to make a point, attended a Virginia gun show and within an hour had purchased a dozen guns, many of them assault weapons, without having to provide an ID or go through a background check. Virginia is a state with few gun sell restrictions, and the gun show loop even allows people in the parking lot of gun shows to sell weapons directly from the trunk of their cars. The brother of the VA Tech victim was asked if he was even once asked to show identification. He responded that it happened a few times, but each time he refused and was told that for 50 dollars more (or a trip to the parking lot to purchase the gun outside) they would go ahead with the sell.

The sells of guns have shot up dramatically this year. Due to the recession say some, and to the Obama presidency say others. In past recessions, people have stocked up on canned goods and blankets. This time around it’s guns. Gun lobbyists have stated that people are right in thinking that were there a complete economic meltdown, there would be nothing better than guns to get them prepared to survive and gather food (quite a bit of Doomsday Prophecy). As to the Obama presidency, conservatives fear he will bring back the Clinton ban on assault weapons and seek to close the gun-show loophole.

The gun lobby fiercely argues against  bringing back the ban on assault weapons that was in place under Clinton and repealed under Bush. As for waiting periods, that gun show loophole that allowed the VA tech brother to purchase multiple weapons without waiting was responded to by a NRA spokesman in VA with “the second amendment doesn’t say anything about a waiting period before your right to bear arms.” No, the second amendment doesn’t mention waiting periods, or the right to bear assault weapons, nuclear bombs or hazardous material for firebombing either.

A great book on this subject is “Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can’t Win the Battle Over Guns”  by Mark V. Tushnet.  It’s really quite a balanced book, written by a Law Professor at Harvard who claims to be rather disinterested in the debate on personal levels, feeling it’s not a priority on his list of national concerns. He debates both sides and ultimately concludes that each has winning and losing arguments and that the debate must be resolved outside of the constitution, with information and decisions based on further sources because the constitution  doesn’t fully answer this question for us in this day and age. We thus have to look at court precedents, modern interpretations, changing atmospheres as well as original intent.

What truly seems like common sense though, is that regardless of whether the founding fathers intended the right to bear arms with a well armed militia for personal, state and national protection to extend to a personal, private ownership of any citizen at any time or if the original intent is currently fulfilled by having an established national guard and technological advances that negate the necessity, there are a few factors that fall outside of the second amendment when it comes to guns.

No matter what, common sense should tell us that had the forefathers predicted AK47’s in inner cities being used by street gangs or in drug cartels moving throughout the world, there may have been some warning and restriction. There should be no argument against bringing back the ban on assault weapons—at least no logical, sensible, compassionate argument. Military grade weapons have no place in the hands of a private citizen. They exist only to destroy large numbers of people in short spans of time. As for increased background checks, extended waiting periods and closing the gun show loop? Yet again there is no decent argument against these things. Someone going to a gun show should have to provide ID and undergo a background check, the same as they would if they were to go to a gun shop. As for folks to be able to legally sell weapons out of the trunk of their car in the parking lot at such gun shows, it’s almost enough to make one feel lawgivers in Virginia simply aren‘t thinking clearly.

The problem is, as Tushnet points out, for many people this issue is bigger than just guns. Many feel it is a part of the “culture wars,” liberals vs. conservatives, cities vs. rural areas and so on. We need to get past that and make solid judgments in regards to issues that affect the health and safety of everyone living in this country.

Oddly many of those in the south who want no gun restrictions and pride themselves on carrying concealed weapons also are deeply religious, or at least historically so. I understand hunting, especially to provide food. I understand target practicing as a sportsman. Beyond that, carrying weapons with the intent to use them if necessary on another human being is however a form of violence. I’m sure that’s a comment liable to make many angry, yet I have to stress I don’t feel that such an action makes someone a violent person. I completely understand the feelings, emotions and drives that cause many to carry a weapon or keep one in their home solely for “home protection” and to, in theory, keep their loved ones safe (the stats show that simply keeping a gun in your home increases your chances of dying by gunshot dramatically, but that‘s another story). I also know that many jobs require people to carry weapons strictly for the protection of self and others with the intention to shoot to kill if necessary. Yet to invoke the God aspect from the title of this article, carrying, buying or owning a weapon for any reason other than to hunt for food or target practice for sport is a, albeit possibly subtle in some cases, form of violence. Christianity is rooted in nonviolence, so it’s simply odd that many Christians are so vocally pro-gun. Regardless of the actions of the church in low-points in history and the attitudes of many who call themselves Christians, Jesus spoke of complete non-violence yet many of those that praise his name today follow it with “pass the ammunition,” at least metaphorically. I understand self-preservation, defense and a desire to be prepared. Yet can’t those that want guns for that reason view them almost as a necessary evil and not be so enthusiastic about them? Can’t we all agree that restrictions on the sell of and type of guns can be imposed to help curb needless violence? Yes there are many factors that lead to the violence that permeates society, American society in particular. Yes, there are other avenues that must be explored. Yet a step in the direction of moving guns to the area of hunting, emergency and sensibility only is direly needed.

Many notable advocates for non-violence have addressed the issue of the limits of pacifism. A future article on this site will be concerned with how various leaders in the field, Gandhi, MLK and the Dalai Lama have dealt with this issue. That’s it for now.


One Response to “Guns, God, Government”

  1. mayamuslimah said

    Last weekend I heard in the news that there is currently a shortage of guns due to an increase of sales of more than 39% in US. But what was more interesting was to hear that this happened after some rumor spread saying that Obama was planning to ban guns in that country…ahhh

    and knowing that no information is put out there with no agenda and just in a ramdom way, I will say that the rumor worked very well for the zionists who follow the protocol of divide, rule and destroy.

    and thats the fastest way to achieve it: give some guns to the unemployed poor victims of debt and crisis…

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