Today, guns seem almost as American as apple pie. In my adopted state of Vermont, for example, a place widely held to be on the liberal fringe, hunters still have the right to use firearms on privately owned land without the property owner’s permission. Homeowners who don’t want strangers shooting in their backyards must register at the Town Hall, at their own expense and inconvenience, and post fliers on their land at regular intervals specifying that firearms are not permitted. We’ve imbued the Second Amendment with such disproportionate magnitude compared to other judicial protections that in 1982, a respected Senator, Orrin Hatch, could proclaim, apparently without irony, that the right to bear arms is the right “most valued by free men.
Erika Christakis, The Second Amendment Shouldn’t Be Exempt from Regulation | TIME.com (via diegueno)
Exactly. Our precious First Amendment isn’t exempt from regulation, either. Your right to free speech ends at the point where public safety is compromised. The most famous example is yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. You have the right to free speech as long as you’re not injuring others. In similar tone, you have the right to punch me in the face…but your right ends at the tip of my nose. No rights are absolute. I will repeat that. NO RIGHTS ARE ABSOLUTE.
The expansion - “the disproportionate magnitude” - of the Second Amendment has become entrenched in our modern society due, in part, to the lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA sees itself as sacrosanct: above policy, above the law, above the “common man” status of its 4 million dues-paying members. In fact, it sees itself as a lawmaker and singular defender of what it determines is the Constitution’s mandate to expand gun ownership.
The NRA sees itself as indestructible. Did you know the NRA is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization? Nonprofit? Where do those millions of dollars in dues go? They go into salaries - salaries of people who seek to influence lawmakers. The NRA also has a vigorous legal department and activism branch to protect and expand the “disproportionate magnitude” of the Second Amendment.
If you think the practices and goals of the NRA are wrong, write your legislator. You can check here and see if your legislator accepted cash from the NRA. Ask them to return it! And if you think the tax-exempt, nonprofit status of the NRA needs to be examined in light of what they currently do, then sign the White House petition here.
Twenty precious children died in Sandy Hook, en masse, through no fault of their own. There is fault though, and it doesn’t lie solely with Adam Lanza. They died, in my opinion, because we have stood by quietly while gun safety laws were eroded by the NRA so as to create the perfect storm of mental illness, assault weapon access, and affordable high-capacity clips that cost those dear children their lives, and their shocked families their peace. Forever.
But did you know that in Chicago, in the last three years alone, 260 children have died from gun violence? 260 families have buried their little ones? Do we not have tears for them? We do. But a single death doesn’t cause the mass shock that twenty does, and I will speak plainly here: we have a habit of calling white people who commit horrific crimes “crazy”, and people of color who commit horrific crimes “evil”. There’s a distinction there that seems slight, but it’s powerful. “Crazy” people are anomalies; they’re aberrant, unusual. But “evil” people make the “choice” to turn away from “good” so they have “created their own consequences” so they should be left to “deal with it”. When this layer of perception is added to the issue of gun violence, we make a further divide along lines of color that IS NOT SERVING OUR CHILDREN. IT IS NOT SERVING OUR CHILDREN. And I never hear the NRA suggest that black people arm themselves; do they not have the same titular right to self-defense that “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) “laws” and the “Castle Doctrine” give to whites? Does the NRA realize that the same “protections” afforded by SYG and the Castle Doctrine belong to all people? No, they don’t. And the NRA affects the perception of so many levels of this whole issue that it’s time to take a long, hard look at the NRA and figure out how they contribute to the slaughter of our children, whether that slaughter is a score of innocents, or on a precious one-by-one basis EVERYWHERE.