Monday, April 15, 2013

The Change That Dare Not Speak Its Name

This is a comment I posted recently to an op-ed in the New York Times, in response to a reader who opined that "The country is demanding common sense reforms [to gun control laws]. No one thinks the NRA is important besides out pathetic representatives in Washington."   

Here is my response (slightly edited to correct a few typos and clarify a few points):

I don't think that this country really does want much reform to gun control laws, and I disagree that no one cares about the NRA except members of Congress. A large proportion of Americans want unfettered access to every sort of firearm, and these gun owners are glad to let the NRA (which really represents firearm manufacturers, not owners) play with Congress.
We talk about gun control pretty often, usually in response to the latest school massacre, but eventually our attention wanders, and our tears dry, and we let the NRA's minions in Congress eviscerate any efforts toward meaningful reform. We end up arguing over types of firearms and magazine capacity, when what we should be discussing is why we allow so many guns in the first place, and why weapons designed for mass murder are legal at all.

We don't dare discuss the change that would make a real difference, which is: Repeal or revise the Second Amendment to make it meaningful in the context of 21st century technologies and attitudes, and in acknowledgement of the fact that the U.S. now has a standing army and no longer needs to rely on "a well-regulated militia" which used to be composed of minutemen (that is, farmers who were willing to be called up on a minute's notice) armed with muskets. Now, almost anyone can buy an assault rifle and unlimited ammo.

We as a nation deliberately misinterpret the Second Amendment, and selfishly cling to that misinterpretation as a "right" that must not be restricted. It is myopic, egocentric, and entirely shameful.


The fact that this comment is ranked in the most popular of all the comments appended to the article, with some 140 recommendations, indicates that plenty of people agree with me.

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