Trying to Understand the Arguments Against Gun Control
A Gathering Voices post by Beth Pyles
It is from tragedies that our national dialogue on issues like gun control take their shape, more’s the pity. In the law, there is an axiom: bad facts make bad law. The events in Aurora, Colorado, are very bad facts indeed.
I’m pretty clear on my own point of view: I am in favor of gun control. The Brady laws make sense to me and do not ‘feel’ like an infringement to my constitutional freedoms. I do not own a gun, so it’s relatively painless for me to hold such a view.
But let me be clear: my friends who do own guns are not murdering thugs. They care about life and safety as much, if not more, than I do.
To try to get at a better understanding of why these friends are so passionately against many, if not all, forms of gun control legislation, I thought about our Constitution and wondered what provision(s) might strike a similar chord for me.
The amendment granting the franchise to women is fundamental to my own understanding of citizenship. Until the day that amendment passed, my kind were not true citizens.
Infringe on that in any way, and you have my attention, my committed opposition, my own personal version of the cold dead hands Charlton Heston moment, clutching a ballot rather than a gun.
Here, however, is where my gun buddies and I part company. The gun argument goes something like this: the framers of the Constitution invested a right to bear arms in the citizenry not merely to provide for a well-armed militia, but also, and more importantly, so that the citizenry could take arms against its government if that government moves toward tyranny.
The argument makes no sense to me in our times, given the great arsenal of weaponry at the government’s fingertips, but more fundamentally, I genuinely believe that the ballot box and the right to protest are far more effective weapons against tyranny than any gun will ever be.
While I can better understand what’s at stake for gun-ownership proponents by taking a look at my own ‘sacred cows’, I still have trouble connecting the dots between limiting access to weapons of mass destruction in the market places of our own nation when we go to war to protect ourselves against such weapons in the hands of other nations.
Maybe it’s how we define the term. Why isn’t a machine gun or rapid-firing weapon in a theater a weapon of mass destruction?
To go back to the place of beginning, I know none of us wants a tragedy like Aurora. And when it comes to our national conversation about gun control or its lack, I hope and pray that we can all refrain from framing the argument on the backs of those unfortunate enough to have been there that night. It is their tragedy, not ours.