June 15, 2017
The media these last few days were filled with coverage of the Jeff Sessions hearings until another lunatic with a gun walked onto a baseball field in Alexandria and started shooting at congressmen. Next week somebody will go after a bar somewhere. And God knows what will follow. Approximately 35,000 people die from gunfire each year. And the number is going up.
I'm aware that we missed long ago whatever opportunity we might have had to get gun violence under control. I understand that some of us have a passion for guns, and that the armaments industry has no interest in surrendering its profits. But I am baffled that we cannot get a system in place that will at least not make weapons available to maniacs. And note I'm not even mentioning the bill that passed a few days ago –if my memory serves correctly—which will allow the general public to buy silencers.
I can understand the enthusiasm some of us have for guns. But I cannot get past the basic notion that the right to bear arms is not worth the life of a single child. Or maybe it is as long as it's some else's child.
School rampages are becoming more common. Since 1950, attacks on kids in their classrooms have become increasingly lethal. According to Wikipedia, the gun-related deaths of children and their teachers in schools across the United States look like this:
There is a clear demolition track. Our children are at a constantly increasing risk. I have no idea what's happening. But if we're serious about protecting our kids, we need to do something.
I have friends who are quick to cite the Second Amendment. But that's based on the notion that the Founding Fathers always got things right. These are the same guys who gave us slavery, who denied voting rights to anybody who didn't own property, and who saw women as second class citizens. They also did not seem to have a problem with standing by while Native Americans were driven off their land. So all right, I know they may have had no choice in some of these matters. Not if they wanted to keep the Union together. But that doesn't mean we should have to live forever with their ideas.
They were human, and they made mistakes. Even Washington. When you're trying to make political changes that run against the common culture, you will probably have to compromise, accept some craziness, and move gradually toward what you want.
Human cultures, unfortunately, inevitably contain large numbers of people who have serious stability problems. So maybe giving everyone the right to bear arms isn't the best idea.
If we could send a time traveler back to Philadelphia when they were putting the USA together, I wonder what sort of changes what might show up?