Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guns, Guns, Guns

As I type this, we are a day from April 19th. This date is significant in several ways. First, it was the date of the first two clashes at Lexington and Concord that lit off the American Revolution.  It's also the anniversary of the fiery conclusion to the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, TX. And in 1995 it marked the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. So why is the date significant this year? Two separate, but equally disturbing Pro-Gun/2nd Amendment rallies are set for the 19th. First up,  the 'Second Amendment March' will be at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. This will be an unarmed gathering, due to D.C. law. The second, calling itself the 'Restore the Constitution' rally will be set at Fort Hunt National Park, just across the Potomac from the capital. This one is planned to be very much an armed demonstration, as VA law allows the open carrying of firearms.

I'm very much aware that firearms are something Americans feel a strong attachment to. That's fine and that's legal. I have no overwhelming desire to outlaw them, but that doesn't mean I'm happy with hundreds of armed citizens protesting at the doorstep of the Capital. If there is one type of gathering I'd rather not see armed it's a protest aimed at the government. It's not a good precedent to set. I don't even understand what they are protesting. I don't recall any recent legislation that assaulted gun ownership. In fact, there have been some dubious ones that are quite Pro gun, such as allowing train passengers to check luggage containing firearms, allowing guns to be carried in National Parks and the most bizarre of all carrying them in bars. There's nothing that makes me feel safer than a drunk with a Beretta! But setting aside the issue of shoot-outs over dart game disputes, what, exactly are they protesting?

I've lost a lot of my patience with this group of people. While I recognize their right to own firearms, the whole concept seems to have an almost religious quality about it that scares the hell out of me. It's not that some citizens want to own guns. It's the way many are struck with awe and reverence when the subject of the Second Amendment arises. Look, it's a 9mm semi-automatic pistol . . . not the True Cross! It doesn't take much to get the NRA crowd howling at the moon.  All you have to do is merely suggest that maybe, perhaps it should be more complicated to buy a gun than fill a prescription and devout gun owners will go up in flames. Do they really want to go back to some idealized wild west situation where everyone walks around with a Desert Eagle on their hip or an AR-15 slung over their shoulder? Will that make them feel safer, and if so, what are they so afraid of?

Based on some of the rhetoric coming out of the organizers and speakers at these two marches, it's fear of the Government. Daniel Almond, who organized the armed rally on the VA side of the Potomac, is determined to protect the Second Amendment, yet has no problem ignoring inconvenient bits of the Constitution like national elections. Almond explains, "I'm not really here to try and court majority opinion and win 51% support for my cause...even if that were necessary." In a truly surreal twist of logic he sees the Second Amendment as hedge against the "tyranny of the majority." I guess a government duly elected by the majority is 'tyranny'.  At least when you're the one in the minority. Kind of like being a fair weather patriot, isn't it? Democracy is great . . . unless your candidate loses. It's not even like the nation has been turned upside down either. Income taxes are at their lowest point in over a decade. The President just hosted the largest gathering of world leaders by a US President since FDR to discuss and take steps towards securing nuclear material. And legislation is going into effect that will stop health insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions thus opening the door for millions to finally be able to obtain insurance coverage. Contrary to what the NRA, self serving politicians, and the Mayan calendar might tell you, the world is not coming to an end.

The problem is not with most gun owners, but with this fringy element that sees their guns as a source of power and stability when the rest of the world is changing way too fast. This kind of thinking slots cleanly into the militia mentality, hence the re-emergence of militias after more than a decade of decline. These groups wrap themselves in the flag and claim to be arming to take back America. But who are they taking it back from? Are they talking about the 53% of Americans who voted for Obama? Am I the only person who wonders where these rallies were when the Bush Administration was tapping phones without warrants and expanding the power of the Executive branch? They seem to have a very flexible idea of what is intrusive. Warrant-less wiretaps are just to keep us safe, but changes to health insurance regulations are a 'Socialist Agenda' requiring armed insurrection? It's time to just call it like it is, these groups are really no different than one of these religious extremist groups. They are convinced that they are the only ones who see the truth about some nebulous evil in the world and they are willing to arm themselves and possibly even kill to get their way. It's domestic terrorism, though we prefer not to call it that. It's much more acceptable to use the term 'terrorist' to refer to someone from outside. Someone, not 'us'. But it was certainly pure and simple terrorism on April 19th, 1995 when 168 civilian men, women and children were murdered because Tim McVeigh thought the Federal Government was out of control. Seems like a very bad day to choose for an anti-government/Pro-gun march.


  1. I agree with you on this one, gun rallies against nothing are only going to attract the crazies. I believe in gun ownership, but with limits such as some restrictions on buying them and types that can be purchased.

  2. This is one that I really don't get, no matter how much I think about it.
    This gun thing.
    Okay, the right to bear arms is in the Constitution.
    But what is it about this right that makes people lose their minds?
    I have to admit that I am not a fan of guns and I think if we could get rid of them as a whole (not just here but wiped from existence) then that would be fantastic.
    But these people who are viscerally affected by the mere mention of guns...well, I just don't get it.
    I know someone who is in the Navy as a pilot trainer. He was stockpiling homemade bullets. He isn't an extremist or someone we can expect to see living in the woods and building bombs or meeting with his militia group on the weekends. This is a normal guy. Who loves guns.
    What is it that the gun lovers are protecting? What are they fighting for? Who are they fighting because I don't hear anyone out there saying that they are going bye bye. What do their guns and the right to ownership represent to them?
    I really want to know. Because I just don't get it.
    They say that guns don't kill people, people kill people. It's true, I guess, but those people are a lot more effective in killing others when they have a gun. Just saying...


Please let me know what you think, even if it's to disagree.