Student-led protests this past weekend have helped to renew calls for gun control. Speaking louder than these students, however, is the NRA and its lobbying and political power. The only thing that will work, I think, is when politicians start losing elections because of their blanket support of the NRA. Voters have to hold these politicians accountable, and people, especially the young, have to get off their duffs and vote.
Even so, gun control measures are only part of the solution. Our society is saturated in violence, and guns are everywhere. (Just watch “coming attractions” to TV/Cable shows and movies and count the number of guns you see, especially the number of people threatened by guns.) As the HBO series “Westworld” intoned, “these violent delights have violent ends.” We need as a society to stop reveling in violence.
Finally, an observation. It pains me to say that when I was a college professor teaching in rural Pennsylvania, my students’ knowledge of the Bill of Rights often began and ended with the 2nd Amendment. We need to do a much better job of teaching our youth what freedom really means. Freedom doesn’t begin and end with the right to keep and bear arms. Sadly, some of these same students believed in unchecked government surveillance, using the rationale “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to hide.” Thus they freely relinquished their 4th Amendment right to privacy even as they fought vigorously to defend gun rights.
It’s a stunning achievement by the NRA to have defined “freedom” mainly in terms of buying and shooting lots of guns. We need to do better.
Worthy of being cherished?
The U.S. Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights is the foundation of our democracy. If you had to pick a right to celebrate, perhaps even to cherish, which would it be? There are so many important ones, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, our right to privacy (the fourth amendment), and so on. There are other amendments that righted old wrongs, including prohibitions against slavery and the granting of the vote to Blacks and women.
Yet which right/amendment is the best known in U.S. politics today? The second amendment, or the right to bear arms, which Mike Pence referred to yesterday when he noted, “people who cherish the Second Amendment have a very clear choice in this election.”
OK, I’ve owned guns and enjoy shooting, but I hardly “cherish” my right to spend thousands…
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