Is there anyone who hasn't had the bejesus scared out of them in the past few years after the shootings in Connecticut and Colorado and Minnesota and who knows how many other places? Mind numbing I think.
But if killing a couple dozen little kids doesn't stir people to some sort of action, what will? What does it say about our society - locally or nationally - that almost no one can even begin to talk about how to prevent lunatics from using a weapon to take out their anger without the NRA yelling, "They're after our guns."
Something else occurred after the Newtown shootings last month though that scared me almost as much and convinced me that maybe I really didn't understand this fight about guns at all. During the post-massacre coverage I watched some of the confrontation between talk radio guy Alex Jones and CNN's Piers Morgan. Jones was demanding Morgan be deported for his public stance against assault weapons. All I ever heard Morgan ask was "Why does a civilian need to own a military assault weapon?" We all know the depth of the problem goes beyond those, but the conversation would be a place to start.
Morgan and Jones began to verbally duke it out early on, but very quickly, the show descended into an angry "he said, he said," speech by Jones that offered a little insight into folks who just can't sleep at night since 2008 because they believe the feds are coming to take their guns. At least I thought that's all there was to it.
Jones at one point completely red-faced and roaring at Morgan said, "1776 will commence again if they try and take our firearms." Jones wasn't just angry … he looked and sounded like a crazed lunatic … the last guy on earth I'd want to see in possession of a weapon or two or 10. Despite Newtown, every time anyone seems to raise the issue of trying to get a handle on the gun issue, the NRA folks point to the 2nd Amendment and the infringement on their Constitutional rights.
There's more to my tale though, especially since I admit I honestly didn't know what the 2nd Amendment said specifically. I looked it up and relearned that in just 26 words, it says, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
I know there have been many interpretations of the 2nd Amendment of course, but right off the word "Militia" jumped out at me. I thought private militias were illegal in the U.S. If that's true, why do the gun folks believe they have a right to buy and use anything they want? Isn't that a militia? Or are these folks planning some kind of assault we're unaware of? And does this mean that if the NRA can pick and choose the words they want to support their cause, can't I do the same?
Jump ahead about a week to a professional luncheon I attended with 60 or 70 others in the north suburbs. Many of us have known each other for years, but don't know everything that makes everyone else tick. I sat next to a guy I've known for a decade or so and he starts talking about hunting to the guy next to him. He starts explaining the clip he's rigged up for his assault weapon that allows a quick change 20 or 30 bullets, yank it out, turn it over and there's another few dozen shots. I thought, "Wow. Someone's already figured a way around a clip restriction for sure."
He looks over at me and says, "Now there's something you Evanston folks would hate I bet." I tried to just smile since I could tell gun supporters outnumbered me at this table. Of course the guy wouldn't quit, so I just let go … "Tell me why in the world you or any other normal person needs an assault weapon … and why it's so important that no one can even imagine any kind of compromise on keeping guns away from lunatics like Alex Jones?"
So he tells me why. And I almost fell over.
He told me he and his people [gun proponents] need these weapons to defend themselves when the government comes for them. "Not just the guns, of course," the guy says, "but when this socialist government of ours comes for us AND our guns … and we know they will." The guy was dead serious. Over the past few weeks I've heard a number of other gun supporters tell me that fear of a government holocaust is precisely why they too need their guns and ammo … all of them. That's why the sale of firearms skyrocketed after Newtown he told me.
All this time I thought the NRA supporters just wanted guns because they believed the 2nd Amendment gave them the right. And here it turns out these folks are really planning for a war … one that I might just unknowingly get caught in the middle of.
No wonder we can't negotiate with the gun folks. They really believe they need the guns for that big day of Armageddon when some federal agency comes driving down their street in an assault vehicle to drag them out of their homes.
Interestingly, before the lunch ended, I asked my table buddy how, with no negotiation possible, anyone could ever do anything to keep another dozen kids from being murdered by a lunatic with a gun? He just shrugs his shoulders and says, "Beats the Hell out of me. But that's not my problem. And we don't want to debate this either," he told me just as I was about to ask. I'm hoping there are some gun advocates who will tell me they don't believe the Armageddon plan, but to me, this weapons debate is still way too one-sided right now.
How can the Constitution help the rest of us I wondered thinking back to an oath I took many years ago to defend it when I served five years in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam Era. But if there are so many 2nd Amendment supporters out there hunkering down for World War III right here in the U.S., what about the rights of my family, friends and neighbors? Now that I understand the depths of this gun debate, I realize it's a much larger problem than most of us ever realized.
So, right from the Preamble of the Constitution, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more prefect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Do we ever have a lot of work ahead of us.