Home > Social Issues > The Distance Between a Right and a Fetish

The Distance Between a Right and a Fetish

July 21st, 2012

ThinkProgress has this:

One of the principal weapons used by James Eagan Holmes in the horrific Dark Knight Rises shooting would have been subject to a series of sharp restrictions under the now-expired federal Assault Weapons ban. The AR-15 rife carried by Holmes, a civilian semi-automatic version of the military M-16, would have been defined as a “semiautomatic assault weapon” under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. If the law was still in force, semiautomatic assault weapons would have been outright banned…

I would like any schmuck who thinks it necessary to have such features as semi-automatic firing along with high-capacity magazines for “home defense” or “hunting” to go to each of the victims’ families and explain exactly why their loved ones had to die to protect the “fundamental right” for features such as those. Not that anyone should go bother those people literally, of course. But just compose, in your head, exactly how you would explain it. Then switch roles and see how you might think it would sound from the other end.

Sorry, but I just believe that reasonable limitations for public safety are not only necessary, but that striking them down or keeping them out of legislation in the first place is criminally irresponsible. I support the individual right to keep and bear arms, but not without the same type of limitations covering other rights: exceptions and requirements to protect the public safety. The old “your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins” rule is exercised everywhere else, but with guns there is some magical exception. Buying more than one gun a month, or more than two a year, for that matter, is not necessary to exercise your right to be armed. Buying semi-automatic rifles with 100-round magazines is not necessary to exercise your right to protect your home or to go hunting. Training, licensing, and registration would no more limit the right to keep and bear arms than it does the freedom to drive an automobile–and look at how many people drive. Just to name a few.

These and other reasonable restrictions would save lives. They would hamper criminals, and stop more than a few. And they would not stop any law-abiding citizen from arming themselves reasonably for home defense, hunting, or any other legitimate use for a firearm.

You want the right, you take on the responsibilities. This is human lives being taken, not to help protect your home, but to let people who get their jollies from extreme weaponry get their rocks off, and for companies who make and sell these weapons to rake in the profits. Forgive me, but this royally pisses me off. The debate on responsible and reasonable gun control has been all but ceded to the far right. This is simply part of what happens as a result.

In an asinine move, the gun-rights lobbies are even suggesting that we wait several weeks before discussing the gun control question publicly:

“When something like this happens, the anti-gun groups jump on this right away, immediately, and make all sorts of claims and statements,” said Tom King, president of the state Rifle and Pistol Association.

“This is a time for finding out what really happened and healing and dealing with this psychologically. The time for debate can come in two weeks, three weeks.”

Oh, thank you, Mr. King, for so kindly considering my psychological state. Ironic that they approve of a cooling-off period for talking, isn’t it? Not ironic at all, of course–they want people to forget about that reason why responsible gun control should exist. Now, however, is the perfect time to discuss the issue. And if the facts are not fully known regarding the current tragedy, we’ll do just fine reliving the many gun massacres from recent years.

Oh, and for any genius who might suggest that an armed audience would have been the right answer, just consider two things: the specter of dozens of panicking people firing away within a packed crowd in the darkness, and the fact that the killer was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Yeah, that would have turned out real well. Not to mention the fact that, even under normal conditions, I don’t like the idea that the asshole sitting right behind me kicking my seat from behind for two hours is also carrying a firearm.

For those who believe that after-the-fact punitive laws are sufficient enough for public safety, I think you have some funerals to attend. Not just soon, but continuously.

And one more thing: the first imbecile to bring up the “gun ban” straw man, either purposefully or because they didn’t read beyond the first few paragraphs, gets a healthy dose of richly-deserved invective. I promise.

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  1. Matthew
    July 22nd, 2012 at 00:07 | #1

    While I agree with your post I think that nothing will change. The NRA and its ilk have succeeded in categorizing these types of events into ” natural disasters”.

    You can’t “blame” the earthquake, you just mourn the victims.

    This is thrououghly depressing but, alas, it seems this has become the status quo for the USA. Every so often, there is a fire, a flood, an earthquake, and a crazy mfxxcker who shoots lots of people. Such are the vagaries of life.

    This will only change when…well as I think about it, it will never change. The USA has created a society where violent gun rampages are really on par with natural disasters.

    Word to the wise….think carefully about your next vacation.

  2. Troy
    July 22nd, 2012 at 01:09 | #2

    The irony is that the AR-15 is entirely within the 2nd Amendment’s purview (unlike the two Glocks and the hunting shotgun the shooter was also armed with).

    I think it’s clear that the founders originally intended the population to be familiar and skilled with such military-grade firearms, and have ready access to them given the conditions of the new nation on the block.

    Now, as you say, the constitution is not a suicide pact. Each right protected by it is bounded by other rights and requirements of public order.

    But I think gun owners are perfectly OK with the idea that hundreds of people unnecessarily die each year due to misadventure and murder.

    If we didn’t have guns this guy could have figured out another way to take out 100 people — or more. Maybe guns gives people a less lethal way to express their insanity, compared to more involved plans.

    Columbine, Virginia Tech.

    Oddly, the most fatal school massacre was from a long time ago:


    and has more than a few parallels with today’s general mindset.

    The pro-gun folks deride the gun law people for wanting to ban “scary looking” guns. That really isn’t the logic with the assault weapon bans — cases like this show that the toyed-up guns like the AR-15 seem to attract unstable people.

    But AR-15 or no, this guy was going to take out some people. Glocks — along with all modern handguns — are also “semi-automatic”. We can try to ban high-capacity magazines in the interest of public safety, but that’s a marginal restriction.

  3. Tim Kane
    July 23rd, 2012 at 02:36 | #3

    As Chris Rock once said, okay, make guns cheap and available, but charge $5000 a bullet.

    In my mind, guns could be restricted on several basis. There is no need for anyone to own an assault rifle – and even so, it should be heavily regulated and require a rock solid psychological profile, and he should not be allowed ammo for it, in it, even more so, in an urban environment. If I go to get an assault gun, and I get a bad psychological profile, the only people who are going to feel sorry for me are the fellows at the NRA.

    We should be able to restrict guns in places where there are a lot of people as well. If you live outside a city or suburban area restrictions could be eased up but in cities guns are not a good idea.

    Personally, generally speaking, I feel the only people who should be allowed to buy guns are people who don’t want them, and the people who want guns shouldn’t be able to buy them.

    The idea of jiffy lube weapons purchasing is absurdly crazy and represents all that is wrong with modernism in the United States.

    Things are slowly coming to a head. Pray that things work out alright and peacefully.

  4. Troy
    July 23rd, 2012 at 09:01 | #4

    The weird thing is that the 2nd Amendment was basically intended that people have access to M-16s. The whole point of the 2nd is that the population maintains familiarity with the state of the art of military arms, so that if & when we need to raise a military force we have a competent infantry arm.

    Now, maybe the founders did not foresee technology advancing from single-shot weaponry and the entire 2nd Amendment sphere of argument is just BS — ie. we should treat the 2nd as the “dead letter” the conservatives want the 9th to be.

    If we were a mature polity we’d just repeal the 2nd Amendment as overly vague and entirely outdated, and re-write the law as we need for today’s situations.

    We are not a mature polity. Actually, we’re pretty f-ed.

    This gun control thing is just a designated area where the two ideological camps in the US get to argue with each other.

    As a bleeding-heart liberal I think it’s sad that people are dying every day due to the easy availability of guns, and I don’t have any problem with restricting the availability of military-grade stuff.

    As a libertarian, I’d love to own a silenced MP-7 and think the unnecessary gun deaths are just a cost of freedom, just like people getting harmed thanks to unsafe drivers being allowed to drive (men younger than 25 and everyone older than 60).

    I think Japan’s gun laws are less a cause than an effect of Japan’s overall socio-economics.

    We don’t have that society in the US, and we won’t until we start fixing things at a very fundamental level.

    That’s not going to happen, either. The Republicans are really doubling down on their crazy this year.


  5. Luis
    July 23rd, 2012 at 09:12 | #5

    The weird thing is that the 2nd Amendment was basically intended that people have access to M-16s.
    However, what people fail to recognize is that the Second Amendment also specifies that they be part of an “organized” militia, which, in today’s terms would be, at minimum, the National Guard. Gun advocates usually either dismiss this requirement as unrelated decoration, or claim that it’s enough that they be “ready” to join in case of a military threat to the nation.

    As a libertarian, I’d love to own a silenced MP-7 and think the unnecessary gun deaths are just a cost of freedom, just like people getting harmed thanks to unsafe drivers being allowed to drive (men younger than 25 and everyone older than 60).
    And yet, we have restrictions on vehicles similar to strict gun control: you have to be trained, are issued a license which must be renewed, and your car requires registration, not to mention identifying plates. You are not allowed to drive a more dangerous vehicle (e.g., a semi truck) without separate licensing, and are not allowed access to military-grade vehicles such as tanks.

    Why do those rules exist? Because if they didn’t, there would be a lot more traffic fatalities.

    You mention the cost of freedom–well, we pay that in the number of automobile deaths. However, we limit that number with the controls, exercising the “public safety” philosophy embedded in the Bill of Rights. what if we didn’t control vehicle use, and had laws similar to those governing guns? Anyone could buy a car and drive it without any training at all.

    Wouldn’t that be fun?

    There’s a price we pay for freedom, and then there’s just being stupid.

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