Monday, January 31, 2011

Editorial: Gun freedoms cannot overshadow trends

The shootings in Tucson and the subsequent renewal of the periodic public dialog about gun control has penetrated to the the Courier editorial suite, once an impervious bastion of NRA propaganda. But the unnamed editor is still too hung up on the old lies to build a cogent argument, and fails utterly to make any sense. In the comments, the piranhas shred his ankles.

He starts right off making the case for the other side: "The argument that deadly weapons will end up in the hands of the wrong people no matter what laws are on the books is valid," so, the argument goes, trying to control guns is futile. Of course, if that line of reasoning ever made sense, we'd have long ago given up enforcing laws against any kind of sociopathic behavior, since some will be sociopaths no matter what.

He spends another two grafs trying to armor up for the backlash, explaining that he's completely bought into the legally very shaky idea that personal-use weapons are every American's gad-given right. This of course undermines his ultimate point, leading him to absurdly advocate "correcting flaws in an inherent right."

Let's be generous and supply what the editor is groping for here: that no legal right is absolute. All are granted on the condition that we use them responsibly.

Since the Industrial Revolution began bringing us ever more efficient, cheap and lethal machines for tearing one another to pieces, a minor but significant proportion of Americans have been irresponsible with guns. But it's only been since the 1970s that political pressure groups have been working to redefine gun ownership as a sacrosanct, inalienable and legally uncontrollable right. That hardline view would be as weird and unworkable to Sheriff Buckey O'Neill as it is to thinking people today.

That the editor is willing to crack open the door on this ridiculous debate -- ridiculous because where adults are in charge, talking like the NRA causes only doubt about one's ability to reason -- would be commendable if he weren't so damn timid about it. Go ahead editor, come out into the light. The NRA goons may slip a bag over your head and and use you for target practice, but only metaphorically, I promise.

I would, however, suggest some serious research to start unlearning all that wacky stuff you've been parroting from the NRA over the years. It'll help develop a take on the issue that's a little better grounded in reality.