In a conversation this morning with my brother Sean, he he noted correctly my silence thus far on the tragic events of last week in Newtown, CT. Like the rest of America, I was deeply saddened and then enraged at the senseless killings. Words have not suggested themselves until now, largely because I had not thought through the horror. After some deliberation, I have a few thoughts--some directly connected to the murders and some that suggest themselves as a result of the discourse raging in the media these days. Much thinking remains, and I have more questions now than answers.
First, I remain far less enamored than most conservatives of the Second Amendment as currently written. I have written here before that the presence of so many guns in our society--both legally and illegally owned--is problematic and directly contributes to the culture of violence from which events like Newtown are spawned. I depart from the vitriol of the moment by saying that there really is one and only one answer to this, and that is to change the Constitution. Our Founders gave us this magnificent document with enshrined liberties codified in the Bill of Rights, and they gave us methods of amending it. I am amused by the propensity of some who would cry from the highest mountaintops "freedom of the Press" when national security secrets are leaked, but who look at the protection given to those who would own guns by the same document as being somehow less legitimate.
There was no shortage of serious gun control laws on the Connecticut books--yet this tragedy still occurred. Banning guns--besides being unconstitutional, seems unlikely to do anything but remove guns from the law-abiding. But--there HAS to be more that we can do that can make 1) the number of guns in circulation decline and 2) make it more difficult for those that are in circulation to be used in violent crimes. Three ideas suggest themselves.
First--why not tax guns and bullets, heavily? What you tax, you seek to discourage, and I seek to discourage the proliferation of guns. I support the individual right to keep and bear arms, and I do not consider taxation to be an "abridgement".
Or maybe--as a formerly conservative now totally gone squishy left-of-center buddy of mine has suggested--we should require that every gun purchased be covered by a liability insurance policy, one that could provide compensation to victims of crimes aided and abetted by the gun.
Perhaps we could have the same checks we use for the purchase of firearms applied to the purchase of ammunition?
"But CW, all you are doing is punishing the law-abiding. Criminals would neither pay the tax nor the insurance premium." Yes. I understand that. But I continue to believe that the presence of guns in the hands of criminals is DIRECTLY RELATED to the presence of guns in the hands of the law-abiding. Fewer guns owned by the law-abiding WOULD EVENTUALLY mean fewer owned by criminals. Wouldn't happen overnight, and of course, there would be situations like Chicago--in which the law abiding have trouble owning weapons but criminals don't--but Chicago's would be less likely if these policies were implemented nationally.
Let's talk now about hypocrisy, shall we? I love seeing the Hollywood elite come out of their chalets to decry the violence of Newtown and demonizing the NRA and its members--whilst flooding the culture with movies and other media in which gunplay/murder/and violence are glorified.
Or, there is the hypocrisy of the liberal elite in its wailing for the murder of 20 children in a classroom without a second thought for the 3000 children killed in utero every day. Not the same thing, I understand. But not different enough to be dismissed, the "innocence" of the victim being well established in each case.
Finally, there is the discussion of guns in schools, which is one that causes even reasonable liberals' heads to explode. Would the presence of an openly armed guard have dissuaded Mr. Lanza from his crimes? Would an armed guard have been able to save the lives of ANY of the people killed in this instance or in other school shootings? Would a teacher or administrator with a concealed carry permit have been able to mitigate this tragedy? The inability of the left to calmly and rationally discuss these issues is one that I find incredibly frustrating. We make laws that designate areas as "no gun zones" and then expect murderers to follow these laws.
As for the demonization of the NRA....I don't think conservatives are on the right side of this one. Let's look at the NRA's "liberal" counterpart, the ACLU. Conservatives LOVE to demonize the ACLU for doing essentially the same thing as the NRA does--and that is, advocating for constitutionally protected individual rights. Time for conservatives and the NRA to put on their "big boy pants" on the abuse. That said, it is notable that the ACLU -- whose mission is the following: "The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts,
legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual
rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States
guarantee everyone in this country" chooses to ignore the second amendment almost completely.