When one takes a look at the Second Amendment to the Constitution, it appears that the founding men were aiming to make a statement about the new republic having a right to protect itself. The idea of having a “well-regulated militia” seem to be speaking about the right to have armies or police forces as we have now. But there is a comment about folks having the right to bear arms because somebody had to bear them if a well regulated militia was to be established. After all, this was in the mid-1700s.
But the modern day Supreme Court ruling that made it possible for individuals to take the Second Amendment as a personal mandate for them to carry weapons helped to create the atmosphere that we are witnessing in this present time. And our state went even further and made it possible for folks to carry their weapons everywhere including churches, bars and classrooms unless prohibited by particular establishments. What lapse of thinking made this possible has yet to be determined. But most folks who are capable of divorcing this issue from a base of fear realize that we have gone overboard with guns in America and that we have to find a different way ahead.
Each time there is a mass shooting, as there was last Thursday in Oregon, there is some person quickly declaring that if all of us had guns we would be safer. It is very difficult to imagine the kind of world these folks wish to inhabit. Do we really want to return to the days of everyone walking around with a gun on them and taking any opportunity to use the weapon to settle any act that was deemed offensive?
Perhaps our law enforcers could be a bit more relaxed if they did not have to go out to work each day knowing folks on the street have bigger guns than theirs and that anybody and everybody who chooses can have a gun with them most of the time. Actually, I know illegal guns are a huge problem and there would be some guns on the streets no matter what the laws required. But there is something to be said for creating an atmosphere that makes some behaviors more difficult. We could do that with guns if we ever decide they are a big enough problem.
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We need to stop playing the “guns don’t kill anybody” game and act like grown-ups who know full well what is meant by the conversation regarding guns. Of course guns don’t walk out of houses and shoot people, but in the case of many who have access to guns their ability to control the use of them almost amounts to the gun having the capacity to make decisions.
There is a very interesting spirit running through our culture. It is self-absorbed and mean. There is so much fear in our land that is strengthening the meanness and self-absorption. People who are afraid are very dangerous. While many gun owners might actually use them for hunting or recreational shooting, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to have a gun in a bar, movie theater, classroom or a church.
All of us who are opposed to violence need to speak louder about the need to address guns and other tools of violence as we make an effort to move our culture forward to a place of peace and the real security that comes from respecting one another. We cannot afford to stay on this path of advocating that the answer is to arm everyone. We see the folly of this notion already and if we don’t stop it things will simply get worse. How many more folks have to die before we change?
This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.