Thursday, April 18, 2013


If for a brief fleeting moment a bipartisan compromise to expand background checks for gun purchasers gave the illusion that grown-ups were taking charge in Congress and that maybe some modicum of rationality might prevail, that illusion was shattered yesterday with one of the Senate's most shameful votes in its less than stellar history. Procedurally, the vote highlighted the continued scandal of the institution of the filibuster - especially in its current incarnation, no longer an occasional event in which "a small band of willful men" (in Woodrow Wilson's famous phrase) talk till the clock runs out, but a routine, passive acceptance by the majority of a minority's will to stifle democracy without even having to go through the inconvenience of having to talk! Substantively, it highlighted the moral bankruptcy of a society saddled with the curse of constitutionally protected private gun ownership.
None of the legislative measures proposed or considered would have ended or even seriously limited our fundamental national illness of private gun ownership.  A rational society would long ago have recongized that the Second Amendment is at best an obsolete anachronism. States no longer need to rely on citizens' militias to defend their communities against Indian attacks or the threats of neighboring British or Spanish colonial empires.The Second Amendment no longer serves the defensive purpose for which it was created. Instead, thanks to injudicious judical interpretations it has been transformed into an anti-social monstrosity. The only rational response would be to repeal the Second Amendment and allow reasonable legislation to be crafted that responds to the exigencies of civilized life and the circumstances of the 21st century.
None of that is ever likely to happen, of course. Every society has aspects which warrant being ashamed of. This is a big one.

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