Friday, December 14, 2012

America's Crazy Addiction to Guns

Among the multitude of enormous evils inflicted upon our country by the Supreme Court - along with Roe v. Wade, Bush v. Gore, and Citizens United - must surely also be numbered the horrendous, five-to-four, 2008 decision District of Columbia v. Heller, which upended established jurisprudence and nullified the plain and obvious meaning of the 2nd Amendment to re-interpret that amendment to create an individual right to bear arms. That was followed two years later by McDonald v. Chicago, which extended that new interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the states. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in dissent: "The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people in each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia ... Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature's authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms."  
Neither history, nor the intent of the framers, nor plain-old common sense seems to carry any weight anymore when it comes to our crazy American addiction to guns. It is a source of perpetual amazement to people in other civilized societies that we as a country continue to endure the scourge of widespread, private gun ownership. Yet we do. And, for all the grief guns have brought and continue to bring and for all the hand-wringing every time a terrible mass shooting occurs, we as a society seem stuck, seemingly unable any longer even to address the problem, let alone effectively resolve it.
Nothing can restore the lives that have been lost or heal the hurt left in those who have lost children or loved ones. But society's self-inflicted wound could be bandaged by some serious grappling with this problem of widespread private gun ownership.
I can well remember when smoking in public was the norm, when smoking was considered cool and seen as sexy. It is now widely recognized for the filthy, disgusting, harmful habit that it is. That would not have happened had people not spoken out courageously and consistently against the entrenched power of tobacco and gradually but effectively changed minds and eventually behavior.  Perhaps someday our society will grow up enough to abandon its romance with an idealized Wild West and think of guns the way we have come to think of cigarettes.

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