Sunday, December 23, 2012

People with Guns Demand More People with Guns to Stop People with Guns

The impassioned plea by a representative of the National Rifle (Manufacturers?) Association for putting armed guards in schools everywhere provokes thought even if it is, literally, thoughtless.  Thus this post.

Given the choice, I would rather have specially trained armed guards patrolling our schools and not teachers or administrators or whomever who have simply done the minimum necessary to obtain a permit in this Glorious Republic.  That minimum is nominal indeed.  And since even law enforcement officers have been known to shoot innocent but unfortunate bystanders in their quest to shoot their armed opponents, the thought of those who are not professionals attempting this difficult and dangerous task is not a comforting one. 

It's odd that a group which is so opposed to the intrusion of government in our lives, at least to the extent they may be affected by guns, is eager to promote a plan by which officers of the government would be placed in all schools.  One would think this to be a rather significant increase in government regulation.  The resulting bureaucracy would be most impressive.  But because money would be required to implement this plan and it is difficult and unpopular to give the government money or allow it to raise money these days, I suspect that nonprofessionals or, at best, private security guards would ultimately be used.  Cynical fellow that I am, I also suspect that the NRA is well aware that its plan will not be implemented, but believes that its suggestion will nonetheless result in the sale of more guns.

The Nation (I read conservative journals as well, you know) notes that the NRA, though it prefers not to disclose its donors, has thanked Bushmaster for donations in the past, and that there sits on the board of one of its surrogates a lawyer who regularly represents gun manufacturers.  It seems unsurprising that gun manufacturers would support an organization which so avidly promotes the sale of their products and lobbies against their regulation.  One wonders just how much they support it, influence it, control it.

As long as the law does not require this disclosure (the government can be useful now and then, can't it?) this remains a subject for some speculation.  But the NRA once supported gun control, believe it or not (in the early 20th century), and as corporations and money increasingly "call the shots" as it were these days, suspicion is justified.

While browsing the Web on this issue, I noted a comment made by someone to the effect that blaming guns for violence is like blaming cars for being driven by the intoxicated.  I doubt that anyone blames guns in and of themselves, but it is an interesting analogy.  Motor vehicles are rather extensively regulated, as a matter of fact, both in their manufacture and in their use.  That's because most people recognize that they are extremely dangerous when misused.  The regulations require their registration and licensing.  Insurance is required in the anticipation that they will be misused, negligently or intentionally.  These regulations obtain regardless of any right to travel. 

Guns present a danger as much as if not more than motor vehicles.  This is largely because it is the purpose of guns and not cars to wound, kill, injure or destroy something, living or not living.  Regrettably, guns are at least as susceptible to misuse as cars.  If we countenance the extensive regulation of cars and other products which may be harmful, why do we balk at doing so with guns?

Because the right to bear them is enshrined in the Constitution?  But other constitutional rights are limited when they result in harm.  Proponents of guns are recommending greater regulation of the right of free speech also so enshrined and even given pride of place over the right to bear arms.

I doubt it can be reasonably maintained the it is the intent of the Constitution, or was the intent of the framers of that document, to prohibit all restrictions on the rights it sets forth.  The question is what restrictions are reasonable, given their status as constitutional rights.  Restricting a right does not necessarily entail its violation.

The problem of gun violence in our society is obviously not solely due to the prevalence of weapons.  But calling for restriction of weapons is not premised on such an assumption.  Treatment of the other causes is called for as well.  One doesn't preclude the other.

The NRA and certain of the proponents of gun rights seem to abhor any restrictions, regardless of the intent of those restrictions or the character of guns as extremely dangerous.  They apparently view the right to bear arms as a kind of super-right, trumping all others.  It is natural to wonder why they do so.

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