We have more than a passing interest in the recent tragedy in Alabama, having spent many a long hour in a room with over stressed faculty members. Now it seems in addition to worrying that the College of Arts and Letters guy will launch into one of his interminable disquisitions only marginally connected to the matter at hand, we have to wonder which of our colleagues is armed.
It seems we can’t pick up a paper, or watch the news for more than a few days without hearing about someone shooting someone else, usually a family member or co-worker. Sometimes both.
Each time yet another person or group of people are wounded or die because of gun violence the pro Second Amendment types fall out of the woodwork to announce that if there had only been more guns the massacre would have been averted, or at least minimized.
Are we supposed to believe that if all six of her colleagues had been armed at Amy Bishop’s tenure hearing the results would have been less tragic? Less bloody?
Of course not, yet we are forced to watch the NRA's little paranoid Kabuki over and over because the one group of people who could do something about it—politicians—have a vested interest in the status quo. Well, perhaps that’s too harsh. There may actually be politicians who understand that there is at least a correlation between the ease with which guns can be obtained in this country and the fact that America loses more of its citizens to gun violence each year than any other industrialized nation on the planet.
The problem is, like the rest of us, politicians have a gun to their heads, except theirs is a metaphorical gun held by the NRA which doesn’t shoot bullets, it shoots money. So while the rest of us are practicing duck and cover, or wondering if that guy down in accounting who got fired last week is going to come back guns a blazing, politicians paint the biggest target they can on their backs and give speeches making it seem like the Second Amendment came down from Jesus himself.
And you know the most ironic thing? When James Madison originally proposed the amendment, the anti-Federalists—proto NRA types—were against it, lead by none other than Patrick Henry, the give me liberty or give me death guy!
Today however if an elected official even gives the slightest indication that he or she might be thinking about possibly perhaps opening just a discussion around only the feasibility of perhaps accepting the premise—just for argument’s sake—that guns might be a tad too easy for some unbalanced people to get their hands on some of the time the battle cry goes out: “You will pry my nine millimeter Viagra from my limp and flaccid hands.”
And so innocent people continue to die, their families and friends continue to suffer and politicians continue to sit down when the time comes to stand up.
One of the things even Madison and Henry would have agreed on is the first duty of government is to protect its citizens, even if that means protect them from each other.