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Gun Control, Faith, and Irregularity...

Sure, I know. At first glance, they don't seem related. But Glenn Beck is not the only rodeo clown who can string together unrelated items with flimsy shreds of commonality to come to a "logical conclusion". These important issues have more in common than you might suspect. Let's deal with irregularity first. It's really my mom's fault. I think she used to say, "If you don't have anything to say, think about shutting up".

I apologize to my loyal readers – yeah, both of you guys – for the irregularity of my column. I could blame work or family. I could point out that we have a new puppy, and the gray-outs induced by sleep deprivation have made it difficult to type. But that would only be half the story. Or maybe like two-thirds. The other part is that I realized that I had nothing to say. This doesn't stop some people, but it stopped me. So until this morning, when I woke up and realized that I had a "take" on the controversial issues of faith and gun control, I simply hadn't turned in a column. If you are reading this online, then the editor has forgiven me, and has labeled me one of those quirky artists that I SO long to be. If I am reading this to you in my living room, and you are squirming in your chair waiting for the beer I promised, well, you know what happened.

Our founding fathers were intelligent and reasonable people. Still, their view of things was unavoidably influenced by the times in which they lived. I think that's about the best we can do to explain the fact that some of them owned slaves. But much of the work they did while creating the constitution was remarkably durable, given that they assigned themselves some really tough homework. When you start shooting for "perfect Union(s)", "Justice", "domestic tranquility", "common defence", the "promotion of general Welfare", and the "secur(ing) of the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity", you are going to be up late. Just trying for the first three with only two people is hard work; ask anyone who is in a relationship. It's no wonder that within just a few years they were back to add a few modifications. We call them amendments, and hold them in the same reverence we reserve for the Declaration of Independence, and the original Constitution.

The first twelve were proposed in 1789, and most of them became the "Bill of Rights". The fourth article, which became the Second Amendment, preserves the right of the people to "keep and bear Arms". It should be noted that the context for this statement is to allow a "well regulated militia….and the security of a free state". I'm not sure Ted Nugent's desire to have a hunting bazooka over every mantle qualifies for protection here, but that's why the founders also came up with the idea of checks and balances.

Anyone still here? I slept through Civics in high school, long before they became a best-selling car. Having missed it the first time, I admit that this stuff is fascinating to me now. Let's see if I can pick up the pace. But first I have to digress a bit, and tell you that I was a member of the LDS (Mormon) Church for a number of years. Though the Church and I decided to part ways, I still consider the people I met there to be some of the most wonderful, family-dedicated, good neighbors anyone could wish for. Unless you live in Salt Lake or Boise, and then they are just ordinary neighbors like the rest. But I always had a problem with a few of the logical issues one has to accept to adhere to the teachings. I'm not complaining about Joseph Smith or the golden plates. That is no harder to swallow than most other faiths' leaps, and much easier than some. I'm talking about wheat grinders.

We had a huge bunch of food stored in our house. It was a great idea. There were times when we were short on cash, or had friends who were short on cash, and we always had plenty to eat. You can get tired of tuna, soup, and cracked wheat hot cereal with honey, but you will not starve. Somewhere along the line we got an electric mill for grinding our own grain. One of the arguments for this investment was that when the "tribulations" that most faiths predict came along, we would still be able to bake bread. If the times are as troubled as some expect, I find it curious to project that OPALCO will still be churning out the juice to run my grinder and heat my oven. But then maybe we hook the thing up to a bicycle to grind the flour, and then cook the dough on a stick over a fire. Who doesn't love that smoky flavor we have all come to associate with the best baking? While this issue was not the crux of my apostasy, it was one of the many small bricks used in the building of my new temple to the "Followers of Logical Wisdom".

So I have employed my new FWL faith, built upon the rock inside my head – perhaps the same one to which my father used to refer when I did the dumb stuff most of us did in our teens – to shine a light upon the gun control debate. My research has resulted in disturbing irregularities. Perhaps I need to start drinking more coffee in the morning. But the arguments that the "2nd Amendmenters" (and don't you think they need a better name?) make are seriously deficient in logic and common sense – the cornerstones of FWL. If these folks want to join my church, they are going to have to sit down and think it through first. If they prefer to bombard me with invective-filled hate mail, the link is at the bottom. Hang on, folks. Brother Shu is headed to the blackboard with tears in his eyes:

First, let's agree to leave the Supreme Court out of this. Those folks can mess up any interpretation. Just look at our "corporate citizens" and the cash they are allowed to "speak" under the First amendment. Insane. No, dear friends, I want to talk to the fundamental constitutionalists who believe in the REAL law of the land. We as a people are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. Says so right there in the 2nd amendment. But perhaps we should read it carefully, and consider the dependent clause which precedes that right, which refers to a "well regulated Militia being necessary to the security for a free State". It seems pretty clear to me that this refers to an army, charged with protecting the State from invasion. So right there I think Citizen Joe is already outside the definition of his protected rights to have an M-16 in his coat closet. But for purposes of conciliation and in an effort to reach consensus, let's just suppose that even though they never said it, the founders were concerned about regular old Joes and Jills hanging on to the tools they need to stand up to a corrupt government and defend the Constitution from within. I hope my detractors will possess enough "fair and balanced" logic to realize that I have just spotted you the equivalent of two touchdowns and a safety, and we're still in the first quarter.

So if the 2As (!) have the right to possess weapons even though they are not part of a well regulated militia - and I'm not referring to the Knights of Smith and Wesson of Backwater here – could we perhaps consider the nature of those weapons? Back in 1789 weapons were a bit less sophisticated than they are now. "Arms" were generally considered rifles and handguns. Maybe it was OK for Joe to own a cannon. I didn't look it up, and doubtless my letter writers will have. But I'll concede the point. Again. Even without the cannon, if all the Joes in New England got together back in 1789, they could have brought a pretty serious effort to overthrowing the government with their "arms". The French, whom the 2As often love to humiliate for their cowardice - forgetting that it was the French who assured the survival of our American bacon in the Revolutionary War - were able to storm the Bastille with regular everyday weapons that very year. It is interesting to note that the primary thing they were after was the cache of weapons stored inside the Bastille. They DID use a couple of cannons, one of which was originally intended to defend the place. I love real irony, don't you Alanis? But the point is that enough regular folks with enough regular weapons in 1789 could start and even sustain a revolution.

Here's where things start to break down for the 2As. Let's say you get all your pals together, from all over the nation, with all your current weapons including the illegal ones. You somehow escape the notice of the many agencies charged with protecting the national security. Let's assume that you even have the support of some portion of the military, or your "state militia" for you NRA guys, which is the usual scenario for your standard revolution. You now launch your assault on the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, and Disneyland all at the same time. What do you think the odds of your success are? Remember you can't use the French. Or the Chinese, because you don't like them either. The illegal immigrants won't help, because most of them just want a better job and some clean water. They're going to wish you would just go shoot up some cans out in Eastern Montana so they can get back to work. So you lose.

Therefore logic and common sense, the pillars of my faith, prove that the Second Amendment no longer affords one the opportunity to stand up to a corrupt government and make them see things your way. At least not with weapons. Back in the days when it DID, everyone had access to pretty much the same weapons. So if you want THAT tradition to continue, then you are saying that Joe now has a right to have Stealth aircraft, unmanned drones, satellite surveillance and nukes. I think we know where to file that kind of thinking. So by my reckoning, your 16 point lead is now back to zero. Besides, Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex back in 1960, and they already had the nukes. This game was over a long time ago for the "rule by force" crowd. So then we only have two other groups to assess: the "sport shooter/hunter group", and the "personal protection group".

I will willingly concede points to the "sport shooter/hunter group". As I am omnivorous, I am on shaky ground waving a finger at hunters. Animal cruelty occurs in both domestic food production and in hunting, but I believe that it is much more common and ingrained in large scale commercial food production. I try to buy humanely produced farm products, and recognize that my vegan friends will cry out in rage at even that position. All I can do is point to my canine teeth, and remind them how a large percentage of their animal pals get THEIR food. But I recognize that most hunters, with the exception of trophy hunters who are the worst thing that could happen to a species, aim to dispatch their prey with a minimum of cruelty and maximum efficiency. I also recognize that it is really cool to play point and shoot and try to blow up tin cans and targets. I started with rocks and a good right arm, and stopped short of guns, but I still get it. Score one touchdown for the 2As who are sportsmen. I don't go to your church, but I respect your faith. Which leaves me with a close game heading into the fourth quarter, lined up against the personal protection army. Frightening. Literally. These people have guns.

First let me say that I respect your desire to keep your family safe. Primal. Important. Laudable. I am with you here. I just think your logic is tragically flawed, and that is, as you know, against my religion. You've heard all this before, and you have opposing arguments for every point. I don't intend to convert the faithful. I only proselytize among the faithless or the agnostic; those teetering on the edge of a life of illogic which is potentially devastating to their souls. Well, OK, maybe just their cerebral cortex. Souls are beyond me. So pray about this later. Right now I just want you to read just a few more sentences. I know it's been long. I think this is about where my neck would snap in Civics class as my chin slipped off my drool-lubed palm.

If the family you are protecting includes children, teens, or other awareness-limited people, you have to keep your personal protection weapon well secured. You have a locked gun cabinet for your rifles and shotguns, and you have trigger locks installed on your handguns. If you have not taken these steps, you have just compromised your family's safety rather than improving it. This is not argument, this is fact. Even the NRA admits this. A child in the US under the age of 15 is nine times as likely to be killed by unintentional firearm discharge as a child of the next 26 industrialized countries COMBINED! USA! USA! USA! So if you really care about protecting your family, your guns are secured. If your guns are not secured, stop reading and go find out what your kid is doing. It's too quiet.

So when the home invasion team kicks in your front door and rushes into the house with their un-secured weapons, you will be fumbling with your security device. If you are very poised and skilled, you may get a shot off, You may even hit someone. It could even be a bad guy, and hopefully he's the only one. If his pal has a bead on you while you take his buddy out, I don't like your odds of survival. You have also assured that any remaining bad guys are definitely thinking this has become a shooting event.

If on the other hand the intruder is your typical burglar sneaking around, unarmed, just trying to heist your stuff, you can probably shoot him or her with impunity. If you have been regularly practicing and are proficient with your handgun, you may be able to hit him from 20 feet. Here's hoping that you took time to make sure it wasn't your son home from college unexpectedly, looking for food in the kitchen, or trying to find the TV remote without waking you up.

Game over. Sportsmen and hunters have defended their rights by applying FLW truths. Revolutionaries and personal protection gun nuts have been soundly defeated without a shot fired. In the end, so to speak, their arguments about gun control share a common and uncomfortable symptom with those who have gastrointestinal rather than literary irregularity. Do I really need to say it? Oh, that's right. I just did.


Last modified onThursday, 18 August 2011 10:28

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