The Second Amendment can be interpreted differently by just about anybody with an opinion, conservative, liberal or somewhere in between. In that respect, talk of gun control will inevitably veer toward a gun grab, and that will inevitably lead to a war of words, ideologies, even the ideologues that represent the positions of all sides.
It’s all exhausting and distressing that we’re unable to have these conversations without the rancor and vitriol that has come to mark modern discourse. If you doubt this assessment, think back to the 1990s when President Clinton signed an assault weapons ban. There were bad feelings, yes. But the tension across the nation, the anger and threats of revolt, were nowhere near what we are experiencing today.
Yet what President Obama is suggesting at the moment, his plan to deal with gun violence in America, comes with added measures and a more comprehensive approach than what Clinton ever attempted. And it’s not good enough, because the word “ban” exists in some context in the broad measures.
Obama is not just looking to ban military-style assault rifles, but to make background checks standard and mandatory; give law enforcement more money and resources to deal with gun crime; make schools safer with more resource officers, counselors, more funds for investment in safety and disaster plans; and an attempt to improve mental health services in this country.
This is not just a gun grab, or a stab at the Second Amendment. Yet it is. And for the good that could result from the plan taken in total, it is the assault weapons ban that will be the only thing all Americans will reference.
There is much missing from Obama’s plan, including adding a component that does deal with the culture of violence and the way it is propagated at all levels of society, from sport to entertainment. It’s a fair criticism that inclusion of this part of the discussion would offend some of the President’s most ardent supporters.
But it is the gun ban component that will be the gauge for success or failure. It’s not an easy opinion for any freedom-loving American to make, because a ban by definition is a restriction of the Second Amendment. Moreover, once a freedom is in place, you better have a very compelling reason to take it back.
Beyond that, though, given a chance Obama’s entire plan has merit, even if the ban doesn’t make it through the hall of government.
Background checks could stand to be mandatory. None of us have anything to worry about if we are law-abiding citizens of sound mind and judgment. And we do need more police on the streets, working with the schools, funded for better disaster-plan training.
The mental health component must be the most important. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, or the movie theater slaying in Aurora, Colo., or Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting, these acts were committed by the mentally ill, none of them adjudicated as such.
Whether one supports or does not support the gun control measures proposed by Obama, it’s fair to have the conversation and not discount all of it, because of some of it.
Obama’s proposed gun policy
His proposal has merit and should not be dismissed entirely.
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
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