When the Bill of Rights was drafted more than 200 years ago, the United States of America was a vastly different place than it is today. Back then, we were a small agricultural country, and the framers of the Constitution themselves were essentially farmers who had lived their lives up to that point amidst civil war. So they drafted the Second Amendment, granting us the right to bear arms within a “well regulated militia.”
This was designed to protect individuals from a government infringing upon their basic freedoms—mind you, a government that was not equipped with nuclear weapons and surveillance technology robust enough to monitor the personal actions of everyone from its own military chief on down through its illegal immigrants.
That same premise doesn’t exist today. We have an established government, and one that—whether you trust it or not in the era of Guantanamo Bays and “no fly” lists—will infringe upon your rights if it deems such necessary. Having a gun at home isn’t going to protect you from that.
Yet, powerful (and rich) organizations like the National Rifle Association keep brainwashing confused lemmings into believing this is a basic foundation of being an American—the right to bear arms—and fail to see that our lack of gun control is what has people around the world actually afraid to visit a place that we feel is the most “civilized” of societies.
This is a hot topic today especially, given the shocking news from the weekend about a 25-year-old, multimillionaire professional athlete in the midst of living his dream, gunning down the mother of his 3-month-old girl in front of his own mother before taking his own life. During a nationally-televised football game the following day, NBC commentator Bob Costas made a public endorsement for gun control by paraphrasing journalist Jason Whitlock’s column calling for the same. Here’s an excerpt:
“We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.
How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?
Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.
In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.
But we won’t. We’ll watch Sunday’s game and comfort ourselves with the false belief we’re incapable of the wickedness that exploded inside Jovan Belcher Saturday morning.”
While it perhaps wasn’t the ideal venue for such a discussion, I respect Costas for doing so. It’s a message that people simply need to consider in context. Of course, this brought out the critics in full force, with the following being among the tweets that circulated after the Costas segment:
“Does Bob Costas know that people are murdered everyday by means other than gunshots? Removing guns will not stop psychos from killing people.”
“Yes, Bob Costas, guns are the problem. Nicole Brown Simpson would be alive today if OJ hadn’t shot her with that knife.”
For those in favor of simply ignoring any sort of historical context in advocating Second Amendment rights, I believe you may well be able to craft a good argument doing so. I just haven’t heard it yet. Instead, all I hear are the same old variations of the same old, ignorant view that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Such ignorance in an argument never ceases to amaze me. Nobody is saying that stricter gun control laws are going to prevent 100% of murders from happening in our society. It’s simply saying that without a gun sitting on the table next to someone in the midst of an emotional, heated argument, it’s much less likely that people would die as a result of fighting. There’s a difference between people fighting and people shooting one another. The arguments above are akin to saying that having laws and prisons are pointless because some crime still exists, or that traffic signals have no purpose because a few individuals run red lights anyway.
Humans were blessed with free will and a more independent spirit than any other animal, so there will always be people who choose to inflict evil on the world. But if you take away the easy means of inflicting the ultimate evil on another—murder—you make said evil much less likely to happen. If someone is really intent upon killing another, having to physically do it with one’s own hands is much more personal than having to pull a trigger at a distance. There are a lot of people, I’d argue, who are capable of squeezing their eyes shut and doing the ladder, but probably wouldn’t be able to do the former.
It’s easy for us to look at someone who committed murder and judge them as “evil”—we feel better about ourselves knowing that we are incapable of such atrocity, and that the individual we cast judgment upon must simply be a cold-blooded savage. But what about when you consider the possibility that Jovan Belcher was not really a “psycho”? When you talk to people who actually knew someone like Jovan Belcher for years, and learn that he was involved in his community, that he cared for friends and loved ones, that he was just like…us (!!), it makes me wonder how many murderers may have felt instant regret upon realizing the gravity of their actions. How many got caught up in a fit of rage and lost their head, acted strictly on emotional impulse….and happened to have a gun, with all of the instant gratification and suddenness that pulling a trigger provides, handy. Do a psycho lay down and kiss the body of the woman he killed after the fact, apologize to his own mother for his vile actions, and go out of his way to thank the men who helped him achieve his life’s dream while asking them to look after his soon-to-be orphaned daughter, as Belcher reportedly did? Or would a true psycho have just shot all of them?
Of course some murders would still happen in a world without handguns, as it did before guns were even invented. But I’d argue that a whole lot more, in the actual midst of inflicting harm upon someone with their hands, would possibly have come to their senses in those moments and nobody would have died. I’d argue that Jovan Belcher had no intention of killing himself when he woke up Saturday morning, but instead that he lost his head in a moment of rage, killed his girlfriend, and then felt no other choice than to take the easy way out rather than face up to the consequences of his actions. Without the gun, he would have been arrested for domestic violence—itself a vile crime—paid his punishment, sought out some professional help, and continued to live his life as hopefully a better and reformed man. And, oh yeah, his daughter would have a father.