Entry 188: We Interrupt this Blog…

I had planned to post a cute little piece about live nativity scenes today, but instead I felt an uncharacteristic need to comment on current events.

My geographically-challenged mother called from Ft. Lauderdale last Friday afternoon to make sure everyone here was okay. She knew that there had been shootings somewhere in Connecticut, and that we lived somewhere in Connecticut. She also knew that the shootings had taken place in a school and that her granddaughter Casey taught in a school. Therefore, we were in grave danger.

I told her that the tragedy had occurred about 45 minutes away, and that Casey didn’t teach elementary school and that she taught in New York, not Connecticut, and that we were fine.

hummel_volunteers_no_box_P0000039659S0005T2[1]But that last part may not have been entirely accurate.

I, for one, am not fine. Because I’m pissed. Not so much at Adam Lanza, who was clearly insane, or even his mother, who apparently collected guns as if they were Hummel figurines.

It’s America I’m pissed at. No, that’s not exactly right, either. I’m pissed at Americans.

I’m mad as hell at the loss of an attribute that was once at the very foundation of this country: common sense.

I mean that quite literally, as it was Thomas Paine’s treatise, Common Sense, pu95h42/huch/2014/04blished in 1776, that is often credited with helping to stir the uprising that became the revolution. It is regarded as a tirade against British rule, but it is actually a tirade against stupidity:

“And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, ’tis right.”

Let me translate that text into modern English:200px-Commonsense[1]

“n hwevr r Iyz may B dazzled W sho, or r ears duped by sound; hwevr bias may warp r wills, or intrst darkn r undrstndN, d simpl voiC of nature n reasN wl sA ‘tis ryt”

No, wait–that’s modern text. In modern English, it would be: “Ignore the lobbyists, and the 24-hour news channels, and the pundits, and the screamers, and your own political career and just do what is so obviously right.”

Now let’s talk about gun control.  The common argument against it is that the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment. But common sense tells us that times were different then. We had just won a war in which people just sort of showed up with their own weapons to fight on one side or the other. There were no police. There was always the chance (or so they thought) of an Indian incursion, or that the British might return, or that the supermarket might be out of fresh bear meat and you’d have to go out and kill one yourself and cure the meat so that it would last through the winter.

Common sense tells us that all of that is no longer the case.

Common sense also tell us that the “arms” you had the right to bear were quite a bit different back then. You might have had a musket. You’d fire it, and then it would take about a half hour to reload so you could fire it again. This would put a severe dent in a shooting spree. There were handguns, too: flintlock pistols that were as likely to blow your hand off as they were to fire, and even when they did fire, they were accurate to about a foot.

So common seriflense tells us if you want to take the Second Amendment literally, we should really take it literally. You may, if you wish, own a flintlock pistol or a musket or any other 18th Century weapon. Hell, buy a cannon if you want one, on the assumption that someone might notice you rolling it through town to whatever office or school or movie theater you were planning to fire at and say, “Hey, buddy, where you going with that cannon?”

Seriously, though, e3-close-assault-rifle[1]ven if you want to grant that the spirit of the Second Amendment is to allow a gun for self-defense or hunting or target practice, common sense says that no one in this day and age needs an entire arsenal at their disposal, and that assault rifles have little practical use beyond killing lots of people.

So, come on, folks. Let’s start arguing about stricter gun control legislation now so that, in perhaps two years, Congress can maybe pass a half-hearted measure that may do something to limit the carnage.

And while you’re at it, remember this advice from Thomas Paine:

“… the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered”

In other words, “Keep it simple, stupid.”

See you soon.

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5 Responses to Entry 188: We Interrupt this Blog…

  1. Deb says:

    Let’s here it for common sense and the recognition that times have changed. PLEASE let common sense prevail. Bravo!

  2. Vinny Bond says:

    BRAVO. You touch on things I have said for years…I get owning a shotgun or a rifle for hunting. I do not get handguns for anyone but law enforcement and semi-auto weapons are totally useless unless you are planning on becoming known as a sick killer of humans…

  3. Doug says:

    Mark – Clearly common sense is uncommon with some people. In the past few days I have heard and read:
    1) Guns don’t kill people, people do. (an old favorite of the gun lobby)
    2) If the principal had been required to have a handgun at her desk she could have shot the killer before he reached the kids (Of course all principals then need training and regular practice on the shooting range, and the gun better be loaded at all times, and why a handgun and not something more equal to the threat?)
    3) That it’s really a mental health issue (yes, you do have to be crazy to massacre young children, but are we going to lock up all those who who could go off one day? and talk about controversy, who is going to draw the line on those who might be potentially dangerous to others, and those who are just a bit different?)
    4) That the guy in China who went nuts on Friday and stabbed dozens of people proves that the mass violence is not about guns. (To insensitive a comparison to even discuss)
    5) And from those on the ultra-right as to why you need to have assault weapons – It’s really not just about protecting our homes from criminal intruders, or hunting, or target practice, but rather that our founding fathers intended for us all to have weapons to protect our homes and family should the government itself become a tyrannical force. (And therefore since the military and police now have assault weapons that we all need to be able to match them in firepower.)

    Even in the wake of this horrendous tragedy I don’t expect our Congress to make any great progress on the issues. Strong action might reduce their ability to raise funds from special interest groups and hurt their chances of getting themselves re-elected (their primary goals in life). As a common sense start I would like to hope that we might require background checks for all gun purchases (apparently only 60% of sales currently require any kind of check) and eliminate the sale of the oversize (30 rounds) clips.

  4. fggbfg says:

    Assault (automatic) rifles are illegal.

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