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.
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, published 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.”
“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 sense 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, even 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.