A gun catastrophe occurs. Mass consciousness rages. America’s fickleness drifts, Parkland to Odessa – a shattering pattern.
In response, the pattern of gun arguments needs shaking.
America’s marketplace of ideas engenders two stubborn positions – guns now and forever and no guns now and forever.
Gun advocates believe guns are an inalienable right determined by the U.S. Constitution. The opposite side uses gun deaths to decry: Ban guns! Not just certain guns! All of them!
Gun legislation is frozen by these arguments.
Gun-control advocates argue gun violence as circumstance: one cataclysm after another. But, time coasts, and the circumstantial virulence fades because of our traditions of mourning.
Death and mourning is our culture is considered a private matter. People grieve at their own pace. The overall goal is “get over it – move on.”
Social healers push individuals to shed the grief and return to normal processes. Thus, private grief usurps the initial mass anger. After a year or so, normalcy forgets prior circumstance. Thus, Americans forget the argument.
But the specter of gun violence remains. According to the Pew Research Center, of a nationally representative survey of teens ages 13 to 17, more than half (57%) say they are "very" or "somewhat" worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school. A 2017 study in “Public Health Research” concludes that fear of crime is associated with self-reported poor health and stress.
Thus, gun-restriction advocates emphasize circumstance: hundreds of school related shootings since 1996, according to “The Encyclopedia of American Politics”, and the remaining monotonous misery.
Gun advocates, in contrast, argue from definition. They assume the authority of the Second Amendment. The warrant assumes guns as a universal human right because guns protect vital values, especially self-determination.
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The divine presence of the Second Amendment blockades any political solution of the circumstances.
Since the Parkland massacre and as recently as Odessa, neither of these stances propels legislatures to proper and just action. The stalemate rises from erroneous philosophical assumptions.
The Second Amendment argument is, ironically, historically blind. The wellspring of the right to bear arms was, in a word, circumstance.
Former Chief Justice Warren Burger explains “... it [is] ‘a fraud’ to insist that the Second Amendment was even about an individuals right to bear arms.” He continues: “The Founding Fathers were addressing the public fear of a large federal standing army and sought guarantee states can maintain armed militias."
The circumstance of banning state legislatures in favor of one deliberative body no longer exists.
Guns were never viewed as a universal instrument of justice for all times and all places. The motivation for the Second Amendment was circumstance – phantom contexts that disappeared centuries ago.
Anti-gun students and citizens possess a more robust claim from definition: the existence of guns is, in phrase, a human rights violation.
The Declaration of Independence assumes the existence of “Laws of Nature and ... Nature’s God.” Among Nature’s natural rights are “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Two types of laws protect natural rights: laws to protect the people from the government and laws to protect us from others and ourselves.
Unrestricted sale and use of guns does not protect us from others and ourselves. Unrestricted gun laws do not protect the baseline rationale of a civil society: sovereignty of the Pursuit of Happiness.
But, like the great god Zeus, Americans ignore this imperative and eat their young.
Gun arguments need adjustment. Unlike the ban-guns imperative based on violent circumstances, by definition the existence of guns abridges the universal commandment of being a virtuous citizen of earth – balance, order, and harmony from happiness is the greatest good: an uncomplicated human right.
And America ought to seek pleasure from virtuous action rising from the protection of all, not just gun owners.
Dutch Fichthorn is a retired Lincoln Public Schools teacher and an adjunct professor at Nebraska Wesleyan University. He lives in Lincoln.