so i have been playing with a really interesting concept in the last couple of weeks. the NRA. now, at my core, i am pretty anti the NRA. it’s not the freedom to have guns that i inherently oppose, but the NRA that i have problems with. now, i have never actually been so in disagreement with them that i have sought to protest or fight against them. and i actually had to agree with them over columbine. but, i am also not going to support them. but a friend of mine said to me a few weeks ago when i was generally spieling about my political beliefs that being anti-NRA is contradictory with belief in freedoms and how could i fight for ideas of freedom of speech, anti-violence, anti-hatred laws when i wanted to stop the NRA. this set me aback and i didn’t really have a response. but, he still succeeded in making me think, and i know that was his goal anyways..
i had another conversation about the NRA tonite and so now i am thinking about it some more and wanting to write some of those thoughts down, although they are still not 100% resolved.
first, i get annoyed at the NRA because they start (even on their website) by inaccurately quoting the second ammendment. ok, so they are not inaccurately doing so, but only using a portion of it, and we know that “taken out of context, it must seem so strange.” so, they always use “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” when in reality, the full clause is “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” ok.. so we are talking about a need for a militia. this makes me wonder what it means to have a milita. do you have to be a part of a militia to have the right to bear arms? i am not sure. is every gun owner hir own militia? is this OK? i am not sure…
so i posed my confusion and contemplation to my roommate. oh perfect memory herself, she rattled off different readings of this clause over time and then started down the lines of it doesn’t matter. so, i am trying to remember and capture some of the hilites of this discussion (mostly her points with mine thrown in there as this was a conversation). note, i am probably still failing to accurately and fully capture her ideas, but so it goes…
1) americans have this funny feeling that freedoms are the most important thing and the NRA and ACLU always return to that whenever they feel restricted. the US does not actually guarantee freedom, nor does it actually secure that. there is no actual thing as the freedom of the press or the freedom of the people to do whatever they want. laws are a balance of what is good for the people and what is good for the state (and thus, we must also consider capitalism). for example, there are seatbelt and traffic laws. these are affected by a wide variety of issues, including capitalism. it is better for the nation (economically as well as safety-wise) if people wear seatbelts. so there is a law meaning that you don’t have the freedom to choose whether or not you can wear a seatbelt.
2) we create laws to protect people from actions that should seem obvious. when domestic abuse was first outlawed in the states, there was a lot of outcry. why should the state determine what people could and could not do in their homes? and didn’t people know better anyhow? history has shown that people don’t know better. when the laws were first put on the books, many police officers didn’t want to enforce them because they didn’t believe in them themselves. eventually, culture and law collided and now domestic abuse is considered horrid by almost everyone.
3) the states has a funny notion regarding the relationship between morality and law. due to a theoretical (yet nonexistant) separation of church and state, there is a feeling that law cannot be related to morals. yet, every legal move is directly tied to morality and in the case of the states, this means christian morality. the state has to determine what is good for the people and in doing so, they regulate their moral beliefs.
4) there are more guns per capita in the states than ever before in history. there is an explicit law saying exactly how and why guns should be kept. guns are made legal for the very purpose of keeping a militia. very few of them are being kept as such. the NRA and political organizations rallying around freedom of guns tie together issues of sport, of freedom and of political organizing. historically speaking, justices who are charged with interpreting that amendment constantly disagree. legislatures, who make the laws are affected by the political lobbying of the NRA, and it is not their responsibility to accurately intepret the constitution. those opposed to the NRA read the constitution in a way differing from those who support it, which is why the NRA is such a controversial organization. it must be remembered how laws are made in the US whereby anything not explicitly put into law by the legislature is up to intepretation of the states. any law that infringes on constitutional rights should be considered by the courts. because of this, gun control is a constitutional issue while abortion is a legislative issue.
hmm.. she had a lot more to say that i am forgetting.. but these are some of the hilites that i want to continue to chew on… it’s funny because i think that this all began over abortion… it’s funny to have core beliefs that sat dormant and unchallenged or considered for a long time because i realize that i forgot how they evolved.
like, as a kid, i always believed in the death penalty, but as an adult, i don’t. as a child, i thought that such a penalty was good for the country because it meant that criminals who were a threat to society were removed from society. my views changed when i realized that the death penalty is 1) not fair and evenly applied, particularly due to social prejudices and morals (and it is a federal crime to unevenly apply laws); 2) is not an effective deterent or a humane way for the state to treat its constituents; 3) fails to recognize the absurdity of justified killing.
mmm.. haven’t thought about politics in a long while.. mmm..