The conversation regarding gun violence, gun control and the myriad of interpretations of the 2nd Amendment came to the surface again this weekend. And, thank goodness it didn’t take a mass shooting, with dozens killed or injured to make it happen. All it took was a sports figure and the tableau of a multi-million dollar player’s final hours that gained the attention of Bob Costas. Well, Bob Costas, NFL Sunday and a different kind of halftime show. One that makes you have to think.
We as a society avoid the topic. We do so because the polarized messages are so stark, and the stakes are so high that we prefer to just not think about it, to not get in what will inevitably degrade to political mud wrestling. So we do nothing.
Much of the problem comes in that we really don’t want to define the real parameters of the problem. On one side we have the NRA, which spends an inordinate amount of lobby money to “protect the 2nd Amendment”. Yet as they do so, they have, on their corporate wall an “excerpt” of the 2nd Amendment, not even feeling compelled to defend the entire 27 words. On the other side are several organizations, from Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns to the Brady Campaign to the National Institute of Justice, all with good intent…with various degrees of effectiveness – though their mere presence seems enough to generate millions of dollars of fundraising for the NRA.
In just the past two weeks here in Kentucky we have had everything from a Sheriff’s Deputy killed to a four year old shooting a two year old. And nationally we have seen an SUV shot up because the music was too loud and a young man killed because he didn’t want to listen to the angry guy in the parking lot. And then it hit the NFL… and the conversation interrupted 15 minutes of analysis of the first half of the game. When choosing to be offended, most chose to be offended that the conversation interrupted football rather than think about the conversation on gun violence that is never ending.
Now, about the conversation. It is time to change it. No longer can we be content to discuss the infinite meanings of the 27 words of the 2nd Amendment. No longer can we resort to defending it based on 18th Century philosophy. And on the other side, no longer can we have a discussion that lacks honest, defined goals. This isn’t black and white…it is the 256 shades of gray between them and it is time to quit drawing lines in the sand and look at the 21st Century implications that James Madison never envisioned when he penned the 2nd Amendment in 1791.
The conversation is going to occur. Whether it is defined by the two vested sides or by society that, at some point decides that enough violence is enough, it will occur.