Like many others, the killings in Newtown’s elementary school have made me reconsider my position on gun control. As a hunter, a veteran and a dyed-in-the-wool radical, I write this to show fellow gun owners, and more importantly, fellow Americans distrustful of an armed government with an unarmed populace, that the logic I espoused for most of my life is bankrupt. Until Dec. 14, my stance on the Second Amendment was essentially, “Our government can’t be trusted with the monopoly on lethal power. As such, the right to resist tyranny embedded in our Constitution justified the tragic deaths that would inevitably result from the proliferation of these incredibly deadly weapons.”
I deployed to the Iraq War in 2004 as a Marine. I came to see my experience in Iraq as that of a pawn doing the work of liars, profiteers and chickenhawks. I say this to illustrate that my outlook on gun control is influenced both from the standpoint of a Constitution-observing public servant and as a person who came to question the integrity of our system of governance to the very core. In short, I was reverent of the Second Amendment’s freedom-guarding intent. I still am.
But my reverence is irrelevant. The Second Amendment stopped giving the insurrectionists among us a chance as soon as military technology advanced beyond the rifle. No modern Shays’ Rebellion is viable, militarily speaking, unless the Second Amendment is read to protect an individual’s right to bear surface-to-air missiles, Abrams tanks and depleted-uranium artillery. Who in their right mind would want to live where these things are available to any person, no matter how law-abiding or responsible? Even if you would prefer that much more dangerous world, it doesn’t exist, thankfully, and because no group of armed citizens could contend with U.S. military power, the “guns guard our freedom” argument is hollow and insane. The “guns guard our freedom” perspective is the bedrock of the anti-gun-control movement, and until we speak to it with respect and honesty, we will not sway those among us who feel the pain of the mothers in Newtown, but fear, rightly or wrongly, the Orwellian implications of disarming. Frankly, arguments to anyone else is preaching to the choir.
Patriots, rebels, any lovers of freedom, please take a new point of view with me. If your freedom feels vulnerable, I remind you that an ounce of prevention (read “real community”) is worth a pound of emergency room care, which is revolting. We should not dismiss the NRA’s seed of truth that, in fact, people do kill people. I admit it speaks to the root of the problem, but we would be foolish to allow a treatable symptom like gun violence to run amok before we devote our attention to curing our disease: whether you see it as untreated mental illness, cultural glorification of violence, or as I see it, the worldview that we are separated individuals, alone in our struggles, and that our power to create a more beautiful world is limited by anything but our imagination, our courage and our love.