The National Rifle Association is fighting a cultural war, according to its own leaders. On one side are the Liberals, epitomized by President Obama, who want to take your guns away. On the other side are all the right-thinking, God-fearing, righteous gun owners who are defending their homes and families from those Liberals, and all of the criminals with guns who might threaten them.
I grew up in that culture. Maybe not the most extreme elements of that culture, but we had guns in our house. In fact, we had so many guns that we had a gun room. We had a kitchen, bathroom, some bedrooms, and a gun room. We were taught about guns at a young age, and dragged to gun shows.
I didn’t take to guns, and I hated the gun shows. That was Dad’s thing, not mine. But if you talk about how important the second amendment is, go to a gun show. I guarantee you will see someone who will make you question that amendment. That guy with the wild eyes—there may be no way you can document why that guy should not have a gun, but you can tell it by looking at him. He is probably the guy with the largest table.
The absolute nature of the arguments by the NRA bothers me greatly. Any attempt to regulate who can own a gun, how guns are sold, what limits can be placed on magazine sizes, or any other regulation that might help to prevent more tragedies is met with the argument that we are going down a “slippery slope” with attacks on the second amendment.
Those arguments remind me of the case made by Lovell Rousseau in his complaints about the Freedman’s bureau, as well as his justification for his attacks on Josiah B. Grinnell. Rousseau was essentially arguing about the first amendment—a very asymmetrical, absolutist interpretation of the first amendment which only applied to white people. The net result of arguments like his (which carried the day) was a century of a society that was not only racist, but which overtly oppressed people based on race and tolerated private acts of racial terrorism.
Absolutist arguments about the second amendment are getting people killed. No one thinks the first amendment was compromised by recognizing and legislating civil rights. The second amendment will not be compromised by using a little common sense. There need to be some effective regulations regarding gun ownership and what guns are allowed. And the NRA needs to be called out for its hurtful and dangerous rhetoric.