"Shall not be infringed!", August 9 1945, “Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”- Voltaire, December 15 1791, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Second Amendment, Thanatos, Voltaire, Weapons Of Mass Destruction
Back in 1975 I was a freshman in high school when I first read Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and it was another half-decade before I saw Kubrick’s film with its opening scene featuring an ape throwing the thigh bone of a dead great beast high into the air where it metamorphosizes into an advanced spaceship. This scene emphasized that whomever kills most efficiently will dominate and thrive, a lesson we humans have learned far too well. From Sampson single-handedly slaying a thousand Philistines with an ass’ jawbone until this day in 1945 and beyond the ability to kill others has been given great credence and humans have poured incredible ingenuity into our ever more efficient weapons of destruction.
Evolving from bare hands to animal bones and weapons that slice to slings, arrows, spears and trebuchet we march along to muskets, rifles and pistols, all weapons designed to kill from a safe distance. In the United States weapons are so revered that citizens “right to bear arms” is enshrined in our Constitution via the Second Amendment, a short piece of prose that states:
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.
The Second Amendment consists of twenty-seven prophetic words that leave a lot of wiggle room for interpretation. Do Americans have the right to bear arms ONLY if they are an adjunct of homeland defense, only if those bearing arms own them for the explicit purpose of the security of a free State? Does the ability to keep and bear arms without being infringed mean that US residents are Constitutionally entitled to all forms of arms?
Muskets were the high powered weapon of the late Eighteenth Century, a weapon that takes 20 seconds to load and fire. These were “State of the art” when the Second Amendment was penned, there were no mini-balls, no breach loaders, rifles, Gatling guns and on and on in the panoply of worship that evolved from Sampson with his ass’ jaw to modern firepower that is designed to give the bearer of said weapons the ability to slaughter hundreds in less than a minute so that we may lay our sacrificed before Thanatos.
Those who misrepresent the Second Amendment with their “shall not be infringed” bastardization must be taken to task for enabling the death by bullet of 100 people daily in the USA. I do not call for a ban on all guns but I do call for a ban on most guns. I do call for universal registration of all firearms and mandatory background check on every person purchasing a gun and all sales being regulated. I call on regulation and reformation of the firearms industry, of the wholesale of death, of our sick fascination that has led to the USA having the highest gun murder and death rate of any developed nation, a fascination that has created a land where guns outnumber residents.
Will restriction and legislation stop gun deaths? It will not, but as that quintessential Nineteenth Century philosopher and progressive Voltaire said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” There are good people with good reasons for owning guns but self-defense in no way requires weapons of mass destruction. We can evolve to a higher plane, a plane with peace, love and understanding but we’ll never get there if we continue in our march of slaughter and worship of death.