Daddy was right. Ain't no use in talking about religion, politics, whether that dress makes yer wife look fat, or guns… unless you're sitting among a bunch of hunters all dressed up in their "out-to-kill" finery, oiling stocks and cutting cross-hatches into their bullet points.
Take abortion. The gyrations politicians go through to avoid waving the banner for either side would be hysterical if it wasn't so obvious… and boring. "I'm for abortion only in the event a woman is impregnated by a creature from another planet — or the dark lagoon. Otherwise, while I personally would never have an abortion, I support a woman's right to be confused." I daresay there must be some kind of middle ground that doesn't leave women between a rock and hellfire and brimstone, but no one's brave enough to suggest it.
Likewise, in one of the few thundering blunders made by the Founding Dads, we have the Second Amendment, in my humble opinion, a veritable smorgasbord of words that can be construed to arrive at any conclusion one wants. What the hell does it mean?
"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."
If one focuses on the first two phrases, it's clear that gun ownership applies to the state's militia, probably as protection against feared federal hegemony, although it didn't work all that well in the Civil War. If one focuses on the last phrase, it's clear that the people's right to own veritable arsenals can never be withdrawn. Put the two together, and you have… mush.
A case in D.C. may wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The District passed a law banning all hand guns except for current and former police while allowing rifles and shotguns as long as they're either "unloaded and disassembled or bound by trigger locks." An appeals court killed the law, and the city has asked the Supreme Court to hear it. Surprise, surprise, the Bush Administration opposes the law.
And the two sides, one standing on one edge of the Grand Canyon, and the other on the far side, cavil endlessly to anyone with ears about the death of children, the right to protect one's self in one's home, etc. etc. ad nauseum. There is, at last, nothing new to be said.
So, how does one rationally address this issue? (Pardon me while I fall off my chair laughing.)
Let us begin by acknowledging that the other side (whichever side you're on) has deep, powerful, often unconscious emotional reasons for their positions. And, while you're at it, admit you're in the same quandary. We pretend to argue logic and reason, but what's driving those arguments are perceived threats to important personal values. If we could talk about those values and those emotions, we'd at least make a start at having a discussion rather than a televised political debate among Presidential wannabes. We may even find that we have some of those values (self-preservation, family protection, security) in common but that the triggers for those values are different.
Next, how about we throw the 2nd Amendment into the trash heap of well-meant but stupid historical statements. There is no right way to interpret it, and we're just being intellectually dishonest if we pretend there is.
Then, given common values and no Constitutional guidelines, we seek compromise. The pro-gunners fear that banning handguns is but the first step in taking away all their guns. How are the anti-gunners going to assure them that isn't the case? (There are anti-gunners who do take that position; you probably don't want them in the room when you're negotiating.) The moderate anti-gunners focus on handguns because they're most easily misused by children, adults engaged in a free-for-all, or a simple, stupid, tragic accident. Plus, it's a lot harder to carry around a concealed shotgun than pistol.
Except for vegetablearians, the blather about hunting is just so much, well, blather. Eat a steak you got from your local supermarket or kill a deer and eat the deer. There's no difference. I admit to being nauseated by those who trophy hunt, who simply kill for the sport of it. If that's a sport, so is smoking and drinking. But I wouldn't let my personal distaste for those chickens (like there's real danger in going after deer) interfere with my desire to strike a compromise with the pro-gunners that guarantees their right to rifles and shotguns.
Of course, we have to address the automatic vs. semi-automatic issue as well as the increasing number of guns that resemble Rambo's favorite wartime toys, but once we're engaged in good faith efforts, one can hope that we can isolate the extremists on both sides. I can't believe that every pro-gunner wants an Uzi… or at least I hope not.
See, not so hard. Sure. Actually, what's hardest is the first step, the discussions where people listen to each other with an open mind, seek areas of agreement, begin to develop a bit of trust in the good faith of their opponents. I've engineered this process between chemical plants and the communities in which they operate, and it takes a long, long time, as well as people who truly want a reasonable, workable solution.
But, it'll never happen, so I will take refuge in that most profound philosophical thought:
In Jameson Veritas