Yesterday I started to write a post that would have gone like this:
I’ve been writing a lot about gun control lately. Or gun safety, or firearms safety, or what ever term you prefer. Anyway, if you’ve read some of those recent posts, you might be under the impression that I have an abiding dislike of guns (or firearms, if you prefer), people who own guns/firearms, the use of guns/firearms in self-defense, and so on. You might think I hate the Second Amendment, too, and want it repealed. You might think all those things, and I can’t really blame you because I’ve written some fairly scathing pieces on the NRA and other folks who oppose some of the gun control/firearms laws that are under consideration today.
You might think all that, but it’s really not true. In fact, what I’ve tried to do lately is just to, I guess, de-clutter the conversation we’re having about gun/firearms policy. What I’ve tried to do is remove some of the chaff so that we can get at what’s really important here: Making good policy choices within the framework of the Constitution and the recent Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Second Amendment. In fact, if you go back to the beginning, two of my earliest (recent) posts on the subject (here and here) were gentle, or, perhaps, not so gentle, reminders to my liberal friends that the Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago are the law of the land; that the Second Amendment, as the law now stands, did create an individual right to keep and bear certain types of firearms, and that blanket handgun bans like the ones that were on the books in Washington, D.C. and in Chicago are unconstitutional. …
I would have gone on from there to point out that I have many good friends, both on line and in real life, who own firearms, who believe that all law-abiding people should be able to own firearms, and who question whether the proposals now under consideration are good policy. And I would have said that I like and respect those people, and I want to hear what they have to say.
And all of that – every word of it – is true.
But it’s hard to write a post like that when reality keeps fucking intruding.
Reality like this:
With outrage over his daughter’s death spreading from City Hall to the White House, Nathaniel Pendleton made a public plea Wednesday for someone to step forward and bring the 15-year-old’s killer to justice. “They took the light of my life,” Pendleton said at a news conference, where a $11,000 reward was announced for information about Tuesday’s slaying of Hadiya Pendleton. “This guy, whoever he was, the gunman, man, you took the light of my life. Just look at yourself and just know that you took a bright person, an innocent person, a non-violent person.”
Hadiya, who last week performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural festivities, was killed when a gunman opened fire on a group of students at Harsh Park, just blocks from King College Prep and about a mile from Obama’s home in Kenwood on the South Side [of Chicago].
And like this:
MIDLAND CITY, Alabama (Reuters) - The gunman suspected of fatally shooting an Alabama school bus driver before holing up in an underground bunker with a young child is a Vietnam veteran with anti-government views, authorities and an organization that tracks hate groups said on Wednesday.
Authorities said driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was killed after the gunman boarded a bus ferrying more than 20 children home from school on Tuesday.
The suspect demanded the driver let a student off the bus, Alabama media reported. When Poland refused, the man boarded the bus and shot the driver before taking a 6-year-old kindergarten student and fleeing the scene.
On Wednesday, the gunman remained holed up with the boy in the underground bunker on his property down a dirt road. Dale County Coroner Woodrow Hilboldt said the man and child were barricaded in “some kind of a tornado bunker.”
Meanwhile, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre testified before Congress today. You remember Mr. LaPierre. He’s the one who said, after twenty children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
I wonder if Mr. LaPierre – or anyone else who thinks that the best way to protect against gun violence is to arm more people – can answer this question. Could 15 year old Hadiya Pendleton have defended herself with a gun, if she had no way to know she was about to get caught in the crossfire “when a gunman opened fire on a group of students” out of the blue? Could any armed bystander have protected her, if no one knew that random act of violence was coming?
And what about Jimmy Lee Dykes, the alleged shooter/kidnapper in Alabama, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center described as “some kind of anti-government radical and survivalist.” Was he a good guy with a gun, or a bad guy with a gun? Before he murdered a 66 year old school bus driver and took a 6 year old boy hostage, how could you tell?
I still want to write that piece I started yesterday, the one about how I really do respect gun owners and want to hear what they have to say. I want to write a brilliant, perfectly balanced piece, where I lay out my views of gun rights – and I acknowledge there is such a thing – and reasonable safety regulations that respect those rights and protect innocent people from gun violence, and where I encourage my good friends who have different views to share those views, too, openly and in good faith.
Maybe I will write that piece one day. Today, though, is not that day.