In my opinion, Wednesday, January 16, 2013, will go down as President Obama’s John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King moment.
It took an immense amount of courage for him, January 16, 2013, to confront our nations culture of violence, particularly the fringe – it’s really only a fringe – which worships the unrestricted “right to bear arms” – all and any kinds of arms.
(The Second Amendment, ratified Dec. 15, 1791, says this in its entirety “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 reader can, of course, choose which words to emphasize…or ignore…in that amendment.)
President Obama, his supporters, advisers and the Secret Service, know the personal risks of what he did yesterday.
I believe President Kennedy, and I know Martin Luther King, knew the risks of witness for a better society and world. They both fell to rifle shots from hatred, 1963 and 1968.
Any of us around then – I was a school teacher when the announcement over the intercom came that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas – know more than we want to know about how hatred and threats such as we are now seeing spewed by folks tend to trickle down to madmen who are more than willing to do the dirty work of killing the messenger. The NRA is, I believe, wittingly facilitating this hatred.
The vast majority of us, I believe, are with the President on his initiative to change the sick system which enabled Newtown and other tragedies.
But we can’t be sitting quietly in the background in our circles as this debate moves forward.
We need to supportively encircle the President and help him move forward in the many ways available to us. We need, particularly, to support our legislators who support change, and encourage those who are reluctant to see a civilized world in a different way than through a gun sight.
Yes, this is a complex issue.
Personally, I don’t own or plan to own a weapon, but neither am I anti-gun for the traditional uses I grew up with. Gun ownership is a privilege with great responsibility. Sadly, legislation is about the only way to increase responsibility.
I see something of a continuum in the debate which is now officially beginning.
At one end of the continuum is true religious model, best stated in the “beat their swords into plowshares” citation (Isaiah 2:3-4). Arbitrarily, I’ll call that end zero.
At the other end is the “man’s home is his castle” philosophy which, played out to its illogical end, allows anybody to do anything with any killing device. I’ll call that ten.
Somewhere in between those poles is common sense in a “free State”, as stated in that Second Amendment.
We are – all of us – the “State” referred to in that Second Amendment. We are “the people”.
The collective “we, the people of the United States” share responsibility to “insure domestic Tranquility” (the Preamble of the Constitution), and tranquility doesn’t come at the end of a gun.
(On that continuum, above, I’d put myself at a four or less.)
Our World is our Castle.
We all live together in that Castle. We depend on each other; not only on ourselves.
Get involved, and don’t quit. Be willing to negotiate, but carefully. It is hard to negotiate with someone who refuses to negotiate.
On this and other issues, learn both sides and stick with it. It’s a crucial issue at a crucial time.
Here’s the complete U.S. Constitution: Constitution of U.S.001
Recent previous posts on this topic are here, here and here.
Some blogger yesterday had a great juxtaposition of King and Obama: “I Have a Dream” vs. “I Have a Drone.”
Dick, to Will: Yesterday, I seem to recall, the President mentioned that there had been 900 or so gun deaths in the U.S. in the month since Newtown. Perhaps you could tell me how many deaths from Drones in the same month? How many Iraqis died in a typical month in the Iraq War when it was raging back in the good old days of 2003-2008? How many war dead in Afghanistan in a typical month?
The United States is a nation that almost worships violence. And the gun issue is a perfect place to intensify the conversation on the role of violence in our society.
The President is already on record asking Congress to help adopt rules for use of Drones. It isn’t as if he’s been silent.
Over 50 years ago I edited a small college newspaper, and I’ve always been intrigued by this item we printed in one issue of the paper, sometime in 1960-61.
(click to enlarge)
Bruce, Jan 17:
I concur with you in that it took tremendous personal courage for Obama to take his position on gun control. The president’s life is always in danger for any political act he does, but this one is exceptionally dire. If he is successful in facing up to the NRA and it’s rabid fringe followers, his life will be at risk even after he leaves office. That is the level of emotion on this issue. It may be equivalent to Lincoln and slavery, which brings me to an article I read in the last couple of days on the 2nd Amendment. It’s point is the 2nd was ratified to preserve slavery. I think it goes to ” the man’s home is his castle” doctrine. That is the basis for a person has the right to protect his property with violence, if necessary. The most valuable property in the 18th century in America, when the Bill of Rights was ratified, was slaves. Slavery was legal, and there were slaves in all of the states. The national economy depended on the institution of slavery. In order for the Bill of Rights to be ratified the south needed a compromise which protected their property(slaves) from abolitionists thus preserving their police state(slave patrols). I think, Tom Hartmann, the author of the article, has a good analysis. Protecting the institution of slavery was at the heart of the 2nd amendment. With the Emancipation Proclamation, the 2nd Amendment should have been eliminated. There was no longer a reason for it except for protecting the profit of fire arms manufactures. I can’t help but think it’s exceptionally poetic that it’s the first “Black” president that is facing down the gun lobby. I think it scares the hell out many. In the Tarrantino movie Django, Django must remind many, unconsciously if nothing else, of Obama. It’s a very violent movie, but I recommend it, especially after you read this article.
Another lobby that is as powerful as the NRA is AIPAC. Obama is standing up to that lobby, too. He is putting forth all his political might to show down these two lobbies. With the nomination of Hagel, he has pick a fight with AIPAC. He has brought it out into the light, and now with the backing of Senator Levin(MI) a powerful supporter of AIPAC, he may have won that fight. See here.
The president has guts and resolve. That is what makes him dangerous to the forces that these two lobbies represent. Liberating the country from the oppression of these two lobbies is no small feat, and as you have stated, we need to help this president and protect his back.