December 16, 2012

The Common Right of Toads and Men

Carl Sagen once made the following analogy with regards to the nuclear arms race in an interview with ABC News Viewpoint:
Imagine, a room, awash in gasoline. And there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has 9,000 matches. The other has 7,000 matches. Each of them is concerned about who’s ahead, who’s stronger. Well, that's the kind of situation we are actually in. The amount of weapons that are available to the United States and the Soviet Union are so bloated, so grossly in excess of what's needed to dissuade the other that if it weren't so tragic, it would be laughable.

The gun control debate has been rekindled in the U.S. thanks to the murder of 20 schoolchildren and 6 teachers in one go. Pro-gun rights individuals are once again on the defensive and throwing up all kinds of arguments about why the intrinsic right to own a tool that fires bits of metal at high velocities should exist.

Furthermore, the claim goes, if everyone had such a tool to that allowed them to fire bits of metal at high velocities, then mass shootings would be ended overnight. This is akin to arguing that if we give everyone a box of matches and a tin of gasoline, then there will no more fires.

When Columbine first occurred, I was still in high-school. I can remember that feeling of fear and confusion everyone else exhibited. Shortly afterwards, after having stayed home sick for a few days, I showed up to the Otego Elementary School parking lot, where I would then take the bus to my high-school. That was when I noticed that I was the only student in the entire parking lot wearing a back-pack. Everyone else was carrying their school supplies in their hands and looking at me as if I might have a bomb strapped to my chest. It turned out that the day before their had been an in school announcement that in an attempt to promote school safety, back-packs were now forbidden on school premises.

I have no idea how this was supposed to make us safer, nor were any of the other drills, and rules that the school board came up with after this. Perhaps this is what makes the whole situation so utterly terrifying, there are no easy solutions. I won't even pretend that there are. Not all tragedies can be eliminated.

However, the fact remains that countries that do have strict gun control laws have less homicides and violent crime per capita then countries that do. Guns do not commit crimes or kill people. However, committing crimes or homicide do become much easier when a criminal has a gun then then when they don't. Also, if you claim Hitler and the NAZI's supported strict gun control, you are completely and utterly wrong. Go and study some non-propaganda history books now.

What I also feel I have to point out is that people who argue that "if we arm everybody then there will be less crime" are essentially arguing that violence is the best solution to this problem. How different is this from the mentality that leads to mass shootings in the first place? Aren't those who perpetuate mass shootings using violence to solve their problems too?

As a country this is an issue. We tell kids who are bullied that they need to stand up for themselves and fight back against those who torment them. We advocate the use of violence in lieu of diplomacy at every turn. Don't like the government? Then start a revolution! A revolution that will obviously be violent because we will need our guns to fight it. We invaded Iraq, not because they attacked us or were even planning to attack us, but simply because there existed intelligence that indicated that they might have had the means to attack us.

Is there any reason to think that those who engage in mass shootings are not the ones who have best absorbed the lesson that violence is a viable solution to one's problems? Are mass shooters not fighting back and standing up to those schools or institutions that they perceive as oppressing them?

Then there is the whole issue of how, as a country, we have declared the right to own a gun sacred above all else, but access to affordable healthcare is a privilege. As it is with all this talks of rights, I cannot help but think of the verse Emily Dickinson once wrote which went:
A toad can die of light!
Death is the common right
Of toads and men,--
Of earl and midge
The privilege.
Why swagger then?
The gnat's supremacy
Is large as thine.

This is what has been argued, that death is our common right, the same one that we share with toads. We have no right to life, only to enough lighter fluid and matches so that we may burn ourselves all to ash.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.