My atttention to this blog has been erratic of late, to say the least. Particularly with respect to the post on gun control, I have not serviced the comments with the attention they deserved. The reason is complex, but relates to the physical and emotional stresses of my caregiver role. At times I get quite tired and have no ambition to write, even though my head is still filled with ideas. There is a period in the day of two or three hours in the afternoon when Joan is down for her nap that I could come up to the computer room and sit down and write. But in fact I just plunk down in my easy chair and let the daily newspaper put me to sleep. I don't get enough sleep in a typical day.
So, don' t lose faith, my friends. I value your kind attention to my work in reading and commenting. I appreciate each and every comment, even those somewhat lacking in erudition or courtesy. I am feeling better and may now be able to again entertain you with my scribbling. At least I hope.
Pierre, I particularly regret not, as you put it, engaging in a give and take of ideas. With respect to the gun control issue, let me try to explain my position. Your argument is that if new restrictions save at least one life, it's worth it. No, it isn't. We are dealing with a constitutional issue, the 2nd Amendment. It clearly intends to protect the possession of arms by the citizenry. The reference to militia is in recognition of the fact that, even up to the Civil War, there was no national standing army or navy. War was simple in those days. You got a gun and, with your neighbors, shot at the enemy. (I know this is an oversimplification, but the principle is valid.) He shot back and whoever shot the best won the day. Thus, it was essential that the able-bodied citizenry had arms behind the door, ready to be taken up in defense of our fledgling nation.
Times have indeed changed. We have standing military that fights our wars. Citizen militias are an anachronism. But, it is in the Constitution, however irrelevent that part of the 2nd Amendment may be today. We tweak the Constitution to suit our present-day needs at our peril. It could very well lead to decimating the entire document, leaving us with a hollow document providing no protection of our rights against the predations of government "fixers". I think no one wants that.
There is a mechanism for changing the Constitution by amendment. It is somewhat tortuous and lengthy, deliberately so as to prevent knee-jerk modifications in response to an emotional issue. (Sound familiar?) If, however, the majority of states, 2/3rds to be exact, agree to a change, it can be done and not infrequently has been in the past. Simply put, if you don't like the constitutional citizen arms provision, then change it.
Oh, that will never happen, you say? Well then, I guess we'll have to live with it. Or maybe not. As a specific example, say Congress passes a so-called assault weapons ban, sometimes referred to as a ban on black-painted rifles. The problem is there are probably millions of black rifles already out there, so banning new sales will be largely ineffective. Then we have another tragic incident. The next step would logically be to confiscate the millions of assault weapons in private hands. Then there's an incident with Glock 17's, so we ban large-capacity magazines, leaving only Glock 10's. The same scenario repeats and existing private Glock 17's are confiscated. Need I go on? That is really the danger the NRA fears: gun confiscation. So do I.
I agree that the 2nd Amendment is somewhat outdated. But I fear that attempts to circumvent it with legislation could lead to a very undesirable paradigm. That is, working around constitutional provisions to suit immediate societal concerns. A slippery slope, indeed.