Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fort Hood, Gun Control Laws, and The Freedom Of Religion

Another tragic shooting with a large body count and the usual suspects come out of the woodwork from both sides of the gun-control issue with the same, tired arguments. Gun-control fanatics cite the incident as proof that people can't be trusted with guns because they might hurt somebody with them and so they should be barred from owning them, except for the servants of the state who need theirs to push the rest of us around (but aren't public servants "people," too?).

The gun-rights advocates point out that the body count in this shooting, just like others, was so high because the lone gunman was the only one armed (at least until the police arrived) and everyone else had been barred from possessing firearms on their person so that they couldn't fight back effectively enough to stop the killer. They insist that if anyone else had been allowed to be armed that person could have stopped this whole affair before it got too far and that is why the people have a right to keep and bear arms. This is a valid argument but what makes it old is it keeps having to be repeated again and again and nobody ever seems to have enough sense to implement it.

The point that has me slightly perturbed though is the large number of those who believe in their individual right to own a firearm that have called for, in one sense or another, the banning of people in this country who are of the same religious affiliation as the shooter. These folks will tell you to your face (even shouting sometimes) that they have have a Constitutional right to own a gun and in the same breath demand that people of a certain faith, in violation of the Constitutional protection of the freedom of religion, have to prove their loyalty to the US and its central government before that government should be allow them to continue to live here. See the comments to this article for an example of what I'm talking about.

What seems to escape these people is that they hold the same totalitarian mindset as those who are in favor of more gun-control laws. Somehow and somewhere they have been invested with the authority to judge others different from themselves and punish them pre-emptively before they have a chance to commit a real crime. Here is a summation of how the argument for banning firearms could be stated:

"A lot of people own guns. Some of those people use their guns to hurt others. We do not and can not know which people will use their guns to hurt others, therefore we must take away everyone's gun, except for the servants of the state, so that nobody will get hurt, except those punished by the servants of the state."

Change the words a little bit and we have:

"A lot of people are Muslim. Some Muslims, but not all, cause harm to others in the name of their religion. We do not and can not know which Muslims will cause harm in the name of their religion, therefore we must force all Muslims to prove their loyalty beyond a shadow of a doubt before we allow them to live among us."

The arguments are the same and if one is dedicated to true "liberty and justice for all," then one must be opposed to both and resist temptations to give into prejudice and bigotry. For the suspicious there can never be enough hoops for them to force others to hop through and eventually they will become the aggressors committing crimes of retaliation against innocent people. The Romans didn't trust the Christians so they shipped them off to the Coliseum and innocent people died. Hitler didn't trust the Jews so he shipped them off to "Concentration" camps and innocent people died. FDR didn't trust Japanese-Americans and he shipped them off to "Internment" camps and innocent people died.

After some time has passed and more information becomes available, I will discuss the psychological underpinnings of the shooter's motives but until that time let us keep our wits about us and resolve to punish the guilty and let the innocent live in peace. If you want people to respect your right to live free, then you must learn to respect their right to do the same...

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