Needless to say, when I read this I was as appalled as the rest of the rational Americans in our country…
Conservative sensitivity at its finest, courtesy of Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher. Speaking in a time of great tragedy, Wurzelbacher’s only response to a grieving father discussing his son’s right to live is that the be all and end all is the right of Americans to be armed to the teeth without any regulation.
There is a time, a place and a manner for such discussions. He could easily wait several days. He could just as easily frame his ideas in less crass terms. He could choose to use words that will not rub salt in open wounds. He decided not to engage in such behavior, which, unfortunately, is nothing new for him.
This kind of absolutism disturbs those of us that see shades of gray. Not everyone that favors sensible gun regulations seeks to take away each and every gun from each and every law-abiding citizen. Not everyone that believes in the right to bear arms is someone that opposes sensible gun regulations. Wurzelbacher, and those like him, fail to recognize the former and are most certainly not the latter.
I have previously laid out my own view when it comes to gun control. Guns should be treated like other potentially deadly instrumentalities. Automobiles are registered and their operators are licensed.
Guns should be treated in a similar manner. Those that are designed with the express, and sole, purpose of killing people should be banned. The capacity of clips should be limited. Users should be licensed. There should be universal background checks and licensees should be required to demonstrate some degree of proficiency. We do not let drivers out onto the road without first demonstrating they can safely operate an automobile. Gun owners should be required to demonstrate they can safely operate their firearms.
To those that say the Second Amendment is absolute, I would say that even Antonin Scalia disagrees with them. He has never argued that violent ex-felons should be allowed to possess firearms. He has never indicated that one should be able to purchase nuclear weapons so long as they can be delivered with a handheld firearm. For those that do believe in an absolute right, this would be the logical, if uncomfortable, conclusion to their arguments.
As Gawker’s Adam Weinstein explains about the conservative fetish for certain rights:
Likewise for gun rights, where conservatives led by lobbyists andluddites like Joe the Plumber have abandoned talk about the good and replaced it with talk about the right. The good can be negotiated as hard cases arise. The right is non-negotiable. It is immutable. It is either respected or infringed. If you believe, as Joe and the NRA do, that the Second Amendment is an absolute right to personal firearms ownership—not merely that it’s good for something, like self-defense or recreation, but that it’s an immutable right—then even background checks or limits on multiple-magazine purchases or just simply talking about compromise and offering real sympathy to survivors is an infringement on that right.
In this ideology, talk of social responsibility in the exercise of rights becomes synonymous with socialism. This is the ultimate problem with the modern movement that clubbed traditional conservatism to death, squeezed into its clothes, and now traipses around like it owns the place.
No right is absolute. One cannot scream fire in a crowded theater. Gun ownership may be regulated. Soldiers may be quartered in houses during time of war. The writ of habeas corpus may be suspended in times of invasion and rebellion. One may not practice aspects of their religion that cause direct harm to others (for example if one’s religion calls for the killing of other human beings, then their right to completely and freely exercise their religion is limited by homicidestatutes).
Those that argue for an absolute right to gun ownership share in the responsibility for firearm-related homicides in this country. They do not pull the trigger; ultimate responsibility still lies with the actual perpetrator. But they have the responsibility of facilitation; they make it easier for the perpetrator to kill more and to do so with greater ease.
We need sensible gun regulations. I do not favor coming for all the guns, but I do favor licensure and registration. Those are sensible measures that protect the rights of law-abiding citizens, both those that want their firearms and those that wish to maintain their unalienable right to life.