I, like many of you, have been consuming the Olympics. I’ve been delighting in Mr. T’s tweets. I’ve grown a strong new respect for figure skating. And then…and then…and then someone’s nipple was exposed! Her discipline and focus prohibited her from stopping the routine to put the costume together again. And yet, if you have never heard of French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis before, odds are pretty good you peeked at her boobie this week.
I think it kind of exposed that old Victorian (or worse, Puritan) attitude of many Americans. We want to flirt with the idea of nudity but we so want to judge the nude. I decided to take the opportunity to resurrect an old poem’s audio to try to re-teach this lesson. Everyone’s body is just variations on a theme.
Yeah, I know. This is an older piece. Kind of makes me think of hippies and beatniks. Not quite enough to consider hep cats or zoot suiters.
I have always been a defender of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. I have also been a defender of all the other Amendments as well, especially those that confer rights to the people…but my manner of defense is evolving as is my thinking. (If you keep thinking after you get old, that can still happen, hint.) I am having a hard time reconciling my defense of gun rights and the continual abuse of that right by irresponsible (or evil) individuals in our country. After the latest mass shooting in Florida by Nikolas Cruz, I have had an epiphany. I hope you can join me.
There are other things we have learned, but these are the crux of what I think we should focus on.
There are two wildly extreme positions being publicly promoted in this country. The first, from the left is “GUNS BAD> BAN GUNS.” It leads to weird hype and false claims. For example, this. The other, on the right, is “THE PRICE WE PAY FOR FREEDOM.” Both are bullshit, of course. Americans do not sacrifice the health, lives and welfare of our children on the alter of gun rights.
I have long been one who advocates for the proper use, training and responsibility around guns and ammunition. I own guns. I shoot semi-regularly. I believe in my ability to defend myself and my family with these weapons. As I age and I lose credibility as a physical force, I take solace in the perception that a gun helps me to even the field. I am responsible. I know the law, what I am allowed to do, under what circumstances and what I am not allowed to do. I also know how to store and secure weapons and ammunition so that any minors in my house can not access them for any reason.
But along comes a rash of school shootings, shaking all of these foundational beliefs. On top of that, we hear “thoughts and prayers,” outrage and a dozen examples of how banning weapons will lead America toward Nirvana. Those are also bullshit.
Can nothing be done? Well, nothing will be done if we continue to have this stupid debate. To be clear, the debate over gun rights and the future of guns in America is not stupid. The debate we are currently (not) having and the people screaming the loudest right now are stupid.
I’m going to propose a radical change in the way we perceive guns in America and try to offer an incremental improvement in the real-world conditions we face. Much has been made of the dozen or more school shootings we have already experienced this early in 2018. And I do not dispute these numbers if “school shooting” means “the discharge of a firearm at or near a school regardless of whether anyone was hurt and regardless of whether the discharge was accidental or not.” Those many events happened. Nothing gets the left more riled up and simultaneously makes the right sound more ridiculous than dead kids. But does the rash of gun events in schools mean Americans are incapable of handling guns responsibly?
Who is doing the shooting in schools? Everytown has kept some interesting statistics over a period of time. One of the most revealing bits of data is that in shootings at k-12 schools, where our most vulnerable victims are located, the perpetrator is (statistically) under 21 years of age (77%), or under 18 (56%). This is the data that provided the Eureka! moment for me.
So, do (mostly) men over 21 kill people (mostly men) over the age of 21. Yes, they do. Should we stop that if we can? Yes, we should. But let’s look at a significant and elegant partial solution first. I believe the lasting cultural changes will eventually ameliorate some of the gun assaults later in life. But for now:
Let’s make gun and ammo purchases and ownership illegal for anyone under a certain age. I can live with either 18 or 21, although 18 is easier to rationalize in my mind because we permit kids of 18 to enlist and thus gain access to guns and ammo.
A natural Constitutional question–Are constitutionally protected rights other than gun rights in America restricted by age? They certainly are.
First Amendment. Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, right? Wrong. All kinds of speech limitations exist for underage kids. Freedom of the Press? Check the rules about high school newspapers. Right to assembly? Also limited (often to adults as well). It seems only religion is free to be practiced by children, even though it is unlikely you will find many 13-year-olds changing churches.
Second Amendment? It says the “right of the people.” Yes, I know about the “militia” standard as well. It adds to my argument later. Militia was the prime driver of (or excuse for)the 2nd amendment. How old do you need to be to join the militia? Even in nascent America, you didn’t call on every person to provide defense. One had to have reached a certain age, degree of responsibility. Not many six-year-olds provided for the security of a free state. There is no guarantee of a minor’s right to bear arms in the second Amendment and a good case can be made that only military aged folks ever had that right. In our current culture, where adolescence is being expanded even into our 20s, the opportunity for this kind of legislation seems appropriate.
Third Amendment protects adults/home owners. etc.
The point is that the Constitution and its Amendments are meant to enumerate and guarantee certain rights for ADULT citizens of the United States. Do kids have rights? Of course, just not as many nor are they as strong.
Proposal: It shall be illegal for anyone under the age of (18/21) to own, possess or purchase firearms and/or ammunition. In order to protect those victims of school shootings, I would be willing to see the age limit be 21. By the time you are 21, it is unlikely you will return to a school to take out the kids. I suspect at least some/many/most of the over 21 year old shooters in k-12 schools are disgruntled former employees intent on harming other adults or other adults with personal issues against another adult (boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses, etc.)
Further: it shall be considered legal for those under the age of 18/21 to be in possession of and to use firearms if accompanied by another person over the age of majority who will take responsibility, legal and financial, for any damage inflicted by the underage shooter. You can go hunting with your dad or your uncle or even your big brother, as long as they are prepared to accept legal responsibility for your actions.
We could also make some additional limitations on the storage of guns and ammo in all households where children may come in contact with same. So, buy all the guns you want, but lock them up and keep the kids away from them. No more Glock under the pillow or shotgun behind the refrigerator. At least, not if there are kids in the house.
Should we expect blowback by the right over these kinds of restrictions? Sure. But the list of rights and privileges restricted by age in this country is pretty long. This is not a significant deviation.
Drinking, smoking tobacco, pot, etc.
Enlisting in the military
Traveling across state lines
Running for Office
And yet, we never hear anyone say, “You can have my right to vote when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.” Imagine if the right placed the same kind of restrictions on gun ownership it places on the ability to vote. The world would be different, for sure. This is not a “pure” ethic on either side of the argument.
What might we expect out of such legislation? Well, of course, uproar from the right, but in truth, the impact on the lives of shooters is likely to be little changed.
Beyond that, in the short term, we will see resistance from the right and a statistically insignificant impact on the gun market. I’m guessing here, but I don’t see the market even able to register the lost proceeds. For one thing, now Dad will make the purchase instead and that’s not bad. For another, the number of sales to minors is likely pretty small already. So the argument is only symbolic and likely of the “slippery slope” variety.
What might be the result?
In the long term, we might just re-institute a healthy respect for responsibility around the ownership and use of firearms. That could edge us away from the direction in which we seem to be headed. Would the requirement to secure your weapons around minors change anything? I don’t know if the impact would be large or small immediately, but if it became an ethic among more gun owners, we would not be hurt by that.
The impact on the statistics surrounding school shootings is where I have my focus. Is this kind of action likely to stop school shootings. No. I fear that there may be nothing we can do to eliminate this senseless action. But I have no doubt that it would make things better. There would be fewer incidents committed by minors if we could effectively separate minors from unsupervised access to firearms.
It might give us a new tool to go after those White Supremacists for their “training” too. If you are concerned it will merely drive it underground, I would argue that is an improvement in our condition as well.
Also note, many states already have enacted this kind of legislation regarding minors ownership of handguns. It is not a completely new idea. Only applying the law to long guns would be new. The impact on gun culture is therefore minimized and it addresses the left’s concern about who needs access to a semi-automatic rifle.
Might it save some lives? Yes. Might it not save all the lives? That is certainly true, too. But, for this new convert, it seems to be a reasonable step designed to put gun laws more in line with the new condition of our culture. If the bad guys are assaulting the walls of my settlement, I want every man, woman and child capable of firing a weapon to answer the emergency call. When it comes to my kids’ and grandkids’ school rooms, I don’t want individuals without fully formed brains and personalities in there with firearms. Let’s look at this as a small, first part of the puzzle.
Except for federal politicians dependent upon the NRA lobby for re-election funds, I can’t think of too many Americans I know who wouldn’t want to do something to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” I’m for that. And I believe all Americans are. Let’s start with these values as core values and build from there.
A couple of Historical notes:
It is transition that is hardest for all of us. I enlisted at 18 and I could drink on base all the while I was in the Marine Corps. When I left active duty, I was still only 20, so when I came home I was no longer of legal drinking age. In the meantime, the Michigan legislature had decided that 18 was the new drinking age. So I was a legal drinker at 21 on September 29, 1971 and my 18 year old sister became a legal drinker on January 1, 1972. Then in 1978, voters overturned it and those who were legally drinking at 18, 19 and 20 were, at the stroke of midnight one night, suddenly illegal. Transition takes time. It is bumpy and people whine, but eventually these kinds of changes become footnotes. Let’s not panic too hard about what might freak someone out in the short run. Is this what we are willing to do to help shape the arc of our culture moving forward? Quite a few will not be willing to make the transition. We will likely hear from them.
I was doing some mindless thing and so I asked Alexa to play Doo Wop. She hit me with the Shirelles. Now, that was great but I had to confront a small streak inside me that had not ever considered them “Doo Wop” and it didn’t take long to discover it was solely because of gender. (This is not a chat about feminism.) I loved every minute of a different song.
Then Alexa played The Drifters and I almost settled back into the ways of my reptile brain. Instead they threw me a huge curve ball with “When My Little Girl is Smiling” I must confess that when this song came out, I was 12 years old and it served as kind of a foundation of expectation. I took a little too long to learn it was an impossible standard when I tried to relate to women. And yet, today, it is the best song to listen to and think about the “girl” as your three year old grand-daughter (before any of you shits get after me for that, shut up). So, I had a magic moment thinking about how much she has me wrapped around her little finger. I must confess it is true. I’ll do an awful lot to see when my little girl is smiling.
Well, this is supposed to be about technology and how easy it is for anyone, but especially people of a certain age, to whine/snark/rant about it. But really, if you are reading this you are living a life of lies. Look what has happened in my life time.
In 1962, Doo Wop was what was happening. To get a copy of the song in the link above, I would have had to get a ride to town (we lived in the country), walk to the Record Store on Main Street, hope it was in stock and fork over a dollar for the 45 rpm record. Now, that’s a 1962 dollar, an actual silver certificate. A 12 year old had to work hard to get a whole dollar. Getting it to you would have been just as hard.
But today, you pushed a couple buttons hours, or days or years after I pushed buttons to write this and instantly my thoughts of February 11, 2018 get sent to you at the speed of light and I have the visual audio portions of that nostalgia to send along to you as well.
How you gonna snark that?
And while I have been writing this, I have had youtube playing Doo Wop in the background. I’m having a tough time concentrating on the language on the screen. It seems I only have eyes for you, dear.