Tuesday, June 14, 2016
The Drowning Death Spiral of Modern Political Debates
There's nothing like a tragic loss of life for people to tout their political beliefs. And it's so much easier in this social media age. As I've noted many times before though, there's a lot less discourse now and a lot more shouting and yelling.
The weekend tragedy in Orlando is a sad and depressing example of this showboating. In the midst of evil and intolerance, sides have geared up to discuss the merits of gun control again. Yet I don't really hear a coherent debate. What I hear are two sides screaming about two narratives that don't mesh together at all. Picture two children arguing. One wants a video game and the other one wants to eat. The focus is in two different arenas, food and fun.
On one side of the gun debate are people who are strong advocates of constitutional jurisprudence. Passing increased measures to limit a law abiding citizen access to weapons, they believe, will not solve the problem of evil that exists when a bad person obtains one of these weapons. Armed self protection is the best defense against evil, according to them.
On the other side of the debate are those who are justifiably exhausted to see useless lives wasted and want to only see certain types of weapons limited, certain ammo clips, or even ammunition itself restricted. They call for bans on what they call assault weapons including semi automatic rifles. Many do not feel a full ban on every gun is warranted, just the ones that do a lot of damage in a small space in a short period of time.
So what sounds like on the surface a logical debate actually isn't. Both sides are arguing two different points. The anti gun division is not addressing the point made by the pro group division and the pro group division is not properly addressing the concerns of the anti gun division.
Because of this misunderstanding on the proper points for argument, there is no resolution. We either ban these types of weapons or we just arm everybody, but neither reality is going to happen, at least not in any foreseeable future. The abortion argument in the US is similar but that's a completely different animal that I dare not tackle today.
So what would be the proper response to both sides. Here are my humble, novice thoughts:
To the pro gun lobby, the weapons being threatened are standard rifles. You cannot ban a rifle because it's scary looking. The AR 15 is a single shot semi automatic rifle. That means you have to pull a trigger for each shot. Automatic rifles are already banned. One cannot go to the local gun shop and buy by definition an assault weapon in most countries at a gun store.
So banning this weapon means that one would have to ban a wide array of weapons that are used for hunting home defense or are just collector items for thousands of rustic rural Americans. We're talking everything from militaria to squirrel rifles. It would spell the beginning of the end of constitutionally protected rights to bear arms, per their fears.
The anti gun lobby just wants to see an end to mass shootings. It would be preferable for the only guns to exist be the ones that can only fire a round or two before reloading. Carrying or the ability to buy semi automatic rifles should just cease to exist. There is no need to carry large clips, there is no threat from our government. It would just be good common sense if anyone wants self protection, to buy a common non semi automatic handgun.
While this sounds like a valid argument on each side, both arguments belong in two separate debates. And unless someone has a firm grasp on what both sides believe, there will never be a logical agreement. The anti gun lobby does not answer to the concern that they don't know what exactly they are trying to ban while the pro gun lobby really isn't expressing the concern for loss of life at the hands of these tools.
Where can we find the resolution? Understanding how guns work may help the anti gun lobby and understanding the need to limit the ease of purchasing those guns should be the focus of the debate. What laws are in place now? How would future laws prevent future occurrences? What's the best deterrent to someone bent to preform evil? Where are the statistics of gun bans working? Is there less violence or more violence in states that have stricter gun restrictions in place? These points are not truly being discussed and those that think they are merely kid themselves. I know I don't have all of those answers.
It seems that rational debate based on full knowledge of both sides of a coin have been replaced by political grandstanding. It is an election year and I guess I should expect as much.
Where have all the rational voices resolved on finding a solution gone? In the meantime, nothing will get resolved and we will continue to slide into a dark age that I fear we may already be well engaged. An age of either rampant violence and ignorance or fascism where dissenting opinions are squashed in favor of the more popular slant.
Or perhaps an unworkable mixture of both. Scary.