Guns and words. I live by one. People die by the other.
Guns defend and protect, hunt and kill, but not on their own.
“Anyone with a gun can go out and commit an act of terrorism, even without a political affiliation.”
– Aaron McGruder, cartoonist
Words envision and maintain, create and incite, but not by themselves.
“[There are] no bad words. [There are] bad thoughts…bad intentions…and words.”
– George Carlin, from Class Clown, 1972
Guns don’t kill. Words don’t kill. Yet in the hands of those with bad thoughts and the worst of intentions, both can be powerful, sharp and deadly tools. We kill because our laws say we can, and because voices – some in a killer’s head – say we must.
It’s the absolute truth of guaranteed guns. As long as people own firearms, people will get shot; people will die.
But death too, has a voice. “Your brother’s blood calls out to me from the ground,” the Bible says as God confronts Cain after his fratricide (Gen. 4:10). The cry of Abel’s blood rises from the pasture, and from a Safeway parking lot in Arizona, ringing the bell for the funeral, the death of innocence. The mark of Cain here is burned in the palms of any legislators who take money from the gun lobby, and find weakness in being their brother’s keeper.
By advocating for guns, being able to carry them into schools, bars and public meetings, state legislatures around the country are saying that certain people deserve to die, and any schmuck with a gun can decide who that is. Regardless of Jared Loughner’s motivations, he would only have carried out his deadly mission in Tuscon, Saturday, if he felt that the people he allegedly murdered deserved to die. His sanity, then, isn’t judged on his ability to discern right from wrong. Like Scott Roeder, who was convicted last year of murdering abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, it is judged by whether or not we agree that a rational person can believe the people who were killed deserved to die.
The right to carry a gun has become a litmus test for the conservativeness of prospective jurists and campaigning politicians. The National Rifle Association, who claims gun ownership as “a fundamental, individual right guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” fights to keep it that way. To hold otherwise, the NRA advocates, is to give in to the progressive claim that guns enable bad behavior. “If any city,” an Ohio NRA spokesman said recently, “wants to crack down on violence, city leaders there should focus on prosecuting criminals, not enacting new gun laws that only serve to restrict law-abiding citizens.”
So they want to prosecute criminals and arm the citizenry. That makes guns the only manufacturing industry promoted by the US Constitution. Well, maybe not the only one. I guess according to an NRA view, the Constitution supports the earth moving industry as well, because until we start asking how we can change the perception of the Second Amendment, the only question we’ll have to answer is, “How deep should we dig the grave?”