Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Reasonable reforms to gun laws won't disrupt right to bear arms

Program head for Oshkosh radio station wrongly foresees grim future if freedoms get "whittled" away by common sense proposals

On Monday, June 13, Jonathan Krause, the News and Program Director for WOSH Radio in Oshkosh, published a portrayal of the direction he believes our nation is heading toward following the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida over the weekend.

“Someday several decades -- maybe even a couple of centuries -- after all of us are dead and gone,” he began, “historians will look back at the United States and marvel at the personal freedoms and individual rights that it once granted to its citizens. And then they will look at how those rights and freedoms were whittled away over time.”

He added:
Take for instance the Fourth Amendment right to freedom from search without a warrant. That was freely given up after 19-religious zealots hijacked four aircraft and crashed them into buildings. Or the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and practice of religion. Those were abdicated to prevent a select few from having their feelings hurt or to be able to buy wedding cakes from any bakery in the country. And then there was the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. That was eventually stripped away because of the actions of criminals, the mentally ill and more religious zealots.
This is a simplistic way to imagine how things will be decades into the future, and it’s a cynical response to what needs to be done in the wake of this most recent tragedy.

Let me first say that yes, every freedom and liberty we take for granted today indeed deserve protections. Any changes to those freedoms -- including the freedom to own and carry a weapon -- requires a scrutinizing eye before moving ahead, before determining that a freedom will remain intact and won’t ultimately be destroyed by the changes being proposed.

The gun debate requires meaningful
dialogue and consideration of options
And I do agree with Krause on the Fourth Amendment aspect of his diatribe. We unnecessarily gave up too much of our right to privacy in the wake of 9/11, a point that former Sen. Russ Feingold made as the sole senator to vote against the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act in 2001.

But Krause’s characterizations that the First Amendment right to free speech and religious protections may one day become “abdicated to prevent a select few from having their feelings hurt or to be able to buy wedding cakes from any bakery in the country” is downright wrong. Discrimination in the marketplace prevents people from being able to pursue their own ends, and creates a Jim Crow de facto society wherein the right to discriminate becomes commonplace.

Religious freedom can be used to discriminate on any basis, really, without actually adhering to religious doctrine -- most establishments that discriminate on sexual orientation, for example, likely don’t have a similar code for straight couples that engaged in premarital sex.

As a brief aside, the Bible says to treat others who you consider “enemies” with kindness, a verse (among many others) that so-called “pro-religious/pro-discrimination” advocates typically overlook:
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great...
Discrimination isn’t religious freedom; it’s religious persecution. Those who bake the cakes, to continue Krause’s analogy, are not told they must refrain from their beliefs in their private lives. But if they provide a financial service in the public marketplace, they can and SHOULD be mandated to provide that service equally and without discrimination against individuals on the basis of their identities (sexual orientation, race, other religious beliefs, etc).

Similarly, Krause’s opinions on the Second Amendment are equally inept, and frightfully offered just days after nearly 50 individuals lost their lives to a madman with an assault rifle. Krause states that the right to bear arms will be “stripped away because of the actions of criminals, the mentally ill and more religious zealots.”

I disagree with Krause on the right to bear arms being stripped away by common sense solutions. It is not an infringement on Second Amendment rights to regulate which weapons can be sold, and how they can be sold. The word “regulated” appears in the amendment itself, and it never states that ownership of all weapons is a protected right. To believe so is a dangerous notion -- should I be allowed to own a nuclear weapon?

I also believe that there is an inherent right to self-preservation. Purchasing a gun to defend your home and family is a right you deserve to hold onto, and any regulations that prevent that right would be an overreach, one that Krause and others would be right in concerning themselves over.

But it’s time to be reasonable with regard to necessary changes to the law. People who are on terrorist watch-lists are currently free to purchase destructive instruments to rein death on an unsuspecting populace. Let that sink in for a moment, because it’s an important point that needs reflection.

We allow people whom we deem too dangerous to buy plane tickets to buy weapons that are capable of producing instant death for dozens of people. We allow people to purchase weapons without a background check of any kind through gun shows, a point that terrorists are all-too-happy to point out and exploit.

Maybe it’s time we close these loopholes, or make it more difficult to purchase weapons, or make buying certain weapons more difficult, or ban certain instruments outright. It’s a debate that needs to be discussed.

But scoffing off the debate, as Krause and others do, as freedoms becoming “whittled away” is not a solution to the problem of gun violence. In fact, it’s ignoring the problem altogether. And that to me is unethical as well as immoral.

1 comment:

  1. It reminds me of when the gov't first created traffic laws and then required registration and licensing and insurance and finally took away our cars.