World could end before we see gun control
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In 4 billion years, our sun will be in the final stages of an expansion that will herald its transformation into a red giant.
Mercury and Venus will have already been vaporized along with the oceans of our world, leaving only a glassy, molten sphere awaiting its final incineration by an unstoppable wave of fire.
Even as the world burns, certain inviolable truths will remain. If there is even one American left scavenging among the ashes, he can face his death with equanimity as long as his constitutional right to bear arms has not been abridged by the prospect of cosmic extinction.
If being an American means anything, it means fealty to the Second Amendment. The right to bear arms trumps every other law and moral principle, including "Love thy neighbor," "Thou shalt not kill" and any statute -- no matter how reasonable -- limiting access to guns.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is typical of the kind of politician who couldn't get elected without National Rifle Association support. Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Mr. Johnson on Sunday to explain why ordinary Americans need access to AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and ammo clips, especially given the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., days before.
"The left always uses the term 'assault rifle,' and they're really talking about semi-automatic weapons that are used in hunting," Mr. Johnson said with a straight face. "That's what happens in Wisconsin. These are rifles that are used in hunting. Just the fact of the matter is this is really not an issue of guns. This is about sick people doing things you simply can't prevent. It's really an issue of freedom."
Capitulating to the gun lobby is the natural order of things even after yet another massacre in America. Assuming a supine position before the NRA is what is expected of the craven politicians of both parties.
"Does something that would limit magazines that can carry 100 rounds, would that infringe on the constitutional right [to bear arms]?" Mr. Wallace asked.
"I believe so," Mr. Johnson said, proving that his masters see no acceptable limitations on gun rights. It is a position that ultimately makes a mockery of gun rights as envisioned by the nation's founders.
What was a pragmatic check against 18th-century tyranny has become irrational absolutism in the 21st century. Citizens who have no intention of ever joining a "well-regulated militia" stock up on automatic weapons and ammunition, but they're not interested in hunting.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court interprets a document, born in the revolutionary fervor of the Enlightenment, in ways that undermine our society's long-term interests. The right to own as many guns as one's fear and paranoia dictate has expanded under this conservative Supreme Court the way our sun will expand in 4 billion years.
Those who oppose even reasonable gun control insist that there are no statistics proving a correlation between high rates of gun ownership and homicide in America. The lack of major studies on this topic in years is beside the point. No one talks about the correlation between gun ownership and the high rate of suicide by gun, either. We've resigned ourselves to living in a culture where it is easier to buy a gun in some states than it is to vote.
A year ago, a man killed 77 people in Norway using a fertilizer bomb, a handgun and an assault rifle. Because Norway doesn't have a gun lobby, it hasn't abandoned common sense in responding to internal domestic threats. Gun control continues to be seen as a civic good. There are no calls by Norwegian politicians to arm the citizenry or encourage them to engage in shootouts with gun-wielding maniacs.
The Norwegians continue to strictly regulate gun ownership, but their society isn't any less safe or less free as a result. There hasn't been another mass shooting in Norway since last year and there isn't likely to be one anytime soon. Contrast that with the many mass shootings and gun violence we've seen in urban America in the last year.
There are major differences between our two societies, of course. Americans are God-fearing gun-toters who tolerate a high murder rate as the price of freedom. Norwegians are agnostic and suspicious of guns unless used for hunting or sport. Like most socialists, they consider any talk of freedom nonsensical if it doesn't involve enviable schools, health care and crime rates.
Ah, but it doesn't matter, anyway. In the end, the same exploding sun will get us both.
First Published July 24, 2012 12:00 am