I read with interest this discussion of gun control over at Life as a Reader.
I was interested not so much in the arguments made -- they're well-articulated but not particularly new -- but in the assumptions that underlie the arguments. They're the same assumptions that I see in every American discussion of gun control.
In one sense, it's not surprising that these assumptions are made; without them, we couldn't have the kind of discussions we have. On the other hand, it does surprise me that no one seems to notice (or at least mention) something what's being assumed. No one seems to notice that there's an elephant in the room.
But here's the elephant in the room that no one seems to notice: None of those things are normal. They're not normal, they're sick. Crazy sick.
Our calm, rational, intelligent discussions of private gun ownership never question the basic sanity of our society. We simply assume it.
What we Americans have forgotten -- if we ever knew it -- is that crime and violence and fear are not the natural state of human beings. They're not inevitable. All the wastage of human lives, all the harm to victims and potential victims (and to criminals), do not have to happen. People can live in peace with one another. This is not merely an ideal. It is normal, and any other state of human existence is abnormal.
By failing to stop violence and by leaving individuals to fend for themselves against it, our society is failing to promote the general welfare; it is failing to secure the blessings of liberty for its members. A society that tolerates this, that treats crime and violence as an undesirable but normal part of life, is terribly sick. And a society that refuses to recognize its own sickness, that won't do everything it takes to stop the violence -- including proactive strategies like properly funding schools as well as reactive strategies like locking people up or executing them -- will never heal its own insanity.
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