Somewhere between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, I was given a Scout Knife. That was a heavy, bulky multiple use tool that eventually made a hole in one’s pocket. Every boy over a certain age possessed one; it was a marker of a degree of maturity and, though we did not realize it at the time, of responsibility. Yes, they were inevitably in our pockets at school and no, the school didn’t care. Most adult men carried “penknives” in their pockets as well. No single one of us ever considered these to be weapons; they were tools. Everyone knew we had them; none were frightened thereby. Today, it’s different.
Where I grew up, suburban Los Angeles, most of us at 12 or so were given Daisy “Red Ryder” BB guns. They shot small BB’s and would kill sparrows, if one were a good shot. No one sweat those either, but when a small, round hole appeared in someone’s window pane. Those of us interested in hunting and shooting, a substantial minority, went on to a .22 single shot rifle (a real gun) at 15 or 16 and no concerns were raised by those, either, though we were often deprived of custody of our ammunition at first. Everyone assumed we knew what we were doing with a gun or we wouldn’t have been given one. And they were correct. Our knowledge was not acquired from schools or government sponsored classes; it was acquired from our fathers, brothers and friends. And it was indeed, acquired.
One could then, walk through the halls of a high school carrying a rifle without arousing significant interest but for those wishing to inspect the rifle out of their own interest in such things or by administrators inquiring why we had brought it. We know that today, the school would be shut down and summon a SWAT team. The unlucky carrier of the rifle would likely end dead in a hail of police bullets. First graders today are suspended for pointing fingers at others and saying: “Bang!”
My first .22 rifle today would be no more nor less, dangerous. There has been no significant change in .22 ammunition. But there has been a sea change in public attitudes toward firearms. As the cities expanded and rural populations receded, familiarity with firearms dwindled and they morphed from useful tools to fearsome weapons. The implicit respect for human life of a Christian society dwindled as well, encouraged by The Pill and anti-religious programs of various sorts. So today, carrying a gun on he street visibly might elicit being shot to death by a nervous cop instead of the heretofore mutually interested discussion of the model’s merits and demerits of years past. Time passes; things change.
One thing though, has not changed: the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Founders have written that they put it there because an unarmed population is unable to fend off an inevitably aggressive government. And they warned us as well, that keeping our Constitution would be a perpetual struggle, as it has proved to be.
What is obvious for those regarding these changes honestly, is that the misuse of firearms has risen out of a shift in values and beliefs, not out of the existence of firearms. Guns remain tools; none rises in the morning and goes out seeking whom it may slay. People may do that, not lumps of metal.
We have changed our beliefs and thereby, the actions we expect and accept. Today’s beliefs provide our behavior or perhaps it should be said that today’s lack of belief provides it. It is not changes in the lumps of metal that make mass killing persistent; it is changes in society.
We will not alter the behavior we deplore by outlawing gun ownership and leaving the owners themselves, unchanged. The killing of 29 and wounding of 109 at a train station required no guns at all. We will though, assure that government will be encouraged to behave in the manner foreseen by the Founders; a manner unaltered over aeons but briefly so far, by the U.S. Constitution and the armed American populace.
The statists will never be persuaded as their goals forbid it. It is the citizens’s beliefs and thereby, the citizens’ behavior, that is amenable here. And those citizens will choose for themselves to stand as members of an armed populace — or to fall to their knees as a population of subjects of government. So far, the results after 238 years are not encouraging; what has been called: “America” appears to be reverting to the historical norm.The Minutemen we should recall, were standing against their own government….