And right now. No, now is not the time to wait for a while and mourn. Now is also the time to get mad.
You’d have to be living in a cave at the moment not to know that yesterday, a gunman entered a K-4 elementary school in Connecticut and murdered 20 children aged 5-10, and six adults. Then himself. And prior to that, his mother, at home. So counting him, 28 people. As far as we know.
11 days before Christmas.
The weapons he used were two semi-automatic handguns: a Sig Sauer, and a Glock 9mm. He left the Bushmaster .223 M4 rifle in the car. Not enough hands, I guess.
If the assault weapons ban in the U.S. had still been in place, his mother (to whom the guns were registered) would not have been able to purchase them. At least not from a federal or state licensed dealer. Gun shows, transactions between individuals, doesn’t count. They were classified as assault weapons because they are capable of firing up to 32 rounds using an extended clip. But it requires a trigger pull each time it fires, as opposed to fully automatic, which only requires one trigger pull and keeps firing until you let go.
The meager gun laws we do have in the U.S. already do say that you can’t buy a gun if you’re an ex-felon, or if you’re mentally ill. The latter prohibition is big enough to drive a truck through.
I’ve read of gun dealers who refused to sell a gun to someone who acted strange, even when the buyer’s background check was “clean”. We need more people like that.
Which brings me to the National Rifle Association (NRA). Whom I hate. But first: I’ve owned handguns. I know many, many people who own weapons of various kinds, and who are members of the NRA. The NRA does a very good job–and they may be the only organization that does–at teaching about gun safety, even to kids. They conduct classes and training, for children and adults. But somewhere along the line, the NRA has gone off the rails. Now they are a major lobbying organization, and they have adopted a “slippery slope” philosophy: ANY gun control is a step toward banning guns for everyone. So they vigorously fight any response to even the most heinous gun crimes.
But control is not a ban.
You would think they would understand this, but logic is not involved here.
One of the arguments put forth regarding the ban of assault weapons is that as long as criminals and crazy people can still get them, you, as a law-abiding citizen, must be free to buy evermore increasing firepower to match what the criminals have. What about the concept of preventing criminals from having that firepower? Then you wouldn’t need it yourself. You could (eventually) de-escalate. It will take time. Because the criminals can still buy those weapons at gun shows and from each other.
The assault weapons ban in the U.S. expired in 2004. It’s time to bring it back. But improve on it. It was wimpy in the first place.
Gay Marriage…or Not
Last week was a milestone (or not) in the issue. For the umpty-gajillionth time, a judge–or in this case, a panel of three judges of the 9th District Court of Appeals–has said that banning gay marriage is discriminatory, at least in California, thus killing the passage of Proposition 8. Prop 8, aka the “Protection of Marriage Act” defines marriage as existing only between a man and a woman. And that always works out so well.
Prop 8 passed by 52% to 48%, which is in itself confusing. It’s like a double negative. In other words, 52% of voters were for the ban.
But what was interesting to me was that I saw a story about it on CBS News this week. They interviewed one of the supporters of the ban (See? There we go again.) He said, “We aren’t trying to deny gay people any rights. We just don’t want them to call it marriage”. Or something to that effect. And I just wanted to scream, like I have for years, What do you care? Do you hear yourself? You are drawing a line in the sand over a WORD. ONE word.
Ah, but hold on there for a minute. Then they interviewed an opponent (you know, someone who was against the For people.) She’s a gay woman who got married during the short window of time when it was legal. She said, in essence, that marriage is important because it has such emotional significance. And I wanted to say, Do you hear yourself? You are…well, never mind. Re-read the end of the previous paragraph.
But that, of course, is the answer: it has emotional significance on both sides.
I don’t know enough about the provisions in states where “civil unions” but not “marriage” is permitted to know whether or not you really do have all the same rights as if you’re married. Somehow I doubt it, but if it’s really true, we are back to that ONE WORD.
In the end, marriage is really a legal contract, which if you boil it down to its essence is about property and inheritance. It’s also good for (theoretically) determining which offspring are yours, if you’re a man, and for breeding a) farm workers and b) soldiers who have to be on your side. We imbue it with emotional significance, particularly in the West.
Here are two examples: a history of the British monarchy. Osama bin Laden. None of them got married for “love”. That’s a new thing, relatively speaking.
The origins of marriage are a hot topic in anthropology. But humans and societies have changed. I’d say the majority of people today who marry do so for “love”, even if they are driven in some cases by motivations they don’t fully understand, and which may be biological in nature.
Today, the next step in California’s legal battle is an appeal to the Supreme Court. Which both sides were itching for anyway, no matter who won or lost. And it’s about time. It’s time for the Supreme Court to step up to the plate…although they may not. They’ve refused to hear similar cases in the past.
I hope they do, so we can start on the beginning of the end of arguing over one word.
Posted in Current Events, Government, Homosexualtiy, Language, Lifestyle, Politics, Religion, Social Commentary
Tagged California, marriage, Proposition 8