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God and guns: Blurring kingdoms in the firearms debate

By William Shifflett

An October breeze surrounded the crowd of tourists around Virginia Beach’s Dairy Queen. Suddenly a loud pop rang out, narrowing the unconcerned eyes. The bang eerily resembled a gunshot. Youths, employing a time-honored prank, filled a paper bag with air, then popped it. Though the source was harmless, the reverberation complicates efforts at defending the Second Amendment.

Despite Barak Obama’s notorious comment about clinging to God and guns, the charismatic 39th president accomplished little regarding firearms. Now, a new, more persuasive voice is addressing Americans. An utterance reaching where previous leaders dared not tread. With little hope of soon vanishing from our national identity, speaking in a horrific, heartbreaking tone, is the specter of mass shootings.

Even that description stirs debate. The FBI has no official number, though assaults needn’t be lethal for the designation “mass shooting.” The Gun Violence Archive suggests four victims qualify. The greater question: Who’s to blame. Gun accessibility? Violent movies and video games? Mental illness? Bullying? The digital age’s isolationism? Nuclear family breakdown?

The cause may prove elusive, American fatigue over the casualties isn’t. Little wonder with the Gun Violence Archive reporting 417 mass shootings in 2019. Incorrect stats? Perhaps. Yet how does one counter public opinion without sounding callously indifferent? Some polls suggest 58% of gun right champion Republicans, and two-thirds of Democrats, feel something must be done. But what?

Proposals include amending or repealing the Second Amendment. But requiring a two-thirds Congressional majority and 38-state ratification, the lengthy procedure won’t stop the next shooting. Legislation the criminal mind will ignore, (do lawless people obey laws), and thus wouldn’t stop the flow of illegal weapons.

Yet despite reasonable objections, ongoing incidents make modification of the Second seem inevitable. And what harm would amending do, proponents ask, if it reduced the bloodshed? After all, the Framers couldn’t foresee the destructiveness of modern weapons. Sensible questions? Yes, when offered by impartial bystanders. But after years of liberal effort, conservatives see only smokescreens and hypocrisy.  [Read More]

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