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Sunday Late Night: Carpe Arma

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An objection I have to the current gun control/safety debate in America is that, like too many issues today, it’s being conducted in center-right to far-right territory. Like a health care debate that never really considered truly socialized medicine in the form of universal one-payer care, or our energy policy discussion that never really envisions removing all tax breaks from extractive carbon-intensive industries, or federal auto policy that no longer envisions cleaning up America’s air with an ongoing, very intensive cash-for-clunkers program, I’m frustrated about where the gun debate is happening.

It’s happening where the gun people hang out. Philosophically.

Every time the gun-protectors who are happy with the status quo in America holler, “They’re going to take our guns!” the reasonable people who pass for the moderate American left reply, “There, there now — no one’s talking about taking away anyone’s guns.”

I don’t think the ongoing massacre of Americans with guns deserves that response. I’d like to change that.

I am talking about taking away people’s guns. I would like to talk about taking away, or buy-backing, some guns. I would like that to be a position people are unafraid to talk about. I would like it to be a respected, attended-to view in the current debate.

In a modern, urban society like ours, weapons of war have no place in civilian society. None. There’s no reason for anyone in America to own anti-personnel weapons or ammunition that pierce armor or expend projectiles so quickly they can’t be counted. No reason at all. If you need a gun like that, you’re not planning to live peacefully among your neighbors, long-term. And Americans have the right to well-regulate (it’s in the Second Amendment, look it up!) gun ownership: who, what, where, when and how.

Also, “why?” As in, “what do you need that AR-15 for, numbskull?”

I think it is entirely fair that this view is included in the national conversation we are having.

So, when well-meaning dialogue-happy moderate politicians who say they want to be sure to include everyone in this discussion say to the pro-gun people, “Now, now, no one’s talking about taking away anyone’s guns” I want to be able to say, “Well, yes, some of us are.”

Because I think we should. I don’t want to live in a country where a person can own guns like that gun used in Newtown, or Aurora, or Albuquerque. I believe our country has the right to say, “No, those are not permitted.” We do it with lots of other things that go “boom” and kill people, why not certain weapons of war?

When the Second Amendment says “keep and bear arms,” it does not say “ALL arms.”

Some should be illegal. Not simply illegal to purchase, but illegal to own.

When Dianne Feinstein says her new assault-weapons ban proposal is “only proactive and not retrospective,” like that’s a good thing, I want people to be permitted to reply, “NO, we don’t think ANY assault weapons are okay in our society. Just because a bunch of people went out and bought them in the months before your bill became law is no reason to allow them to keep them. Let’s get them ALL off the streets.”

In addition to staking out an actual real position that I believe many Americans share, we seize-the-guns folks have the advantage of making the moderates who will probably actually make the policy look more middle-of-the road. So help me move that old Overton Window on yet another issue, won’t you please? If you believe there are certain weapons out there that shouldn’t be sold anymore and shouldn’t be in private hands, say so.

Let’s be sure the compromise is crafted with full and complete understanding of the full spectrum of views on this issue. Which I believe includes mine.

Carpe Arma: Seize the guns.

Every time a well-meaning moderate says, “No one’s talking about seizing guns,” join me in replying, “Well, some of us think that’s not such a bad idea when it comes to some guns out there and some magazines.”

Because then the well-meaning moderates can stand in the middle, claim the real center, and say, “Well, there’s people to the right of me and people to the left of me. I guess my position is just right.” We all know Goldilocks is who officialdom most looks up to. Which means we need to be more vocal about actually taking away, or buying back, guns. We need a more robust debate, including and respecting all views.

I don’t think I’m alone. I don’t think we’re alone. I think there’s a sizable percentage of (probably) urban and (possibly) suburban and (perhaps) rural people who would rather there weren’t assault weapons in American civilian hands, regardless of when they were purchased. And illegal should mean illegal, not just illegal to purchase from now on.

I’m going to try to make this view a respectable part of the conversation, and you are welcome to join me.

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