• Posted: May 05, 2013 10:25:46
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This weekend's NRA convention has yielded some peculiar assertions. For instance, attendee T.J. Scott was quoted by NPR's Wade Gooodwyn as saying: "My belief is that the Second Amendment was put in not to hunt, not to go plink at cans, not to shoot at targets. If and when tyranny tries to take over our country, we can fight it."
What makes that assertion peculiar is the underlying assumption that belief is truth. Generally, people associate religion with belief and speech with opinion. However these days, with so many feeling freedom of passion, there is a tendency to confuse the two. And hardly anywhere is the nature of truth being considered.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does in fact state that Congress shall make no law prohibiting free exercise of religion or abridging freedom of speech. One might generally conclude from those words that Americans may speak their opinions freely and behave according to their religious beliefs without obstruction. But things are not quite that simple. There are checks and balances set up within the Constitution and within the Common Law that supports it. In other words, one cannot say just anything without being held responsible under law for both its validity and appropriateness. The same goes for behavior, religiously inspired or not. Calling one's self an American is not license to say, do, and believe anything at all, but license to act freely as long as responsibly toward one's fellow citizens.
But, what is "responsibly toward one's fellow citizens"? It is two things. It is respecting that all your fellow citizens have rights and freedoms equal to you. And, it is commitment to the processes of self-government enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, that laws enacted by majority vote and legitimized by judicial decision are in fact the laws by which we all agree to behave, least our citizenship be revoked along with all its accompanying rights.
Now, if one voluntarily accepts citizenship and, therefore, responsibility toward one's fellow citizens, as well as toward the laws which they enact, can one then legitimately turn round to suggest that the will of one's fellow citizens is "tyranny"? Perhaps one can. But it is not legitimate to claim a right to own a gun implies license to partake in sedition should one suddenly feel the will of the majority is tyranny. Yet, apparently NRA attendee T.J. Scott thinks it does.
By contrast, the three young adults in the image above are on their way to work in one of America's most populous cities. They are demonstrably in acceptance of their American citizenship responsibilities, thinking, believing, listening to, dreaming of, creating, and working toward a world in which they'd want to live, all within limitations that democratic processes which they willingly participate in have established. None of them feels any need to own a gun to fend off tyranny by their fellow citizens. Though, should they be confronted by wild-eyed gun-wielding discontents who have rejected responsible citizenship, rationalizing they have a right to take things into their own hands with leverage of deadly force, they might.
May real Americans continue to explain and demonstrate to all of us that engaging in the processes of democracy is far more effective at realizing a world we'd all like to live in than dropping out of democratic processes and unholstering one's gun.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
45.7 mm 216 mm