An Amendment or Two

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I’m likely to piss off some friends with this one. But enough is enough. 

Many (not all) gun advocates do not understand the need to restrict certain weapons. They see it as an infringement on their second amendment rights; that to prohibit American citizens from buying and responsibly owning any weapon they choose—whether assault rifle, grenade launcher, or something, you know, dangerous—is to deny them the rights set down in the constitution, even if some lost souls abuse that right and commit atrocities such as in Las Vegas.

And Orlando.

And Columbine.

And Sandy Hook.

And Tucson

And Aurora

And Oak Leaf, Wisconsin

And the Washington Navy Yard

And Fort Hood

And Charleston

And Chattanooga

And…

Do I describe that correctly, gun advocates? Does that sweeping little generalization pretty much sum up the primary defense of gun ownership?

I don’t mind the belief system as much as I do the repulsive hypocrisy.

To simplify: Americans are free to practice their rights as guided by the constitution, even if an over-abuse of those rights deeply and tragically infringe upon the rights of others, including their right to life?

Okay, my turn.

You see, the amendment just before your borderline violence-inducing one is the First Amendment; the free speech one. The one that allows you to shout down gun-control advocates, the one that allows you to display clever little bumper stickers that say, “Insured by Smith and Weston” or “Stop honking; I’m reloading.” That simple amendment that the founders found to be so essential to the progress of democracy they made it number one. Yeah, that one. The one that says if we are not happy with the way the country is going we can protest, so long as it is peaceful, organized, and does not infringe upon anyone else’s rights.

I heard way too many gun advocates shooting off their mouths about NFL players taking their knee during the National Anthem to protest how the government is treating them. Too many second-amendmentizers seemed more concerned that people were not standing during the National Anthem than they were why those people were not standing. It seems these people would be pissed at their children for getting blood all over their new shirt before they found out what caused the bleeding.  Did it even cross anyone’s mind to stop and ask what the problem is? To find out if something can be done for those men to rise again and have a reason to be grateful to be born in this country.

Why didn’t it cross the minds of those naysayers to pay attention to these men on their knees in protest of the government’s inability to create a society in which all men and women are treated as equal? When you see football players on their knees during the National Anthem, instead of instantly deciding they are being disrespectful to the country and flag, or are not patriots because they didn’t fight for the country, remember that they have a different fight; their battlefield is the prejudice in the workplace, the hatred on the city streets, the racial profiling on the highways, the assumption of guilt. Their battlefield is just about everywhere they go, and they must fight daily. These people do not whine, they do not turn tail and run away, they do not attempt to stir violence or shoot up a concert or a school or a platform with a congresswoman. They take a knee so that exactly what happened happens—that people talk about it, complain about it, draw attention to it, because they are saying, despite the uphill climb since before this country began, that things can be better and they want to be a part of making it so. They insist on standing in front of the line of fire from self-declared protectors of the flag so that the rest of their race and oppressed people have a fighting chance. Many of them fought in various wars only to come home to a country that wanted nothing to do with them; many were abandoned by the V.A. And many simply are tired of being ridiculed for speaking their mind while the same ones who ridicule them are defending the rights of others to own the guns which shoot up the streets.

How dare anyone question the patriotism of anyone else simply because they don’t wear a uniform or don’t stand and cheer to Lee Greenwood. Patriotism has included from the earliest days of this nation the right to protest, to sit down at counters, to refuse to relinquish a seat, to march down Fifth Avenue in silence, to march on Washington in song, to write small little pamphlets inciting people not to violence but to action, not to rebellion but to conversation.

Nowhere nowhere, not one place in the constitution does any line indicate that anyone should sit down and shut up. And that includes taking a knee to stand for something that those with blind faith refuse to accept. Democracy was designed to change with the times by allowing protest and conversation. Yes, it also allows the possession of firearms. But in both amendments, restrictions have always applied. You can’t yell fire in a theater. You can’t commit acts of libel or slander.

And you cannot you cannot you cannot advocate the ownership of arms which are designed for the sole purpose of mass destruction.

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