Easy Answers to Big Problems
The recent murders in Santa Barbara, California, have brought out the usual suspects of the anti-Second Amendment crowd. Following their usual playbook, calling for more gun control, blaming the National Rifle Association (NRA) and ignoring the mental health aspect of this issue, they force the defenders of the Second Amendment to enter the fray. Once joined, the media battle fuels the hysteria that moves us away from the objective view. Why do we allow ourselves to get sucked into this media trap of us vs them at the very moment when we should be comforting those experiencing a horrific loss?” The answer is because it is easy.
It is easy to say that if there were less access to guns in this country, tragedies like Santa Barbara or Newtown would never happen. However, the underlying theme of all these tragedies is the mental health of these young men. We already have laws in the land that prevents its citizenry with mental health diagnoses from owning firearms. There were indications that these men were clearly mentally ill and some of these men were in some kind of treatment but it was clearly not enough. The problem is that to make changes that would really help would be hard.
You would have to get a consensus of mental health professional to agree to some kind of screening criteria; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) would probable object to the stigmatizing of the persons seeking mental health care; the physicians would say that this would be too intrusive. So the answer is to do the easy thing, ban the guns.
Fortunately, recent Supreme Court rulings have affirmed the individual right to bear arms which were themselves responses to the continual erosion of the Second Amendment right of citizens in various localities. These local laws essentially disarmed the one segment of the populace our Constitution expressly forbids disarming: law-abiding citizens. Those wishing to do harm rarely purchase their necessary tools from gun stores. I can list studies on by John Lott and others citing lower crime rates coinciding with increased gun ownership but my point is that we need not fall prey to our “betters” forcing us to be seen doing something.
Being seeing as doing something is the stock in trade of politicians and their acolyte media. For being seen doing things, politicians win elections while the media gets ratings and awards for advocacy. What we usually get are bad laws or worse policies that increase the burdens of compliance on the innocents with little or no change to the original problem. A big example of this would be President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” and its subsequent incarnations. Nevertheless, I’d like to focus on a smaller example of this: mandatory transparent book bags at a local middle school.
Why should a middle school student give up the privacy of her lovely backpack for an enhanced version of a shopping bag with shoulder straps? The reason given is safety, but the price of compliance falls on the decent kids without evil intents. The school already has the right to search any student’s bag upon reasonable suspicion. So in order to maintain a safe environment, the administration should target disruptive students and leave the good ones alone. This approach will have its detractors from the local to the federal level. Just recently, Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have issued the first-ever national guidelines for discipline in public schools, contending that present discipline disproportionately affects minorities.
So what should we do to break this cycle? Conservatives should not stop advocating conservative principles, social or otherwise. In addition, whenever tragedies happen we do need to state our objections to policies we oppose but we also should make the case for pro conservative values. As an example Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber”, ventured to respond to the father of one of the victims of the recent Santa Barbara tragedy. I agree with Joe for speaking out because the other side never wastes an opportunity to promote their agenda.
So let us not be cowed into capitulating to those who would wish us to shut up and exit the arena of ideas. Instead, let us continually promote our ideas and defend those we held dear. Those are the ones that has made and kept our nation great.