There is an old story told about Orson Welles. It seems Welles encountered a beautiful woman in a bar. He approached her and introduced himself. The woman was flattered, for he was famous, rich, handsome and charming. After a brief conversation, Welles asked, “Would you go back to my rooms and spend the night with me if I paid you a million dollars?”
The woman, who was not a professional sex worker, was taken aback. However, Welles pressed on, assuring her he was very serious. After some hesitation she agreed and started to get up from their table intending to follow him to his rooms.
With a raised hand, Welles stopped her and said, “Wonderful, now will you sleep with me for one hundred dollars?’
Indignant, the woman told him, “Certainly not, what do you take me for, a prostitute?”
Welles replied, “We have established your profession, now we are merely discussing the salary.”
The current status of the debate in America about gun control reminds me of this story. We are always told that no assault weapon ever killed anybody. The guy shooting the weapon is the killer, not the gun. Of course, this statement is true. It is also totally irrelevant. A rock never killed anybody, at least not on purpose, either. Still, it is undeniable that a crazed, criminally insane person could kill with a rock. It is also true he would not kill so effectively were he armed with only a rock instead of an assault weapon.
While there is no law on the books here in South Carolina that makes it unlawful for me to possess a nuclear suitcase bomb, at least none my cursory research could find, I assume it is unlawful for me to possess such a weapon. I certainly hope there is such a law even though a suitcase bomb is an “arm” and, by application of the arguments of the NRA, is protected from regulation by the second amendment.
I doubt even the NRA would argue for my right to keep and bear a suitcase bomb. So, assuming the NRA would not make such an argument, we are, like Welles negotiating the value of his companion’s virtue, talking about degrees of freedom when we are discussing the right to keep and bear arms.
Though I can think of no sane reason to allow private citizens to own and use assault weapons, there may be one or more such reasons. I am willing to listen to these reasons.
Likewise, I can think of no sane reason why any private individual would want a suitcase bomb. However, perhaps there is such a reason. Perhaps, there is a particularly nasty infestation of fire ants that can be dealt with no other way. Likewise, in the case of assault weapons, maybe the deer and antelope in east Texas have organized and are striking back in coordinated attacks and semi-automatic weapons are required to knock out the deer’s command structure. I don’t claim to know everything.
However, even in such cases where a sane reason exists to possess such weapons, there should still be a very high standard by which to judge each individual’s application for one and strict licensing requirements of all those seeking such a weapon.
The Founders did indeed include the second amendment due to the belief a citizen had the right to protect his person and property, not simply shoot the occasional deer or turkey. Likewise, the Founders were keenly aware that weapons were useful when confronting tyranny. That said the Founders knew nothing of the repeating rifle, much less semi-automatic and automatic weapons or, for that matter, about nuclear suitcase bombs.
I think, had the Founders had to live with the everyday terror to which we have become numbed, they would have decided the tyranny afflicting us comes not from the government but from the gun lobby and the gun nuts who are its fellow travelers.