Spirited national debate over gun control — or anything else — honors American tradition
I’ve seen it expressed on Facebook and elsewhere in the past few days that we shouldn’t be arguing about gun control in the wake of last week’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Some people say it’s just too soon. The victims haven’t even been buried. Let’s not play politics with this issue while we’re all still in shock. We heard the same thing after the Columbine massacre. I say it’s never too soon to talk about trying to save people from gun violence. Besides, no new laws are going to be enacted next week or even next month, if ever. But the time to start the conversation is now.
Some people say there’s no point in arguing about gun control because the Second Amendment forbids any restrictive regulation of firearms. But that’s nonsense, as I noted in posts HERE and HERE in the past few days. The Supreme Court has made amply clear that regulation of guns is not unconstitutional in all cases.
These efforts to stifle debate over gun control are, in one important sense, downright un-American. They break faith with the Founding Fathers, who fought among one another tooth-and-nail in their messy effort to establish this republic. After all, the Constitution wasn’t drafted by an assemblage of men in locked arms singing “Kumbaya” and agreeing on every word in the document. In reality, the ink wasn’t even dry before they began debating over what it meant.
We’re Americans. We’re supposed to argue among one another, and no subject is off-limits. We’re supposed to emulate Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and the rest of the leaders of their generation, some of whom hated each other and sometimes disagreed even on the ultimate purpose of the revolution they had wrought.
Those who don’t like dissonant voices are free to maintain their own silence. Meanwhile, the rest of us, on all sides on the gun-control issue, will pursue the time-honored American tradition of debate.