“Another school shooting. It has become like clockwork.”
That’s the first line I wrote for this column, almost three weeks ago… but every time I was ready to send it in to the editor, there was another shooting, and I delayed this topic in order to talk about the new one, too. And there have been so many new ones, so close upon one another, I finally realized that if I wait until I am caught up with the number of mass shootings, I’ll never actually get this piece written. And, apparently, we came very close to one at the Cookeville Walmart last week.
It is easy to become desensitized to it. Shootings at the grocery store, at a church, at a military base, at a club, at a concert. But I will never be desensitized to the shooting of little children. Hence the tone of this article.
I am a gun owner. I like guns. I have trained with guns (though it’s been a while). As a U.S. citizen, I have the right to have handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles in my home to protect my property from varmints and my home from aggressive invaders. While the wording of the Second Amendment is frustratingly vague, the Supreme Court has interpreted it to be a protection of what I just described. That has not always been the case - some “wild west” towns banned firearms in the city limits.
But “the right to bear arms” has never meant “all arms that exist.” It has, can, and should be regulated. I mean, hand grenades and rocket launchers are arms. Some people might think it would look cool to walk around with live grenades or rocket launchers, but you can’t, because it’s a public health risk. The same principles apply to military-style semi-automatic weapons - their only practical use is KILLING LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE QUICKLY. It is the same reason AUTOMATIC weapons were banned decades ago (and remain banned): gangsters in the 1930s were killing each other, and bystanders, by the carload. And even Al Capone didn’t target little children (unless they got in the way).
This is just common sense, and most Americans agree with me. But gun manufacturers don’t agree with me because they want to sell lots of guns, to make lots of profit. Know who else will not publicly agree with me? The Republican politicians the gun industry owns. Politicians are afraid they will lose power, or their jobs, and the gun industry is afraid of losing money. And to heck with our children.
Someone else who doesn’t agree with me: a minority of citizens whom those gun-industry-owned politicians have stirred into a paranoid frenzy by saying that the mean liberals are coming to take ALL your guns, and that your home is in danger of being invaded by caravans of immigrants. Side note: gun sales always go way up when such paranoia gets a fresh stir.
I’ve had friends reason that the Second Amendment exists so citizens can overthrow tyranny, therefore private citizens need to have the same weapons the army does, in order to fight against them. Some of those folks supported the January 6th insurrection because they didn’t like how the vote went. Counting all the votes is not tyranny; creating laws designed to prevent people you don’t like from voting because you wouldn’t like the outcome, THAT’S tyranny. My point is that some people think the Second Amendment trumps all the OTHER amendments or want to ignore them completely. Heck, they even ignore the last part of the Second, where it talks about a “well regulated” militia. Politicians want to keep the votes of their base and, therefore, bend over backward for the gun industry who keep the base agitated and donate to those politicians.
But know where you can’t legally carry a gun? Government buildings. Especially capitol buildings where the politicians are.
--Troy D. Smith, a White County native, is a novelist and a history professor at Tennessee Tech. His words do not necessarily represent TTU.
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