Friday, June 27, 2008

Guntime For DC

So, in a few short weeks, Washington, DC will get to experience the thrill of well regulated militias. I'm sort of unsurprised at the result of the SCOTUS ruling, and, since it came from about eighteen hundred miles away, my passion for the topic has long since vitiated. Tom and Amanda have cogent things to say about it, they link to other people who have cogent things to say about it. As far as the effects of this ruling on DC goes, I'm officially subscribing to the "everybody's got a deeply felt hunch"/"probably a wash in the end"/"everyone's bound to get worked up over the first suicide/accident/school shooting/Bernie Goetz moment (but that's what people do with their lives, mainly - get exercised over trivia).

From a personal standpoint, I have shot rifles and shotguns in controlled, recreational settings and enjoyed it greatly. Loved learning the how-tos, the techniques. Felt the satisfaction of nailing targets that vaguely look like Frank Stallone (these are the best things to shoot at) in the head and center mass. Also: realized that if you wanted to lay hands on a device that could just about kill a motherfucker dead in a second, a gun is the device for you. Sure, you can improvise with just about anything, but the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I'd very much enjoy having the same sort of recreational experience with a handgun. It's fun and it's humbling, and there's nothing wrong with coming face to face with these sorts of experiences.

What I wouldn't enjoy is owning one. I am of the mind that bringing a gun into your home is more likely to head in the entropic direction. Shit, I worry about how bringing a spatula into my house could lead to my demise. When the ancient sages have told you that your last words on this earth are destined to be, "Whoops!" you worry about shit like that.

As a matter of policy, I've been long of the mind that top-down Federally mandated gun control measures will never function properly. As a person who's interested in a less right-wing state of affairs, I also recognize that this is the key issue that's prevented the Democrats from winning huge constituencies in the West - people who are otherwise very amenable to the Democratic platform. I think that the right is plagued by histrionicists of the worst sort - those who invoke the need to keep weapons in the face of an oppressive government, who really need to be told that if they want to pull the trigger on their revolution to get on with it already - I mean, their phones are being tapped, right? What are they waiting for? I also think that the left is still plagued by the worst sort of demonizers: people that would ordinarily and correctly oppose the practice of racial profiling has no problem suggesting that gun owners are dangerous, deranged hicks that need to be put under some sort of watch.

Also, seeing as how I support the broadest possible interpretation of the First Amendment, I can hardly fault anyone who wants to do the same for the Second.

Anyway, I think that the histrionics have dominated this debate for far too long, and have obscured sensible policy on regulation and safety. That this matter in DC is, for the moment anyway, a matter of settled law is truly only going to bring down the curtain on one of the shows that the Gun Debate Clownshow features in its repertory. I think it's possible to reduce public safety risk, create sensible regulation, eradicate scofflaw retailers, and even get certain types of weapons and ammo restricted (surely we can admit, right now, that no member of the public has any need to own, say, a Cornershot Panzerfaust, right?).

Of course, we should also consider the unique situation in which the District of Columbia DC finds itself. As the social policy petri dish for the maddest of political scientists, DC bears a greater burden, under a heavier yoke, than the rest of the country. Adrian Fenty is not in the same position as every other mayor in the country - his attempts to manage, mitigate, and lessen the ill effects of this decision can be countermanded by the Federal government, who enjoy swirling their dicks in the city to see what can be stirred up because ultimately, they know they can skip away without facing much in the way of accountability. Citizens of the District of Columbia have long had very few options when it comes to standing up to the Feds.

Though the guns, I suspect, could go a long way to correcting these inequities.

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