As a liberal, not a bleeding heart liberal, but a person who believes that government has a role to play in protecting the rights of everyone, citizen or not, I am extremely frustrated. I am frustrated for several reasons:
First, not all liberals are rabid and I am tired to being accused of being that way, even by people I know. We don’t all believe that only our way is right and that everyone else must be actively trying to harm other people. We don’t all believe that everything that comes out of the mouths of conservatives is a lie and meant to harm the minority. We are not all so rabid in our beliefs that we forget to see that we might be acting in the same way we accuse the other side of acting. Some of us, in fact I would bet most of us, are quite moderate in our beliefs, but when our viewpoint is continually dismissed by our conservative friends as an attempt to take away their rights, it is hard to move past that because clearly they are not listening. In addition, to my rabidly liberal friends, you are doing the same thing, your unwillingness to listen and insistence that the other side must some how be evil is a reflection of the fact that you are behaving in the same exact way.
Second, I grew up in a gun family, but I have never shot anything but a pellet gun because I was simply not interested in hunting. As a liberal, I have no desire to take away anyone’s rifles or pistols; but I do think that we need to sensible regulations for guns. Every time a person wants to buy a gun, they should have to go through a background check, whether it is at a gun shop or a gun show or in the Walmart parking lot. No one should need a gun so quickly that they can’t wait 3 days. No one needs an automatic rifle of any kind, or any gadgets that will make a standard rifle into an automatic rifle. A one shot pistol or rifle will protect you and your home just fine. That’s it, that’s all I want for regulations, background checks and no actual or pretend military grade weapons in the hands of my neighbors.
The argument that I have been hearing against this is that these regulations are a slippery slope to getting rid of the 2nd amendment. That idea stems to what I talked about earlier, not listening. I have never once heard any person in my 37 years say they want to get rid of the 2nd amendment, not 1, so I would assume that the majority of the nation is not thinking that, including my rabidly liberal friends.
I have heard the argument, from people I know, that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. To them I say, you are correct! These regulations are not about stopping people from killing other people with guns, we can’t stop that, they are about limiting the types of guns people can get to kill other people with the hope that they will not be able to kill as many people in one incident. I am not naive enough to think that banning certain types of weapons or requiring background checks to own a gun is going to stop gun violence, but it can’t hurt and it isn’t going to hurt anyone’s right to own a gun for protection, hunting, or just because you like to collect them.
Third, I am tired of hearing the argument that the issue is not guns, it is mental health. Well, perhaps if mentally ill people could only get their hands on guns that fire one round at a time not so many people would die. Also, perhaps if this country actually treated mental illness as an illness, just like the flu or cancer, then we could also stop some of these events from happening, but we don’t, we treat mental illness services like cut rate hacks in dark allies. When I had to go to a therapist I was only approved for 20 visits in a calendar year and my copay was twice what I pay to see my regular doctor.
Instead of arguing that we need to only make changes to gun regulations or mental illness laws because “clearly only one of them leads to mass shootings”, DO BOTH!
Do both and stop assuming the other side is evil. Liberals need to stop assuming that conservatives don’t care about people and conservatives need to stop assuming that everything is going to take away their rights.
For all of the strict constructionists out there, there is nothing in the Constitution that says we can’t regulate people’s rights for the good of all because your right to do something ends when it starts to infringe upon my rights. Here is a perfect place to start thinking about that statement, we all have a first amendment right to free speech, well choosing to not stand for the national anthem is protected under the first amendment, so stop worrying about whether someone is doing that and ask them why instead because then you will be able to have a real conversation about an actual issue in our country.