Saturday, August 27, 2011
The right of an American citizen to own a gun
In a Letters to the Editor the point was conceded that the mentally ill should not be allowed access to weapons. It seems the issue is already on the application. I don’t think it is a breach of confidentiality that I once put my signature on one. This particular client was so honest that he or she actually marked having been in counseling. In retrospect I realize now that even if the person had been Jesus H. Christ the professional insurance folks would have cancelled my policy immediately. I was now just at the point of mathematically determining how many other mental health professionals in their life times had been asked – and signed – such an application. Unfortunately, my wife called me to supper just then.
What is not an issue is the right of a person to a hunting license and a gun appropriate to that. Every industrialized – “advanced” - country permits that. The discussion begins only after this reality. Come with me and stand in front of a Swiss sporting good’s window and I’ll show you what envy is.
It seems clear a line of argument that has not advanced a solution is that every American today has a right to rapid fire weaponry. Our forefathers had both fought a revolution and knew there was a need for a well organized militia. Once it was obvious the states-centered Articles of Confederation had failed, what is now the original Constitution was put together. Washington was elected president, a need for greater tax revenues was evident, and a tax on whiskey distillation was instituted. It brought on The Whiskey Rebellion, but the foresight of the Founding Father prevailed – with the help of a well organized militia.
I am beginning to suspect how the parents communicate to a child age 3-5 largely foreshadows what that person assumes about the Constitution at age 50. For instance, what the child soaks up about the absoluteness of the Bible comes to reflect in his or her view of the Constitution and what this supposedly implies about gun rights.
What would be fascinating would be to run brain scans on individuals as gun rights are argued. The need for greater gun control probably shows up in the forebrain, the need for unrestricted possession of weapons in the deeper recesses of the brain. One way to move the discussion forward would be to self identify the sensations erupting in these debates: rage, fear, parental needs, rebelliousness. The list is longer, isn’t it?
How to self identify your sensations? A quick one is how you felt when you heard that the bullets used in the recent massacre at a Norwegian youth camp were from American sources. If your first thought is “but,” you’re in more trouble than you realized…
One quandary should be eliminated. That is when it was “him or me.” I have been close to that situation but very lucky, lots of others haven’t been. I don’t know what any of us can do except to rise to the occasion of being human, one to another, with all the possibilities arising from empathy. That could bring with it a mutual sense of healing.
There is one thing to say with certainty about carrying a gun once you have grasped post-traumatic consequences. You can come out physically alive after a loud unforgettable event and yet deadened. If you come out more ethically alive than numbed: God at work.