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 Online Community Lesson 

 

Guns or Roses

Baby boomers might remember photographs out of the Sixties in which demonstrators placed flowers in the barrels of guns held by soldiers or policemen.

I, like most readers, have viewed from afar the battle over the right to bear, and the responsibility of bearing, arms.

It is abhorrent to civilization that there be a proliferation of lethal weapons.  The bitter pill which we might have to swallow—the fact to which we might have to admit—is that we are not as civilized as we imagine.  But does this necessitate a gun culture?

Those who want guns controlled have enough trust in the rule of law that they do not see government becoming tyrannical or their neighbors becoming criminal, such that the public need not have guns to protect itself from government and neighbors.  Those who want unfettered possession of guns mistrust government and neighbors.  Who is right?

Each side will cite statistics.  Statistics are somewhat useful, but cannot be decisive, because, if we accept the assertion of the essay “How Little We Know”, we cannot have all the facts and, therefore, cannot make decisions with certainty.  If we look to this week’s essay, “From History to Hysteria”, we cannot rely on interpretations of history to incontrovertibly support or sully one position or the other.   (One does not have to go far for proof.  Just listen to liberals in the role of strict constructionists and conservatives in the role of judicial activists when interpreting the U.S. constitution’s second amendment.)

Now, let us mix in the position advocated by the essay “Walks outside the Box”, namely, that we think outside the box to come up with sustainable solutions.  What might such a solution be as that would relate to the ownership of guns?

Perhaps two societies co-existing, governed not by Federal or state statutes, but, rather, by local ordinances.  In other words, a homogenous community would be formed where everyone held the same or similar views on guns.  This means that everyone in Montebello would agree that a resident would have the right to bear a concealed gun, while everyone in Monterey Park would agree that no resident would have the right to any gun.  Expectations about what to do and what not to do would be consistent within the homogenous community.  Outsiders would have to be alert to differences when they crossed city limits.

Of course, things would not be this simple, as the law of unintended consequences would rear its testa brutta (ugly head) unless there were extensive thinking outside the box.  For example, if Monterey Park became a “gun free” community, would not criminals find the city to be prey for the picking and gravitate there?

A different solution was explored in “Walks outside the Box, Part 2”, April. 26, 2007, namely, portable, nonlethal tools for self-defense.  This would be consistent with the American proclivity for inventions.  But the law of unintended consequences would ask, “How would the invention be misused?”, as misuse, too, is part of American culture.

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to lessonanswers@mymontebello.com with “Lesson answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization. 

1. In coming down in favor or against the right to bear arms, we

(a) must realize that our knowledge would be insufficient to knowledgeably decide.

(b) must accept the opposing view of others as appropriate for those others, because we could not fully understand their situation. 

2.  We can solve this conundrum if we

(a) think outside the box.

(b) acquiesce to the reality that no solution will be perfect, but that the more thought we give to a solution, the fewer unintended consequences we are likely to have. 

June 7, 2007

 

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