Guns or Roses
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
and conservatives in the role of
when interpreting the U.S. constitution’s
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
solutions. What might such a solution be as that would relate to the
ownership of guns?
societies co-existing, governed not by Federal or state statutes, but,
rather, by local ordinances. In other words, a
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.
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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