Debating guns: History's dunces
Seldom has any public policy debate engendered more ignorance and/or purposeful misrepresentation than the one on guns. And usually it centers on terminology.
Think “assault weapons,” used as a catchall epithet to condemn anything but a single-shot weapon. Think “high-capacity ammunition,” something that doesn't exist. Think “gun show loophole,” which smears gun shows in general and grossly overstates the number of private transactions conducted there.
But the debate took on an even more startlingly ignorant tenor last week when, on MSNBC, Tom Brokaw outright dismissed the very basis of the Second Amendment — that it was designed as a deterrence to tyrannical government. Mr. Brokaw dubbed that “pretty outlandish,” adding that it's “the most far-reaching thing you can imagine.”
Perhaps for Brokaw but certainly not for the Framers.
“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself,” said George Washington. “They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence.”
“To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them,” said George Mason, who co-authored the Second Amendment.
And as 19th-century Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story put it: “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered the palladium, the safeguard, of liberties of a Republic since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary powers of rulers.”
That Tom Brokaw and like-minded dunces of history can't imagine such a thing and find such thinking “outlandish” is an American tragedy.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.