The Second Amendment of the Constitution establishes “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state”, and that the right of its citizen-soldiers — known as “the people” — to keep and bear their arms, “shall not be infringed”. The latest national gun violence episode occurring earlier today at the Millington Naval Air base in Tennessee underscores that these highly revered rights demand responsibilities to match.
As reported by NBC News:
“Tennessee National Guard workers managed to take down a shooting suspect and hold him until police arrived Thursday after an argument at the Millington armory led to gunfire, authorities said. According to a U.S. military official, three men got into an altercation at the National Guard Armory in Millington shortly before 1 p.m. local time and one pulled a small handgun. One guardsman was shot in the foot and the other in the leg.”
This took place on the base, and at the National Guard armory, no less — probably not where they keep the handgun used by the shooting suspect.
Whether this was a matter of losing one’s temper in a crime of passion, the surfacing of poorly treated mental illness, or some motive no one could guess, is pending investigation. In a week marred by yet another school shooting and a small child shooting himself to death, this is an ironic cap to the tragedies — a shooting that was instigated by someone sanctioned through the Second Amendment to bear arms. When entrusting “the good guys” to be the responsible gun owners, be assured there are no guarantees. The good guys who served alongside the suspect have serious wounds to prove it.
Once again, this will probably yield no changes in how we confront the gun culture in this country. This is particularly thorny because it involved a member of the military, someone our culture is conditioned to admire reflexively, and not Bubba at the local road house dive. Regardless of the suspect’s occupation or life’s station, the inconvenient truth behind this shooting does not exempt seeking a solution for reducing gun violence, nor does it justify knee-jerk fears of gun control.
There is, as always, the underlying fact that our culture too often condones, and actively encourages violence as an acceptable means of resolving conflict. Add to this that guns are worshiped symbols of genuine American individualism and the mythological frontier spirit, manifesting freedom, safety, and courage. While the latter may very well be true for sincere and self-styled responsible gun users, it inevitably leads to trouble when colluding with the former, where common sense and self-control are discarded. Maybe it is time to declare that guns don’t solve problems, people do.
If we do not challenge these deeply embedded assumptions, and we let the deep-pocketed NRA dictate the terms of the debate, we will continue to let them make a mockery of the Second Amendment, since even the very militia it sanctions cannot escape our cultural ills.