March 5, 2018
Like the king in the fable, the U.S. gun culture is wearing no clothes
To the editor:
There is an old fable about a king who was interested in knowing which of his courtiers were loyal to him and which could not be trusted. He was very paranoid about the loyalty question. In time, a con man who had heard about the king’s obsession appeared at the king’s court. He told the king that he had a miracle cloth which could only be seen by people who were loyal to the ruler. The king ordered the con man to make him a wardrobe out of this miraculous fabric.
When the con man appeared back in court with his imaginary cloth, he helped the king put on the non-existent clothing (the king was, in fact, naked). Then the king appeared before his court, where everyone knew that, to be considered loyal, you had to assert that the king’s new wardrobe was magnificent, which every obsequious courtier proceeded to do. They knew that to admit that the king wasn’t wearing anything would lead to charges of treason against them.
This charade went on for several days, when the king decided to make a procession through his kingdom in his new clothes to see if there were any traitors among his subjects. He was parading down the street of his capital city and everyone was bowing and acknowledging how beautiful the king’s new clothes were. Finally, the king’s procession passed a poor peasant family whose 5-year-old boy exclaimed, “The King has no clothes!” Of course, the charade of the con man was instantly exposed, and the sycophants who had claimed to see the king’s magnificent new clothes were ejected from court.
Sometimes it takes the simplest of minds to make the obvious conclusion. The gun culture in the United States has no clothes. Those who claim that they are merely upholding the Second Amendment to the Constitution are hanging their arguments on a charade. The Second Amendment was written because the citizens of the new country distrusted a standing army. With no standing army, every man was to respond when called up to bear arms and defend the country. And the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the amendment protects an individual’s right to purchase and keep weapons is one of the worst decisions in modern times. The decision, and those who support it, completely ignores the first clause of the Second Amendment, about “a well regulated militia being necessary to the common defense.” We have a well regulated militia; it is the National Guard. If everyone who wants to possess a gun will join the National Guard and submit to its authority, I’ll defend their right to go get their gun out of the National Guard armory and use it. This isn’t the first or only bad Supreme Court decision; Dred Scott comes to mind. Eventually, I feel confident that common sense will prevail and this decision will be reversed.
I say “eventually” because it will probably take a couple of generations to turn our gun-loving culture around on this issue. Before you say that this has never happened before, I would draw your attention to how the public today views smoking. Two generations ago smoking was viewed as cultured and smart by the public. Over the last 40 years, however, that view has slowly but surely changed. Now smoking, while many still engage in it, is not culturally acceptable and is prohibited in many venues — for example, airplanes, most public buildings, movies and hospitals. I mention this example to demonstrate that a deeply ingrained cultural obsession can be changed over time. I expect that the gun culture can similarly be changed.
The advocates of the gun culture point out how, in many locales, gun ownership is admired and encouraged from generation to generation, from father to son. The change in public acceptance of private gun ownership can happen as well. Just a few years ago chicken fighting was legal and was practiced widely in certain areas my state. Society decided that chicken fighting was wrong and cruel and should be outlawed. There were many “squawks” from supporters of chicken fighting arguing that it was deeply ingrained in their culture. But the Oklahoma legislature, in a fit of wisdom, banned the practice. Once society decides, upon careful reflection, that an activity is inappropriate, laws can and will change.
The gun advocates’ arguments have no clothes. One only has to notice that, after every atrocity where privately owned guns are used to massacre innocent individuals, the only argument that the gun advocates have is that, if there were only more guns available, such tragedies wouldn’t happen. In other words, if everyone had and carried a gun, we would all be safer. The belief that the answer to gun violence is more guns is logically, ethically and morally bankrupt. It doesn’t take much thought to notice that this argument “has no clothes.” Let’s get busy and change this embarrassing and violent culture. We are better than this.
David Hopper and Patricia Rigney