Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Why Gun Owners Should Extend Grace to the "Parkland Kids"

In America's ever-boiling debate about citizens' access to guns, it is easy to be cynical.  It is easy to be skeptical.  Once educated about firearm technologies, crime statistics, and juris prudence of firearms litigation, it is also easy to be dismissive of ideas that are impossible - that seem nonsensical when first evaluated. As students from Parkland, Florida continue to get access to media outlets, they are indeed trumpeting some of these kinds of ideas.  Their proposals have been published in several outlets, including the Guardian.  They are well written, give them a try.

Now, this is the part of the article where readers are expecting me to say, "These kids have it right!  We should ban semiautomatic weapons that are 'the same as .'  'US Privacy Laws should be amended.' and questions about why is it that we can buy a firearm at age 18? Change it!'"  

Brief answer to the last question is "Because at age 18, 50% of the student population is required to march down to the local recruiter's office and declare that they are mentally and physically fit and able to take up a weapon, up to and including tanks, missiles, machine guns, attack helicopters, howitzers, bombs, and small nuclear weapons, but also as small as an M4 rifle, on which the AR-15 is modeled - but not identical, as their patriotic duty - enforceable by federal prison time." 

But what I have to say here is not the predictable, dopey, "Well garsh you guys, I love these kids and I think we should melt down our guns!  Here's my video of grinding my AR-15 barrel off!"

Nor is it to use the childrens' (and they are children) heartfelt but innocent and relatively uninformed positions on precise firearm policies as a political weapon against tthem - because they commited the sin of being politically aggressive and active and participating in civic life in a way that most of the last two generations of Americans have simply declined to do.    Generation Meh (X) included.  The garbage quotes I have heard from gun rights leaders, particularly in the Baby Boomer generation, have been shameful.   "Maybe they should learn CPR!"  "Damn snowflakes, go back inside!"   I admit, I get caught up in it too.  I saw a picture of a sign that said something to the effect of, "Peanut Butter is not allowed at my school - why are guns?"  Oh my gosh, they aren't!  They aren't!  Who told you they are?! I digress.

What I propose is perhaps divisive.  Let the kids be.  I know, I know.  Soros is going to get to them and Bloomberg and Everytown etc etc etc.   I don't think you give these young men and women the credit they deserve.   First, they're not dumb.  Second, we know that young adults tend to be liberal. All over the world!  Their hearts are full.  They feel and believe fully.  They love and hate fully - damn the consequences.  We also know that across human cultures, men and women alike tend to become more conservative as they age.  They become more savvy and more cynical.  It's equal parts brilliant and sad.  More importantly,  it just is.

I would propose that a certain number of these student protestors will in fact become active political conservatives as they grow older.  They will come to defend conservative standpoints because they started learning about the nuances of policy at a young age.   They will learn that "banning things doesn't work in the United States for some reason."   They will learn that just because something seems expedient, does not mean that it is Constitutional.  They will learn that their good intentions and actions have unintended consequences that hurt others, which was never their intent.

But also, please think bigger.  These are regular kids (down to the foolhardy use of the f-word  in every sentence, which I admit, I do not like at all).  Their families worry.  Their siblings worry.   There is personal benefit and personal cost to putting themselves on TV and the internet every day.  Why attack them so feverishly, as if they are imps sent from the deep crevices of earth to rob us of our constitutionally mandated freedoms?   They are not.  They are kids.  Yes, they are being primed with information from special interest groups and the Powers that Be.  Is that a new problem?  Is having a youth movement co-opted by a powerful entity with vested interests a new thing?  It's not.  And like generations before them, these students will eventually figure out *if* and *how* they were manipulated or used.  I'd bet that most of them will figure it out.

So in short, leave the kids alone.  Celebrate their protest.  Celebrate their education on how protests and boycotts do (or often don't) inform government policy.  Celebrate that these students are likely to be powerful public figures, attorneys, judges, county council members, and other Cogs in the Wheel 10 or 20 years from now.   And they will not all have Everytown tattoos over their hearts.  I for one, look forward to an era where creative solutions that balance safety and freedom will pop up irrespective of political parties.   Some of those solutions will be total failures.  Others will succeed at creating that balance.  I know that's impossible with today's DNC and RNC, and our nation is the worse for it.  Leave the kids alone.  Perhaps they'll "move humanity back into the center of the ring," as Joe Strummer once said.   Give them a little time.