Tuesday, April 09, 2013

It's the viscera, stupid.

Remington 750 semiautomatic hunting rifle. Remington's marketing material promises "super-fast cycling.... Rapid follow-ups are its specialty, but famed Remington one-shot accuracy comes standard."

I have First Amendment rights to speak freely.  Except if I do, I might well lose my job.  If I put a bumper sticker on my car supporting a political candidate or an issue of public concern, my boss might retaliate and I'd end up fired.  Sure, I could sue, but would that get me my job back?  And when?  Safer if I keep my mouth shut, or discuss the politics that is acceptable in my workplace.

Same with freedom to assemble:  sure, I have it, and I can use it to protest.  If I have time after work and personal chores, errands, etc.  And if I'm even paying attention.

Freedom of religion?  Yeah, I can go to church or not, as I choose.  Wudaboutit?

Freedom from unlawful search and seizure?  That's never happened to me or to anyone I know.  Besides, I got nuthin' to hide.  Same with the freedom not to incriminate myself by my own testimony.  I ain't no criminal.

The "freedom" of the 2nd amendment pretty much boils down to this:  it's the only one you can "activate" by maintaining possession of something.  Maybe I see the gun as a fetish object.  Maybe I think people are nuts who claim there are boats in the Port of Houston full of ammunition which the Federal government won't let unload, in order to control or even raise the price of ammunition (I've actually heard this conspiracy theory).  Maybe I don't understand the passion to own a gun, because I don't share it and don't want to; especially where 4 year olds might be present.

But when I think about it in terms of "Constitutional rights," it suddenly becomes clear to me this is the one right that can remain inviolate:  that has nothing to do with what church you do or don't attend; that has nothing to do with what your boss or your friends think about politics; that has nothing to do with assembly and petition and protest that you don't have time for or aren't even interested in.  And it has nothing to do with keeping the criminal investigative arm of the government on a short leash where your privacy is concerned.  It's much, much simpler than any of those.

It's about an object, and your simple, native, unalienable right to possess it.  There isn't much you can possess without challenge:  cars and homes take loans and maintenance and constant supplies of fuel or water to make them useful.  Clothes wear out.  Guns last. You buy it, it's yours.  They can become family treasures.  They abide.

I don't have to sue my boss to keep my guns.  I don't have to go anywhere once a week to keep my guns.  I don't have to assemble, vote, or worry about the police unlawfully searching my home, to keep my guns.  Well, unless they're going to decide to take my guns, by limiting my "right."

But the Constitution says nobody can take 'em away from you.  That's all I know, and that's all I need to know.

Whether it actually says that or not is beside the point.  It's the one point where the Constitution meets the daily life of Joe Sixpack, of Joe Ordinary, of Joe Average Workin' Guy.

And that's why it's so important; not why it should be, but simply why it is.

Still not enough reason to kowtow to the gun nuts, of course.  But I think I see where the lines are drawn; at least between me and the guys who believe in black helicopters and government conspiracies to deny them access to ammunition.

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