Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Guns, radios and Nazis

Yesterday I finished reading All the Light We Cannot See, a novel by Anthony Doerr.  I really enjoyed it, although it did take me awhile to become invested in the story.

I spent some time researching radio confiscation by the Nazis during World War II as a result of this book.  I also spent some time researching Sonderkommandos, which have nothing to do with the novel and everything to do with the film Son of Saul, which I watched a couple weekends ago.  I seem to be a little heavy into Holocaust themes at the moment.

It is pretty typical of me to end up Googling things as a result of my reading or viewing.  I'm often curious as to whether what I've read or viewed is accurate.  Did the Nazis really confiscate people's radios?  Yes, they apparently did.  Did the Sonderkommandos really have to do some of the things they did as suggested in the film?  Yes, they apparently did.

In light of these artistic pieces by Doerr and Laszlo Nemes, the Orlando shooting, Congress' inability to pass any kind of gun control measure and now the sit-in on the House floor,  I have been thinking a lot about the freedom to own radios and guns.

All the Light We Cannot See got me thinking that a government bent on controlling its citizens (or its captives) will take any and all measures to do so.  Something I consider innocuous, a radio, is profoundly dangerous and treacherous to a power-hungry government.  As much as I believe a person should have a radio to gain as much information/knowledge as possible, I also believe an individual should have (if they choose) a gun to protect themselves from whatever they fear, even if I believe that the likelihood (at this time) of the government usurping a whole rash of our personal freedoms is unlikely.

Time changes, though, and there could conceivably come a time when I am happy that I have the right to protect myself from government tyranny.  Of course, I suspect the truth is that an organized government/dictatorship will always have more military firepower than the common man.  That doesn't mean the common man can't subvert the government, but it is unlikely to be because he has a small arsenal in his living room.

Gun control is a complex issue because it is inherently both an individual rights issue and public safety issue and it is very, very difficult to find a way to not infringe on individual rights while also keeping general public health and safety in consideration.  Someone's rights are going to be infringed upon in the effort to make life safer for the vast majority of people.  I think that is just the way it works.

I didn't read any of the legislation Congress rejected (both Dems and Repubs rejected each other's bills so it's not like anyone was taking the high road and coming to any kind of partisan agreement).  Most regular people do not take the time to read bills in their entirety.  As someone suggested to me yesterday, that I hadn't ever considered, it is possible that both bills had a bunch of add-ons that had nothing to do with guns.  How often are there little things in legislation that get it tossed out that the citizens never know about because we don't have the time or take the time to read the legislation.  Of course, as this person suggested, many legislators don't read the legislation.

(And to add to this idea of poorly written legislation, I found this article suggesting that the Second Amendment isn't the grand piece of constitutional clarity some people say it is.)

As a person who likes the idea of some gun control restrictions, like a ban on assault weapons and mega round cartridges, I also have a problem with some restrictions, like those on people labeled as "mentally ill."  Does that mean the person takes medication?  Sees a psychiatrist?  What kind of mental illness are we talking about?  How mentally ill is mentally ill enough to not be able to purchase a gun?  I don't even want to own a gun, but I sure would be ticked if my right to own a gun was denied because some legislator decided I am unfit to own a gun because I'm on Lexapro.

Once again, I feel like I'm sitting somewhere in the middle ground, waiting for someone who is not a politician to join me.  

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