Enough is Enough

Columbine. Blacksburg. Newtown. Parkland.

The list, incomplete as it is, likely will go on.

We shouldn’t  accept that.

How have we gotten here? How do otherwise well-meaning people get so riled up that they feel compelled to defend their rights, even as people just like them are burying their children?

I don’t question their belief. But their sense of appropriate commentary at this time seems, to be polite, almost entirely lacking.

And while I won’t question that they deeply hold their beliefs, I feel compelled to address some of them,  based solely on the comments I have read across the web and social media.

Stated simply, the facts do not support those beliefs.

Some of my friends who defend gun ownership note that responsible gun owners comply with existing regulations. The say, repeatedly, that criminals, or illegal aliens, or the mentally ill, or any member of any group that can be identified as different from their responsible cohort, will get guns anyway, as if this removes any need to place any restrictions on gun sales.

My friends, you can’t shoot someone dead if you can’t get your hands on a gun.

Some of my friends who defend gun ownership cite the Second Amendment and maintain they are taking a principled stand in favor of strict construction of the Constitution. They say the Second Amendment flatly states that their right to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed.

This is so. Yet it is not absolutely so. A strict reading is not inconsistent with regulation. And, strictly speaking, there is no mention at all of ammunition, which could conceivably be regulated with impunity.

My friends, the right to swing my fist (or have unfettered access to guns) ends where the other man’s nose (or threat to his life) begins.

Some of my friends who defend gun ownership maintain it is a personal safety issue, that they are protecting themselves and their families from violent crime. That they believe this to be true is inarguable. Yet it hardly is. Violent crime is more likely to be encountered by  poor, urban African-American males and rural whites than among solid middle class citizens of the suburbs.

My friends, the world is scary enough without inventing fears, divorced from reality, that require guns for protection.

My beliefs are far more libertarian than those held by most people so I do not easily argue the need to regulate guns. For decades now we have experimented with expanding gun ownership, asserting that more guns will bring more security, and removing sensible restrictions and limits on who may buy what type of weapon.

My friends, we owe it to ourselves, our children and the children of our friends and neighbors, to admit that experiment has failed and try something different.

Otherwise, the list will continue to grow.



Nobody Wants to Hear Him

Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It
Richard V. Reeves

You would think, by now, that I’d have learned my lesson . Should I really be surprised when, upon close reading, an author turns out to be engaged in the great game of careerism?

Last July, in writing about a David Brooks column, I mentioned the book pictured nearby, promising to get to Continue reading

Alabama Getaway

Like many another Irishman my spectator sport of choice is politics. So I could not let the results of yesterday’s special election for US Senator in Alabama go unremarked upon.

I’m reasonably certain the usual media channels will undertake what passes for analysis. So I’m going to actually confine Continue reading

They’ll be Calling You a Radical

The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics
Mark Lilla

My empathic capacity, evidently, is bigger than I thought because in addition to philosophers and historians I’m beginning to feel sorry for liberals.

I’d be less than honest, though, if I didn’t admit thoroughly enjoying this brief, well-reasoned skewering of current leftish pieties. Although it never quite reaches the level of Stalinist/Trotskyite rancor, Lilla’s book is Continue reading

Do You Find This Happens All the Time?

Roy Moore and the Persistence of Regional Folkways

Every once in a while all the weirdness converges at once.  When it does I reach for my social science toolkit. After all, outrage, too, is a social construct.

This week, the Republican candidate in a special election for US Senator from the state of Alabama, ran into a firestorm. Three women, on the record, attested to dating Judge Roy S. Moore when they were in their late teens. A fourth offered a Continue reading

American History and Practical Math

The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions
Andrew Hacker

Let’s be honest: math can be terrifying. I’m not an engineer because I couldn’t wrap my head around integral calculus.

But I  know some things about myself. One is that when it comes to math–the kind they care about on standardized Continue reading

Know Your Place in our Republic

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis
and How To Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance
Ben Sasse

Some days,  the notion of an open mind seems a relic of an earlier time.  Our cultural moment demands certainty and opposing viewpoints just muddy the waters.

What if it’s not a cultural moment, though?

As I read this book I often found myself wondering if educated people– the sort who read books like this– Continue reading