Veronica Roberts

“We ask for too much salvation by legislation. All we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information to opt out en masse”-Joel Salatin

I stumbled upon the above quote and I must say it has made me pause while also providing much food for thought. So are we asking for too much salvation by legislation? Do we think our society will improve immensely if our government simply enforces numerous laws and regulations, or are we over-simplifying our problems?

The current contentious debate swirling around our many guns rages on, with warring factions sparring over our Second Amendment rights to our many guns; the mass shootings and murders, suicides and accidental deaths by way of our many guns; those who say enough is enough, we need to do something about our many guns; and those who say the government will have to pry their many guns from their cold dead fingers, because that’s the only way they are going to give up their many guns.

Since the shocking mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the topic of guns has been trending. America seems to have been jolted awake this time, and a large portion of the population think new gun laws are the answer to the escalating violence. But there is also a huge section who says their guns are the only defense against a tyrannical government and that the Founding Fathers intended the people to have that option. (I think those with that argument are forgetting our government spent billions if not trillions of dollars on defense and that the level of weaponry available make their high-powered rifles look like child’s play). But I digress, forgive me.

Since the Sandy Hook school shooting, the Obama administration appears to be donning the necessary armor for a gun control fight and Vice President Joe Biden is the foot soldier appointed to take on the powerful NRA, gun lobbyists and the many angry constituents who say they are not relinquishing their arms. Judging by gun enthusiast/radio host Alex Jones’ rabid rant at host Piers Morgan on CNN, they are in for a fight. .

Incidentally, Jones was bolstering the other side’s argument for fewer guns in the hands of out-of-control, volcanic tempered zealots and better mental health care. His behavior checked off both on that list, and he boasted to Morgan that he owned more than 40 guns! I know that deep irony was woefully lost on him though.

Putting all the high-octane rhetoric on pause for a minute, are we reacting to emotions rather than reason? We are a nation of laws and we seem to want more and more as we strive for a better society, as we seek a safer environment for our children to grow old in, and that is understandable. But in our quest for a society as close to a utopia as humanely possible, are we trying to legislate morality, kindness, sanity goodness and evil, and if so, can we?

Liberals tend to react emotionally and conservatives clinically. I think the answer lies somewhat in the middle of those two lines. What is supposed to separate the human animal from the rest is logic, reason, and sound judgment coated with a healthy dose of human emotion—the ability to empathize and sympathize. Our reaction to 20 children being killed in one swift murderous rampage is supposed to be horror and outrage. We instinctively want someone to pay for this hideous crime and in the absence of that, see how it can be prevented from happening again.

But sometimes overwhelming emotions can cloud the issue, preventing us from seeing while we’re reacting viscerally. Will tighter gun laws prevent these kinds of tragedies from taking place? No one can answer with a definitive yes, for I suspect the problem is bigger than just the guns. Moreover, enacting more restrictions on purchasing guns without addressing mass manufacturing of these rapid fire semi-automatic killing machines is kind of like fighting only half the battle.

Additionally, we cannot forget other scenarios that may be as essential to this gun nightmare, like mental health, America’s love affair with violent themes in movies, sports, video games and music; our progressive desensitization with violence; and human propensity for evil that cannot be analyzed, legislated, rationalized or eradicated.

For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, so just as there is good among us, there is the opposite clinging forever to the dark recesses, and sometimes right in the midst of our “model, normal, tranquil” parts of society.

Are guns the only source of mass killings? If so, can we ban them all? How about Big Pharma and their slew of legal narcotics being over-dispensed daily across the US? How about manufacturers’ poison clogging our food supply, allowed there with the blessing of our Food and Drug Administration ( FDA)? What about cigarettes and other cancer-forming agents? Do you remember when the war on cancer started? How much money was collected over the years, ostensibly for a cure: trillions of dollars, and there's no cure in sight.

What about testing drugs on citizens in poor countries where the “cure” turned out to be worse than the disease? (Check out Bill Gates drug testing in African countries here). Or outsourcing for cheap, dangerous labor in countries where labor laws are lax or non-existent, so that we here in America can continue to consume en masse while corporations rake in huge profits.

What about a judge in San Antonio ruling that a public school district has a right to force students to wear electronic tracking devices on school premises? One student, 15-year-old Andrea Hernandez, who found these chips, called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), intrusive, refused to wear them and was expelled. Judge Orlando Garcia not only ruled that the district was right to track our children like convicts, but refused to stop the school from expelling Hernandez. (Read more here).

You see, if we take our eyes off the guns for a nanosecond, we will see that our society is plagued by a myriad of issues, each one worse than the other. Can we legislate them all away, or does the bigger burden for substantive change lie within us? Do we as a people need a collective shift in values?

For what do you call a country where its people do good only through enforced laws and fear of reprisals? Without some laws, there will understandably be anarchy but with too much legislation, we run the risk of living with tyranny, dictatorship, fascism or a police state—take your pick.

Democracy shouldn’t mean government solves all of our problems with laws of their choosing; it should mean government works with its people to come up with sound solutions for the good of all the people.