Friday, March 23, 2012

Shots heard round the world

Trayvon Martin

Strict constructionist that I am, there's never been a problem with the second amendment here --- providing the right to bear arms is limited to arms the founding fathers had in mind back in the 18th century when that amendment was ratified. These would include single-shot, muzzle-loading, black-powder muskets and pistols, swords, knives, spears, tomahawks, bows and arrows and the occasional rock. Feel free to carry, even conceal --- as long as, if it has a blade, it's a pocket knife.

Beyond that, I've got issues --- especially with all the gun-related violence that's been in the news lately. In Florida, a gun-toting Neighborhood Watch vigilante blew away a 17-year-old armed with tea and a package of Skittles.

The Register is reporting this morning that a shooting in Jessup late Wednesday that killed two --- a Waterloo physician and a woman some 20 years his junior, was indeed murder-suicide. As you might expect, he (apparently romantically aggrieved) shot her, then himself. In cases like this, it's almost always a wounded and armed male ego that's the fatal aggressor.

Down at Fort Leavenworth, military authorities are trying to figure out what the heck to do with Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of leaving his base in Afghanistan March 11 and casually gunning down 17 civilians, including children, in a nearby village. He'll be charged, according to reports, with 17 counts of murder --- but because of the circumstances and location of the shootings there's unlikely to be enough hard evidence to convict him. Besides, there are all sorts of ways to bolster a diminished responsibilty plea --- wounds physical and psychic sustained during three previous deployments, etc., etc.

But the Florida case seems especially troubling, especially since "stand-your-ground" legislation similar to that shielding George Zimmerman in Sanford --- encouraging deadly force without fear of the consequences against perceived aggressors --- still is percolating in the Iowa Legislature, facilitated by the National Rifle Association and its Republican enablers.

That legislation cleared the House, recently flooded by Tea Party and other GOP whackadoodles more sensible Republicans seem unable or unwilling to restrain, but apparently has stalled in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Of course you never know. Remember the dove-hunting legislation slipped through last year on a procedural sleight of hand wholeheartedly approved of by Gov. Branstad (and his gun-toting son)?

And other issues are all tangled up in this, too.

Trayvon Martin's death almost undoubtedly was related to racism as deeply embedded in Iowa as it is in Florida. Had he been white, he most likely would still be alive.

And Sgt. Bales' rampage cannot be separated from the general insanity of war and the fact no one, neither military nor civilian, has a clue about the nature or severity of the distresses that affect at least some of our troops --- returned, in the field or poised for redeployment.

Golly, it would be nice to have cures for these collective headaches. I'm reasonably sure, however, that relaxing gun restrictions and prolonging pointless wars aren't among them.

1 comment:

Charles M. Wright said...

I'm trusting that Iowa Representative Windschitl's "stand your ground" bill which passed the GOP dominated Iowa House will die in the saner Iowa Senate. I predict that courts in Florida and other states that have passed such legislation will soon be overwhelmed with challenges.