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It's not the Constitution. It's in the Declaration of Independence. Yet the latter document captures the essence of why being free mattered so much to the original Patriots.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Notice what comes first - not our pleasure. Not even our liberty. Our lives.

And not just our lives: those of the children, the America that will be.

You've all seen the news. Not just "yet another school shooting" but an especially horrible one. 27 dead as of this posting. It will probably be more by the time I hit "publish". More by the time you read this.

Keeping our guns safer than our kids completely defeats the stated purpose of guns: to keep our kids safe. What's doubly frustrating is 27-and-counting is a SLOW day in U.S. Gun Death World. It takes a particularly high body count to get our attention.

How many die of gunshots? Roughly 30,000 a year. Let's put that another way: That's TEN 9/11s, or FIVE Iraq Wars a year (U.S. casualties only). It's about par with annual traffic fatalities.

In other words, it's become the price of freedom to some - a price they don't want to talk about. More, they don't want anyone else talking about it, either. Only themselves.

Part of me thinks nothing but natural selection will solve this - and by this I mean behavioral selection. Societies  are like people. They have behaviors. Some help them thrive, some not so much. Public policy choices like handgun policy, for example- are a relevant subclass of behaviors.

As a society, we are at risk because we keep our guns safer than our kids. We chose this course long ago.

Some say that days like today aren't the point. They posit that the net value of easy access to handguns - weapons that have the status purpose of protecting lives and property  - is more life and liberty and happiness, not less.

They may be right.

They will also be keeping their heads down, walking by quickly and avoiding eye contact to duck today's conversations.

Because, sorry. I don't think they're right at all.

Because, last I heard, the police had guns. And they responded quickly.

And they arrived 27+ victims too late.

That's how much safer our guns are than our kids.

Originally posted to cskendrick on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:17 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Those people who can't tolerate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment, Arenosa

    the thought of people having the choice to terminate a pregnancy find this loss of life acceptable collateral damage in a free society.  

    It's a weird cognitive dissonance.  

  •  We balance the two simultaneously or lose both (0+ / 0-)

    Force birthers say essentially the same thing: life before liberty; the state, acting in the name of the fetus, wins.

    So do zealous cops, prosecutors and judges: life before liberty; the state, acting in the name of the victim, wins.

    The governments of China and Cuba say the same thing.

    I categorically reject this thinking, as did Benjamin Franklin.

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    We juggle and weave and balance and pushpull them simultaneously, and we keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it. That's the only way it can work in a non-tyrannical society. Yes, it is tiring. Yes, it never ends. Yes, there is no choice. Period.

    So what do we do about gun violence in general and batshit crazy or coldblooded spree killers in particular?

    Extracting from a comment I posted in another thread: Steps that can be taken without violating the Second Amendment and settled federal precedents as they now stand include: magazine capacity restrictions; high-caliber restrictions for pistols; ammunition registries similar to the tracking of Sudafed sales; training, licensing, and registration requirements; expanded coordination between mental health facilities, courts, and states to keep overtly disturbed people from buy guns; publicly accessible databases of gun dealers, manufacturers, and military facilities, and the weapons missing or stolen from each so we can clean up the freely flowing river of illegal weapons.

    I've also seen a suggestion about requiring the manufactur of RFID-tagged guns that deactivate if the RFID tag is not reactivated periodically by what would have to be a new and very large govt infrastructure; and calls to amend the Second Amendment.

    These actions would definitely put a crimp in street crime, accidents, suicides, and spree killings by young people, the vast majority of our gun violence. But they would not unduly hinder a Breivik.

    The other prong of this issue involves mental heath care delivery. The hard part is trying to find a way to identify mentally unbalanced perpetrators before they commit violence, without stripping them of their rights. Unfortunately, the Constitution's due process clause, and the reluctance of taxpayers and politicians to invest in coordinated, integrated, comprehensive mental health care make it extremely difficult to:

    (1) Protect ourselves from people we perceive as being disturbed and in need of treatment until it's too late and they hurt themselves or others; and

    (2) Protect people from the consequences of a mistaken (or frivolous or vengeful or utterly "the female body has ways of shutting that down" ignorant) official labeling as "dangerous" that may ruin them socially and financially.

    Any modern civil commitment policy that lowered the bar enough to protect us from people who are simply judged "scary" would have to include immediate and competent representation by a lawyer and mental health professional (hahahaha, considering the pathetic condition of our public defender system), clearcut mechanisms for compensating those economically harmed by misdiagnosis/unwarranted civil commitment, guarantees of privacy with teeth, mechanisms for purging bogus records and having one's gun possession rights restored, reasonable mechanisms for censuring judges or review panels that make too many mistakes, etc., etc., etc.

    If there were easy answers we would already have them.

    All I know at this point is that "life before liberty" is NOT the answer.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:26:39 PM PST

    •  Original patriots put Life first (0+ / 0-)

      And they put Liberty in same phrase.

      I am quite sure they were not speaking in absolute trades as one of them happened to be Benjamin Franklin.

      And since their wisdom tees up this diary, neither am I.

      •  I tried decoding your comment but failed. (0+ / 0-)

        I do not know what "absolute trades" means.

        I do know Ben Franklin pretty counts as an "original patriot."

        I understand that one must be alive to experience liberty.

        But if your ethos is that life has sufficient intrinsic value to offset the value of liberty, we very fundamentally disagree. I have been without liberty, sold for money. It was no way to live. Either we do the hard work of balancing life and liberty or both lose their worth.

        The path forward on this sad, stunning day is not clear to me.

        Peace out.

        YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

        by raincrow on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 01:01:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can tell you what happens (0+ / 0-)

          we either lose the guns OR lose liberty.

          Because the only way to have safety AND guns is for there to be an open source means to track personal locations and behavior in real time.

          and people who want their kids to grow up will do two things (a) vote for more intrusive measures to keep their kids alive and (b) abide much more intrusive security forces to deal with private owners who, like alcoholism, can't control themselves around their firearms.

          Gun ownership a protector of liberty, sir?

          Not anymore. Unrestrained, it's now a threat.

          So we either dial back the free-range zeal... or we all lose our freedom.

          Because if push comes to shove, more people will accept an army - even join it - to put down the wild turks than will tolerate them.

          And, by the way, I would gladly train up and hunt down people like today's shooters...and anyone who aided them.

          Because it's life, liberty AND pursuit of happiness NOT just liberty.

          Decoded enough? :)

  •  Careful you don't unintentionally boost NRA (0+ / 0-)

    talking points here:

    Because, last I heard, the police had guns. And they responded quickly.

    And they arrived 27+ victims too late.

    Cause I am sure you wanted to make a point that the cops were armed and it didn't save the kids.

    Of course, neither did having the kids inside a soft target locked down to keep them from escaping after the shooting started.

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 01:33:52 PM PST

    •  Nothing but a clear shot on a shooter (0+ / 0-)

      That's the only way a gun can save a life in imminent danger.

      Guns do poor double duty as bulletproof shields, whether they are instantly available or not.

      Which.. hmm.. .actually suggests an alternative:

      Fund body armor for kids.

      And, yes, that would be darn expensive and creepy, but far less creepy than training K-5 graders in small arms.

      •  or we could stop herding kids into (0+ / 0-)

        places lunatics can turn into free-fire zones ....

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 02:01:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  End all schools? (0+ / 0-)

          We could do that.

          And wonder why Botswana and Angola had higher standards of living in 20 years.

          •  no, cskendrick. Not end schools. (0+ / 0-)

            But maybe it's time we looked at a different physical plant and security setup for schools.

            It's been a long time since Columbine. We have clearly not figured out how to stop this in the interim.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 02:23:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Comes down to money - and lobbying to get it (0+ / 0-)

              I've seen nothing in past 20 years to suggest that the education lobby has won the head-to-head with the defense lobby.

              Guns have soundly defeated school safety, not just today but every one of the last 7,305 days.

              •  Then time has come to de-centralize (0+ / 0-)

                and put control back in local hands, no?

                Neighborhood schools with small populations.  Oh, and if the ISD is gonna have its own POLICE? They damn well better be patrolling the campus perimeter from 7 am to 5 pm every day, not running drug dogs through the kids' lockers, jailing 18-year-olds for having butter knives in the pickup beds, and jacking up junior-high-kids for drawing pictures in class or carrying inhalers in their pockets or Midol in their purses.

                That bobbleheaded idjit Mathews squalling about "can kids ever feel safe in schools" knows not what opening he offers, IMO.

                LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 02:54:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

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