People want what they can’t have

When I was a substitute teacher at the Sherburne-Earlville Elementary School, I heard all the common arguments often associated with kids just being kids. I heard all the complaints, everything from “Johnny took my pencil,” and “she keeps touching me,” to the less expected “you’re doing things wrong. That’s not how Mrs. Smith does it.” Really? How many ways are there to change the date on the blackboard, kid?

I also saw that nothing – be it a toy, book, marker, empty swing, a place on the rug during reading time, etc. – was ever so badly wanted by a child as when someone else had it first, or worse, if I threatened to take it away simply because they’re not cooperating or following classroom rules.

Unfortunately, a lot of the same kind of behavior can be seen in Colorado, where after the horrific events of last Friday’s shooting, gun sales spiked in the days that followed – by almost 25 percent over an average weekend period – as people scrambled to buy firearms before new gun legislation, or current laws, are amended that might deny people the privilege of gun ownership. It’s the “I didn’t want it until you told me I couldn’t have it” mentality for many, and it’s certainly not the first time it’s happened. Gun sales also picked up nationwide after President Obama was elected in 2008 out of fear that the Democrat might tighten gun laws; and again in 2011, following the shooting in Arizona that left six dead and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in intensive care.

Speaking from a personal perspective, this attitude’s just a bit unsettling. Sure, some are saying they just want a gun to defend themselves, but if everyone has a gun for their own defense, how is it making the world a safer, less scary place? If anything, I would think that senseless shootings and fatal tragedy would discourage one from ever wanting to hold, see, touch, or hear a gun, let alone own one. Unfortunately, as the upright, civilized, freedom-fighting citizens we are, we like to take advantage of personal and constitutional rights – such as our right to gun ownership – and as soon as one right is threatened, we appreciate that right even more (and I use the word “appreciate” loosely in this case. We appreciate the crap out of it).

How stupid. Is there anything more careless – and frightening – than someone buying a gun simply because they can? If stripping someone of a certain privilege only makes them appreciate that freedom all the more, perhaps it’s a mentality we should be using to our advantage. Let’s outlaw exercise (obesity epidemic averted). Let’s prohibit the separation of garbage and recyclables (for a greener tomorrow). A good ol’ mandatory book burning might get more people away from their television sets at night (an idea author Ray Bradbury had decades ago). And finally, I move we place “please” and “thank-you” as words eight and nine on George Carlin’s list of dirty words (not quite a legislative move, but it’s a start).

Regardless of anyone’s current view on gun ownership, it seems, to me, naive to think our second ammendment even holds the same wight it did when it was drafted 236 years ago. In all reality, the right to bear and keep arms wouldn’t be part of the Constitution if rebels fought against the British military using present-day military style assault rifles capable of firing 50 rounds in less than a minute. People, particularly those racing to gun and ammunition shops in fear that they might miss their opportunity to buy a gun, seem to forget: Guns now are nothing like those of the 18th century. Even if that weren’t the case and the framers still deemed it necessary to ensure a right to gun ownership within the Constitution, I’m certain that the highly contested ambiguities of that particular snippet of the Constitution wouldn’t be as unclear as they are now.

Of course, if legislators choose not to pursue any changes that might infringe on the second ammendment in the future, even in the face of the devastation seen in Colorado, the Constitution doesn’t say anything about the right to buy bullets ...

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunshawn.

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