CHRIST’S FIRST MIRACLE
"AND HE SAID BRING THEM HITHER TO ME. AFTER THE MULTITUDE GATHERED, HE INSTRUCTED HIS DISCIPLES TO DELIVER THEM ARMS AND SUFFICIENT AMMUNITION FOR THEIR WANTS AND NEEDS, EVERY ONE, 5,000 MEN, BESIDES WOMEN AND CHILDREN. AND BEFORE HE SENT AWAY THE MULTITUDE, HE STRAIGHTWAY CONSTRAINED THEM TO DEFEND THEMSELVES AND THEIR CHATTEL FROM OTHERS TO WHOM HE HAD JUST BESTOWED SUCH ARMS”
Book of Matthew 14: 13-21 (Parable of the Circular Firing Squad)
Untitled, Watercolor, 9.5 x 9.5", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
"There is no greater personal individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive. It's not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.” Wayne LaPierre, 2018 CPAC.
I read my share of religious canon in younger days, but apparently missed the verse quoted above by Mr. LaPierre or its Biblical or other scriptural source. Even with my then-Mormon orientation—and other than some Book of Mormon (the book, not the musical) characters known as Ammonites, Mormons are by no means known as pacifists—I don’t recall even the most prescient of ancient prophets coming up with that one.
A few questions come to mind. Given that this god-given right presupposes and overrides all other so-called god given rights:
Exactly which god was it that bestowed this unparalleled right? I might expect it from the god of the Old Testament. He was one mean son-of-a-bitch. And the god of the evangelicals, depending on which one you pick, can be down-right nasty. Seems to me the god of the Smokeless-Gunpowder Projectile—21st Century facts being shoved through supposed 18th Century original intent—has little use for any Jesus-like deities. Reminds me of Dostoyevsky’s brilliant, timeless poem The Grand Inquisitor from his epic The Brothers Karamazov. Condemned to death by burning at the stake, Christ is no longer necessary or relevant to a Christianity that renounces his principal philosophy.
Come to think of it, why did this particular god pick on Americans and not all those people living in countries where the right to survive (gun violence) actually and statistically means something?
Exactly whose right to survive is this overriding right protecting? In exactly what way did that one freedom protect the right to survive of the 59 dead in Las Vegas, the 50 dead in Orlando, the 33 dead at Virginia Tech, the 28 dead (including small children) at Sandy hook, the 27 parishioners at Sutherland Springs, the 17 students and faculty at Stoneman Douglas, the 16 dead in San Bernardino, the 15 dead students at Columbine, the 13 dead at Fort Hood, the 13 dead at the Washington Navy Yard, the 12 dead movie-goers in Aurora, the 11 dead in Geneva County, the 10 dead parishioners in Atlanta, the 10 dead at Red Lake, the 10 dead at Umpqua Community College, and the hundreds of other dead in the weekly mass shootings in the United States?
I grew up with firearms. I hunted with them, used them for target practice. I even inherited a couple from my grandfather. As I said in a prior post, while my grandfather collected rifles, shotguns and handguns, to him they were beautiful but functional works of art—mostly single-shot or over-and-under double-barrel, pump and bolt-action, pearl-handled, engraved. Gun safety and responsibility were paramount. He passed away nearly 30 years ago. I like to believe he would have resigned his NRA membership long before now, or become an advocate for gun laws and regulations so the extreme factions would not eventually swipe the right to life from everyone else, especially from those “snowflakes” who wish to curb the massive, daily, military-style killings on American soil. So no, the meaning of the Second Amendment doesn't even begin to resemble what Mr. LaPierre claims. No, I do not advocate removing non-military style firearms from responsible gun owners. But as with all other constitutional rights—and even if it meant something like what Mr. LaPierre asserts—the Second Amendment is by no means absolute and is subject to the same balancing of individual and collective rights as are all such rights and interests.
As I also said in a prior post, it’s long past time to fully repeal or provide a non-nonsensical interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that balances all other rights and interests under the Constitution, particularly given (1) the absolute dearth of any language in the Constitution that could conceivably protect the near daily appearance of war zones on American soil, (2) the many express rights and interests in the Constitution that countervail one’s putative right to own, possess or use a killing machine, and (3) the archaic, although nostalgic, idea that citizens need state militias to repel the tyranny of the federal government. People would not need guns. They would need surface-to-air missiles, fighter jets, cluster bombs and all manner of weapons that are already barred from private, civilian ownership. That’s not to say legislatures should not authorize ownership and appropriate use of certain firearms by qualified persons. In fact that’s exactly to say legislatures should be the ones to authorize ownership and appropriate use of certain firearms by qualified persons for certain activities. But there should be no question in modern society that a right enshrined by constitutional protection exists to guarantee the individual ownership, possession and use of firearms—such a right simply does not exist.
Blood Smeared All Over Their Cold Dead Hands
Something Has a Hold On Their Balls
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to lastamendment.com
**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed nearly 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in lastamendment.com are hers.