Thursday, June 23, 2016

Both Sides Now

Time for an earworm, my raised-in-the-sixties brothers and sisters:

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

I've always been a conservative, except when I've been a liberal. Most times I feel like a centrist, but other times I proclaim my belief in rational anarchy which is surely in conflict with my life's history as a very law-abiding citizen. Despite having been a registered Democrat while living in New York, and a registered Republican most of my time while living in Florida, since 1972 I have voted any which way that suits me, except in 2004 when I could not bring myself to vote for anybody. Some years ago I gave up on the whole political party system, and registered as NPA - No Party Affiliation. While I feel appreciably cleaner for not subscribing to any major or semi-major party, by law I am unable to vote in either major party primary, because Florida is a closed state. Essentially, I've got no freedom to choose at the primary level, and that sucks, because I think we can all agree that this cycle's presidential primaries have been critical to the ultimate shape and form for November's upcoming election.      

To complicate matters, I am trained as a lawyer, which means in relevant part that I tend to see both  sides of an argument and more importantly, can defend either side depending on circumstances. I spent my entire legal career, working hard for every penny I made, in a specialized area where the  mindset was screamingly liberal and everything I tried to accomplish on behalf of children and their  families was dependent on government generosity. I am a Baby Boomer whose opinions are aging along with my body. I am a Reform/Liberal Jew in an anti-semitic world. So to put it succinctly, I am morally and cognitively conflicted (yes, my poppets, I am having a Good Brain Day. Let me enjoy my expansive vocabulary and clarity of thought while I can.)

At this moment, ignoring some of the really big issues of the day - why I am supporting Hillary Clinton, my current position on abortion, my hawkish stance on the war in the Middle East - today's harangue is all about gun control. We need it. Follow me, now:

I was raised without guns. My father's idea of good hunting was finding a butcher who cut the thickest, best quality steaks available for home consumption. Growing up in the intensely Jewish enclave of Long Island's Five Towns, I didn't know anyone who hunted, or even owned a gun, until I met my husband. His family did both, and while I was uneasy with it at first, I grew to respect guns when properly used. I appreciated their presence in my home, especially as they were carefully locked away from anyone but my husband (and much later, my well-trained adult son.) I thought about learning to shoot and went so far as to take the handgun course necessary for obtaining a concealed carry permit, but I did not follow through with the rest of the process. For one thing, my fibromyalgia has stolen a good deal of my hand strength, making it very difficult for me to fire most handguns. For another thing, probably the biggest thing, I am still uneasy with them.

Less than 2 weeks ago, we experienced an unbearable tragedy here in Orlando. It is being called the worst mass shooting in American history, but that ignores the 1890 events at Wounded Knee. Of course, that massacre of Native Americans was perpetrated by the U.S. Government, while the shooting in Orlando occurred at the hands of a homophobic Islamist terrorist, so maybe there is a legitimate distinction to be drawn there, but whether it was the first worst or the second worst, it was horrific.

Naturally there were fingers pointed and blame thrown about, and it occurred to me that I really did not understand all there was to know - like this isn't just a Second Amendment issue, not by a long shot, and speaking of shots, an AR-15 is not an assault rifle. So I read different articles and sought the opinions of people on both sides of the argument, and briefly presided over an unnecessarily contentious discussion emanating from an article I shared on Facebook. I took care of that, smoothly.

Let me state that from a constitutional standpoint there is more at stake than the Second Amendment, but then, we've all been living with the Patriot Act for 15 years.

It was (amazingly) the late Justice Scalia who stated that "Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited ..." It is "... not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." That's from District of Columbia v. Heller, a 2008 Supreme Court case.

Wrap your head around these:

The majority, including the current administration, does not want to take away your guns.
They do want to restrict non-military access to automatic weapons.
They also want to restrict certain individuals from acquiring any sort of gun. People with a propensity to misuse the guns. Terrorists, certain classes of criminals, certain types of sociopaths, people with histories of mental illness and domestic violence, etc. Terror watch lists are therefore a good idea. "No fly-no buy" is a really great idea, but -
The vetting process takes too damn long (I'm going to withhold any snarky remarks about the FBI being consumed with non-confidential emails)
A proper background check should take as long as it needs to fully and thoroughly investigate anyone who pops up a red flag.
I see HIPAA as a major barrier to reporting and investigating mental illness claims- am I the only one?
The methods by which individuals are added to a terror watch list are deeply flawed, sloppily administered, and can violate our rights of due process.

With all that, our country is in such excruciating pain from the constant barrage of mass shootings that Something Has To Be Done, regardless of its imperfections. "No fly-no buy" should be immediately passed. We can sort the constitutional issues out later.

I guess after all that I picked a side. For now, anyway.

Still knitting:

It's hip to be square.

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