“No reasonable person should shy away from speaking his mind on this issue; it’s too important.”

Richard Armitage, Guns, and Newton: An Unhappy Anniversary,” by playazindaback.

If you have a tumblr, please leave a like or comment there; if not I’m leaving comments open here.

~ by Servetus on November 20, 2013.

26 Responses to ““No reasonable person should shy away from speaking his mind on this issue; it’s too important.””

  1. I found this a most thoughtful and interesting essay from one who was so close to the tragedy. And from one who has family and connections of wide experiences and convictions. It is not easy for those who are not American, who are of Commonwealth/European countries to fully understand the complexities “gun control” in the U.S.


  2. I think the Brits’ policy is great, but integrating that into our society will take some doing – years and years of slogging the mindset into a more sensible view of gun ‘rights’ in our specific society. The fact that we have virtually no mental health system in place in the States adds to the insanity of our current gun policies.
    I, for one, do not feel safer knowing all my neighbors may have guns in their homes. Last year a man shot his neighbor-friend a few blocks from our home. They had been arguing over something rather trivial and one person loses his life over it. How many times is that scenario repeated in our country? It’s insane.
    The concepts of freedom and security need to be thought about deeply. There has to be something better than this: our current system. What is the acceptable death count level per year for us? Seriously. What is that number or percentage?


    • John Stewart said something really interesting about this in the heat of the debate after Sandy Hook. It was along the line of that if the US really wants to implement gun control, they way to do it is by demonizing the gun culture in the way that the smoking culture has been. I could be mistaken, but I think that in a lot of areas there is a whole lot more censure about being in possession of a lit cigarette than a loaded gun.


      • I can see Stewart’s angle, but I’m not sure govt demonization would work in this case. The far right wants to be ‘smarter’ than anything govt touts.
        Eventually, our culture has to figure out what is acceptable and what isn’t. You can still choose to smoke, but everyone knows what you’re risking. Should it feel the same for a gun owner? Are they putting lives at risk in owning a gun?


        • It was satirical, but I think the point was that censure wouldn’t come from government, but from the population at large. Of course there is no Constitutional right to smoke that can be brandished either.

          That is the $64K question, I doubt that the answer is ever going to be as black or white as either pole would like it to be. As with so many issues at the moment.


          • Agreed. This issue is complicated. I’d like to see more reasonable and respectful debate on this everywhere: in social media, the news media, person to person, etcetera. We all need to think this one through, and it’s not going to be easy.


  3. Yes, despite having lived in D.C. twice, (first time doesn’t altogether count, as I was a child), and living an bare hour’s drive from the American border, I am trying to understand the wide differences in U.S. society about gun control. And universal health care. Canada is very regional, too, in attitudes, but our history is different. And we have to accept this difference. The statement by the tumblr lady about interpretation of the Second Amendment caught my attention. How to interpret or work with in the 20th/21th C context of an 18th C concept, forged in the environment of post-Revolution?


  4. School violence hits home hard with me, as a mom with two sons still in school, a husband who’s job is to keep the schools safe and I also work at a school. There is so much more school violence that never is reported in the media, they talk about gun violence but not the rest. We just need an end of violence all together and learn to get along. No two people are the same and we need to see that as a good thing not to attack someone who don’t see it the same way. I would like to see the day that there would be no more violence and no family would have to grieve for there loved one because of violence. I say goodbye to Mr. 70 each day as if it could be the last, sounds odd maybe but not for the job he does.


  5. I’m not a great interlocutor on this topic because watching student after student go to war has really firmed up my opposition to all weapons. I’m basically an Anabaptist on this issue …


  6. That was a great post, and it truly moved me. RA has a right to his own opinions about this issue and does NOT deserve to be attacked by anyone who disagrees with him. It is funny that some people who do feel that we have that right under the constitution to bear arms do not feel that free speech gives a person the right to disagree. I applaud Mr. Armitage. I am totally against anyone having the right to bear arms. Humanity has proven time and again that we are no good at it, and I do not think it has made society safer. I have the right to that opinion without being verbally abused.


  7. Very interesting and moving post , thank you for the link Servetus.
    (I love playzindaback’s Certificate of Marriage 🙂 )


  8. Thanks Servetus for posting this, and to the commenters for your responses. (I’m ‘playazindaback’ on tumblr, for the record.)


  9. Well I may be the only person posting who supports gun rights/2nd amendment, sorry but that’s how I feel and like you I have the right to express that opinion. As for Mr. Armitage, I’m still a fan and am not surprised that a Brit would think all guns should be illegal, and it’s great that he understands it would take a constitutional amendment to make that happen. I hope he also understands that repealing the 2nd amendment will NEVER happen, even if we do somehow manage to implement some kind of gun control. You know, I don’t like the NRA extremists any better than the extremists who want to take my guns away from me. I think it could be reasonable to say some weapons are military-only, large clips don’t belong in the general public, etc. And I’m very sorry that legislation making straw purchases illegal didn’t pass either, but don’t you guys realize that, by saying “guns should be illegal” you’re actually hurting your cause? On the right we have one simple message – stop gun control legislation. Maybe it’s a bad attitude, but it’s simple. On the left, however, you have a diverse opinion ranging from Gabby Giffords “we only want sensible gun control legislation” to the “ban all guns” crowd and everything in between. It’s very easy for someone on the right to equate “gun control” with “ban all guns” because of this. It’s also very hard to believe people like Gabby Giffords when they say “I’m not anti-gun, I’m not trying to take your weapons from you,” [ad hominem remark deleted — Serv]. If you REALLY want a debate you first have to have a solid message on exactly what kind of gun control you want. No, I will not talk to anyone who wants to repeal the 2nd Amendment, and I will fight to my last breath to keep that from happening; believe me I’m not alone on that. It’s like abortion, those of us on the right need to accept that the law is the law and it’s not going away just because we don’t like it. You need to accept that, too.


    • This comment is kind of OT here — this post made the point that responsible people have an opinion on this topic and should express it.

      Also, so you know, I would support the repeal of the 2nd Amendment. So you’re talking to someone who supports it whether you wanted to or not, I guess. It seems to me that your comment implies that people who support various gun control measures should censor the speech of their fellows because they don’t all agree and it’s not simple? I couldn’t disagree more, not least because the very message that you seem to object to (get rid of all guns) is the simplest of all.


  10. Toni, that post needs to be edited because it has ad hominem attacks in it on third parties who can’t defend themselves, thus violating the comments policy. I’ll catch up with it and repost later today.


    • Now I feel like I’m being censored – I wasn’t “attacking” so much as at least trying to contrast one message with another. Apparently I did that poorly, so if you feel the need to clip that statement I understand. Thing is, this is a very emotional issue for both sides. Several posters said they’d like a debate on the topic and I was offering suggestions as to how to accomplish that debate – one way being to dis-associate the “sensible gun restrictions” message from the “ban all guns” message, because people on MY side think they are one and the same. By all means, feel free to advocate the repeal of the 2nd amendment; just realize that, like attempts to repeal Roe v Wade, it will never happen. And I might remind you that prohibition didn’t work very well either.

      As I said earlier, Richard Armitage is entitled to express his opinion in an interview – notice the interview was about his movie but veered into politics? So did this comment section. And I’m not going to stop being a fan of his or refuse to see DOS or Into the Storm because we don’t agree on one issue. I didn’t burn my copy of “The Mask” after Jim Carry made a video ridiculing the gun rights crowd, either – why should I? It’s one of my favorite movies. I think it would be ridiculous to write off talented actors because they express opposing political views. In my case, most actors would – not too many conservatives in Hollywood.


      • Feel however you like. I deleted your personal insult at Diane Feinstein, which violates the comments policy (no ad hominem attacks, including on third parties).


        • So, none of the rest of my post means anything to you? I was trying to talk to YOU, apparently I offended you – sorry, that wasn’t my intention.


          • rhetorical suggestions: writing that you’re “sorry” ironically is something that gets a lot of readers (not just me) on edge.

            as I said, your argument doesn’t make sense to me. First you say that “the right” is more successful with its strategy because it’s simpler and this is apparently your explanation for why attempts at gun control legislation have failed. Opponents of gun control should all get on the same page with a single, simple message. Except it’s the single, simple message that polarizes — as you concede when you say that you won’t talk to anyone with the IMO very simple message that all guns should be restricted. On the one hand you want your opponents to be reasonable and accept that the amendment will “NEVER” (your words) be repealed, and on the other, you say that any compromise is too complicated for people who might agree to understand or sympathize with.

            So I am not sure what you want me to say. The contradictory rhetorical strategy you recommend has me coming or going. Either I speak for a simple message that you insist will never be realized, or I try to be subtle and complex and have gradations then it counts as “not being on the same page” as someone else who has different ones. You also say that you don’t believe that congressional advocates of various kinds of gun control (Giffords, and in your original comment, Feinstein) are speaking sincerely. There’s no message I can offer that will convince you, and even if I had a convincing message, you imply, you don’t believe that people who deliver that message are speaking the truth.

            If you don’t believe advocates of gun control speak with sincerity, I personally don’t see what point there is a debate. The belief that the other person speaks honestly is a basic prerequisite for reasoned debate. If you don’t believe that I believe what I say, why should I bother to speak?

            And then you end by saying I need to accept that I can’t change the law? How is that reasoned? You’ve shut my primary concern down from the beginning. I hate what anti-choice people are doing with reproductive law in the U.S. but I would never say that they don’t have the right to try to change the law, or that the law can’t change.

            Fwiw, personally, I would take any gun control law (just as I was read to accept almost any health care proposal). Any one. I don’t have to have my entire ideal vision of society realized to be pleased that things are getting better. I supported the measure that was before Congress this spring.

            As far as Armitage goes, you’re running through open doors with me — as I said in the post where I addressed how I felt about the content of his political views, which I wrote primarily because I might as well be damned for something I have actually said as opposed for some vaguely threatening position people attribute to me. He has a right to an opinion, and, as playaz wrote, the responsibility to have one; I don’t have to agree with him; and my reaction to it is my choice.


            • Okay, obviously I didn’t make myself clear. I am a gun-rights person who would never support repealing the 2nd amendment; HOWEVER I would be willing to listen to some ideas on restrictions, and could have gone along with at least SOME of the proposed legislation (particularly the straw purchase legislation). I think there are more of us gun-rights people who would listen than you think, it’s just the NRA extremists get all the press. Last thing in the world I want to do is argue abortion, that was only mentioned as an example of things we all have to tolerate. For the record, I think Gabby Giffords is sincere, I only believe one previously mentioned individual was being dishonest, for reasons I don’t want to go into here. As I said, some posters mentioned wanting a debate, and my statements about the “ban the guns” message was merely a suggestion for how to have that debate. It was something I’ve wanted to say out loud for a long time, and I guess I just picked a bad way to say it. It is a fact that on my side, “gun control” is believed to really mean “ban all guns,” which is why I was suggesting trying to draw a difference between the two. And that bit about the Right’s “simple message” was something I read in a magazine article explaining why gun legislation failed.

              I truly believe the biggest problem in America is neither guns nor healthcare, it’s the fact that there’s almost no middle ground anymore. It’s the fact that there are two sides opposed over issues like this, and they don’t talk to each other, they demonize and villify each other. It will be the ruin of this country. I mean, here are two women who are both fans of Richard Armitage arguing over a political issue that really has nothing to do with him. I don’t know what you mean by “running through open doors,” of course he’s got a right to have and express his opinion, but sadly some people will take it personally and refuse to watch DOS because of it, which I think is really stupid, that’s all I was trying to say. And I can’t even say I’m sorry I offended you without putting you on edge, well I guess that’s that. I follow your column frequently, but I won’t bother you anymore. Enjoy the movie.


              • The ironic use of sorry really sets me off because it’s a linguistic cue for outrage. And I’ve read a lot of outrage on this blog lately, so I apologize for being oversensitive.

                I just don’t see, given the parameters you describe, what the left is supposed to say. If we’re not allowed to say “ban the guns,” why should anyone be allowed to say “no modifications to the 2nd Amendment”? Then again, I’ve got no particularly strong intellectual allegiance to the Constitution; it’s a law that was written over 200 years ago in a particular context, not a sacred thing I’m willing to die for the preservation of, and that also separates me from most people on the right and lot of my friends on the left.

                re: actual compromise — It’s not like there have been no bills before Congress during the last twenty years to try to address this problem, all of which involved compromises. I agree with you that not everyone on the right is NRA-sympathetic (indeed, not even everyone I know who’s an NRA member is all that approving of Wayne La Pierre), but at the same time, people should think what their NRA membership fees go toward — putting our representatives in the NRA’s pockets, incluing apparently some Democrats.

                And it was kind of the point of the post I linked here that gun control is a political issue that has to do with everyone who lives in the U.S. When trick or treating foreign exchange students get shot on Halloween, as happened a few years ago … of course permanent residents care, they live here too. And he lives in one of the biggest cities in the U.S.

                I think a lot of us would agree with your last point — that there’s no middle ground anymore. This discussion about Armitage illustrates that — the people who said, oh, this is what I took away from it, interesting that that’s his opinion, got very quickly drowned.


  11. I’m trying to understand the relevance of the second amendment in our society today. It seems written to apply to a post-colonial world long passed.
    In theory, I believe laws should change according to their relevance to a presumably advancing society.
    I don’t know what’s right in regard to gun laws. But I don’t see what’s terribly wrong with the British solution either.
    What is at stake? Entertainment and hunting aside, what is a gun supposed to do for one? I don’t understand the vehemence behind the need to preserve the second amendment.
    I have friends on both side of the equation.


  12. From Harrapsue:

    Je fais ce commentaire en français , car je ne parle pas assez bien anglais pour exprimer mon opinion.
    Je suis entièrement d’accord avec Mr Armitage lorsqu’il dit qu’il est difficile de mélanger religion et politique. En France, mon pays , comme en Grande-Bretagne, nous séparons ces notions. Et heureusement, car il est des moments où pour le bien d’une partie de la population, la politique doit faire abstraction de toute considération religieuse. Je pense en particulier aux droits des femmes ( droit à l’avortement ) puisque c’est de cela qu’il est question dans les propos de la journaliste, Elle Morris. Ce droit, dans notre pays, est reconnu depuis 1975. C’est une femme politique appartement à un gouvernement de droite, Simone Veil, alors ministre de la santé, qui malgré l’opposition de son propre parti , et grâce au soutien de l’opposition de gauche a obtenu le vote de la loi. Assez paradoxal. Autre paradoxe, cette femme remarquable, juive et déportée à Auschwitz, connaît plus que quiconque le prix de la vie, ayant perdu ses parents dans dans les camps de concentration. Et malgré cela elle s’est
    battue pour faire triompher et légaliser ce droit a disposer de son corps.
    Aussi, même si mon pays n’est pas meilleur que les autres , et bien que catholique, je suis fière de vivre dans un état qui se revendique comme laïque.


    • “I’m making this comment in French because I don’t speak English well enough to express my opinion.

      I’m entirely in agreement with Mr. Armitage when he says that is difficult to mix religion and politics. In France, my country, as in Great Britian, we separate these notions. Luckily, because there are moments where the good of a piece of the population, politics has to abstract itself from all religious considerations. I think in particular of women’s rights (abortion) because that’s what this is about in the words of the journalist, Elle Morris. This right, in our country, was recovered in 1975. It was a politician who was part of a conservative government, Simone Veil, at the time Minister of Health, who, despite the opposition of her own party, and with the support of the left-wing opposition won the vote on the law. Paradoxical. Another paradox, this remarkable Jewish woman who had been deported to Auschwitz, knew more than anyone the value of life, having lost her parents in concentration camps. And despite that she fought for the victory to legalize this right to decide what to do with her body.
      So even if my country is not better than any other, although a Catholic, I am proud to live in a state that claims to be secular.

      [my translation — Serv]


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