AND THEIR FOUNDING FATHERS SAID, you will have the right to keep and bear arms. You will have a well–regulated militia.
Farmer/soldiers with muskets, Kentucky rifles and black powder to defend against oppressive inbred British monarchs and assorted homegrown tyrants, then return to their fields.
The people took these words to heart. They enthusiastically protected their right to keep and bear arms, well past the time the English royals ceased to be a mortal threat and became humorous gossip fodder.
The guns the people cherished helped them destroy one race and enslave another one, one which was freed only after the people turned their guns on each other.
The great industries sprang up. The people retained their right to keep and bear arms even as they left the farms and the forests — where they actually needed guns — and swarmed into the cities.
In the cities, the guns were used not to feed families or defeat tyrants, but on each other, again.
A great war came, and another after that. The people who loved their guns saved the world with those guns. Literally.
After that the threat was not monarchs, but missiles. Nothing was mentioned about a right to keep and bear missiles. No talk of a missile militia.
Time passed. The ones who’d been slaves finally achieved their full measure of freedom, ironically without using guns at all.
The people went to the moon. Their nation was so blessed with material abundance that its main health problem was obesity.
Still there was a great anger in the air. No one felt safe.
So they began regulating everything in their lives. Everything except one thing.
They destroyed one of their oldest and richest industries because smoking its product caused cancer. They regulated cars, lightbulbs, sports, backyard gardens, lemonade stands, the temperature of coffee, how much cash you could carry in your wallet without arousing suspicion.
One person tried to blow up a plane with a shoe once, and forever afterward all the people had to go barefoot at the airport.
Their kids couldn’t bring a plastic knife to school in their lunchbox because it might be used as a weapon.
One day the people woke up to discover they’d given up most of their sacred rights without a fight. Forfeited them with hardly a peep, in exchange for safety and convenience.
Speech, assembly, privacy, due process, the right to marry the one they loved.
All their rights were gone. Except for one.
Of course, the whole point was they were supposed to use their guns to defend all those other rights.
So having no rights left to defend, the people made a fetish out of the guns themselves.
Their entertainment was already based mostly on watching people get shot. Now they chose their leaders mostly on the basis of which one they thought loved guns more.
Their politicians hated even the idea of rights. Except gun rights, which they continually expanded.
They sought to allow guns into places previously unheard of: Malls, movie theatres, college campuses, and schools.
Far removed from muskets and Kentucky rifles and black powder, the guns they made so freely available were the best the people’s technology could muster. They could easily be taken into war.
Or malls, movie theatres, college campuses, and schools.
The shootings continued. Unlike everything else in their society, the people did nothing about them in the name of safety.
Or in the name of their God, the other thing their politicians liked to talk about besides guns.
The custom of the people was you were never supposed to debate about guns. The day of the shootings was inappropriate for debate. So was the day after.
Then of course there were the funerals. Lots of funerals. Obviously you can’t debate anything then.
So after the funerals were over, everyone forgot. Until the next time a bunch of people got shot, and the whole thing started all over again, with the same result.
The hard times came, and their government and their corporations took advantage of the people’s weakness. But they had no rights left to help them fight back, and by then the homegrown tyrants were far beyond the reach of mere guns.
The shootings the people were so accustomed to in their entertainment were now commonplace in real life. The massacres happened everywhere.
Malls, movie theatres, college campuses, and schools.
But these people who obsessively regulated every other aspect of their lives insisted there was no way to stop them.
In this one area of their lives, and no other, they said: if we can’t solve 100 percent of the problem 100 percent of the time without offending anyone, there’s no use trying anything at all of any kind.
So they didn’t.
In the end, during one Christmastime or another, the shootings made their way into the very heart of the people’s society, where their youngest children were getting the first lessons in the ways of their parents:
The rights, the Founding Fathers.
It wasn’t the first time a school had been targeted. Far from it. But it was the worst.
It seemed then that the people might in fact love their guns more than they loved their children.
And it was then that some of them asked, what is freedom worth if it can’t protect the thing we should most hold dear?
Is it even freedom at all? Or just another form of tyranny?