I miss the days when people just said what they meant.
Or maybe I am glamorizing a by-gone era by assigning to it a positive characteristic that never really existed. Whatever. I do know that I prefer the company of those who say what they mean and do not try to “tap dance” around a topic in an effort to be seen as reasonable or to appeal to a wider audience.
I just read an article (https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2018/10/10/jamie-lee-curtis-claps-back-fox-news-halloween-gun-controversy/1597170002/) wherein the writer tries to spin actress Jamie Lee Curtis’ position on gun control. It seems that Fox News published an article noting the disconnect between her calls for further gun control and her habit of making movies in which her characters use guns (https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/jamie-lee-curtis-wields-firearms-in-new-halloween-movie-despite-advocating-for-gun-control).
In the spin article, Ms. Curtis gets a chance to state her perspective more clearly. The article quotes her as saying, “I fully support the Bill of Rights. And fully support the Second Amendment. And have absolutely no problem with people owning firearms…” Grammar issues aside, this reads as pretty unequivocal and clear. She is almost tautological in her statement. I’m onboard. She has made a clear avowal of her position. Then she goes on to explain and the wheels fall off. At least for me.
Her last sentence above goes on, “…if they have been trained, licensed, a background check has been conducted, a pause button has been pushed to give time for that process to take place. And they have to renew their license just like we do with automobiles – which are weapons also”.
I had hope, if only for a brief moment. Then it was dashed. While I believe that these quotes are likely to represent sincere beliefs on the part of Ms. Curtis, I also think she does not fully understand her subject matter and is simply trying to satisfy as much of her constituency as she can. I do not blame her for trying. She has to eat, after all, and losing ticket sales to people who disagree with her (on either side of the issue) is a good way to impact her living going forward. Especially these days, when Hollywood icons are dropping left and right for all manner of sins. So, go ahead and try to split the baby. Just do not try to pass yourself off as being reasonable, logical and informed in your position while doing so.
During my career, I worked for a time in the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, a job which centers around the FBI’s relationship with Congress. While there, I was exposed to a graduate course in how to talk for hours and not say anything, as well as how to never set out a solid opinion or position, despite seeming like you did. Professional politicians in our nation’s capital are absolute masters at this sort of behavior, regardless of party affiliation. It’s fascinating to behold as a mere spectator.
If you care about our nation and the direction it is going, watching those people massage, twist and spin the truth was truly horrifying.
As for Ms. Curtis, if she really did “fully support the Bill of Rights” and the Second Amendment (a bit redundant, is it not?), she would understand that such a position is incompatible with the conditions she would emplace. To mandate such restrictions is to infringe upon the rights of the people, which is specifically prohibited by the very amendment she claims to fully support. It is also in direct violation of the meaning of the Bill of Rights as a whole, which she also claims to fully support.
Her demands sound reasonable, of course, but let us take a deeper dive into just what she is demanding in her call for “…common-sense gun control and gun safety”, as she says elsewhere in the same article. She wants training, licensing, a background check, a “pause button” to be pushed in the process and for licensure renewal “…just like we do with automobiles – which are weapons too”.
I have to take the low hanging fruit first. People are certainly not licensed to drive as some kind of weapons permit, as Ms. Curtis appears to suggest. Automobiles that require civilian licenses are not weapons. They are transportation devices. Do not take my word for it. Contact any automobile sales outlet or manufacturer you care to and ask them. I am certain that Ford does not claim to make any weapons for the civilian market. They make cars. Can cars be used as weapons? Of course. Almost anything you can think of can be weaponized if a person puts their mind to it, but that does not make the item a weapon until a person gets involved and makes it one. For which they are, individually, held legally liable.
Automobiles, by the way, kill more people in an average year in America than firearms. Yet I do not read anywhere about Ms. Curtis calling for cars to be the subject of additional “common sense” regulation. This also despite the fact that there were approximately 40,100 traffic related deaths in 2017 across the U.S. (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/14/traffic-deaths-edge-lower-but-2017-paints-worrisome-picture.html), which outstripped all firearms related deaths in the U.S. during the same time period by about 9.4% (37,638, including suicides and justifiable homicides)(http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls). Let’s not muddle our sound bites, however. Calling for limits on Second Amendment rights is cool in her social and professional circles. Calling for common sense limits on cars, on the other hand, is just anti-American.
When it comes to her other demands, she is light on details while trying to erode the Bill of Rights she fully supports. Start asking who makes the rules she wants to impart, how they are implemented fairly (assuming that is how she would like them implemented), whose “common sense” we are going to rely upon for the gun control she advocates, just what a “pause button” is and how it is put in place and the reality of life in our country comes crashing into her flippant call for regulation.
As someone who actually DOES fully support the U.S. Constitution, and has served our nation for over 32 years as both a soldier and a civilian, I see any erosion of ANY of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution as a threat to ALL the rights. Perhaps a thought experiment might help illustrate the point here.
Imagine replacing the amendment under discussion by Ms. Curtis. Change it from the Second to the First. Now, replace the right to bear arms with the right to speak freely. How does her argument sound now? She would then fully support the Bill of Rights and freedom of speech, as long as those who would speak freely were “…trained, licensed, a background check has been conducted, a pause button has been pushed to give time for that process to take place. And they have to renew their license just like we do with automobiles…”
I summarily dismiss the idea that words cannot be used as weapons, that they are not capable of leading to the injury or death of another person. From bullying to religious intolerance to the rise of fascism and violent theocracies, words have long been far more deadly than any of the small arms available today. Yet I suspect that Ms. Curtis, and many of those like her, who make their living protected by the umbrella of their right to free speech, might take a very dim view if they had to have governmental permission before being able to make a movie (or eleven movies) filled with violence, gore, grizzly murder scenes, foul language and other scenes which might offend local, state and federal regulators. I do not enjoy horror movies, but I do no demand “common sense” limits to the First Amendment in order to stop people from involving themselves in them.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) certainly would take umbrage to such a call for limits on free speech, as their website prominently proclaims their “…longstanding and continued commitment to the First Amendment…”. Any calls for controls and limits on the freedom of speech, particularly by a talented award-winning actress, could be expected to run head first into MPAA’s traditional efforts to resist calls for government censorship and dedicated efforts “…to guarantee that all forms of storytelling are protected and empowered”.
Therein lies the true issue here. The Constitution regulates the government. It delineates what the government is allowed to do and specifically tells the government that it is not allowed to do more than what is listed therein. This protects us all from governmental over-reach, from the erosion and destruction of our fundamental freedoms. I imagine this was of little concern to Ms. Curtis under some federal administrations. Perhaps she believes that her government is not a threat to her under any circumstances, that only the rights she does not care about were ones that might be lost. If so, I wonder if she still feels that way?
What happens to us if a government is elected that decides to limit or abolish some civil rights? Well, if it is “gun rights”, perhaps some feel that is alright. They were not using those rights anyhow. The people who are using them are deplorable, right? If I do not care about freedom of the press or religion or assembly, then why should I raise a hue and cry when somebody wants to put some common-sense limits on my ability to freely exercise these rights?
Because our freedoms stand and fall together. Our system works because it is a system, one that has stood for centuries against all manner of threats, both foreign and domestic. The same verbiage one uses to attack the Second Amendment can easily be adapted to attack the others. To not recognize this simple truth is to be shortsighted and naïve. You cannot casually trim one freedom without concern for the welfare of the others.
All governments, everywhere, must be granted some authority over the governed to function. Yet that authority must be limited in order to prevent totalitarianism. This is why our Constitution is such an amazing document and our form of government such a rarity in human history. Many people I speak to of late fear the rise of a autocratic system in America. Those on the political left fear some form of a “right wing dictatorship” while those on the political right fear “progressive fascism”. What prevents this and protects us all is the Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights and ALL of its amendments.
Including the one you want to erode and limit with your full support, Ms. Curtis.