Cold, dead, that is one way to describe a winter garden. Most of the time the plants aren’t dead, of course. They are just sleeping, waiting for the right time to brighten my world again, but every Spring I plant some plants that don’t make it through the winter months, some don’t make it to the winter months. There is never any explanation for this; there are often plants of the same species, purchased at the same time from the same place, planted right next to those that fail, yet they thrive.
Cold, dead has another connotation, that of gun possession at any cost. When my plants don’t survive, I replace them. It saddens me, but they are replaceable. That is not true of people. Still, Americans love our guns, just as we love our cars. Both are associated with freedom, but are they freedom? I don’t think so.
If you cannot go into a neighborhood, send your child to school, or walk down a public street, who is enjoying freedom? Most of us have admitted this about our cars. The automobile industry cares about safety, or sells cars based on the assertion of a caring that has embraced such things as seat belts, air bags, good brakes, rearview mirrors, window wipers and washers, back-up signals and cameras, turn and stop indicators, and, soon, cars that drive themselves, though they do demure that the self-driving vehicles will only be “co-pilots” to the human whose freedom they express. What we have chosen not to control at the manufacturing level is speed: Cars are still sold with the implication of speed and performance that is not allowed on our roads, because what we have not controlled by design has been controlled by law. That includes the requirement of licensing for operation, and the need to recertify that licensing for continued use. We have acknowledged, on purpose or by necessity, that the illusion of freedom provided by an automobile is not free for everyone unless it is regulated by the device that actually assures our freedom. That device is law.
With guns, the argument has been distorted by a small group of people, some of whom profit financially and some of whom define freedom by a much narrower standard than most of us use. These are people who are prepared to throw out all of the rest of the protections for our freedom in favor of only this one, which because it so narrowly defines freedom protects only themselves. They oppose any safety by design and any legal protections for the rest of us or each other. Chaos and lawlessness are not freedom nor are they “American”. The founders the gun advocates are so fond of quoting knew that; they designed a government of laws as proof.
I grew up in an America surrounded by people who often disagreed about what would make them happy or how they might define their freedom, but the majority of whom understood that the one basic of freedom was not the ability to force others into your mold, but the protections provided by legal controls on behavior that allowed for most people to do what they cared about most, and did little damage to the hopes and dreams of those who might disagree.
It seems very obvious that defining freedom by individual whims is not freedom because it destroys the lives of others. That the Second Amendment, while it sits there in our body of Constitutional Law is not all of that body of law or the only freedom we should cherish. I have watched while our real freedoms, freedoms based on individual dreams and opportunity, have been shoved into a corner. No wonder they might not survive this long winter of our Constitution, though they were all conceived together and have the same right and expectation of survival. We don’t have to let children be at risk to be free. In fact, the very guns these people clutch onto, declaring they will not be parted except from their cold, dead hands, are what limit freedom for most of us. We used to know how to protect our society from the chaos of destructive freedoms, ask the auto industry.
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