The time-honored tradition of singing the National Anthem before every professional baseball game has changed over the years. It has gradually morphed from a patriotic sing-along into a solo performance by the erstwhile song leader. And it seems that every soloist attempts to create greater improvisational riffs than his/her competitors. All this has left fan participation absent from the singing—except for one thing: When the words, “in the land of the free,” (more like FREEEEEEE) are belted out, there is an almost obligatory, orgasmic cheer from the crowd.
All this makes some of us wonder what being “free” means. Does it mean freedom FROM something or someone . . . like the King of England, or from slavery? Or does it mean freedom TO do or say something . . . like to speak out or to vote? Some in our nation believe that “free” means the freedom to do whatever we want to. If that were literally true, we would live in the Land of Chaos, where there there would be no genuine freedom.
Webster defines “Free” as enjoying personal rights or liberty, as one not in slavery; “Liberty” is defined as “freedom from external or foreign rule.” And “Freedom” is “the state of being at liberty from confinement or under physical restraint.”
Catholic theology maintains that freedom is one side of a coin that has that has responsibility on its other side; that we are truly free to do something only when that act is in correspondence with morality; that we are not truly free to do anything we want to do; that acting outside of moral constraints is not really freedom, but rather an exercise of license, ultimately leading to anarchy and unhappiness.
Freedom brings Rights with it. Webster defines “right” as an action “in accordance with what is just or good; a just claim or title; whether legal, prescriptive or moral; a privilege.”
Because a practice is legal under civil law does not absolve any action from being in correspondence with Moral Law. Possessing the “right” to do something does not make that action moral. Because a right is spelled out in our Constitution does not make that right limitless or beyond rational regulation.
There are no “rights” on earth that are absolute. Every freedom or right comes with moral constraints, rules and exceptions. The shooter in the Newtown massacre was not Free to do what he did. And the NRA leadership is not free to continue to defend the boundless proliferation of weapons, ammunition and accoutrements of war under the cynical pretense that the Second Amendment guarantees such insanity.
Gun violence in our Nation is an immoral and irrational epidemic.
Our Senators and House members must examine their collective conscience, grow a backbone, and ACT to quell gun violence endemic in our country. Federal laws must be enacted NOW to ban immediately the sale of today’s machine guns—automatic rifles, pistols, and their accompanying magazines—regardless of their specific nomenclature.
Federal laws must be enacted NOW to establish background checks and 30-day waiting periods before the sale of any gun or ammunition is consummated.
Federals laws must be enacted NOW to forbid the sale of any gun by anyone except a licensed gun dealer, including sales at gun shows. Internet sales of guns must be banned as well.
I was raised in conservative Utah to hunt and fish. I loved my pistols, rifles and shotguns. All my extended family and many close friends own guns. The NRA is strong in Utah. Yet, I believe that the majority of those members have no problem accepting the banning of assault weapons and measured, rational regulation of all guns. Most NRA members are nothing like the strident, virulent spokesmen we see on TV bewailing the death of the Second Amendment. Those men are the brainwashed patsies of the corporate gun lobby.
President Obama, in his magnificent eulogy in Newtown, said the profoundly obvious: “We must CHANGE.” Change is often difficult, but it is not the end of the world.
But the legacy of our past failures to change our gun laws was the end of the world for those innocent children and their families in Newtown, and in the many previous similar mass shootings. Tragically, it is also the end of the world daily in our big cities for hundreds of our young people.
We cannot continue to justify the enabling of this horrible slaughter in our nation that prides itself in protecting not only our basic freedoms but also the lives of its citizens.
We MUST change.