Yesterday, Burlington residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of three firearms regulations which seem destined to redirect the entire conversation in Vermont.
Despite a hearty endorsement by Burlington voters, adoption of the new rules seems unlikely at present, since that would require significant changes to state law, and my guess is that this is more than even the Democratic majority in the legislature is prepared to undertake right now.
Still, the good folks of Burlington have done us all a favor by necessitating a conversation that has long been overdue.
Even on our little lefty blog, the topic has drawn enough heat from both sides to, more than once, bring us close to a meltdown.
We should be better than this, and we will be, going forward.
There are not two, but many “sides” to this big and peculiarly American issue; and arguments both valid and invalid come from every direction.
One of the best arguments that proponents of “open carry” have is that guns are a reality; and that they already are everywhere, exponentially outnumbering gun-owners; so that it well might be argued that we have no choice but to arm ourselves.
That same argument can easily be turned upside down as the very reason why we must reexamine our fundamental relationship with guns and gird ourselves for change.
That’s where the orthodoxy police try to end any further debate with the “constitutional closer.”
Rather as the devout are instructed not to question revelations lest they lose their faith, Americans have been taught that any thread pulled from our constitutional cloth will unravel the whole thing, leaving us in a state of naked anarchy.
Personally, I think that is utter nonsense.
We have an open-ended bill of rights precisely because our forefathers came to realize that they were not infallible; and that the passage of time and circumstances cannot help but force new perspectives. Still they trusted that the founding principles, and the better nature of the people who would be born under those principles, would ensure that the nation remained nimble and just.
Arguing that we cannot now have the difficult and urgent conversations around firearms is yielding to the same sclerotic atrophy that has doomed great nations throughout history.
I can’t accept that without a fight.