Sunday, June 29, 2008

I've Been AWOL This Week

And I'm happy to be back. It was the Week from Hell at the Big Corporation - our busiest time of the year - and on top of that, I finally got the neighborhood newsletter that I edit finished, printed, and mailed out. Whew...

So where does that leave me? With about 50 unread blogs that I desperately want to visit, and 6 days of no posts on my own blog! Where do I begin? I guess I'll begin here...

So let's see, what have I missed commenting on this week?

First of all, the Supreme Court struck down the handgun ban in Washington D.C. and affirmed the individual right to bear arms.

I am rather conflicted about this decision. On one hand, I hate guns and would never have one in my house. If someone I know told me they owned a gun I'd be nervous. I don't even like the idea of people having guns for hunting. I am a staunch believer in regulating gun ownership.

On the other hand, I think the Supreme Court got it right. If their job is to interpret the Constitution, I have no doubt that they did it correctly. When the Constitution was written, the American colonies had just finished fighting a war of independence from England and I'm sure one reason the Founding Fathers enshrined gun ownership in the Constitution as an individual right was because of that recent war, as they could probably imagine another future situation where they might need to do it again.

As for the theory that the right to bear arms is inextricably linked with serving in a militia, I read a good op-ed piece in the newspaper this past week (unfortunately I can't find it or I'd link to it) that pointed out that it would be odd if the framers of the Constitution would have stuck one collective right (to bear arms only as part of a militia) in with all of the individual rights that are in the Bill of Rights. It simply makes more sense that this would be an individual right. So I think the decision was a correct interpretation of the Constitution.

I found an interesting article that looks at this issue from both sides. While it is still not certain exactly what the framers of the Constitution meant, it seems likely that the people of that time felt their right to own a gun was an individual right.

That said, where do we go from here? America is one of the most violent Western countries, and obviously a lot of people here have access to guns who shouldn't. Luckily the Supreme Court did not close the door on regulating gun ownership; it just said Washington D.C. couldn't prohibit handguns completely. However, gun proponents always like to point out that registration and other gun control laws just apply to law-abiding citizens; the criminals continue to get them illegally. And they are correct.

I don't know what the solution is for this problem, and this decision has just made it more complicated for those of us who are concerned about the prevalence of guns in our society. But I think it's something we as a nation need to come to grips with. Perhaps we need to be cracking down on the gun manufacturers; perhaps they shouldn't be making Saturday night specials at all, but be required to make only high quality, more expensive guns, that would be less easy to afford. Perhaps the government needs to declare a "war on illegal guns" the way government loves to declare war on other things like drugs or poverty. It might not solve the problem but it couldn't hurt either.

Moving on...Obama and Clinton got together this week in Unity, New Hampshire, and Obama is leading McCain in a number of key states, so it looks as if the Democrats are on their way to being united enough to move forward.

In Unity, Hillary said:

"'Today we are coming together for the same goal: to elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.'

She spoke directly to her supporters so embittered by the primary that they’ve pledged to support John McCain over Obama. 'To anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider,” she said. 'In the end, Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin, and it doesn’t amount to a whole lot of change.'"

I'd like to commend Hillary for her strength in coming out to support Barack Obama after this difficult primary season. Unlike Eugene McCarthy back in 1968, who refused to endorse Humphrey until much closer to the general election, and even then did it without enthusiasm, Hillary Clinton has come through for the Democratic party. I know it couldn't have been easy for her but she is doing it and doing it with grace.

Last but not least, on the home front, here's an update on our wrens.

The mother and father wren are busily feeding their growing babies. We first heard them peeping in the birdhouse a week or two ago; now they are big enough to be making loud chattering noises that sound just like their parents. The two adult wrens are working furiously just to keep them happy. One wren stands guard while the other one flies off and gets a moth or bug, flies back and feeds the babies. Then the other takes off while the first one stands watch. Sometimes one will pass the moth to the other and the second one will feed the children.

The wrens had a close call earlier this week. I got up one morning and from our bathroom window, which was open, I heard a terrible commotion out in the yard; the wrens were chattering much more loudly than usual and I noticed the bird house was turned sideways. Both wrens were chattering up a storm and fluttering about.

I threw on some clothes and ran outside. I heard some peeping in the birdhouse so I knew the babies were OK, and I'd seen both parents so I knew they weren't harmed either. But something had tried to get them.

Sure enough, while I was standing near the bird house assessing the situation, one of my neighbor's cats suddenly took off from under the bushes that are beneath the bird house, ran off and squeezed under our gate and returned to its own yard. I went back to the house and let Diva out, and she came and inspected under the bushes to make sure there were no more cats, and the wrens got back to their business of feeding the babies. Crisis averted...for now.

Let's hope these wrens grow up and fly away soon. I'm a nervous wreck just keeping an eye on them!


Christopher said...

You have mail.

Mauigirl said...

And so do you!

Comrade Kevin said...

I am conflicted about guns and gun control to the same degree as I am about war and warfare.

Anyone can be a pacifist or make a personal decision not to carry a gun, but that certainly doesn't mean anyone else will be easily willing to give up their violent intentions or their means of willful destruction.

And until we all evolve to a point by which this is a consensus opinion, this will always be a controversial subject.

Utah Savage said...

Wow, way to catch up! I have mixed feelings about the Clintons. I was too long, unnecessarily long, and they both made rookie mistakes. Her campaign is her campaign debt. Not his. Not the DNCs. Bill can pony up. Can you tell i feel strongly about this. This is me being nice.

I'm under a psychiatrists care for a medically, and legally, recognized mental illness. So no gun ownership for me, but there are so many mentally ill men, just for example, men, who won't seek or accept treatment. They can buy a legal gun. This doesn't make me feel real safe. Not to exclude women who need treatment, but it's far more common for men, with mental health issues, to avoid treatment.

Fran said...

Having been a bit AWOL myself, I am just glad to see you back. I am making my way through the bloggy blogs too!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Good catch up post.

I don't think the writers of the Constitution could possibly have foreseen the situation that we have with guns today. Back then, guns were essential to the daily survival of many because of hunting. And there were still problems with the Native Americans (although I totally understand why the Native Americans were trying to defend their land). Plus the British still hanging about in North America for quite a while after the war ended.

I don't think the men who wrote the Bill of Rights could have conceived of a world with horrors such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Northern Illinois or the dozens of innocent children shot to death in Chicago this year alone or any of the other shocking statistics related to gun violence. Far more people are killed from gun accidents in homes and bystander shootings than the number of burglers halted by guns.

So to cling to the reasons the "founding fathers" (hate that phrase, but can't think of another right now) had for allowing handguns seems to me to be as illogical as clinging to the reasons they permitted slavery to continue. They weren't all-knowing. I think we need to evaluate this situation from a fresh perspective and perhaps even amend the Constitution if need be.

I know I'm probably in the minority, but that's what I think.

Dr. Zaius said...

Oh no! Save the wrens! Shoot the cat. ;o)

Mauigirl said...

Kevin, I agree, I am conflicted about them as well. I know sometimes they are necessary (both gun and wars) but I wish there were a better way.

Utah, I know, I do agree that Hillary's debt should not be paid by Obama's supporters. (As one of them I'd rather my money went elsewhere!). But I was glad she seemed to put her all into being supportive of him. Unlike Bill. He's on my sh*t list.

And I'm with you on the gun thing. You're very right that more men with mental illnesses are untreated. I would want to see a lot more care going into figuring out who should have a gun and who shouldn't. It may be an individual right to own a gun, but to me it should only be a right the way owning a car is a right. With a license, with a test, etc.

Hi Fran, welcome back, hope you had a great weekend.

Ruth, I think you are completely right. And I think the "founding fathers" (I don't like it either but what else can we call them, let's think of a new word) would be the first to agree with you. Thomas Jefferson never expected this document, the Constitution, to be set in stone, and he expected it to grow and change with the times. I think we need to start re-thinking some of these clauses that made a lot of sense back then but not so much now. That is basically why I said that I believe the Supreme Court was correct in interpreting what the founding fathers meant by the Second Amendment given the time it was written. What they might write now if they were alive today could be very different.

Anonymous said...

phew! I'm glad the cat didn't get what it wanted.

Good to see you back to posting!