Friends are a reflection of who we are. It is said that if you tell me who your five best friends are, I can tell who you are. If that is true, then I’m a very eclectic individual with contradictory philosophical positions on a great many topics. I am a man who enjoys fine food yet craves a cheeseburger from Big Dean’s on a hot summer day. I hold a nuanced position on subjects as hot as abortion, and a black-and-white position on gay marriage. So, that five-person parlor trick may be correct.
We love complex characters because we are complex. I was reminded of this after viewing “Django Unchained” this past weekend. An exceptionally engaging movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, even as I squirmed during parts of it. It was a painful reminder of a dark and ugly past. The movie uses violence brilliantly to demonstrate the incredible inhumanity that existed, and to some extent still exists, and meet out justice to those who are deserving of it.
I say this against the backdrop of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, the other school shootings and with a full recognition of the loss of human life that occurs on a daily basis across our country, and our planet. As a society when we try to create one-size-fits-all solutions to complex problems it doesn’t work well.
Gun ownership is a complex, hot-button topic in America and for good reason. Those of us who have been touched by it have strong beliefs about whether it is a good or a bad idea. I was discussing gun control over the holidays with another “lefty liberal Santa Monican” and they took a very hard line position that we should outlaw all guns.
On the other side of the coin, I was chatting with a different type of Santa Monica friend at dinner this week who is in the Libertarian camp on everything. He takes the position that the government should get out of the way in all manner of ventures and they should stop taxing us and regulating us in everything we do.
I enjoy having friends who are diverse and as divergent on topics as possible. It broadens me and it makes those after-dinner conversations over coffee just that much more interesting. As my anti-gun friend was making their point I remarked that gun ownership seems to be more valued as a constitutional right than voting.
The first reaction is always that I am being absurd, but when I point out that women and blacks were not allowed to vote under the U.S. Constitution but they were allowed to own guns it struck a chord since gun ownership was the Second Amendment and a woman’s right to vote was the 19th Amendment and took approximately 140 years to be enacted. The right to gun ownership arguably could be seen as a greater right than voting to the drafters of the Constitution.
Libertarian man on the other hand sees no reason to limit the ownership of guns as he relies on a market analysis that no one would own something they didn’t need or use. In his fight to limit governmental interference with living he would have as little regulation as possible. So when I bring out the “big gun” argument and say well then what would prevent me from owning a nuclear warhead, which is technically an “arm” under the Second Amendment and therefore I should have a constitutionally-protected right to as big a gun or armament as I can afford to protect myself.
He didn’t like that argument because he thought I was being absurd in my assumption since who would really want to own a nuclear warhead? But I can believe that there is someone who is unstable enough to want one, and so I believe there should be some limits on what we can own.
I don’t have answers on where to draw the line yet on gun control, although I’m certain that the extremes of nothing, and nuclear, are both unacceptable to me. I’m not sure that ownership is the issue so much as a society that sees violence as a solution, not a problem.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.